Leveraging Reward Credit Cards As A Couple

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There are two different ways that couples can manage their finances.   Some prefer to manage their separately, while others pool all of their resources.    For many reasons, my wife and I prefer to manage our financial resources jointly.    Both of our parents do the same, and it never really occurred to us to do otherwise.   This article is almost exclusively for couple who manage their finances jointly, although even those who manage their money separately might be able to employ some of these tips and tricks.

Double Your Sign Up Bonuses

One of the nicest features about reward cards is the sign up bonus.   Even a small spender can get a big sign up bonus from most credit cards.    Go ahead and apply for the same card for both of you, and double your bonus.    There are few good reasons not to, although I will mention one below.

Get Bonuses For Additional Cards

When looking into a new credit card application, always see if there is a bonus for an additional card.    If there is, get it.    The bonuses are modest, often 2,500 points or so, but every point counts.   You can cut the card up or cancel it later.

Consolidate Your Use

Miles are worth more when they are concentrated in one account, as few programs allow you to transfer miles between accounts for a reasonable cost.    Even if you and your partner have each the same card, you should both use only one account.    This is especially important if the account offers bonuses at certain spending milestones.    For example, my American Express Starwood card offers Starwood Gold status when we spend $30,000 in a calendar year.   Since we almost always travel together, it really doesn’t matter who’s name the status is in.

Conserve Your One Time Status Bonuses

Some credit cards offer status bonuses for certain uses.    For example, the American Express Delta Reserve card will give you 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after your first purchase.    One one of you should get a new Reserve card in one year.    With the desired status, both you and your partner can utilize almost all of the privileges of the person with status when traveling together.    This way, the other person can still utilize the MQM bonus in the future if you are in danger of loosing status.   This is the one situation that I referred to previously where I would recommend that a couple only has one card.

Don’t Pay Too Many Annual Fees

If both of you have a particular card, you should definitely cancel one of them, once you have to pay the annual fee.    Most cards offer to waive the annual fee for the the first year, so it is usually a good idea to get two cards for the sign up bonus.    On the other hand, don’t bother keeping both cards if they are asking you to pay an annual fee.

Simplify Your Bill Paying

If you consolidate your spending on one card, it is easy to simplify your bills.   This saves you time and reduces the chance of fee inducing errors.    While it is nice when couples share chores, it works best for us when only one of us pays the bills.    We pay our bills online, as everyone should, and only one of us really needs to worry about it.    In this way, we avoid either paying a bill twice or forgetting to pay them all together.

In conclusion, jointly managing your credit card portfolio, a couple can earn greater rewards and enjoy status bonuses more often, while reducing their bill paying time and increasing their accuracy.

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