Rewards points are good. What’s even better? Wringing all you can from credit card rewards programs by teaming up with your spouse or partner.
Couples who plan together and coordinate their spending can reap bigger benefits.
Following is a look at how to get started.
1. Become an authorized user on your partner’s card
When you are the primary credit card account holder — meaning you applied for and were approved for the card — you can authorize a spouse or partner to be a user on your account.
The authorized user gets their own copy of your card in their name and can charge purchases with it. You are still responsible for paying the bill, but this move gives an authorized user who can qualify only for secured credit cards or high-fee cards on their own the opportunity to use a no-fee rewards card.
2. Run up rewards points faster
When partners become authorized users on each other’s rewards cards, they also can rack up points, cash back and other rewards faster than each person would earn alone.
Suppose, for example, that your rewards card pays extra points for gas and grocery purchases, but your partner’s card offers better rewards on travel. If each one of you carries both cards, you both can make sure to use the first card whenever buying groceries, for example, no matter who goes to the store.
This way, you get the maximum possible reward for every single purchase, no matter what type of purchase it is or which partner makes it.
3. Earn a double sign-up bonus
When you find a card you want that offers a big signup bonus, double your rewards by both applying — but separately — for the card.
One example: The Alaska Airlines Visa card through Bank of America offers 40,000 free airline miles (and a buy one, get one deal on a ticket) to new cardholders. You can double that — earning 80,000 air miles altogether — if you both get your own card.
Pay close attention to the promotion’s rules. To collect this reward, for instance, you’ve got to make at least $3,000 in purchases with the card in the first 90 days.
Unless you have a big purchase in mind, it may be harder than you’d think to hit that spending goal. One possible solution: Apply at least several months apart to give yourselves a realistic amount of time to reach the card’s initial spending minimum.
Don’t go nuts. Before applying, check your budget. (We recommend Money Talks News partner YNAB (You Need A Budget.) Can you afford the minimum spending without buying stuff you don’t need or stretching your budget?
Applying for new credit cards can ding your credit your score temporarily, so it’s not something you want to do if you also are, say, looking to get a mortgage soon. Would it hurt you if your credit score dropped a bit?
4. Snap up a referral bonus
Some cards offer a bonus if you refer a friend who also gets that card. You might earn, for example, $50 cash back, 15,000 bonus points or 10,000 frequent flier miles.
To get those rewards, spouses or partners can refer each other. Do this only if you want to have the card anyway and it has no fee. Or, if there is a fee, it is less than bonus or points you stand to collect.
5. Boost a low credit score
An authorized user with a low credit score may be able to boost their score if the primary user’s credit is strong. This works best if the primary user has a solid payment history and high credit limit.
Be sure the authorized user’s status will be reported to credit bureaus.
For more help in this department, check out “7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast.“