The Best Cards For Everyday Spending (2019)

Filed Under: American Express, Chase
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For those in the US with good credit, the best way to rack up points is through credit cards. This can include the welcome bonuses offered by credit cards, the points offered for spending on the cards, and all kinds of other offers.

I’ve written in the past about the credit cards I use for each major bonus category. Nowadays it’s possible to earn 2-5x points on many of the things we spend most on, ranging from travel to dining to supermarkets to gas stations.

However, there are some things we all spend money on where you just can’t earn bonus points for spending. This can include things ranging from doctors visits to paying taxes by credit card to buying points through points.com, just to give a few examples.

In this post I wanted to share what I consider to be the best cards nowadays for everyday, non-bonused spending. I’ll be sharing both personal and business cards, and the “return” I calculate on these cards will be based on my valuation of various points currencies.

Within each category I’ll rank the cards based on the return they offer, though in all cases these cards offer a return of 2% or more, based on my calculations.

Best personal credit cards for everyday spending

There are lots of great credit cards for maximizing your everyday, non-bonused personal spending. From a straightforward 2% cash back card, to cards that potentially get you a lot more value with a few tricks, you’re probably leaving money on the table. Here are some of my favorites:

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card

Annual fee: $95

Return on spend: 1.5x points, which I value at up to 2.625%

What you need to know: This card earns 1.5x points, but there’s a trick to really maximizing value with the card, and it won’t be for everyone. While each point is usually worth a cent, Bank of America has the Preferred Rewards Program, where you receive bonuses if you have certain amounts deposited with them. For example, if you have at least a $100,000 balance with Bank of America you get a 75% bonus, for an incredible 2.625% back on all purchases.

Learn more about the Bank of America Premium Rewards.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® 

Annual fee: $0

Return on spend: 1.5x points, which I value at 2.55%

What you need to know: This card earns 1.5x points per dollar spent, and those points can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points if you have it in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardChase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, which is how I come up with this valuation.

Learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card

Annual fee: $95

Return on spend: 1.5x points, which I value at 2.55%

What you need to know: This card earns 3x points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2x points at U.S. gas stations, and 1x points per dollar spent on everything else. However, if you make at least 30 transactions per billing cycle then you earn a 50% points bonus, meaning you earn 1.5x points on your non-bonused spending. I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, which is how I come up with this valuation.

Learn more about the Amex EveryDay Preferred.

Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®

Annual fee: $89

Return on spend: 2x miles, plus 5% of your miles back when you redeem, which I value at 2.1%

What you need to know: This card earns 2x miles per dollar spent, and each mile can be redeemed for one cent towards the cost of a travel purchase. That would be the equivalent of a 2% return. On top of that, the card offers 5% of your miles back every time you redeem, which can be used towards your next redemption, which is why the real value is closer to 2.1%.

Learn more about the Barclaycard Arrival Plus.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Return on spend: 2x Venture miles, which I value at 2.55%

What you need to know: This card offers 2x miles per dollar spent. Each mile can be redeemed for one cent towards the cost of a travel purchase, or can be transferred to an airline partner at a ratio of up to 2:1.5.

Learn more about the Capital One Venture.

Citi® Double Cash Card

Annual fee: $0

Return on spend: 1% + 1%

What you need to know: If you just want a simple cash back card without an annual fee, this is a great option. The card offers 1% cash back on every purchase, and then an additional 1% cash back when you pay for those purchases.

Learn more about the Citi Double Cash.

Best business credit cards for everyday spending

The above are what I consider to be the best personal credit cards for everyday spending, but what about the best business cards? Getting a business card with a good return on non-bonused spending could be hugely valuable, regardless of whether you’re looking to earn cash back rewards or points. Here are some of my favorites:

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Annual fee: $0 (Rates & Fees)

Return on spend: 2x points, which I value at 3.4%

What you need to know: This card is pretty unbelievable, given that it offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year. So this is the best card period (personal or business) for your first $50,000 of non-bonused spending annually. I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, which is how I come up with this valuation.

Learn more about the Amex Blue Business Plus.

Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card

Annual fee: $0

Return on spend: 1.5x points, which I value at 2.55%

What you need to know: This card earns 1.5x points per dollar spent, and those points can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points if you have it in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardChase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, which is how I come up with this valuation.

Learn more about the Ink Business Unlimited.

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Return on spend: 2x Spark miles, which I value at 2.55%

What you need to know: Each Spark mile can be redeemed for one cent towards the cost of a travel purchase, or miles can be transferred to select airline partners at a ratio of up to 2:1.5.

Learn more about the Spark Miles Business.

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Return on spend: 2%

What you need to know: This is one of the best cash back business credit cards, as the card offers 2% cash back.

Learn more about the Spark Cash Business.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Annual fee: $595 (Rates & Fees)

Return on spend: 1.5x points on purchases of $5,000 or more, which I value at 2.55%

What you need to know: This bonus category is only useful if you have a business where you’re consistently making very big purchases. The card offers 1x points on most purchases, but offers 1.5x points on purchases of $5,000 or more in a single transaction, for a total of up to a million bonus points per year.

Learn more about the Amex Business Platinum.

The cards I use for non-bonused spending

Of the above, which cards do I use for my non-bonused spending? For personal spending, my first choice is the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, since it offers 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points (in conjunction with my Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card). That’s pretty awesome.

Maybe this also demonstrates why it can make sense to pay your taxes by credit card. There are services which will let you pay your taxes for a ~1.87% fee. Being able to pick up 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points for a 1.87% fee is like picking up Ultimate Rewards points for ~1.25 cents each. That’s a bargain if you ask me.

For business spend, my go-to card for this past year has been the Blue Business Plus Credit Card. The only downside of this card for many businesses is that you’re capped on earning 2x points on the first $50,000 annually.

On top of that, I use the Ink Business Unlimited and Spark Miles Business, both of which offer me at least 1.5 airline miles per dollar spent, which is awesome.

Best everyday credit cards summary

Not only are credit card bonus categories better nowadays than ever before, but the value you can get from your non-bonused spending is also better than ever before.

You truly can’t go wrong with any of the above cards. As a general rule of thumb, just be sure you’re earning at least 2% cash back or 1.5x airline miles per dollar spent in non-bonused categories, on both business and personal cards.

What cards do you use for your everyday, non-bonused spending?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees).

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Comments
  1. You should do a post on whether it makes sense to prioritize cashback/transferable points with everyday spend or whether it makes sense to prioritize spending for status, free nights, or other rewards. For example, many people put everyday spend on cards like

    Hilton Ascend (free weekend night at $15,000 in annual spend)
    Delta Platinum / Reserve (MQM boosts at $25,000/$30,000K in spend)
    World of Hyatt Card (free nights, elite status nights with more spend)
    etc

    I myself am using a Delta Amex Platinum for nonbonus spend this year to help reach Gold status and will likely switch to the Reserve next year. I also use CFU and CapOne Venutre…

  2. @ Anthony

    I’ve addressed this before, but taking into account everything — points per dollar, point value, award availability, award charts, status perks and buying points with money earned cash-back — my current conclusion is that the best non-exotic cards for non-bonused everyday spend are the Amex Blue for Business Plus (2x for first $50,000 each year), the BA Visa (2-for-1 award ticket if you spend $30,000), the Virgin Atlantic Black MC (2.1x for first $25,000 each year, plus a 2-for-1 economy award ticket and access to Delta awards at reasonable prices), and the Merrill Edge Platinum (2.625% cash back, which is enough to buy roughly two Iberia Avios or Avianca Lifemiles per dollar spent, under recurring special offers).

  3. I think it would be good to note that you’d have to spend an additional $15,200/year on the Bank of America premium rewards card before you broke even on the $95 fee vs something like the Citi double cash back card with no annual fee. I know you can’t analyze everything on every card for everyone 🙂

  4. @ David — Thanks for bringing that up. Admittedly I can’t analyze everything in posts like this, though I’d note that I actually think the carrying costs of this card are next to nothing. That’s because the card offers a $100 airline incidental statement credit annually for qualifying purchases, which I more or less value at face value.

  5. @Lucky

    Thank you for mentioning the Bank of America Premium Rewards card. A couple of notes…

    Dining and travel are 3.5x points with the top tier Platinum Honors. All other spend is the usual 2.625%

    The $100 yearly airline incidental credit can be easily maximized thus covering the annual fee.

  6. Capital One needs to drop their annual fee in order to be more compelling. At least on the 2% cashback card. Why would anyone get that when you can do 2% with no fee or 2.5% with a fee?

  7. “Virgin Atlantic Black MC (2.1x for first $25,000 each year, plus a 2-for-1 economy award ticket”…
    This looks pretty interesting but other sites say the companion ticket matches the class you buy. Which is right?

  8. @ CSUE

    As far as I know, the Virgin Atlantic card allows 2-for-1 only on economy award tickets. It’s the British Airways card that allows 2-for-1 for any class of service,

  9. Hi Ben, can you recommend a card that gives more than 1.5% on grocery and doesn’t have foreign transaction fee?

    Thanks.

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