Which Two Cards should You Choose?
If you’re just getting started with earning points and miles, you’ll quickly find that transferable points are incredibly valuable for earning and redeeming with a wide variety of travel partners. Today we’re going to explain why this is the Ultimate Rewards card that you should have in your wallet now.
Ultimate Rewards points routinely rank the highly in our monthly valuations, currently holding steady at 2.1 cents apiece. The only transferable currency to top that is SPG’s Starpoint (with a valuation of 2.7 cents), but the straightforwardness of this Ultimate Rewards card could make this program a better place to start for points and miles newbies.
Plus, with this Ultimate Cashback card offering a solid return on everyday spending, the combination of both cards offer you the best way to maximize your daily spending.
Why These Two Cards?
Earn two points per dollar on dining with this Ultimate Rewards card.
I’ll break down the full benefits of each product below, but here’s a quick explanation of why you’ll want to start with these two cards in particular. The number one reason is this bank limits the number of credit cards you can successfully apply for with its “5/24 rule”— basically, if you’ve opened five or more accounts in the past 24 months, it’s very unlikely you’ll be approved.
If you’re just starting out, though, this likely won’t be a problem. Still, it’s best to cover the most important bases first. When it comes to points, this Ultimate Rewards card should probably be your first application, since it earns you a very valuable 2 points per dollar on dining purchases and a wide variety of travel spending. It also allows you to transfer points to a variety of travel partners
As for the the Ultimate Cashback card, it makes a good second application because of the high return you’ll get on everyday, non-bonus-category spending. The card offers an uncapped 1.5% cash back on all purchases, but as I’ll discuss that can equate to 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar — a great earning rate for a card with no annual fee.
The Ultimate Cashback Credit Card
Since its inception in 2016, this no-fee cash-back card has gained plenty of attention for good reason: It earns a flat, uncapped 1.5% back on all purchases.
Here’s a full rundown of the product details.
Current Bonus: $150 back after you spend $500 in the first three months of account opening.
Benefits: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (after that 16.74% – 25.49% Variable APR applies).
Annual fee: $0
Reasons to get it: The ability to get 1.5 cents back for every dollar spent is nothing to sneeze at, but some other cash-back cards will get you a better return. What really makes the Ultimate Cashback card worthy of your wallet is that you can redeem your cash back as Ultimate Rewards points, which get you a return at 2.1 cents apiece. That means 1.5% cash back becomes 1.5x points on all purchases — a return of 3.15%!
The Ultimate Rewards Credit Card
This Ultimate Rewards card is a great choice for travel and dining purchases.
Current bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through their rewards platform.
Benefits: 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, no foreign transaction fees, primary auto rental insurance, trip cancellation coverage and the ability to transfer to 13 travel partners, including British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, Southwest and United.
Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95
Reasons to get it: Earn 2x points on travel and dining at restaurants — equal to a return of 4.2%. Wide variety of items included in the travel category — from airline purchases, taxis and tolls to parking lots and travel agencies. So even if your day-to-day travel is limited to transportation, you can rack up bonus Ultimate Rewards points pretty quickly. As for using those points, you have 13 travel partners to choose from, and you can also redeem UR points directly for airfare at a rate of 1.25 cents apiece.
Using the Cards Together
Transfer rewards earned from both cards to partners such as Hyatt.
How does this work, you ask? To redeem rewards earned with the Ultimate Cashback card as points that can be transferred to partners, you need to hold a higher-tier card like the this Ultimate Rewards card that earns Ultimate Rewards points outright.
The Ultimate Cashback card is particularly valuable due to its rotating quarterly bonus categories, since you can earn 5% cash back (or 5x points) on up to $1,500 in combined purchases every three months. It’s definitely worth applying for the card and maximizing these bonus categories if you can.
You can earn 2x on travel expenses with this Ultimate Rewards card.
Simply holding and using these two cards puts you in a good position for earning and redeeming valuable travel rewards, but using some strategy will up your game even more.
The Ultimate Cashback card and the Ultimate Rewards card make a great points-earning team, since the former offers a great return on everyday spending and the latter gets you 2x rewards on dining/travel and opens up some great transfer partner options. If you’re just getting started in this hobby, these two cards should be your top priority when it comes to card applications.
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