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

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The right combination of credit cards can generate up to almost $5k in cash back over three years

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.

For a customized cash-back card recommendation based on actual spending, use Consumer Reports’ Credit Card Adviser Comparison Tool, available at There are also additional credit card reward guides available: Reward Card Buying Guide, Credit Card Buying Guide, and Store Credit Card Buying Guide on

About Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.

© 2017 Consumer Reports. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports® is an expert, independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to work side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. We accept no advertising and pay for all the products we test. We are not beholden to any commercial interest. Our income is derived from the sale of Consumer Reports® magazine,® and our other publications and information products, services, fees, and noncommercial contributions and grants. Our Ratings and reports are intended solely for the use of our readers. Neither the Ratings nor the reports may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose without our prior written permission. Consumer Reports will take all steps open to it to prevent unauthorized commercial use of its content and trademarks.

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Rocio Guzman
Consumer Reports
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