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One of the easiest ways of increasing your monthly haul of points and miles is picking the right credit card for each purchase. Not only will you earn more points in the short-term, knowing which rewards card nets the best returns in each spending category can direct your long-term card application strategy, allowing you to fill your wallet with top-earning cards and maximize the rewards earned on every purchase.
That said, the key takeaway with any best-of list of rewards cards is the best card to swipe for any given purchase is subjective and determined by your travel goals and the cards you keep in your wallet.
The Top-Earning Credit Cards for Each Bonus Category
We’ve included a summary of our top picks for each bonus category, with links to deep-dive posts that cover the topic in full.
- Best Credit Cards for Supermarkets & Groceries – Whether you’re chasing transferrable points or cash back, Amex has the groceries category all wrapped up. At the top of the table, you’ll earn 3x points per dollar spent on The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, plus an additional 50% points if you make 30+ transactions on the card each month. That’s 4.5x Membership Rewards points for every dollar you spend in U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year.
- Best Rewards Cards for Travel Purchases – While Chase and Citi sit reasonably even in the travel category, we give the Chase Sapphire Reserve® an edge in this category as we place a higher value on Ultimate Rewards points than ThankYou Rewards, and Chase includes the broadest definition of which purchases code as travel.
- Best Rewards Cards for Dining & Restaurants – Following an update to bonus categories and benefits in 2019, the Citi Prestige® Card comes out on top earning 5X on dining, but only by a hair with the American Express® Gold Card which pays out 4X Membership Rewards on dining purchases.
- Best Credit Cards for Gas & Fuel – Find yourself paying a premium for fuel at the pump? Make sure you’re getting the best return on Gas with the Citi Premier® Card which earns a solid 3 points per 1$ spent at gas stations for every dollar spent. Alternatively, the Amex EveryDay Preferred earns 2x MR points on fuel, but if you make 30 transactions on the card each month, you’ll get 50% bonus points.
- Best Credit Cards for Office Supplies & Mobile Phone Services – An easy category to decide, Chase small business cards are runaway winners for office supplies and phone services. The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card earns 5% cash back (5x Ultimate Rewards) on the first $25K on combined office supply stores; internet, cable, and phone expenses.
- Best Credit Cards to Pay for Advertising and Shipping – A 3x bonus category on the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, if you max the $150K spending limit on combined purchases each year, you can earn up to 450,000 Ultimate Rewards!
- Best Credit Cards for Everyday Purchases – Making gravy on bonus categories is all very well and good, but if you’re earning just 1 point per dollar or 1% on non-bonus spend, you’re missing out on pockets full of points! A 2% cash back card like the Citi® Double Cash Card should be the benchmark for everyday spend.
Unsure how many points or miles your card earns for each purchase? Be sure to check our handy guide covering credit card earning rates.
Extract the maximum return (points, cash or miles) from every purchase, and you’ll quickly build a substantial balance of travel rewards to splurge on your next award booking. When you’re not working on a welcome bonus or spending threshold bonus, you should have a shortlist of cards you use for each bonus category, to ensure you get the maximum return from every dollar you spend.
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