11 Best Credit Cards For Everyday Spending (2021)

11 Best Credit Cards For Everyday Spending (2021)

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For those in the United States with good credit, the best way to rack up points is through credit cards. This can include the welcome bonuses offered by cards, the points offered for spending on 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 purchases made through Plastiq 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 credit 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 on spending 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 In September 2021

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:

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash annual fee: $0
Citi Double Cash return on spending: 2x points, which I value at 3.4%

What you need to know about the Citi Double Cash: The Citi Double Cash is in a league of its own when it comes to personal credit cards for everyday spending. On the most basic level, the card offers 1% cash back on every purchase, and then an additional 1% cash back when you pay for those purchases. However, if you have the card in conjunction with the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige, then points can be transferred to Citi ThankYou at a rate of one cent per point, meaning you can earn 2x transferable points per dollar spent.

Learn more about the Citi Double Cash, apply for the Citi Double Cash.

Transfer Citi points to Emirates Skywards

Bank Of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card

Premium Rewards Card annual fee: $95
Premium Rewards Card return on spending: 1.5x points, which I value at up to 2.625%

What you need to know about the Premium Rewards Card: The Bank of America Premium Rewards 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 one cent, Bank of America has the Preferred Rewards Program, where you receive bonuses if you have certain amounts deposited with the bank. 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.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Card annual fee: $95
Capital One Venture Card return on spending: 2x miles, which I value at 2.6%

What you need to know the Capital One Venture Card: The Capital One Venture offers 2x Venture 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 or hotel partner at a ratio of up to 1:1 (though transfer rates vary). Since I value Capital One miles at 1.3 cents each, that’s the equivalent of a 2.6% return.

Learn more about the Capital One Venture, apply for the Capital One Venture.

Redeem Capital One miles towards the cost of virtually any hotel stay

Chase Freedom Unlimited® 

Chase Freedom Unlimited annual fee: $0
Chase Freedom Unlimited return on spending: 1.5x points, which I value at 2.55%

What you need to know about the Chase Freedom Unlimited: The Chase Freedom Unlimited 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® Card (review), Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review), or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review). 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, apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card

Amex EveryDay Preferred Card annual fee: $95
Amex EveryDay Preferred Card return on spending: 1.5x points, which I value at 2.55%

What you need to know about the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card: The Amex EveryDay Preferred 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, apply for the Amex EveryDay Preferred.

Transfer Amex points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Best Business Credit Cards For Everyday Spending In September 2021

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:

Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Blue Business Plus Card annual fee: $0 (Rates & Fees)
Blue Business Plus Card return on spending: 2x points, which I value at 3.4%

What you need to know about the Blue Business Plus Card: The Amex Blue Business Plus is pretty unbelievable, given that it offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year. This is the best business card 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, apply for the Amex Blue Business Plus.

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

Capital One Spark Miles Card annual fee: $95, waived the first year
Capital One Spark Miles Card return on spending: 2x Spark miles, which I value at 2.6%

What you need to know about the Capital One Spark Miles Card: Each Spark mile can be redeemed for one cent towards the cost of a travel purchase, or miles can be transferred to select airline and hotel partners at a ratio of up to 1:1 (the Venture and Spark cards earn the same types of rewards).

Learn more about the Spark Miles Business, apply for the Spark Miles Business.

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

Ink Business Unlimited Card annual fee: $0
Ink Business Unlimited Card return on spending: 1.5x points, which I value at 2.55%

What you need to know about the Ink Business Unlimited Card: The Ink Business Unlimited earns 1.5x points per dollar spent, and those points can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points if you have the card in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred. 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, apply for the Ink Business Unlimited.


Transfer Chase points to World of Hyatt

Capital One Spark Cash Plus

Capital One Spark Cash Card annual fee: $150
Capital One Spark Cash Card return on spending: 2%

What you need to know about the Capital One Spark Cash Card: The Spark Cash Business is one of the best cash back business cards, as the card offers 2% cash back, and also offers a $200 cash bonus when you spend $200,000 on the card in an anniversary year.

Learn more about the Spark Cash Plus, apply for the Spark Cash Plus.

Blue Business Cash™ Card from American Express

Amex Blue Business Cash Card annual fee: $0 (Rates & Fees)
Amex Blue Business Cash Card return on spending: 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%.

What you need to know about the Amex Blue Business Cash Card: The Blue Business Cash is one of the best cash back business credit cards, as the card offers 2% cash back on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year. The $50,000 cap is restrictive for some businesses, but then again, the card also doesn’t have an annual fee.

Learn more about the Amex Blue Business Cash, apply for the Amex Blue Business Cash.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Amex Business Platinum Card annual fee: $595 (Rates & Fees)
Amex Business Plus Card return on spending: 1.5x points on purchases of $5,000 or more, which I value at 2.55%

What you need to know about the Amex Business Platinum Card: The Amex Business Platinum 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, apply for the Amex Business Platinum.

Transfer Amex points to Air France-KLM Flying Blue

The Cards I Use For Non-Bonused Personal Spending

Of the above, which cards do I use for my non-bonused spending?

Nowadays the Citi Double Cash is my go-to card, given that rewards can be transferred to Citi ThankYou, meaning I’m earning the equivalent of 2x ThankYou points per dollar spent.

My backup card for personal spending is the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which allows me to earn up to 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent, in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

These cards also perfectly demonstrate why it can make sense to pay your taxes by credit card. There are services that will let you pay your taxes for a fee of under 2%. Being able to pick up 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points or 2x ThankYou points for under two cents is an incredible value, if you ask me.

The Cards I Use For Non-Bonused Business Spending

For business spending, my go-to card is the Amex Blue Business Plus, for the ability to earn 2x Membership Rewards points. The only downside of this card for many businesses is that you’re capped at earning 2x points on the first $50,000 spent annually.

Therefore my backup card for non-bonused business spending is the Ink Business Unlimited, which allows me to earn 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent.

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 a minimum of 1.5x transferable points per dollar spent in non-bonused categories. Ideally you’d earn 2x transferable points, possible with cards like the Citi Double Cash and Amex Blue Business Plus.

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), The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and American Express® Blue Business Cash Card (Rates & Fees).

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  1. Rico

    @Brian I'm a proponent of the Altitude Reserve as well however you need a US Bank account to apply so that cuts out probably 90% of readers from applying. I do enjoy the 4.5% return on some travel. However, it is a little tricky to redeem Real-Time Mobile Rewards. You need a hotel bill over $500 or car rental over $250 to maximize return. I haven't used the feature for airlines, but I hear it...

    @Brian I'm a proponent of the Altitude Reserve as well however you need a US Bank account to apply so that cuts out probably 90% of readers from applying. I do enjoy the 4.5% return on some travel. However, it is a little tricky to redeem Real-Time Mobile Rewards. You need a hotel bill over $500 or car rental over $250 to maximize return. I haven't used the feature for airlines, but I hear it can be a little hit or miss.

    Also, it works better with a Samsung phone since their mobile pay works at more stores than iPhones do.

    Another perk, since I have cancelled all of my other non-AmEx cards that came with free Priority Pass, I do use it at Priority Pass restaurants (or did pre-pandemic). You get 4 visits/year for yourself plus one guest.

  2. PeteyNice

    @Brian one of the ways this site makes money is credit card referrals. Cards that don't pay out (Altitude Reserve, Fidelity, etc) don't get mentioned. While this site is great for news and trip reports, you have to look at their coverage of "best" credit cards and point valuations through a profit motive lens.

  3. Brian

    I’m surprised that you haven’t mentioned the Altitude Reserve card which gives 4.5% back when used with ApplePay.

Featured Comments Load all 3 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Rico

@Brian I'm a proponent of the Altitude Reserve as well however you need a US Bank account to apply so that cuts out probably 90% of readers from applying. I do enjoy the 4.5% return on some travel. However, it is a little tricky to redeem Real-Time Mobile Rewards. You need a hotel bill over $500 or car rental over $250 to maximize return. I haven't used the feature for airlines, but I hear it can be a little hit or miss. Also, it works better with a Samsung phone since their mobile pay works at more stores than iPhones do. Another perk, since I have cancelled all of my other non-AmEx cards that came with free Priority Pass, I do use it at Priority Pass restaurants (or did pre-pandemic). You get 4 visits/year for yourself plus one guest.

PeteyNice

@Brian one of the ways this site makes money is credit card referrals. Cards that don't pay out (Altitude Reserve, Fidelity, etc) don't get mentioned. While this site is great for news and trip reports, you have to look at their coverage of "best" credit cards and point valuations through a profit motive lens.

Brian

I’m surprised that you haven’t mentioned the Altitude Reserve card which gives 4.5% back when used with ApplePay.

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