Since many cards only allow an individual to benefit from a welcome offer once, having a partner that can take advantage of the same offer is a big deal. Bonuses can sometimes be as high as 100,000 points, which is often enough for a one-way business class ticket to Europe, Asia, or tropical destinations like Tahiti or the Maldives.
Even when factoring in a high annual fee on both accounts, you can extract a great value from that welcome bonus (like booking an overwater bungalow in the Maldives), which would more than cover the upfront cash outlay.
If you find that you each have a card with overlapping benefits, ask yourselves if it’s worth it to continue paying twice the annual fee. If not, consider downgrading it to a card with a lower annual fee so you’re not paying for the same perks twice.
Many cards have similar benefits. If you both already have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, for example, there is no need to focus on cards with that as a duplicate benefit, unless they each have something else you can use. Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card from American Express both come with Priority Pass lounge access, and couples that travel together needn’t pay annual fees on both cards if that is their primary card benefit (enrollment required, terms apply). Both cards also come with monetary credits toward airline or other travel purchases, though, so they can still make sense for couples that travel frequently. Tally up the value of benefits that come with a card and measure it against the cost of an annual fee to decide if a card makes sense.
When downgrading or even closing a card, keep in mind that banks have retention departments designed to keep cardholders active and engaged, and there may be an incentive (usually bonus points or a waived annual fee) if you agree to keep the card. This may not always be an option, but if you mention you want to cancel the card and ask if there are any offers available if you keep it for another year, there might be one worth taking.
According to Larounis, it’s best not to close existing credit cards when possible since the longer you have an account, the better it is for your credit history. Still, he says it can make sense to close or downgrade a card to save on an annual fee and consolidate credit toward cards that have more frequent usage.
If you do decide to close a card, be sure to review the rewards policy. Some loyalty programs let you keep your miles or points, but others, like ThankYou Rewards from Citi credit cards, will delete your balance once you close an account.
Many programs charge fees to transfer or share miles and points with someone else, which is not a good use of your money or points. Others, like Hilton Honors, allow you to pool points with as many as nine other family members or friends free of charge, helping you take your dream trip faster. If you and your partner each have Hilton Honors accounts (or better yet, a card like the Hilton Honors Aspire card which comes with top-tier Diamond status and earns 14 points on Hilton purchases), consider moving points between your accounts when you are ready to make a big redemption.