Spending more money on in-app purchases? Use these cards to maximize rewards

May 30, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new card details.


Most of us have spent more time in front of our screens these days and streaming services have seen increased sign-ups and time spent watching. Many people are downloading more games either on mobile devices or through video game systems and plenty of us have developed a new online shopping habit. (I raise my hand guiltily.)

I don’t know about you, but this has meant I’ve spent more recently on in-app purchases than ever before. So today, I’m walking through a few of the best cards to set as your default payment option for in-app purchases.

Best cards for in-app purchases

The information about the Apple Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuers. 

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $95

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

Why it’s great for in-app purchases: You may be spending more on in-app purchases these days, but it’s unlikely that this category makes up a majority of your spending. With the Capital One Venture Card, you’ll earn 2x miles on all spending, including in-app purchases.

A card that rewards you for everyday spending that doesn’t normally fit into the bonus categories offered by other cards is a great option. With the Venture, you’ll be able to redeem the miles earned at a fixed-value for eligible purchases or transfer to a number of travel partners. TPG values Capital One miles at 1.7 cents each, which means you’re getting a solid 3.7% return across spending.

Check out our full Capital One Venture Card review.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months of account opening.

Why it’s great for in-app purchases: The card earns 1.5% on all non-bonus spending — including in-app purchases. But the best part about this card is that you can transfer rewards earned to cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, so you have access to transfer partners and the portal redemption bonus.

Besides being a good card for in-app purchases, you’ll also get 5% back on all travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% back on dining and drugstores. For a no-annual fee credit card, it has one of the best earning rates out there.

Check out our full Chase Freedom Unlimited card review.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0

Sign-up bonus: $200 cash bonus after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

Why it’s great for in-app purchases: With the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card, you get to choose which category earns 3% back monthly (up to $2,500 in combined bonus rewards each quarter; then 1%). One of the category options is online shopping, which should include in-app purchases.

Bank of America also explicitly lists Apple.com purchases (including iTunes) and Xbox Live purchases as part of the online shopping category. The best part is that you can change to a different category each month. This works out great once the pandemic passes and you are no longer spending as much on in-app purchases.

Keep in mind that if you qualify for the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, you could earn even more than 3% back.

Check out our full Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card review.

Citi Double Cash Card

(Photo by Josh Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Josh Gribben for The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0

Sign-up bonus: None

Why it’s great for in-app purchases: You’ll earn up to 2% back on every purchase — 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay your bill. The appeal of this card is similar to the Capital One Venture, except the redemption opportunities are potentially more valuable depending on which other cards you hold in your wallet.

If you have a ThankYou Points card (such as the Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige® Card), you can convert your cash-back rewards into ThankYou Points, which can then be transferred to Citi’s travel partners.

The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Check out our full Citi Double Cash review.

Apple Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith / The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0

Sign-up bonus: None

Why it’s great for in-app purchases: The Apple Card offers 3% Daily Cash (the card’s version of cash back) on everything you buy from Apple — including apps, in-app purchases and more. This may not be useful for anyone who doesn’t use an iPhone, but it is an option for Apple users to consider, especially if you already have the Apple Card in your digital wallet.

I haven’t been incredibly impressed with the Apple Card overall and wouldn’t suggest applying just for the sake of in-app earning. But 3% back on your in-app purchases isn’t a bad return if you already have the card or plan to use it across a wide range of purchases.

Bottom line

Will maximizing your in-app purchases earn you enough points, miles or cash back for a business-class flight to Iceland on their own? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be maximizing those purchases — especially if you already have any of these cards and can make a simple switch to set in-app spending as your default.

Smaller $1 to $5 purchases can eventually add up to help you bridge that final gap to hitting your dream redemption. And during a time when many of us are re-evaluating our spending habits and credit card strategy, now is a great time to think about which cards you’re using for those smaller expenses, such as in-app purchases.

Featured photo by Getty Images

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.