The Best Cards For Everyday Spending [2019]

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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

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.

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.

Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® (see terms)

Annual fee: $89, waived the first year

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%. The card is also offering its best ever welcome bonus of up to 70,000 miles at the moment (worth $700+ towards travel, potentially).

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 as of recently, can be transferred to an airline partner at a ratio of up to 2:1.5.

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.

Best business credit cards for everyday spending

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 from American Express. 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, last year I picked up the Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card and Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business, both of which offer a comparable return, in my opinion.

Bottom line

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. Except of course that the point of Brexit is not “cutting up their country”. The point rather is to return control of their country to their own citizens, and their duly elected representatives, instead of unelected EU bureaucrats.

  2. Do any cards provide bonuses for merchandise (clothes, electronics, furniture) shopping? Outside of the 5X department store quarterly bonuses, ive never seen it. Someone should release a “shopper” card for that.

  3. I would argue that both the Amtrak credit card and the BOA Premium Rewards offer better return than any of the personal cards listed here.

  4. I agree with “O”. The BAC premium rewards card is better than any listed IF you are a platinum honors tier client which means you have $100k+ with BAML. 3.5% travel and dining + 2.62% ALL unlimited can’t be beat.

  5. Let me suggest a few outside-the-box alternatives:

    (1) The Chase British Airways Mastercard gives you a two-for-one award voucher when you spend $30,000 in a year. When I have used that voucher, I have always saved at least 100,000 miles. If you use it on an award ticket that would cost 120,000 miles, you’re basically getting 150,000 miles for spending $30,000 on the card. That’s 5 to 1. Admittedly, BA award fees are very high, and you pay those fees on the second ticket, but still, this is a great deal.

    (2) The Virgin Atlantic Mastercard gives you 1.5:1 on everyday spending, plus bonuses if you spend $15,000 and $25,000 in a year. If you hit the bonuses, that 2.1 miles per dollar spent. Only Blue-for-Business Amex (2:1) plus transfer bonuses can compete with that.

    (3) The Avianca Mastercard lets you triple your credit card miles each month, if you pay to do so. The cost typically works out to around 1.25 cents per bonus mile. Avianca is a Star Alliance carrier with normal Star Alliance availability and an award chart that’s better than United’s, or rather the one United used to have.

    (4) Emirates offers a UAE debit card that gives you 5 Emirates miles for every dollar you spent, as long as you happen to have a balance of one million dinars or more in your account.

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