12 Best Credit Cards For Everyday Spending (2021)

12 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 November 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:

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Card annual fee: $395
Capital One Venture Card return on spending: 2x miles, which I value at 3.4%

What you need to know the Capital One Venture X Card: The new Capital One Venture X offers 2x Venture miles per dollar spent, all with no foreign transaction fees, making it the best card for everyday spending. 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, with a vast majority of transfers being at a 1:1 ratio. That means this card offers 2x airline miles per dollar spent. Since I value Capital One miles at 1.7 cents each, that’s the equivalent of a 3.4% return.

While some people may be hesitant to get this card based on the annual fee, most people should be coming out ahead having this card — the card offers a $300 annual travel credit, 10,000 anniversary bonus miles, a Priority Pass membership, access to Capital One Lounges, Hertz President’s Circle status, and more.

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

Transfer Capital One miles to Singapore KrisFlyer

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 3.4%

What you need to know the Capital One Venture Card: The Capital One Venture offers 2x Venture miles per dollar spent, with the same redemption options as the Venture X. In other words, for everyday spending it’s equivalent to the Venture X. So why rank the Venture X over the Venture? I’d argue the Venture X is cheaper to hold onto, given the perks that help offset the annual fee.

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

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 no annual fee 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® Card (review), 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.

Rack up cash back with Bank of America

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 November 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.

Transfer Amex points to All Nippon Airways Mileage Club

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 3.4%

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 transfered to airline and hotel partners, primarily at a 1:1 ratio. That means the card offers 2x airline miles per dollar spent, all with no foreign transaction fees. Since I value Capital One miles at 1.7 cents each, that’s the equivalent of a 3.4% return.

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

Transfer Capital One miles to British Airways Executive Club

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.

Earn cash back with 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 ($695 if application is received on or after 01/13/2022) (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? For the past couple of years, the Citi Double Cash has been my go-to card, given that rewards can be transferred to Citi ThankYou, meaning I’ve earned the equivalent of 2x ThankYou points per dollar spent.

However, I’ll now be switching my personal non-bonused spending to the Capital One Venture X. the card offers 2x Capital One miles per dollar spent, but has the advantage of not having foreign transaction fees. That makes my everyday spending even easier, since I don’t even have to think about whether my purchase would be subject to foreign transaction fees or not.

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 2x ThankYou points or 2x Capital One miles for under two cents each is an incredible value, if you ask me. That’s like picking up airline miles for less than a penny each — yes please!

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.

For spending beyond that, I now use the Capital One Spark Miles, which earns 2x Capital One miles with no caps and no foreign transaction fees.

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, Capital One Venture X, Amex Blue Business Plus, and Capital One Spark Miles.

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).

Conversations (12)
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  1. GC Guest

    To reply to "I value points at 0.2....". OK- if you want to be a curmudgeon about it, I'll trump your statement with a line lifted directly from the Chase UR website when describing the value of my points- "Points have no value until redeemed", so yes- the points are worth $0.00 in isolation.

    That said, there's obviously some value depending on how you use them, and that value is subjective. What's your priority?

    ...

    To reply to "I value points at 0.2....". OK- if you want to be a curmudgeon about it, I'll trump your statement with a line lifted directly from the Chase UR website when describing the value of my points- "Points have no value until redeemed", so yes- the points are worth $0.00 in isolation.

    That said, there's obviously some value depending on how you use them, and that value is subjective. What's your priority?

    Some folks place a large value on their time, so they assign a "cost" to any time invested in figuring all this out- especially high income/ net worth types. Some don't care at all about "missed returns" because it would be "chump change" compared to income, so would do well just ignoring the whole thing or going with BOA high tier preferred rewards and get over 2.5% back by getting cash rewards (or similar).

    Some folks value the actual individual trips (maybe with family), so coach flight redemptions are high value for them.

    Some (like myself) value so- called "high value" redemptions- i.e. international First or Business, luxury tier property . The kind of experiences I would gladly have but balk at paying cash for (let's just for a moment ignore the questions as to whether these experience are "worth" the dollar price charged). I also find the points thing like a scavenger hunt, like a hobby.

    Most readers of this blog are probably in case #3- In that case, the points values posted are either pretty close or even a little low for what my "personal" valuation is. If you're the above #1, or #2, why are you reading points and miles blogs and then spending time to comment, anyway?

    I would say that with a new card product rollout, of course you are going to see a big marketing blitz for attention. IMO, if the user is mainly using transfers as a driver, then each "points ecosystem" is pretty much a lateral move. Hard to see how any of these (Amex/ Chase/ Cap1/ etc) are superior in any way. I'd personally find a way to get value out of any of them. So- can you see getting a good spend return and making good use of points?

    For me, this seems like a pretty good card as it ticks all my boxes- I can use benefits to offset the annual fee (so no net cost), I can see where I would spend frequently on it, and I'd use the transfers. It seems like a great everyday (i.e. non- travel/ food/ restaurant/ business expense) spend card. Will it be enough that I should get this card and shift my BOA 2.5%+ return to this one? I haven't applied for this card yet because I'm not totally sure that that's a better strategy yet, but it did catch my attention

  2. iamhere Guest

    The problem with this article is that not all of the returns are the same. I would argue that a 2.65% cash back return could be better than some of the other returns which are limited to loyalty points or travel center redemptions.

    Interesting that the Alliant card is not listed. This card gives 2.5% cash back on the first $10,000 of spending each month provided that you have a checking account with $1000 in it.

  3. JeffP Guest

    The VentureX is the best card since the CSR was introduced. Cap One added the 1:1 transfer partners first and a new travel portal. Last night I saw a hotel I need for a discounted rate. Also love the price alert on flights. I am turning my CFU into another Freedom Flex, same with P2 Wife. Most of everyday spend will go on X, CFF , Amex Gold 4X and Amex BBP. The new Chase...

    The VentureX is the best card since the CSR was introduced. Cap One added the 1:1 transfer partners first and a new travel portal. Last night I saw a hotel I need for a discounted rate. Also love the price alert on flights. I am turning my CFU into another Freedom Flex, same with P2 Wife. Most of everyday spend will go on X, CFF , Amex Gold 4X and Amex BBP. The new Chase travel portal nerfed all vacation rentals and I need Cap One miles for flexibility to pay for AirBNB in Europe. I get all the excitement and need for articles on the various aspects to the new X. Thanks.

  4. Ralfy Guest

    What about the US Bank Altitude?? It has a 4.5% return on everyday spend (provided you use it from a digital wallet on your phone).

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Ralfy -- While that's a great return for mobile wallet spending, I wouldn't consider mobile wallet spending to be everyday spending. In my experience, most of the places where you can use a mobile wallet also qualify for other credit card bonus categories. In other words, you can't usually use a mobile wallet to pay your taxes online, to pay bills using PLastiq, at the doctor's office, etc.

    2. Rico Gold

      @Ralfy I totally agree with the Altitude mobile pay, especially combined with Real-Time Mobile Rewards for a true 1.5 cent/point redemption on airline tickets and hotels. That said, I believe you have to have a previous relationship with US Bank to qualify for the card and mobile pay works at more retailers if you have a Samsung phone. Samsung Pay doesn't need the NFC chip so it will work at the remaining places that have...

      @Ralfy I totally agree with the Altitude mobile pay, especially combined with Real-Time Mobile Rewards for a true 1.5 cent/point redemption on airline tickets and hotels. That said, I believe you have to have a previous relationship with US Bank to qualify for the card and mobile pay works at more retailers if you have a Samsung phone. Samsung Pay doesn't need the NFC chip so it will work at the remaining places that have older systems. If you have a US Bank account and a Samsung phone, it's a great card.

  5. Motion to Dismiss Guest

    Brent, that’s because the card just came out and is the big news in miles and points this week.

    I just got the Venture X in the mail yesterday and plan to switch all my everyday spending from the Chase Freedom Unlimited to the Venture X, with the exception of purchases at drugstores/pharmacies (those are 3x points or 3% cash back with the Freedom Unlimited).

  6. Brent Guest

    Wow, completely independently the card that had 20 paid articles last week ended on top of the list!

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Brent -- I'm not claiming it's "completely independent." There's a brand new card out, it offers a great return on everyday spending, and this is a resource post I often link to. I think it's useful to update the post to reflect the current situation.

    2. Steve Gold

      Hey Brent is math really that hard for you? Sorry you have trouble doing basic athematic but his math is right and 1.7 times 2 = 3.4 which is higher than any other card so why shouldnt it be on this list?

    3. Brent Guest

      And I value the miles at 0.2 cents each, so 0.4 is lower than any card, so why should it be on this list?

      The 1.7 cents is a number that was made up, so what value does it have? Especially if the one who made up the number gets paid by the card supplier...

      It is just funny after a week of CAPITAL ONE banners in your face that made the layout even...

      And I value the miles at 0.2 cents each, so 0.4 is lower than any card, so why should it be on this list?

      The 1.7 cents is a number that was made up, so what value does it have? Especially if the one who made up the number gets paid by the card supplier...

      It is just funny after a week of CAPITAL ONE banners in your face that made the layout even worse than normal, that it 'surprisingly' also topped the list...

      However, Ben of course can of course update his content as he pleases and explained nicely in his reply. For me the aviation related content is the reason to visit the blog, the credit card advertis...blogs are just that...advertisements.

    4. Craig Guest

      Source for your claim? No?

      The image your mini-rant projects is a pouty lower lip and stomping foot. Poor Brent.

Featured 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.

Brent Guest

Wow, completely independently the card that had 20 paid articles last week ended on top of the list!

2
GC Guest

To reply to "I value points at 0.2....". OK- if you want to be a curmudgeon about it, I'll trump your statement with a line lifted directly from the Chase UR website when describing the value of my points- "Points have no value until redeemed", so yes- the points are worth $0.00 in isolation. That said, there's obviously some value depending on how you use them, and that value is subjective. What's your priority? Some folks place a large value on their time, so they assign a "cost" to any time invested in figuring all this out- especially high income/ net worth types. Some don't care at all about "missed returns" because it would be "chump change" compared to income, so would do well just ignoring the whole thing or going with BOA high tier preferred rewards and get over 2.5% back by getting cash rewards (or similar). Some folks value the actual individual trips (maybe with family), so coach flight redemptions are high value for them. Some (like myself) value so- called "high value" redemptions- i.e. international First or Business, luxury tier property . The kind of experiences I would gladly have but balk at paying cash for (let's just for a moment ignore the questions as to whether these experience are "worth" the dollar price charged). I also find the points thing like a scavenger hunt, like a hobby. Most readers of this blog are probably in case #3- In that case, the points values posted are either pretty close or even a little low for what my "personal" valuation is. If you're the above #1, or #2, why are you reading points and miles blogs and then spending time to comment, anyway? I would say that with a new card product rollout, of course you are going to see a big marketing blitz for attention. IMO, if the user is mainly using transfers as a driver, then each "points ecosystem" is pretty much a lateral move. Hard to see how any of these (Amex/ Chase/ Cap1/ etc) are superior in any way. I'd personally find a way to get value out of any of them. So- can you see getting a good spend return and making good use of points? For me, this seems like a pretty good card as it ticks all my boxes- I can use benefits to offset the annual fee (so no net cost), I can see where I would spend frequently on it, and I'd use the transfers. It seems like a great everyday (i.e. non- travel/ food/ restaurant/ business expense) spend card. Will it be enough that I should get this card and shift my BOA 2.5%+ return to this one? I haven't applied for this card yet because I'm not totally sure that that's a better strategy yet, but it did catch my attention

0
iamhere Guest

The problem with this article is that not all of the returns are the same. I would argue that a 2.65% cash back return could be better than some of the other returns which are limited to loyalty points or travel center redemptions. Interesting that the Alliant card is not listed. This card gives 2.5% cash back on the first $10,000 of spending each month provided that you have a checking account with $1000 in it.

0
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