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Many times credit card issuers introduce multiple versions of a card, in hopes of going after as many types of consumers as possible. Sometimes the benefits on the cards overlap, while other times they don’t. For example:
- The $99 annual fee JetBlue Plus Card comes with all the same benefits (and much more!) as the no annual fee JetBlue Card, so there’s not much benefit to having the no annual fee version if you have the premium version
- There’s not a ton of value in having the $95 annual fee Citi ThankYou® Premier Card when you have the $450 annual fee Citi Prestige® Card, since the benefits mostly overlap (though not completely)
However, in this post I figured I’d look at five sets of cards that may on the surface appear to be substitutes, but are actually complementary to one another, in my opinion. In no particular order:
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
While the personal and business version of the card have largely overlapping benefits, there’s one key benefit to having both. Specifically, each card offers two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights towards status annually. That benefit on both cards stacks, meaning that having both cards gets you four elite qualifying stays and 10 elite qualifying nights towards status annually. If you’re looking to earn Starwood status, that’s a huge boost.
If you’re going to have just one of the cards, though, go for the business card. That’s because it offers lounge access when staying at Sheraton properties.
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® and Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
While the Executive Card has a $450 annual fee and is the premium version of the $95 annual fee Platinum Card, there’s a key benefit to having both. The Platinum version of the card offers a 10% refund on redeemed miles, for a total refund of up to 10,000 miles per year. Since I redeem at least 100,000 American miles per year, that card is worth holding onto, since it’s like buying miles for 0.95 cents each.
The Executive Card doesn’t offer that benefit, though does come with Admirals Club access for the primary cardmember and all authorized users, so is a useful card to have as well.
The $95 annual fee Business Preferred is the premium version of the Business Cash, though the benefits are quite different. The Ink Cash offers 5x points on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year. That’s a huge reward for those categories, especially for a no annual fee card.
Meanwhile the Business Preferred offers 3x on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. The card also comes with several other perks, like an amazing cell phone coverage plan and primary collision damage waiver coverage on rental cars.
So if you can get both cards, it can definitely make sense to have them, especially given that one card has no annual fee.
The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express
Both of these cards have a high annual fee ($550 for the Personal Platinum and $450 for the Business Platinum), and the benefits largely overlap, including a $200 annual airline fee credit, as well as access to Centurion Lounges, Delta SkyClubs, Boingo Hotspots, and more.
However, each card has a key benefit that potentially makes both cards worth holding onto, depending on your spend patterns:
- The Personal Platinum Card offers 5x points on airfare, which is a huge bonus category for many of us
- The Business Platinum Card offers a 50% rebate when using Pay With Points, which is potentially an opportunity to redeem your points for two cents each towards the cost of a ticket
Given how much I spend on airline tickets and also how many Amex points I have, this would make both cards worth holding onto for someone like me. Everyone will have to crunch the numbers for themselves, though.
The 50% off Pay With Points redemption can be great for booking discounted business class tickets
These are both no annual fee Chase cards that earn cash back on the surface, though in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, etc., those points can be converted into premium Ultimate Rewards points. Why do I love having both of these cards?
- The Freedom Card offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 of spend per quarter; this is a great way to earn 7,500 points per quarter quite easily
- The Freedom Unlimited Card offers 1.5x points per dollar spent on everyday purchases, so is a card I use for purchases that aren’t otherwise eligible for bonus categories, along with the The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
Chase Freedom 2017 bonus categories
There are many similar cards out there that are indeed substitutes and not complements. However, there are also plenty of other card pairs that appear similar on the surface — whether it’s the personal and business version of a card, basic and premium version of a card, etc. — that are worth holding onto.