5 credit card pairings that get you even more benefits and rewards — in most cases, with just one annual fee

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Crystal Cox/Business Insider

The market is filled to the brim with great rewards credit cards that stand on their own. The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes to mind, along with the Hilton Aspire Card from American Express and a few airline cards. Yet, some of these credit cards can be even more valuable when paired up with another, less prestigious card.

Here are five credit card pairs that can supercharge your rewards earnings and benefits.

Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It’s important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.

Sapphire Reserve + Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the most popular rewards credit cards out there, thanks to generous category bonuses and travel benefits to boot. The card earns 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining – two very common spending categories for many people. The card also has an annual $300 travel credit, Priority Pass Select membership and up to $100 towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees every four years.

On first sight, you might wonder why the Chase Sapphire Reserve even needs to be paired with any other credit card, let alone the Chase Freedom Unlimited. The Freedom Unlimited card normally earns 1.5% cash back on all spending, but if you have Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can convert those cash-back rewards to Ultimate Rewards points.

Pairing these two cards together not only gives you access to the 3x bonus on travel and dining, but you’ll earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on everything else – so you’ll earn more than the “baseline” 1 point per dollar on every purchase you make! The fact that the Chase Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee is another huge plus.

When you’re ready to redeem points, you can transfer them to one of 13 airline and hotel partners or redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards site. If you opt for the latter, your points will be worth 1.5 cents each, assuming you book travel under your Chase Sapphire Reserve account.

Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve »

Learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited »

Citi Prestige® Card + Citi® Double Cash Card

The Citi Prestige® card offers some of the most generous category bonuses out there: 5x points on travel and dining, 3x points on hotels and cruise lines and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. The card does have a $495 annual fee, which is partially offset by an annual $250 travel credit and a fourth night free benefit on hotel bookings that you can use twice a year.

While the Citi Prestige has bonus categories covered, you should consider adding a Citi® Double Cash card to your wallet for accelerated rewards on all other spending. While the card earns 2% cash back on all spending (1% when you spend, 1% when you pay the card off), these rewards can be converted to ThankYou points. Since the Citi Double Cash card has no annual fee, it pairs well with the Citi Prestige.

Learn more about the Citi Double Cash Card »

A Southwest Rapid Rewards personal + business card

Nothing has the potential to save you more on travel than the Southwest Companion Pass. Earn the pass, designate a companion, and he or she can travel with you through the next calendar year, for just the cost of taxes and fees. The best part? Flying Southwest isn’t the only way to earn it. The points earned from Southwest credit cards, including welcome bonuses, count towards the Companion Pass.

Starting January 1, 2020, the requirement for earning the Companion Pass will increase from 110,000 to 125,000 Rapid Rewards points. The good news is that you can continue earning it through the co-branded Southwest credit cards. Be strategic and strike when the welcome bonuses are high, and you might be able to earn the Companion Pass with as few as two welcome bonuses.

Your personal Southwest credit card options are:

And the Southwest business credit cards are:

Learn more about all the Southwest credit cards here »

Hilton Aspire card + Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

The Hilton Honors Aspire card is loaded with premium travel benefits that make the $450 annual fee downright reasonable if you take full advantage. The card earns 14x points at participating Hilton hotels, 7x at US restaurants and on car rentals and flights booked directly through the airlines or amextravel.com. All other purchases earn 3x points.

Plus, the card comes with complimentary top-tier Hilton Diamond status, an annual free weekend night award, up to $250 Hilton resort credit each year, up to in annual $250 airline fee credits, and a $100 Hilton on-property credit on qualifying 2-night stays. The list goes on.

How could you possibly need more than this? While earning Hilton points at an accelerated rate is valuable, serious award travelers will also want to bank some Membership Rewards points for flexible redemption options with other travel partners like Delta, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic. That’s where the Amex EveryDay card comes in.

The card has no annual fee and earns 2 points per dollar at US supermarkets on the first $6,000 you spend each year (then, it’s 1 point per dollar). All other purchases earn 1 point. However, if you manage to use your card 20 or more times in a billing period, you’ll receive 20% more points. If coffee runs are part of your daily routine or you charge everything from household bills to gas fill-ups to this card, 20 transaction can be much more attainable.

The Amex EveryDay card is a great supplement to the Hilton Honors Aspire card because it has no annual fee and allows you to earn a flexible rewards currency that can be transferred to Hilton and 21 other travel partners.

Click here to learn more about the Hilton Honors Aspire card »

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express + American Express® Green Card

Earning 2x points on the first $50,000 spent each calendar year, the Blue Business Plus card is very rewarding on its own. It also has no annual fee and earns 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent beyond the first $50,000.

So why supplement it with the Amex Green card? Because the Blue Business Plus lacks travel benefits – and if you want a personal card that offers plenty of those, along with category bonuses, the Amex Green card is the way to go.

The Amex Green card earns 3x points on travel and restaurants worldwide. Those are two pretty big spending categories for business owners and regular folks alike. Being able to maximize that spending with a 3x bonus is a good reason to get this card.

Additionally, cardholders get up to a $100 CLEAR credit each year, up to $100 in annual credits with LoungeBuddy, and a slew of Amex’s renowned travel and purchase protections. The fact that the annual fee is just $150 is a great incentive to get this card.

Click here to learn more about the Blue Business Plus card »

Click here to learn more about the Amex Green card »