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The Best Cards for Toasters

Jan. 30, 2019
11 min read
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If you're a fan of the Morning Toast, you've likely heard Claudia talk about how she exclusively used a debit card before she learned about The Points Guy and was introduced to the world of credit cards, travel rewards and travel status.

Credit cards can seem overwhelming when you’re just getting started. With so much information and so many options, how do you know which card to choose? We're here to make it easy for you, Toasters.

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We know you like to go out, eat well and travel (especially to go see Claudia's Dirty Jeans Tour) so here are the top 5 cards that we recommend for you.

Best Cards for Toasters 

  • American Express® Gold Card: Best for Dining
  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best Starter Credit Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for Travel Perks & Points
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best Cash Back

American Express Gold Card

Bonus OfferBonus Value**Bonus CategoriesAnnual FeePerks
60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 6 months.$1,2004x points at restaurants, 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25k per calendar year; then 1x), 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines$250 (see rates & fees)Up to $120 in statement credits each year when you pay with the Gold card at participating dining partners. (Enrollment required)

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus OfferBonus Value**Bonus CategoriesAnnual FeePerks
60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.$1,0202x miles on all other purchases$95N/A

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Bonus OfferBonus Value**Bonus CategoriesAnnual FeePerks
60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.$1,2002x points on travel, 3x points on dining$95N/A

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Bonus OfferBonus Value**Bonus CategoriesAnnual FeePerks
50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.$1,0003x points on travel, 3x points on dining$550$300 annual travel credit

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Bonus OfferBonus Value**Bonus CategoriesAnnual FeePerks
$200 after $500 in purchases within the first 3 months$2001.5% unlimited cash back on purchases$0N/A

**Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer.

1. American Express Gold Card

Best For: Dining

Current Bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first six months.

Current Bonus Value: $1,200

Standout Benefits:

  • Earn 4x points at restaurants
  • Earn 4x points at US supermarkets, on the first $25,000 spent each calendar year; then 1x
  • Earn 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com
  • Up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold card at participating dining partners
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee: $250

Why it's worth it: Amex revamped its Premier Rewards Gold Card and reintroduced it as the Amex Gold Card, with new bonus categories and a strong focus on dining. The card also earns 4x points on the first $25,000 spent per calendar year at US supermarkets (then 1x), and 3x points on flights. With this card, Amex finally has a strong option for dining purchases. The annual fee is now $250 and not waived the first year, but thanks to the new earning rates and benefits it could be worth it for you.

APPLY HERE: American Express Gold Card

2. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Best for: Diversifying your transferable point currencies

Current Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Current Bonus Value: $1,020*

Standout Benefits:

  • Earn 2x miles on all other purchases
  • Get a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit

Annual Fee: $95

Why it’s worth it: The Venture Card was already a very strong value proposition a credit for the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee. Plus, you are able to transfer the miles you earn with this card (as well as the VentureOne card and Capital One’s two Spark Miles cards) to airline transfer partners including Avianca, Etihad and Aeroplan. The transfer ratio is 2:1.5, meaning for every dollar you spend on this card you’re getting 1.5 points or miles with a partner airline. This greatly enhances the potential value you can get with this card, as miles are no longer worth a fixed 1 cent apiece.

APPLY HERE: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer.

3. Chase Sapphire Preferred

Best For: Beginners

Current Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $750 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Current Bonus Value: $1,200

Standout Benefits:

  • Earn 2 points per dollar on all travel purchases and 3 points per dollar on dining
  • Transfer points to 13 different travel partners
  • Primary auto rental insurance
  • Trip cancellation coverage
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Read the full card review here.

Annual Fee: $95

Why it's worth it: It doesn't offer the bells and the whistles of the much more expensive Chase Sapphire Reserve card, but the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a great pick for earning bonus points on travel and dining, and for enjoying some solid travel protections in the process. I've utilized Ultimate Rewards points with partners such as United, which I used to book an emergency ticket home in Lufthansa first class, but you can also redeem the points directly through the Chase travel portal for 1.25 cents apiece. Whether you simply don't want to spend $550 a year to get the Sapphire Reserve or if your credit score currently isn't high enough to qualify for that premium card, the Sapphire Preferred remains a very solid option.

APPLY HERE: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

4. Chase Sapphire Reserve

Best For: Travel perks and points earning on travel and dining

Current Bonus: Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

Current Bonus Value: $1,000

Standout Benefits:

  • Earn 3 points per dollar on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
  • Redeem points directly through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal at a rate of 1.5 cents apiece
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Priority Pass Select lounge access (enrollment required for select benefits)
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Trip cancellation coverage
  • Primary car rental insurance
  • Read the full card review here

Annual Fee: $550

Why it's worth it: The Sapphire Reserve won our battle of the premium credit cards for a reason: It offers a stellar selection of perks, from a $300 annual travel credit that can be used toward a wide variety of purchases, to the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents apiece through the Chase travel portal. Best of all, if you have this card, the Ultimate Rewards points you earn on other Chase cards can also be redeemed at the 1.5-cent rate. You also get an impressive 3x points on travel (after $300 travel credit exhausted) and dining purchases, which equates to a 6.3% return based on my valuations. This card is a prime example of benefits more than making up for a steep annual fee.

APPLY HERE: Chase Sapphire Reserve

5. Chase Freedom Unlimited

Best For: Cash back

Current Bonus: Earn $200 cash back after $500 in purchases within the first 3 months

Current Bonus Value: $200

Standout Benefits:

Annual Fee: $0

Why it's worth it: You’re not likely to get approved for a more premium card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve if you’re just starting out or only have a single credit card to your name so far, but a good alternate entry point into the Chase ecosystem could be the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Aside from the $200 cash back bonus, the real beauty of the Freedom Unlimited is if you hold off on redeeming your cash back and instead get a Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve down the line once your credit is more robust, all your cash back from this card can be turned into much more valuable Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed at a higher rate for travel, or even transferred to Chase’s airline and hotel partners.

APPLY HERE: Chase Freedom Unlimited

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold, click here.

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