Which Credit Card is Best for Non-Category Bonus Spending?

May 31, 2015

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

TPG reader Jonathan tweeted me to ask about which credit card offers the best rewards for general spending:

@thepointsguy– “I need credit card for non-category bonus spending. Should I get the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex, or is there another one you recommend?”

For travel, dining and airfare you should be using a credit card that gives you two, three, four or even five points per dollar spent. The more you can maximize these types of purchases, the better. But many purchases don’t fall into any bonus categories, and you need a good credit card for those, so Jonathan brings up a great point.

shutterstock_145590460
You have some options for your non-bonus spending. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

I personally think Starwood Preferred Guest points are the most valuable points out there, mainly because you can transfer to 32 different airlines (and you get a 25% percent bonus for every 20,000 points transferred). Starpoints give you the flexibility to redeem for air travel, Starwood hotel stays, or even for special experiences.

SPG Moments offer incredible value for things like concerts or sporting events, including VIP access in many cases. For example, I redeemed points to have VIP seats at a New York Knicks game with my dad, and it was definitely worth it.

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express allows you to earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months, and earns 1 Starpoint per dollar spent. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year. One wonderful thing about having Amex credit cards in general is the purchase protection, as well as extended warranties and great customer service. Using Amex for big purchases such as expensive clothing or artwork can offer you great protection and peace of mind.

Another option is the Amex Everyday Preferred Card. You earn Membership Rewards points (including 3x points per dollar spent at supermarkets), and you get a 50% bonus when you hit 30 transactions in a month, so even for non-bonus spending you can earn 1.5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent. This is a great way to rack up points while taking advantage of the great purchase protection Amex offers.

The wild card that I’ve been using recently for some off-category spending is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. You earn two miles per dollar spent on every single purchase. When you redeem your miles for travel, you get 5% back, so I use the card to cover award-ticket fees, and then I use the miles to wipe the charges off my statement.

You can also use this card for other unusual travel purchases — I’ll be using miles from this card to pay for my helicopter service to the Hamptons this summer.

Using a combination of these cards, you can easily benefit from off-category spending!

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.