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Want to earn more points on everyday purchases?
With so many rewards-earning credit cards on the market, each offering their unique selling point, it can be hard to know which card to swipe for each purchase. Most cards are designed with a specific use in mind, offering bonus points on select purchase categories such as travel, gas, department stores, or office supplies, which makes deciding what card to use for each bonus category relatively simple. Determining which card to use for everyday purchases that don’t fall under a bonus category is a different story.
For this post, we’re assuming that you are not:
- Working on the minimum spend for a bonus on a new card
- Working towards a spending threshold for elite status, free nights, etc
- Collecting a specific rewards currency to reach a travel goal
Each of these factors throws out the point per dollar value of your everyday spend. Instead, we’re focusing on the best cards to use for non-bonus spending. The ‘everything else’ purchases when you’re in-between new cards, have reached all spending thresholds on cards that offer bonuses for money spent during the year, and not working on collecting a specific rewards currency for flights or hotels.
Our Pick – The Best Credit Card for Everyday Use
We’ve pegged the Blue Business Plus as the best card for everyday purchases, as it earns 2X points for the first $50,000 in purchases per year. Even if you value Membership Rewards at a conservative 1.6-1.7¢ per point, that’s a 3.2-3.4% return on non-bonus category spend, with the potential for much higher returns if you're an experienced award traveler. The caveat on the Blue Business Plus is that it’s a business card, and while (almost) anyone can get a small business card, there are those that won’t qualify. If that’s the case, slide down the list one spot and grab the Discover it® Miles Card, which returns 3% on all purchases in the first 12 months.
Best Rewards Credit Cards for Everyday Purchases
|Credit Card||Points Earned on Everyday Purchases||Other Bonus Categories||Annual Fee|
|The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express||2X points for the first $50,000 in purchases per year||N/A||No annual fee - Rates & Fees|
|Discover it® Miles Card||1.5x Miles on all purchases and Discover will match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year||N/A||$0|
|Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card||3% cash back in year one & 2.5% cash back after||N/A||$59 annual fee, waived the first year|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||Unlimited 1.5% cash back||N/A||$0|
|The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express||1 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
|Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card||2% cash back on all purchases||N/A||$0|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||2% cash back - 1% on purchases and 1% as you pay for those purchases||N/A||$0|
|Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business||2 % Cash Back on every purchase, every day.||N/A||$0 intro for first year; $95 after that|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day.||N/A||$0 intro for first year; $95 after that|
|Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business||2 Miles per $1 on every purchase, every day.||N/A||$0 intro for first year; $95 after that|
|Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® (See Terms)||Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase||N/A||$89 (waived first year)|
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. If you’re banking fixed-value points or cash back for miscellaneous travel expenses, cards like the Arrival Plus or Fidelity Rewards Visa provide a higher rate of return.
The Blue Business Plus and Amex EveryDay Preferred are the perfect combo for everyday spend, providing a high ROI on both business and personal spending while earning a top-value flexible rewards currency. If you can reach the 30 purchases per month required for the 50% bonus points on the Amex EveryDay Preferred, you only need to achieve a redemption value higher than 1.4¢ per point to beat a 2% cash back card.
Likewise, holding the Freedom Unlimited long term is a good bet, as it earns 1.5X Ultimate Rewards on all purchases. Just keep in mind you’ll need to pair it with an Ultimate Rewards earning card that charges an annual fee to transfer those points out to travel partners and get the best return.
Other cards that have jumped up the list of everyday spend cards include the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business, which both earn a flat rate of 2x miles per dollar on every purchase. The miles earned on these cards were recently converted into a flexible rewards currency with 14 airline transfer partners, making Capital One miles a lot more valuable to most cardholders.
Some factors to account for when deciding on the best card for everyday purchases:
- The Discover it Miles card only returns 3% for the first 12 months. After it loses the initial Miles Match feature, the card earns a flat 1.5X points on all purchases (worth 1¢ per point), and you’re better off with a 2% cash back card.
- While you need to pair the Freedom Unlimited with another Ultimate Rewards card to transfer points to travel partners, both the Blue Business Plus and Amex EveryDay Preferred earn full Membership Rewards points which transfer to partners without the need to add other cards.
- The Arrival Plus earns 2X miles on every purchase and miles are worth 1¢ a piece towards travel purchases, you also receive 5% back on redeemed points, so the card returns 2.1%. However, it sits under the 2% cash back cards because the minimum redemption value is $100 and it must be for travel, making the card less flexible than a flat 2% cash back card.
Card choice also depends on your level of experience in the points and miles world. Experienced award travelers familiar with Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards can often leverage points for much higher values than those with less experience, which changes the calculation in favor of earning flexible points. Those starting out may achieve better returns on everyday spend with a flat 2% cash back card than a card that earns 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® Card and Freedom Card – 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, but the level of knowledge required to return more than 2% on non-bonus spending is too high for a lot of people.
- Co-brand hotel cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card – Earns 3X points on non-bonus purchases, giving the appearance of a high net return. But Hilton Honors points are worth roughly 0.4-0.5¢ per point, returning under the 2% threshold we’d consider a good ROI on everyday purchases.
We consider the Blue Business Plus and Amex EveryDay Preferred as the perfect pair for everyday purchases, returning up to 2X Membership Rewards points per dollar on non-bonus spending. And they will cover both your business and personal expenses.
But, perhaps the most important thing to get across, in summary, is that there is no ‘one best card’ for everyday spend. 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, and instead, focus on a simple strategy that allows you to leverage all your household efforts into earning points and cash back, to achieve the best return for the time you’re willing to invest.
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