Consumer Reports Picks Top Credit Card Combos to Maximize Cash-Back Rewards for Consumers

Adding one or two new reward credit cards to your wallet can generate thousands in cash back–with the right cards and a smart strategy, Consumer Reports (CR) finds in a new story that examines the best and worst in credit card benefits.

CR did a deep dive into credit cards in its report “How to Cash In on Cash-Back Credit Cards” that appears in the September issue, and online at

The report finds that a family can potentially generate as much as $4,940 in cash-back rewards from credit cards over three years–when that family has the best cards for its personal spending patterns and follows the correct strategy.

Using its proprietary credit card comparison calculator, CR reviewed 83 rewards card programs for six common spending scenarios, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because CR’s experts found that consumers can earn up to 40 percent more cash back by strategically using two cards instead of just one, they came up with card pairings that will increase refunds.

CR identified the top card combinations for a large family, a high-income family, a retired couple, a single female professional, a single male professional, and a small-business owner.
“Using the right combination of cards and sticking to a smart strategy can help a family shave hundreds of dollars off its budget annually and thousands over the long term,” said Jeff Blyskal, Consumer Reports senior editor. “The rewards are there for those willing to invest a little time and effort.”

When looking at the spending patterns typical of a single female professional, the monthly charges totaled $1,800. When pairing HSBC Advance Mastercard with PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature, the cash back amount over three years was $1,600. For a retired couple typically spending $2,000 monthly, when pairing American Express Blue Cash Preferred and PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature, the cash back amount over three years was $2,000. These spending scenarios accounted for spending on restaurants, groceries, entertainment, travel, and other expenses. To see which spending strategy works best for your monthly charges, pick up a copy of Consumer Reports’ September 2017 issue or visit

Finding the right reward card will depend on many factors, such as how much is charged on that card each month,  what types of purchases are made,  and the annual fee for the card,  if any.  Instead of choosing a one-size-fits-all card, Consumer Reports’ Credit Card Adviser Comparison Tool finds the card that is best, based on spending habits.

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