Best Credit Cards for Everyday Purchases in 2020

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As points and miles collectors, we devote a lot of time to finding the perfect card for every purchase. We frequently talk about the importance of creating a card portfolio centered around what you spend the most money on, whether that's restaurants, traveling, office supply stores, groceries, or anything else. This strategy serves to maximize your earnings, putting you on the fast-track to realizing your travel goals.

But, most of us don't have dozens of cards to suit dozens of spending categories. Moreover, not every purchase fits neatly into a specific bonus category. In these situations, having a solid card for everyday purchases is critical.

Like any other category, the ‘best' card for everyday purchases is subjective—depending entirely on your travel goals and preferences. However, there are certainly a few clear-cut industry leaders. These are the cards we're going to focus on today.Best credit card for everyday spending

Let's look at the cards that you'll want to reach for when you are not:

Our Pick — The Best Credit Card for Everyday Use

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
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Rates & Fees
(Terms Apply)
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Annual FeeNo annual fee
Featured Offer Earn up to $300 back to boost your business. You can earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
The best credit card available for non-bonus business expenses. You'll receive 2X Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent up to the first $50,000 per year, then 1x. Points transfer to travel partners without the need to hold other cards. The introductory APR offer also makes the card a great option if you're looking for a low-cost method of financing capital purchases you intend to pay down in less than 12 months.
  • Earn up to $300 back to boost your business. You can earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
  • Enjoy the flexibility to put more purchases on the Card and earn rewards when you buy above your credit limit*.
  • You've got the power to use your Card beyond its credit limit* with Expanded Buying Power.
  • More buying power for your business means more opportunities to earn points. That's everyday business with the Blue Business Plus Card.
  • *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors.
  • 0.0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.24% - 19.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors at account opening.
  • No Annual Fee
  • Terms Apply
  • Rates & Fees
  • Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.

All hail the king! For most points and miles collectors, the The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express is going to be the best card for everyday purchases. This is thanks, in part, to its ability to earn 2X Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 in purchases each calendar year (then 1x). Even if you value Membership Rewards at a conservative 1.7-1.8¢ per point, that represents a phenomenal 3.4-3.6% return on every dollar. The lack of an annual fee seals the deal.

Plus, the card currently offers an interesting sign-up bonus. You can earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

However, the one major caveat is that the Blue Business Plus is—as the name implies—a business card. Consequently, not everyone will qualify to get one. That said, you might be surprised at what qualifies as a business.

Related: Highlights of the Blue Business Plus

Best Credit Card for Everyday Purchases in the First Year

Discover it® Miles
Discover it® Miles
Annual Fee$0
Welcome Bonus Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!

The Discover it® Miles card stands out as particularly lucrative in its first year. A staple of Discover's card offerings, this card offers 1.5X points (worth 1¢ in cash back each) on every purchase. However, at the end of your first year of card membership, Discover matches every point you've earned. This effectively makes it a 3% cash back card for the first year. That's a killer return from a card charging no annual fee.

Related: Discover it Miles Card Review

Best Everyday Purchase Card to Complement Another

Citi® Double Cash Card
Citi® Double Cash Card
Annual Fee$0
Welcome Offer 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. (After that, the (Variable) APR will be 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness.)
The Citi Double Cash is a dynamic, no-annual-fee cash-back rewards card that allows you to earn 2% traditional cash back, or convert your rewards to ThankYou Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio (2x ThankYou points per $1). When paired with a premium ThankYou Rewards earning card, the Citi Double Cash is now the best card available for everyday, non-bonus purchases.

If you're looking to pay down debt or finance a larger purchase, this card also comes with one of the best available introductory APR offers on balance transfers.
  • 2% cash back on every purchase - 1% when you buy + 1% when you pay
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. After that, the (Variable) APR will be 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness
  • No annual fee
This card makes earning rewards simple with no need to worry about keeping track of bonus categories for purchases with specific types of merchants. You'll earn 2% cash back on every purchase—1% when you buy and 1% when you pay. Citi cash rewards now also convert to ThankYou points at 1:1 ($10 = 100 ThankYou points).

Until recently, the Citi® Double Cash Card wasn't overly valuable. It provided a reasonable 2% cash back on every purchase—1% cash back at purchase, and 1% at payment. Since it had (has) zero annual fee, this made it a solid option for downgrading other Citi cards.

However, last year Citi added the ability to convert your cashback rewards to Citi ThankYou points. So, if you also hold a ThankYou point-earning card (like the Citi Premier Card or Citi Prestige® Card), the Citi Double Cash can effectively earn unlimited 2X ThankYou points on every purchase. With $0 annual fee, this makes the Citi Double Cash perhaps the most effective sidekick card in credit card rewards.

Related: Get 2% Cash Back With the Citi Double Cash

Best Purchase Eraser Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Offer Earn 100,000 Miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months
Following the revamp of Capital One's rewards program and the addition of airline transfer partners, the Capital One Venture has catapulted into our list of top travel rewards cards. The ability to earn 2X miles on every purchase and 5X points on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel provides a decent return on spending. Plus the card offers some great perks.
  • Earn 100,000 Miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months; worth $1000 in travel if redeemed for a fixed-value, or potentially much more when transferred to airline partners
  • 2 Miles on every purchase, plus earn 5 Miles on hotel bookings and car rentals through Capital One Travel
  • Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® (up to $100)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee
  • 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day.
  • 5 Miles on hotels and car rentals through Capital One Travel

Purchase-eraser cards are a small but mighty sub-category of credit card rewards. They combine the best of both cash back and point-earning worlds, allowing cardmembers to cut out-of-pocket travel expenses even more.

The obvious front runner in this category is the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card card. It earns 2X miles on every purchase, plus 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. That's a solid earn rate for a card charging a modest $95 annual fee.

But that's not even the best part. The real joy of using the Capital One Venture is the redemption flexibility it provides. You can redeem Capital One miles for 1¢ each against any travel purchases made with the card. Or, more advanced users can transfer miles to 15 different travel partners. Smart cardmembers can use these partner programs to get outsized value from their miles.

New cardholders can earn a 100,000-mile bonus when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Related: Share Capital One Venture and Spark Miles with Anyone

Best Cash Back Card For Leveraging Savings

The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card card is an unsung hero in the world of credit card rewards. That's because it offers the ability to earn the highest ongoing cash back rate on everyday purchases of almost any card available.

Although the Bank of America Premium Rewards Card has the word “Premium” in its name, don't be fooled into thinking it charges a high annual fee. In reality, it falls neatly into the mid-tier rewards card arena, charging a modest $95 annual fee.

On the surface, the benefits are what you'd expect for a card at that price range. It earns 2X points on travel and dining purchases, 1.5X on everything else, and comes with a 50,000-point sign-up bonus after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. Points are worth a fixed 1¢ a piece towards cash back.

With that said, the fun ultimately starts when you hold assets with Bank of America. The bank provides additional credit card rewards for its banking clients, offering progressively better benefits for more assets.

If you have $100K+ in assets with Bank of America or Merrill Lynch, the rewards earned on your Bank of America Premium Rewards Card get a 75% boost. That translates into earning 3.5% cash back on travel and dining, plus an un-matchable 2.625% cash back on everything else.

Related: Bank of America Premium Rewards Card Review

The 12 Best Rewards Credit Cards for Everyday Purchases

We've covered a lot of ground already. But in case you're a more visual learner, here's a table plotting 12 of the best cards for everyday spending next to each other. We drew the line for qualification at potential returns of 2% returns or above:

Credit CardPoints Earned on Everyday PurchasesOther Bonus CategoriesAnnual Fee
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express2X Membership Rewards points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners (applies to first $50,000 spent each year, then 1X)N/ANo annual fee - Rates & Fees
Discover it® Miles1.5 Miles per dollar on all purchases. Discover will match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first yearN/A$0
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card1.5X points on non-bonus purchase—up to 2.625X points for those with $100k+ in qualifying savings2X points on travel and dining—up to 3.5X for those with $100k+ in qualifying savings$95
Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card2.5% cash back on up to $10,000 in purchases every billing cycleN/A$99, waived the first year
Chase Freedom Unlimited®1.5% cash back on all purchases5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases$0
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express1 point on all purchases - 50% extra points when you make 30+ purchases in a billing cycle (1.5X MR points)3X points at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year
2X points at US gas stations
$95
Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card2% cash back on all purchases, plus bonuses for holding $250k+ in eligible assetsN/A$0
Citi® Double Cash Card2% cash back - 1% on purchases and 1% as you pay for those purchasesN/A$0
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business2 % Cash Back for your business on every purchase, everywhere.N/A$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
American Express Blue Business Cash™ CardEarn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%.N/ANo annual fee - Rates & Fees
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day.N/A$95
Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business2 Miles per $1 on every purchase, everywhere.5X miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel℠$0 intro for first year; $95 after that

To make a long story short, the best card for everyday purchases is tied directly to your current travel goals. If you plan on transferring flexible points to airlines for premium cabin award travel, Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards points are likely to get you there a lot faster than earning cash back.

Conversely, if you’re banking fixed-value points or cash back for miscellaneous travel expenses, cards like the Capital One Venture or Bank of America Premium Rewards Card can provide a higher rate of return.

Card choice also depends on your level of experience in the points and miles world. Experienced award travelers familiar with flexible award currency can often leverage points for higher values than those with less experience. This changes the calculation in favor of earning flexible points. Specifically, those just starting may achieve better returns on everyday purchases with a flat 2% cash back card than a card earning flexible points.

Cards That Almost Make the List

Several cards typically feature on ‘best card for non-bonus spend’ lists that we’ve deliberately not included here, for a variety of reasons.

  • Rotating bonus category cards like the Discover it® Cash Back and Chase Freedom Flex℠ — While the return on bonus categories can be as high as 5-10%, these cards earn 1% on every day, non-bonus purchases.
  • Co-brand airline cards like the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card — Experienced award travelers can achieve huge returns on Alaska miles when redeemed for first or business class flights. However, not all travelers are going to have the knowledge required to consistently earn more than 2%.
  • Co-brand hotel cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card — Earns 3X points on non-bonus purchases, giving the appearance of a high net return. But, if you've been in the game long enough, you'll know that all points don't have equal value. Hilton Honors points are worth roughly 0.4-0.5¢ per point, returning under the 2% threshold we’d consider a good return on everyday purchases.

Final Thoughts

We consider the Blue Business Plus the perfect card for everyday purchases. It earns 2X Membership Rewards points on up to $50K in non-bonus spending every year (then 1x) with no annual fee.

However, if you qualify for Bank of America's Platinum Honors tier, you can't beat the Bank of America Premium Rewards Card‘s cash back.

For those looking for the perfect card to complement your portfolio, you ought to consider the Citi Double Cash or Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

But, perhaps the most important thing to get across, in summary, is that there is no ‘one best card’ for everyday spending. The best card is tied directly to your current travel goals—where you want to go, how you’re going to get there, and where you're going to stay. Our advice is not to agonize over ringing every last cent out of your everyday spending. Instead, focus on a strategy provides the best return for the time you’re willing to invest.

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card (Rates & Fees)

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Comments

  • Avatar

    My strategy may help someone with similar interests (asumes not pursuing a sign up bonus):

    1) BOFA cash rewards for online purchases (3% for the first $2,500 per quarter) and sometimes Costco 2%

    2) Chase Freedom Unlimited for dinning 3% and sometimes Costco 1.5%

    3) Everything else Citi Double cash 2% (not a big gas spender, so I use this one as well)

    I value simplicity and not having annual fees. Hope it helps someone.

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    Used the Double Cash until I opened the Freedom Unlimited (to stack with my CSR)

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    Iñaki retes garcia says:

    It is a very good news because many times we access card promotions because we associate the. With banks or jobs thar we do and iit id mandatory for dependents. All that news in times of pandemia bring us closer. To the futures. Travels. Its a pleasure to know these benefits

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    Very well laid out list. Glad to see Citi Double Cash still makes the cut!

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    It’s great that you put together this list!! I was just in the process of choosing a new credit card. Earning miles is essential!

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    With Citi Double Cash had(still has?) a minimum redemption of $25. Meaning we can’t cash it out until we put at least $1,250 spend on it. So I didn’t find it particularly appealing.

    Also, I wish you included Costco Citi Visa – a great card with potential for 4% discount in Costco purchases (with $120 membership) and no Foreign transaction fees, etc.

    How does the two Charles Schwab American Express compare with these cards?

    • Avatar

      The Costco card certainly has great potential, but only for Costco purchases. This article focused on cards that earn a solid return on all spending.

      And you’re right on the Double Cash. I just checked on my card and there is indeed a $25 minimum redemption amount.

      On the Schwab card, the “Schwab Investor Card® from American Express” (which I assume you’re referencing) earns 1.5% cashback on all purchases. Not bad, but not great.

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    I use the Bank of America Premium Rewards card as my everyday card. The 2.625% cash back on everything is unbeatable. The easiest way to get $100K in assets with Bank of America is to move your IRA into Merrill Lynch. They also gave me a $1K bonus just for moving my IRA from another bank to Merrill.

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    Aeroplan American express email for a new card coming out in Nov has a waitlist bonus of 5000 miles. This is in addition to the promotional sign up bonus when the card comes out. This is the first time I’ve seen a waitlist bonus.

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    In my opinion, to choose the correct credit card will depend of the objective and goal of the person. If the person wants to gain miles from an especific airline, he/she must to make sure that the credit card is affiliated to that airline.
    On the other hand, if the fees and the Maintainance of this credit card are high, the person must to evaluate if this is the best option to gain miles or other ways are moré suitable.

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    For me cash is king so I would go for the Citibank cash back card that gives 2% cash back.

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    Right now I am thinking that the Freedom Unlimited is the best earner for me. I have the Sapphire and freedom and paired with the Unlimited adds up quickly. I do use my Amex Everyday for groceries though. Right now these are the best cards for me, though I have been looking at the Citi Double CashBack card. I am really trying to boost my UR points so really focusing on Chase and I believe it gives me the best return anyway.

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    I have the old Blue for Business card, which only earns 1x. I wonder if I can product change to the Plus. With Amex’ stricter approval standards and low or no welcome bonus, it seems the change would be the most worthwhile.

    • Avatar

      Kevin,

      I’m in the same situation and have requested to product change from the old Blue for Business to the Blue Business Plus. I figured it would be straight forward as both are No AF Business Cards. For reasons no one has been able to explain so far it is not an allowed product change. At least not for me.

      I have tried calling and using the chat function and struck out both times.

      Please try it and let us know if you have any luck.

  • Avatar

    CFU has become one of my go-to cards for everyday spend just because of the transfer possibilities through the Sapphires that make the points more valuable than a straight 2% cash back.

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    Wish Chase would up the freedom unlimited and freedom flex to 2x points to compete with the others

  • Avatar

    Great summary. One of the hardest thing I have to remember to do is keep detailed notes of when I openedvand closed the accounts. Sometimes you’re only allowed one promo within a given time period and I have messed up once and miss out on a promo because of it.

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    Amex everyday is my go to, the best for food and fuel!

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    I got targeted for extra 1% spend on the fidelity 2% card for a total of 3% back (up to $6000) this is definitely my favorite card. I shop a lot at costco and they only take Visa.

  • Avatar

    Excellent list! Many bloggers exclude the cards they don’t get affiliate fees for.
    I had Capital One and then Barclay Arrival, but neither would wave the annual fee so I jumped to the Alliant 3% first year then 2.5%. I like not having to play the game of looking for travel to credit. I also use the Freedom Unlimited for 1.5x UR, and the SPG. I am constantly transferring points from SPG and find fewer opportunities from Chase UR. My next card is probably the Blue Business Plus. Of course these are all for otherwise unbonused spend.

  • Avatar

    What’s the complication to using Alaska Air?
    level of knowledge required to return more than 2% on non-bonus spending is too high for a lot of people

    I’ve used Alaska air by getting multiple B of A cards and transferring points from SPG

    Got Emirates before the devaluation.

    Wondering if I’m missing something more. thanks!

  • Avatar

    I have trouble remembering which card to use where to maximize rewards. Got an easy way?

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    This is useful. I need to update my everyday purchases card.

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    I really appreciate this “Best Credit Card for… ” series that you’ve been running. Thanks.

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    I just got the CFU! I’m excited cuz I’m planning a trip to SYD for my hubby in several years and I need to build points asap.
    Since I have the CF and CSP it’ll be easy and I’ll be able to treat him to first to SYD with United, hopefully.
    I do have to say that the Alaska Airlines card has been poking at me. People have only nice thing to say about it.
    I think I might have to first see how my dad likes them since I’d be flying him mostly on them.

  • Avatar
    Rachel Davenport says:

    Great info. Wish it included cards for Canadian residents to select from.

  • Avatar
    Will Goodson says:

    What about the Chase Sapphire Reserve? Is that worth keeping?

    • Avatar

      For me, 100% yes, no questions asked. I wouldn’t make it my everyday card though, because it only earns 1x except on dining/travel. I’d pair it with a Freedom Unlimited (which is what I actually do) https://awardwallet.com/blog/create-ultimate-travel-rewards-credit-card-combo/

      • Avatar
        Will Goodson says:

        Thanks Howie. My main card is the Wells Fargo Advisors By Invitation card and I run all of my day to day through that. Do you have an opinion on that card also?

        • Avatar

          I’m assuming you’ve got $1MM+ with them to avoid the annual fee. Effectively this is a cash back card as the points have a fixed redemption value. at 3% back on travel with a kicker when you hit $75k in total spend it isn’t bad — but it depends on your goals. Mine are international business/first class travel + nice hotels/suites. If you’re spending a lot on travel+dining, and your goals are similar to mine, you’re probably better with the Sapphire Reserve. All that said, we likely have different goals and want to put in different amounts of effort to maximize the value of the points/rewards we earn — I’ll obsess about it and will lose sleep — if you’re in that camp, stick with my approach. If not, you may be better with what you’ve got purely due to the ease of redemption.

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    I don’t have a business, so I like using the Citi double cash card for everyday purchases.

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    I tend to agree with Thomas. My go-to cards tend to always be my Chase ones.

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    I buy gas extremely rarely, only when I’m in someone’s car for long enough to justify it, so it’s not a card for my everyday use, but PenFed’s Platinum Rewards Visa card has the best rebate on Gas I’m aware of. 5 points per dollar. About 5800 points is redeemable for an prepaid $50 Visa card

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    2x points is an excellent return with the Blue Biz, but although there is some crossover with transfer partners, overall I find more value with Chase than with AmEx, so most of my unbonused spend goes on the Freedom Unlimited.

  • Avatar
    Anthony DiProperzio says:

    First/Business international travel

  • Avatar
    Anthony DiProperzio says:

    I current have Citi Aadvantage Card which I basically use for travel benefits. Is there a better card for travel?

    • Avatar

      100% yes, but it all depends on your goals and what point/miles you’re currently collecting. If the Citi AA card is good for the travel benefits I’m assuming you’re flying with AA most of the time — but what are your travel goals? First class international flights? hotel suites? domestic weekend getaways? I’d suggest you check out our Facebook group: Award Travel 101 (https://Award.Travel/101) — a great resource of almost 40,000 people that can help guide you down the best path.

  • Avatar

    Capitol one venture gives 2 points on all purchases as well?

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    Any card better than Double Cash on ‘all other purchases’?

  • Avatar

    So I just got Biz Blue Plus, so do I still need to keep my SPG Biz?

  • Avatar

    For my day to day spending I prefer to diversity and simplify and just use the Double Cash… the CFU technically earns more with a CSR but I don’t ALWAYS redeem for travel, and it limits my options. I’d rather forego the extra .25% value for straight up cash.

  • Avatar

    Thanks for the review… i really do have to apply for another card soon. I will have to look into what if any (im in Canada) might work. cheers

  • Avatar

    I put just about everything either on my CFU or on my SPG. Hands down some of my favourite cards.

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    Personally I go with the Chase Freedom

  • Avatar

    The Sparks Cash has an annual fee, looks like they increased it from $59. Still has a $500 bonus.

    Annual Fee: $0 intro for the first year, $95 after that