At a Glance

Growing debt is stressful, especially when wages seem to stagnate but living costs continue to rise. When working on paying off debt, you should also be cutting down expenses, so you do not add more debt to the pile. You must get strategic with how you manage your finances and discover unique ways that might help. One possible way to pay off debt is by using credit card combinations to leverage points, miles, and cash back to cut down on costs. However, we should stress that everyone’s debt situation is different and there is no one credit card pair that will solve all your issues but there are some helpful tips you can hopefully take away.

How it works

Credit cards offer a variety of incentives for cardholders. There are a few different categories of cards, each with its own set of fees, conditions, and rewards. Cash back credit cards are an excellent option for those dealing with debt because they put money directly back into your wallet. Some cash back cards will have a fixed rate of cash back for all purchases, typically around 1.5% to 2%. Other cards will have rotating or regular bonus categories that offer higher cashback rates, while all other purchases get 1% back.

Here’s an example of a pair that could help you get cash back on many everyday purchases but if you aren’t someone who regularly shops at the grocery store or eats out a lot this may not work for you. However, if you have the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, which is running a promotion to give you an extra 1.5% back on all purchases. You get 4.5% cash back on drug stores and dining and 3% on all other purchases. Another example is the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express, which gives you 6% back at supermarkets and streaming services. Instead of getting 3% back at the grocery store with the Chase card, you can double your cash back by using the Amex. These pairings can be super beneficial but only if you fall into these spending habit categories.

It’s never a one size fits all with credit card pairings which is why our Credit Card Pairing tool can help you find a match based on your specific needs.

Some strong pairings

The Freedom Unlimited and Blue Cash Preferred can be an excellent pairing for the day-to-day consumer. However, plenty of pairings out there might be worthwhile, depending on your financial situation. The Citi Double Cash Card simplifies cash back and gives a flat 2% back on all purchases, with 1% earned at the time of spending and 1% when you pay off that purchase. The card also offers 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months, which is excellent for those with lots of high-interest credit card debt. You can pair that card with the Chase Freedom Flex, which gives you 5% back on a bonus category of your choosing each quarter and 3% back on drug stores and dining. Again, it is not one size fits all and there are a bountiful number of pairings out there. The Citi Double Cash Card may be good for high-interest debt, but it may not be helpful if you have student loan debt.

Cash back cards may not be the best for you either. If you do not want to only stick to cash back cards, you can use travel and other rewards cards to your advantage. These cards typically offer ways to redeem points and miles for shopping, gift cards, statement credits, or travel purchases. Although you might not get the best value per point when saving for cash, it still can be a lifesaver if you are in a pinch. Two examples of cards that fall into this category are the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture. Right now, the sign-up bonus on the Sapphire Preferred is 60,000 bonus points, valued at $750 when redeemed on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Every pairing truly depends on your situation.

Bottom line

By being strategic with credit cards and making sure you understand the particulars of your finances, you can pay off your debt. Just remember there is no one size fits all for credit card pairings when it comes to debt payoff so keep this in mind.