scorecardBy 'double-dipping' on credit card rewards, my wife and I have figured out how to earn more points and get to travel for cheap
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By 'double-dipping' on credit card rewards, my wife and I have figured out how to earn more points and get to travel for cheap

couple relaxing summer waterfront porch

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The author is not pictured.

  • My wife and I often "double-dip" on credit card rewards by signing up for the same card at different times.
  • Many people don't realize that you can be a primary cardholder and an authorized user on the same credit card at the same time, but we've done it for everything from the Chase Sapphire Reserve to the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.
  • We use this strategy to earn sign-up bonuses twice, avoid credit card restrictions, and combine our points to make travel truly free.

One of the favorite credit card tricks my wife and I have used for years is "double-dipping" on credit card rewards.

By "double-dipping" I mean that we sign up for the same credit card at different times. I simply make my wife an authorized user on the cards when I'm the primary cardholder, and then I become an authorized user when we open the same card in her name.

Many people don't realize that you can be both a primary cardholder and an authorized user on the exact same credit card.

But you most definitely can. I know because we've done it for years. And of all the credit card hacks that we've tried, I'd say that this still may be the most valuable tool in our credit card rewards "tool chest."

Why? Because "double-dipping" on credit card rewards allows us to do several things that we wouldn't be able to do otherwise.

1. We're able to earn more than one credit card sign-up bonus for our household

This is by far the most common reason why my wife and I sign for the exact same credit card at different times.

Getting a great sign-up bonus on a credit card is awesome. But being able to get that bonus twice is even better! I mean twice for our household - we each open a given card once as the primary user and earn the sign-up bonus. Then, since we live and travel together, we each benefit from the other's bonus.

Throughout our marriage my wife and I have been able to earn the sign-up or welcome bonus on numerous cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Marriott Bonvoy cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards cards like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, among others.

Now if you're looking at a credit card sign-up bonus that's only available for a short period of time, this strategy may not work. A large number of sign-up bonuses come with minimum spending requirements. And if you have to open both of your cards at the exact same time, you may not be able to meet the spending requirement on both cards without breaking your normal spending habits.

And you should never overspend just to earn a sign-up bonus. That's a common credit card mistake you want to avoid.

But many of the best credit cards tend to offer some kind of sign-up or welcome bonus all year long. If you pinpoint these types of cards, you can focus on meeting your minimum spending requirement on the first card before opening the second card.

2. We're able to avoid credit card restrictions

Nearly every major credit card issuer has some sort of restriction on how often you can apply for credit cards in a three-month span or how often you can receive credit card bonuses in a 24-month span.

But by applying for the same credit card at different times, my wife and I are able to avoid bumping up against these restrictions as often.

For instance, this year my wife and I targeted the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card as ones that we'd like to get this year. At the time, Southwest was including a Companion Pass as part of its sign-up bonus and it was just too good a deal to pass up.

It just so happens that we've both owned cards from Southwest in the past. But we didn't open them at the same time. Instead, we spaced our applications about a year apart.

And we're glad we did. Because while I wasn't past the 24-month window yet, my wife was. We applied for the card in my wife's name, and we were approved. And a few months later, we received an email confirmation that we had earned our Companion Pass.

So by double-dipping on this credit card, we've now earned a total of three sign-up bonuses and a Companion Pass to boot!

3. We're able to earn enough points to score flights and hotels

Sometimes credit card bonuses aren't quite enough to cover our entire flight or hotel stay. That's why we'll often try to plan well ahead of time so we can both earn bonus points from the same credit card.

We've used this method with great success on Southwest Rapid Rewards cards and Hyatt cards.

But for this method to work, planning ahead is essential. At the very least, you'll want to begin preparing six months ahead of time, and preferably closer to a year. You need to give yourself enough time to each open your own card, earn your respective sign-up bonuses, and still have time to book your flight or hotel reservations.

In fact, my wife and I are already planning next summer's trip by working towards double-dipping on the fantastic sign-up bonus that comes with the Citi Premier Card.

Once we've both earned our bonus points, we plan to transfer the majority of them to one of Citi's many travel partners, like JetBlue or Virgin Atlantic. By combining our points, we hope to to secure round-trip flight tickets for us and our two kids with no out-of-pocket expense.

Yes, it may seem kind of crazy to begin "points planning" for a vacation a year in advance. But it could save you a ton of money.

I realize that this strategy won't work for everyone. Many couples keep their expenses separate and use their own separate credit cards for purchases. But if you already share expenses with a spouse or partner, credit "double-dipping" could help you bring your credit card rewards to the next level.

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