Best Credit Card Duo For Maximizing Points

Filed Under: Chase, Credit Card Comparisons
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There are a lot of great credit cards out there. Personally, I have over two dozen at the moment. While I know some people are like me in terms of how many cards they have, I know other people say “I don’t want that many cards, I could never keep track of them. Give me a simpler strategy.”

In this post, I wanted to share what I’d consider to be the single best credit card duo that earns you big rewards and gets you great benefits, all while keeping annual fees to a minimum. If you’re looking for a simple yet rewarding travel rewards credit card strategy, this is for you.

Value of the Chase Freedom Unlimited

On its own, I don’t consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review) to be that great. The card earns 1.5x points per dollar spent, and each point can be redeemed for a penny, so it essentially offers a return of 1.5%.

The good news is that there’s a way to unlock a lot more value from the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. If you have the card in conjunction with a card that accrues Ultimate Rewards points — specifically, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review), Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review), or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review) — then you can convert the points earned on the Freedom Unlimited into Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio. This can easily be done online for free, and it’s an instant process.

Using this method you go from earning 1.5 cents per dollar spent on the Freedom Unlimited to earning 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent.

I value Ultimate Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me that’s like increasing the value of the points you earn by 70%.

Freedom Unlimited + Sapphire Reserve

With that in mind, what’s the perfect card duo? As far as I’m concerned, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. You’d pay a total of $550 in annual fees (the Reserve has a $550 annual fee and the Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee), and you’d earn:

  • 3x points on dining and travel (with the Reserve)
  • 1.5x points on everything else (with the Freedom Unlimited)

Earn 3x points on dining with the Sapphire Reserve

But then you’d receive all kinds of other perks that make this a fabulously well-rounded combination:

  • The Reserve comes with a $300 annual travel credit that’s automatically applied, so assuming you spend at least $300 on travel per year, that lowers the real “out of pocket” on the card to $250 per year (in 2020 the travel credit can even be used at gas stations and grocery stores)
  • You get a Priority Pass membership, which gets you and two guests access to 1,200+ lounges around the world
  • You get a Global Entry fee credit every four years
  • You get no foreign transaction fees, making this a great card for international purchases (especially since you’ll largely be earning triple points on purchases abroad)
  • You get great travel protection for lost baggage, delayed flights, car rental coverage, etc.

Access Priority Pass lounges with your Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits

Essentially between those two cards, you’ll get just about all the most valuable benefits offered by credit cards.

Crunching the numbers

There are two ways to redeem points earned on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card most efficiently:

Redeeming points towards travel purchases and using the “Pay Yourself Back” feature don’t take much skill, as you’re getting 1.5 cents towards all kinds of purchases. Given that, you’d be earning the following return (as credit towards travel) with this setup if you have both of these cards:

  • 4.5% return on travel and dining spend
  • 2.25% return on everything else

That’s an incredible return, especially when we’re just talking about two cards.

Getting approved for the cards

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® are both subjected to the 5/24 rule, meaning you can’t be approved for the cards if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months. That’s another reason that these are cards you’ll want to acquire early in your credit journey.

You’re not eligible for the welcome bonus on the Sapphire Reserve if you currently have any Sapphire card, or if you’ve received the new cardmember bonus on any Sapphire Card in the past 48 months.

Meanwhile, you’re not eligible for the welcome bonus on the Freedom Unlimited if you currently have the card, or if you’ve received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 24 months.

When it comes to general restrictions on Chase approvals, Chase will typically approve you for at most two cards in a 30 day period, and you can potentially be approved for two cards on the same day.

Potential complements

If you want to keep things simple then skip this section, but for those who want to take this strategy one step further, there are a few other additions I should mention:

I love the Ultimate Rewards card “ecosystem” that you can create

The Amex duo alternative

Personally, I think the above Chase combo is the most well rounded, though if you prefer to earn Amex Membership Rewards points, there are also some good options available to you.

I’d say the most well rounded Amex duo would be the following:

  • The American Express® Gold Card (review) has a $250 annual fee (Rates & Fees) and offers 4x points at restaurants globally, 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases annually), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through; the card offers a $100 annual airline fee credit (This benefit ends on December 31, 2021) and $120 annual dining credit
  • The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express (review) has a $95 annual fee offers 3x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 of purchases per year, 2x points at U.S. gas stations, and a 50% points bonus when you use your card 30 or more times per billing period, less returns and credits

In other words, between the two cards you’d earn up to 4.5x points at U.S. supermarkets, 4x points on dining, 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines, up to 3x points at U.S. gas stations, and up to 1.5x points on all other purchases.

That’s a great return, though not ideal if you travel a lot internationally. That’s because Amex doesn’t have the same global acceptance as other cards, and also some bonus categories only apply with US retailers.

If you’re willing to add another Amex card to the mix, I’d highly recommend The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (review), which has no annual fee (Rates & Fees) and offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year.

Bottom line

If you’re new to miles and points, it’s tough to beat the combination of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. While you’d pay a total of $550 in annual fees, the way I see it the $300 annual travel credit is more or less worth face value, so I tend to think the real “out of pocket” on this combination is $250 per year.

For that, you’re getting triple points on dining and travel, 1.5x points on everything else, a Priority Pass membership, incredible travel coverage, no foreign transaction fees, a Global Entry fee credit, and the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase.

Arguably the combo is even more valuable right now, between the flexibility with the travel credit, the ability to redeem rewards towards dining and groceries, and the improved bonus on the Freedom Unlimited.

I don’t think there’s a better card duo out there. For more on Ultimate Rewards, see The Ultimate OMAAT Guide to Ultimate Rewards.

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees), and The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
  1. Lucky, based on this post and the 7 cards post: how are you accruing starpoints these days? Is it entirely through online reference bonuses?

  2. @ d — I’m not spending much on my SPG cards nowadays, but the truth is just that I hoard the points. It’s very rare I redeem them, and I also stay at a lot of SPG properties, which earns me Starpoints. But I’m not actively earning that many Starpoints nowadays, as much as I value them.

  3. “If you’re new to miles and points, it’s tough to beat the combination of the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.”

    I wholeheartedly agree. I would simply add that the combination is just as good for “veterans” of the miles/points game, because I have had it since February of 2017, when I replaced my United Club card, which also earned 1.5x and was my original companion card to the CSR, with the Case Freedom Unlimited.

  4. @d – With much better ways to earn transferable points currencies at a brisk pace, why would anyone want to earn (bother with) starpoints?

  5. How about the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Everyday preferred? That would give:
    3x travel and dining
    4.5x Supermarket
    3x Gas
    1.5x everything else
    A more diversified points portfolio, while maintaining some common transfer partners

    I understand that this would require and extra $100/yr annual fee, but it’s worth it.

  6. Thanks for the info. I was only aware of the CSR but the Freedom Unlimited card sounds like it’s worth getting.

    Do you think they’ll devalue the UR points anytime soon? I just feel like that 4.5% equivalent on dining and travel is pretty high and feels unsustainable to me.

    The real bonus for these types of points is the ability to earn frequent flyer miles and avoid having to find available award inventory. Even easier for large families.

  7. @DCS

    Best use of SPG is probably 90K SPG transferred to Marriott for a nights + flights package. This was how a lot of folks got their SW companion pass before SW closed that loophole.

  8. @ Danny — It’s tough to say. I do think this return is extremely generous, and perhaps in some ways is too good to be true. However, all we can go off of is the current offering, so I’d certainly take advantage of it while you can. 🙂

  9. @ Patrick McKlindon — It’s also a great strategy, though personally I think the combination of the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Freedom Unlimited is better for most. That’s because you’re accruing the same currency, and you don’t want to over diversify your points too much. Also keep in mind you need to complete 30 transactions per month on the EveryDay Preferred to maximize the card, and that’s something that a lot of people struggle with. Then there’s the annual fee difference too. So it’s a good strategy for many (especially those who spend a lot on gas and supermarkets), but there are also some mild downsides.

  10. DCS, looks like lucky is finally doing what you have been saying all along: Don’t run after starpoints!

    DCS you are like trump. Right all the time but got no respect while the dumb black dude with no charisma is everyone’s darling.

  11. @Lucky I see no reason not to have all the 5x cards as they have no fee. Obviously, CSR + others is one of the best. I also highly recommend Amex Blue Business Plus and Citi Double Cash and/or AT&T More. That gives you access to the 3 major Bank Currencies for only 2 fees. You also have a floor of either 2 MR points or 1.5 UR.

  12. My Capital One Spark Business gives me 2% cash back on everything, and they waive my annual fee. There’s no reason to accept anything less than that.

  13. I already have the chase sapphire preferred card and got the welcome bonus probably 4 years ago. Is it best to cancel this card first and wait a few months before applying for the reserve card?

  14. What do you think about AMEX Platinum + Chase Sapphire Preferred.

    For individuals who travels often, stays in hotels and want to generate solid earnings from general spending.

    My logic was using AMEX for its excellent travel benefits and have the CSP complement where AMEX falls short (trip delay, car rental insurance, better generic travel and dining earnings, UR etc). Granted adding a Freedom/Unlimited might be logical too since those are fee free cards so I am seriously considering getting the Freedom version for its rotating categories.

  15. I really don’t see how any unbiased party could recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve over the Preferred. The CSR has a $450 annual fee, not waived the first year. The CSP has a $95 annual fee, waived the first year. The CSR offers 50,000 points, the CSP offers 50,000 + 5,000 for adding an authorized user. Both trigger the Freedom Unlimited so that’s moot here.

    As such, even if a person maximized the travel credit, Mr. CSR is spending $150 for 50,000 points their year while Mr. CSP is spending $0 for 55,000 points. How much spending on travel/dining would Mr. CSR need to spend to come out ahead? Much more than the average person spends in a year, I’d reckon.

    One the CSR lost the 100,000 point signup bonus, I see no “killer app” compared to the CSP

  16. @Danny something to keep in mind is that when you redeem for 1.5 cents from Chase’s portal, they get a commission. For hotels, I believe this can be substantial. For flights, not so much. Unsure about rental cars. Whether that all balances out, I have no idea.

  17. @James K
    If you don’t have Global Entry (etc) already, CSR gets you a credit for that. Plus free Priority Pass, which is worth more than nothing, though maybe not a whole lot.

    But perhaps more importantly (at least to me), is that if you’re someone who uses UR mostly for the travel redemptions via Chase (largely because I fly economy, for which that’s almost always a better value than transferring points), CSR gives you 1.5c/point as opposed to 1.25c/point for CSP. This produces even more value when combined with Freedom/Freedom Unlimited (and, if you’re just starting out and don’t have them yet, makes their sign-up bonuses more valuable as well, and their referral bonuses).

  18. @Debit – The oblique ‘compliment’ of comparing to Trump is not only mindless, the whole premise is utterly wrong: Trump gets nothing right. Other than lucking out and winning the presidency despite losing the popular vote by some 3M, your Trump has managed to fuck up the country royally, while alienating our closest allies and sucking up to Putin like the former KGB operative’s poodle.

    The black dumb dude with no charisma, a Harvard graduate and constitutional lawyer, did everything exactly right for this country. That you do not know that is what anyone needs to know to understand just how way out there you are.

    Get lost.


  19. @James K

    I can’t see the advantage of the Preferred at all over the Reserve. Assuming you spend 300 a year on travel, then the annual fee is only $50 more. And getting 3x UR points on travel/dining is a HUGE difference vs. only 2x points! Say you spend $400 on dining out a month and $5000 on travel a year, that’s already 10,000 extra points so you’ve made up for the annual fee difference and the AU bonus you could have gotten on the Preferred. Not to mention the other card benefits. It’s a no brainer to me.

  20. Anyone who thinks that the CSP is in the same league as the CSR isn’t playing the game with a “full deck” and should get out…

  21. I don’t understand why anyone bothers to say the CSR fee is $450, given the instant $300 refund on “travel”. Out here that includes ferry rides (common), bridge tolls, and a huge number of other minor travel expenses. Or if you only stay in a hotel once or twice a year, you’ve got your money back. Plus you get 3X points on the travel expenses. I agree with you, Ben – love this combo. Now if they will just let it continue for a while!

  22. @Allison

    Over the course of the first two years having the card, the CSR user spends $300 out of pocket and the CSP user spends $95. So it’s not a $50 dollar difference, it’s a $150 difference the first year and $55 every year after that.

    In two years, you have to earn enough points to make up for $205 and 5000 points (authorized user bonus. $400 a month on dining and $5000 a year on travel makes 9800 points, yes, but for one, we’re not breaking even yet. And for another, that presumes you don’t have any other cards you put travel on. If you have an Amex Platinum, for instance, all your airfare is going on that.

    Basically, even if the best case scenario, it’s taking you several years to come out ahead on CSR

  23. It seems that @James K. may have drunk too much of the “CSP is best” kool-aid dispensed by self-anointed ‘travel gurus’ who had been frustrated until yesterday that they were not allowed to peddle the CSR for a commission…

    Good luck!

  24. @DCS

    This is why nobody likes you. Because we’re having an actual discussion in which we cite data points, make arguments, etc., and you come in with your usual nonsense

  25. @James K. sez: “This is why nobody likes you”.

    Is that supposed to be a factual statement or a “projection”? And speaking of “data points and arguments”, other than the same couple of detractors who do not care about advancing their arguments no matter how ridiculous and you clearly seem intent on joining, I dare to you produce the numbers to support the claim that “nobody likes you.”

    For your edification: I am not here to get “liked”. I am here to inform and get informed. Period. If I were here to win a popularity context, challenging the site’s beloved host is definitely not a winning strategy…

    The reason you think I am hated is precisely because my arguments have been factual and almost invariably on the winning side. “Nonsense” is to claim that the CSP is a better reward card than or even in the same league as the CSR…

    When you have something smarter to say, I will address you. Otherwise we are done.

    Good bye

  26. You should clarify in the article that you only get no foreign transaction fees on the CSR, and the CFU fx fees outweigh the extra half UR point, so you only earn 1 UR point per dollar on foreign non-bonus spend.

  27. The Sapphire Reserve and Freedom Unlimited are the reward points dynamic duo. There is no better combination than these two.

  28. Lucky, I usually enjoy all your posts but his one wasn’t necessary. In fact, given the rumors about ending the ability to transfer points from Freedom to a Saphire – I’d say bad form. Please don’t turn into that blogger that gets all good things killed.

  29. For those with real spend throughput who are value-oriented, AMEX PRG/Blue Business Plus/Hilton Ascend is a great combo.

    Transfer-wise, UR’s strength is in hotels, not in airlines – and I’d guess that Southwest doesn’t get the transfer love compared to United. The loss of Skypass was huge.

  30. @ss: “Please don’t turn into that blogger that gets all good things killed.”

    It always mystifies me: why are bloggers so often blamed for every “good thing getting killed”? They are just passing on information that is freely available. That is most certainly the case with this particular blog post.

    Bloggers are responsible for increasing the number of people who can take advantage of “good things” like mistake fares, credit card deals, etc. So if you are going to complain about bloggers getting good things killed, at the same time you have to thank them for spreading the joy.

  31. Heyyy Lucky. Love the material. Just wondering since you said you have 21 cards at the moment. Do you think it would be ok to close 3 card accounts with chase within 1 month ? I’m planning on closing the ihg Hyatt and marriott card as all the annual fees have come due. I have over 800 credit score and over 150k total credit line. I would transfer all the credit lines I’m gonna close over to my chase reserve.

  32. For everyday spend, the Amex Blue Business Plus and Business Platinum duo offer richer redemption (3 MR per dollar spent)

  33. I have a decent amount of UR Points (500K) but always seem to use MR points lately. I have PRG, BRG and both Platinums for the moment. Wondering why commenters above are suggesting PRG if one has the Blue Biz 2% card? What are they getting from the PRG? I’m thinking about ditching one of the Plat’s at annual fee time as well as the PRG and getting the Blue Biz and EDP.

    @Lucky, what’s you recommendation for best AMEX combo?

  34. I love and save MR points but it doesn’t seem worth it to me to give up the insurance of flying using CSR to get 5X MR points. That is why I cancelled my Platinum. The CSR is the card I put 70% of my annual spend on.

  35. @ CoreyL — This rumor has been around for a LONG time, so I don’t put much weight in it actually happening. That’s not to say it couldn’t happen in the future, but it’s not something that worries me.

  36. Imo the Amex Gold and Blue Business Plus is a better Amex duo than the one you mentioned; 4x on dining and groceries, 3x on airfare and 2x on everything else. You could add in a Platinum for 5x on airfare and Amex travel prepaid hotels, but that’s not a duo anymore 😉

  37. To @chub and everyone praising the AMEX Gold’s 4x on dining, read the fine print because it says that you get 4x only on dining in the US, whereas the CSR gives you 3x ANYWHERE in the world! While at home in the US, I buy groceries and eat at home, but I do not have that luxury while traveling overseas. That is why the CSR continues to shine as a ‘travel’ rewards card!

  38. For many people, especially those w/o businesses, the bonus categories don’t really add up to much. And if the card has a $150+ fee, it isn’t worth chasing the extra points.

    If I spend $5,000 on groceries does it really matter whether I get 5,000 pts, 10,000 pts (2X) or 15,000 pts (3X) unless the bonus category card is free or provides some other freebie (i.e. free night) that covers its annual fee. In most cases at 3X you get an extra 10K pts which even at 2 cents per point is only $200 and if the AF is $200 or $150 it isn’t worth wasting time/money for it.

    Now if you have a business and are spending $25K or $50K+ that is another story.

  39. @rich – you are dead wrong. If you were right, I would not be sitting on nearly 800K UR points right now (after having already redeemed points to travel for a month in Asia flying almost exclusively in premium cabins.) In fact, thanks to the perfect trifecta of CSR, CFU and the Ink Biz Cash, I am earning the most “airline” points that I have ever earned, even during the days of distance-based FF programs when I was raking in points traveling mostly long haul intl. I will be at 1M UR points (miles) for the first time ever before I redeem again next year, and then it will become a self-sustaining venture that will keep me swimming in near 1M points year after, from about 300K when I earned most of my points from flying.

    BTW, I do not own a business that requires that I spend $25K or $50K…

  40. @DCS How much are you putting on credit cards a year in general to keep it self-sustaining?

    This is the part I don’t get, how do people keep this going without endless sign-up/referral bonuses? If you are earning/burning 300K then you must be spending quite a bit. For example: $25,000*5x=125,000UR then ink cash 5x is used up. 300K-125K=175K UR to go and @ 3x that is $58,333.33/year in travel/dining to reach 300,000 points. Even more gross spending if using CFU at 1.5x. How are you doing this?

    **”I will be at 1M UR points (miles) for the first time ever before I redeem again next year, and then it will become a self-sustaining venture”**

    What does having 1M miles have anything to do with it being self-sustaining? To my knowledge, those points aren’t earning interest.

  41. @kurt – I put everything I spend on credit cards, including when buying a chewing gum pack. I do not carry cash. Period. With an income far exceeding $1/4M, I can do lot of spending. My biggest budget items are those that earn the most points on the CSR (dining & travel @ 3x) and on the Ink Biz Cash (phone & internet bills @ 5x). Everything else goes on the CFU @ 1.5x.

    Well, the proof is in the pudding. I provided a picture of how I have been raking it in. 1M UR points by the time I redeem for my 2019 year-end escapade. I will sustain the “high times” rolling [meaning I will keep replenishing the points to maintain a year-to-year balance of around 1M (UR + UA + A*) points] because my level of “business” travel (international conferences of my choice or as an invited speaker) will remain steady for at least the next 5 years.


  42. @DCS

    Okay, well that makes sense if you’re charging $200K+ a year on cards. Most people can’t do that. I just wasn’t sure if you were a “normal” person and able to rack up those kind of miles.

    Thanks for your reply.

  43. @DCS

    Haha yes, normal as in spending levels.
    I think that was Rich’s point above as well, which you seemingly disagreed with, that it takes a LOT of spending to rake in those miles.

    Considering the average (mean) household makes what $70,000/year, they would need to be getting a little over 4x on everything to hit 300,000 points in a year.

  44. @Lucky.. Any chance you have a complete breakdown of all returns on a spreadsheet or something. I read this blog everyday, but still can’t figure out what Works best for me.

  45. My spending:

    Restaurants: Citi Prestige, Coffee on Square Cash
    Rotating Categories: Chase Freedom 1st, then Discover, US Bank Cash+, Citi Dividend
    Groceries: If no rotating category, Square Cash at WF, Kroger, Trader Joe’s; CNB Crystal otherwise
    Gas: Costco Cash (bought using BoA Cash Rewards), rotating, or CNB Crystal
    Travel: Usually Citi Prestige or Chase Ink Preferred
    Cell Phone: Chase Ink Preferred (I have utilized the insurance several times)
    Office: Chase Ink Cash
    Online: Citi AT&T Access More, BoA Cash Rewards
    Anything Else: Amex Blue Business Plus, BoA Premium Rewards

    Am I missing anything?

  46. depends on what you want to redeem for. I find UR points much less valuable to me personally than they used to be. So I’ve shifted most of my spend to the Citi TY Premier and the Amex Gold card. They have good bonus categories so you can rack up points quickly and more useful partners to me. I’ve hung onto the CSR but am considering downgrading once the bill comes. Although the small difference in fee after considering the $300 rebate means I’ll probably keep it.

  47. I have 4 cards I regularly use:
    Chase Sapphire Preferred/Chase Freedom
    Amex Gold/Amex EveryDay Preferred

    Have been debating product changing my Freedom to the Freedom Unlimited due to the simplicity of earning 1.5x per $.
    My hesitancy to upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve isn’t because I wouldn’t easily hit the travel credit. I don’t live in an area where Priority Pass would be regularly useful. And, I’m not sure I want to change cards without getting the signup bonus.

  48. I keep it simple, when not completing a SUB…

    The Amex world:
    -Gold: dining and supermarkets
    -Schwab Platinum: airline gift cards
    -BBP all else
    Rental cars if coverage is there

    The Chase world:
    -CSR covers dining that doesn’t qualify for Amex Gold and the small remaining amount of the total airfare that the gift cards don’t cover for delay/interruption/cancellation insurance and medical.
    -CIC for staples gift cards, phone bill, internet cable.

    Obviously it fluctuates depending on spend, bonuses, categories, item being purchasing, location (i.e is there potential for fraud, charge back, etc), freedom categories, Amex offers, etc.

    Personally, I’ll try to default to America Express as Chase, Citi, etc. is a PIA to deal with.

  49. I just went to the Chase website and saw that there is a new offer for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card of 3% cash back up to $20,000 for the first year. I would say this makes this combo even more useful for new applicants.

  50. Au contraire @DCS, your grandiose narcissism is far from normal. I promise you it will feel so good and so cathartic to come clean. Just admit to us now that all of this only exists in your head; that every word you type is make believe. Come back from the looking glass already

  51. LOL ORDguy773. I laughed at the “well over $250k” income comment. So is that $257k, $258k, or is it $750k?
    My go to these days is Citi Prestige for airfare and restaurants. And the rare occasion I hit a supermarket I use my Amex Gold.

  52. ORDguy773: “[email protected]…Just admit to us now that all of this only exists in your head”

    What is wrong with you guys?! Don’t you get tired of making these utterly mindless statements? What is it exactly that you believe exists only in my head? Have you not been paying attention [rhetorical question] and noticed that my predictions, analyses, claims, every single one backed by mountains of evidence, are the ones that have come through or have held over the years? But that is just it, ain’t? Folks like you, whom I have never addressed, can’t stand that I get it and get it right!

    Well, get this: I will never get tired of winning and promise to keep doing it, so you might as well get over it or get out.

    @Brodie – “Well over $250” made my point. That’s all that was relevant, since you clearly missed it.


  53. I use the Citi Prestige for all travel and restaurants (5x worldwide), and the Citi Premier for gas (3x).

    For 2019 i m using my AMEX SPG personal and biz cards after registering for the extra miles promotions, effectively giving 3 Bonvoy points per $ on the personal and 3.5 points per $ on the biz card. Otherwise Arrival + would be my card of choice for non-bonus spend as i live outside the US and i cannot use a card with foreign transaction fees.

    I m overall surprised that you do not give the Citi Prestige card the credit it deserves…

  54. My best combo is Citi Premier ($ 95 Annual Fee) and Citi Sears (No Annual Fee).

    With my regular monthly targeted spending

    I am essentially getting

    11x Thankyou Points per dollar spent on Dining, Gas, Groceries

    3x Thankyou Points per dollar spent on Travel

    2x Thankyou Points per dollar spent on Entertainment

    1x Thankyou Points per dollar spent on Everything

    And because of Citi Premier, Thankyou points become transferable miles.

    If we factor in Rewards Plus to make it Trio combo, I am getting 10 Thankyou Points on small purchases. Also with 10% Redemption Back (It currently works for transferring to miles.)

    That is to say,

    I am getting:

    12.2222x Citi Transfer Partner Miles per dollar spent on Dining, Gas, Groceries

    11.1111x Citi Transfer Partner Miles on Small Purchases (< $10 Purchase)

    3.333x Citi Transfer Partner Miles per dollar spent on Travel

    2.222x Citi Transfer Partner Miles per dollar spent on Entertainment

    1.111x Citi Transfer Partner Miles per dollar spent on Everything (Honestly I would use Amex BBP in this case)

  55. I can’t imagine who is signing up for travel credit cards these days. Seems like a bad time to get into the points and miles game, given that we have no idea what loyalty programs will look like after this. The collapse of business travel might be permanent, at least for some sectors/businesses, which will really hurt airlines and change the value proposition for loyalty programs. It’s best to wait and see right now, probably not a good time to start accumulating points with unclear worth going forward.

    The only saving grace for this strategy is that UR points can be redeemed for travel at 1.5cpp, but rather just get cash back and earn interest on that cash while it’s sitting around before I spend it. Add to that the fact that the Chase portal has restricted options (you can frequently find better deals on the same flight/hotels elsewhere), and it’s not really 1.5cpp.

  56. I don’t understand your valuation. You say when you transfer Freedom points to Reserve then they are now worth 1.5 points instead of just 1 point. However, you say you value UR points at 1.7c. However, the transfer from 1 (Freedom) to 1.5 (Reserve) is only good for using through the UR travel portal. So how does your valuation of 1 > 1.5 suddenly become a 70% increase? It’s not true unless you believe the UR travel portal is somehow superior to cash value. Right? Small complaint, but it seems important since you’re trying to get people to sign up for these cards based upon your analysis, but your analysis is skewed, IMO.

  57. @Bob: Pay yourself back does make the CSR/CFU combo a true 2.25% cash back option. The problem is the CSR annual fee is so high that only big spenders will see an advantage, and those folks can probably qualify for BofA 2.62% PR rate for lower annual fee.

    @Lucky: how’s your starpoints collection holding up? :lolsob:

  58. Sorry, misunderstood you were talking about Freedom Unlimited and not the regular Freedom. Disregard my previous comment.

  59. @Bob you can also redeem groceries/dining right now for x1.5UR, and the $300 travel credit already applied to groceries.

    Yeah, I wouldn’t sign up for a new, $550 AF travel card either, but I already have one so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  60. I must be missing something. You value Amex MR @1.7c each. So a combo of Amex Gold w/ Everyday and Biz Blue+ you get
    – 6.8% on restaurants and grocery stores
    – 5.1% on flights and gas stations
    – 3.4% on everything else.

    The major category left out is non-flight travel and hotels. But if you stay at say, Hyatt’s all the time, supplement the above with a Hyatt card and you’re done

  61. Agree with khatl, Amex Gold + Blue Business+ is a better deal. I would throw in Charles Schwab or Morgan Stanley Platinum for those that qualify for the discount. Also, I think the BoA Platinum Honors set-up is competitive too.

  62. Citi Double Cash + Citi Prestige and/or Citi Premier. Better earning, lower fees (for Premier), and better airline transfer partners.

  63. Wait this article is total garbage without mentioning Citibank. Revise Benny revise revise revise

  64. It really depends on your spending requirements and habits as well as your type of business. For me t is Amex gold business Citi prestige.

  65. Chase’s duo gives a greater return and is more widely accepted worldwide. Note that the Unlimited Freedom card does charge on foreign exchange.

  66. Your pictures of the empty hotel restaurant and bar say it all to me. I will wait till travel is in my future before paying to get credit cards.

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