The Best Credit Card to Use for What You Spend the Most On

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    The general advice about which credit card is best is going to vary somewhat by individual circumstances — what rewards do you want and just as importantly, what do you spend money on? Because different card products reward different kinds of spending differently.

    It’s been two months since I’ve looked at credit card spending category earning. It will be review for some readers, and at the same time the number of unique visitors reading this blog is up 31% in just the past two months so for many it will be new. And the last time I looked at this was the first for including the new Amex Everyday cards, which are new on the scene.

    As you read this post, consider what you spend the most on? If you drive a ton you want a card that maximizes gas spend. If you eat out a lot, there are cards that bonus restaurant spend.

    And note that in the couple of months since I’ve updated this list we now have two new cards really worth considering for certain categories of spend (Amex Everday Preferred, and the original uncapped American Express Blue Cash). That changes the advice in some categories.

    I’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be the best card for several spend:

    • Best for gas: Ink Plus® Business Card or Ink Bold® Business Card both offering 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. Of course the most lucrative strategy here is to buy gas gift cards with one of the Ink cards at an office supply store. Also worth noting that if you have an Amex Everyday Preferred you earn 2 points per dollar on gas, but if you make 30 purchases a month on the card then you get a 50% bonus– which translates to 3 points per dollar on gas.
    • Best for groceries: Amex Everyday Preferred 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar on your first $6000 spend in a year, plus each month you make 30 swipes on the card you earn a 50% bonus so the yield is actually 4.5 points per dollar. After you’ve hit your $6000 annual limit, then the original ‘uncapped’ American Express Blue Cash earns 5% back at gas stations after you’ve done your first $6500 in spend on that card in a year.

    • Best for Car Rentals: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 2.14 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar (although fewer points, on domestic rentals I recommend the United Explorer or United Club Card which offer primary collision damage waiver).

    • Best for hotels: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 2.14 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, although domestic Starwood properties the Starwood Amex makes most sense and domestic Hiltons the Hilton American Express Surpass card earns 12 HHonors points per dollar. For domestic Hyatts, American Express OPEN gives a 5% rebate plus points, so either the Starwood Business Amex or Business Gold Rewards is best. None of those cards waives foreign transaction fees, so outside the U.S. Sapphire Preferred is still best regardless of chain..

    • Best for office supplies: Ink Plus® Business Card or Ink Bold® Business Card 5 Ultimate Chase Rewards points per dollar, and it’s amazing how many things you can buy from office supply stores. I tend to earn 5 points per dollar at Amazon, for instance..

    • Best credit card for foreign transactions: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns 1.07 points per dollar and doesn’t add a foreign transaction fee.

    • General purchases: I think the three reasonable cards to consider for unbonused spend, especially once you’ve accumulated a large stash of miles, are:
      Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®.

      • You get an effective rebate towards travel of 2.2% since you earn 2 points per dollar on all spend (each worth a penny towards travel) and you get a 10% rebate on points used when redeeming for travel.

      This is the best card if you value paid domestic coach travel that earns miles and where you face no blackout dates or capacity restrictions.

      The annual fee is $0 the first year, $89 thereafter and comes with 40,000 points after $3000 spend within 90 days. It also has no foreign transaction fees.

      So it’s hugely valuable the first year ($400+ in value, 2.2% effective rebate, and no fee).

      After year 1 (if you don’t value the other features of this card, like TripIt Pro) you’d have to spend at least $44,500 on the card to cover the annual fee with extra earnings versus the Fidelity card.

    Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express.

    • This is the gold standard of cash back cards. You earn a straight 2% cash back — not 1% or 2% to use on travel — actual money.

    Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express.

    • I can pretty much always get 2 cents per point back with a hotel redemption. And if I value the most valuable mile that Starwood points transfer to at 1.8 cents, then with the 5000 point bonus for transferring points into 20,000 miles, each Starwood point is worth 2.25 cents.

    For the purpose of ‘best’ in each category I’m ignoring limited-time promotions like Chase Freedom quarterly bonuses. I’m asking the question of which card’s fundamental features are best.

    It’s also worth noting that I don’t consider above the extra benefits on business cards, such as new Ink Plus and Ink Bold cards are issued as Visas and Visa business cards are eligible for Visa Savings Edge which also give you a rebate on top of points earned at some gas stations, hotels, car rental companies and more. MasterCard and American Express have their own similar programs.

    And in the recommendations above I’m focused on airline and hotel points programs, or points that can be tranferred to airlines and hotels. Some prefer high-value return from proprietary bank programs, I don’t. But it’s worth flagging US Bank Flexperks which gives you double points on the category you spend the most on (gas, groceries or airline) and most cell phone expenses, and trip points on charitable contributions. Also PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa Card whose ‘Plus’ version earns 5% back on gas paid at the pump.

    If you don’t have spend which really falls into niche categories, or you aren’t going to change cards for different purposes then Chase Sapphire Preferred® is the go-to choice because of its various bonus categories, strong points value transferring to airlines and Hyatt, no foreign currency transaction fees, and 7% annual bonus. That’s why it’s the best card for beginners as well.

    (Note that most though not all of the cards in this post offer credit to me if you’re approved using my links. I try to offer only the best available cards, and most lucrative deals available for those cards. So if you’re aware of better deals than I’ve featured please do let me know! The opinions, analyses, and evaluations here are mine. The content is not provided or commissioned by American Express, by Chase, by Citibank, US Bank, Bank of America, Barclays or any other company. They have not reviewed, approved or endorsed what I have to say.)

    The post The Best Credit Card to Use for What You Spend the Most On appeared first on View from the Wing.

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