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For the average American, the single best way to maximize travel rewards is to make sure you’re applying for the best credit cards, and using the right credit cards for your daily spend. Having the card that best suits your spend patterns can be the difference between earning a single point per dollar on a purchase, and earning five points per dollar on a purchase.
Over the past few years we’ve seen the introduction of so many great new cards that can really help you maximize every dollar you spend. I remember that back in the day I’d typically only earn around one point per dollar spent, while nowadays I’m averaging multiple points per dollar spent.
Given how many credit cards we’ve seen introduced lately, I think it’s worth sharing the cards I’m using for each major spend category every so often. So, here are the cards I use for my spend, starting with the most points per dollar to the least points per dollar:
- Airfare purchases directly with airlines: 5x points with the $550 annual fee Platinum Card® from American Express, and 3x points with the $450 annual fee Chase Sapphire Reserve® (I use this on cheaper tickets because of the better travel protection, where I consider it to be worthwhile to forgo some points)
- Cellular phone, internet, and cable purchases: 5x points with the no annual fee Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
- Office supply store purchases: 5x points with the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card (there are lots of non-office related things you can buy at office supply stores)
- Special rotating quarterly category purchases: 5x points with the no annual fee Chase Freedom® Card (for example, this quarter the card is offering 5x points at gas stations, Lyft, and Walgreens, on up to $1,500 of spend)
- US supermarket purchases: 4.5x points with the $95 annual fee Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express (though you only earn 4.5x points if you make at least 30 transactions per billing cycle, and only on the first $6,000 of spend per year at grocery stores)
- Non-airfare travel purchases: 3x points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Dining purchases: 3x points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- US gas station purchases: 3x points with The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express (though you only earn 3x points if you make at least 30 transactions per billing cycle)
- Everyday, non-bonused spend: 2x points with the no annual fee The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express (on the first $50,000 spent each calendar year), 1.5x points with the no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited® (in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, these points can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points), and 1.5x points with The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express as a backup (as I try to complete at least 30 transactions per billing cycle)
When all is said and done, I earn an average of more than 2.5x points per dollar spent, which I’d say is a solid return.
How does this compare to the cards you use to maximize your spend?