The best credit cards for everyday spending
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Everyday spending doesn’t offer the get-rich-quick feeling of a 100,000-point sign-up bonus, but it can be a steady supplement to your points account or help you top off your balance to get that next award. Here are the cards that offer the best return on everyday non-bonus spending:
Best credit cards for everyday spending in 2019
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
- Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card
- Citi® Double Cash Card
- Citi Rewards+℠ Card
There are many credit cards on the market today but only a handful are worth considering when it comes to non-bonus everyday spending. Here are eight, ranked by value in the first year and assuming $20,000 in non-bonus spending during that year:
Comparing the best cards for everyday spending
|Welcome Bonus||Annual Fee||Points Earned Based on $20,000 in Non-Bonus Spend||Total Return in First Year (based on TPG valuations)|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||$150 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months.||$0||30,000 points||$900 (assuming you also have a full-fledged Chase Ultimate Rewards card)|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||50,000 miles ($700 based on TPG valuations) once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening||$95 (waived first year)||40,000 miles||$1,260|
|Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express||15,000 Membership Rewards points ($300 based on TPG valuations) after you spend $1,000 in qualifying purchases on the card within your first three months of cardmembership||$95||30,000 points (assuming 30 transactions per month)||$805|
|The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
||None||$0 (see rates and fees)||40,000 points||$800|
|Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card||50,000 points ($500) after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening||$95||30,000 points (or up to 52,500 points depending on your status in the Preferred Rewards program)||$705 to $930|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||None||$0||40,000 points||$680|
|Citi Rewards+ Card||15,000 points ($255 based on TPG valuations and assuming you also have a full-fledged Citi ThankYou Rewards card) after spending $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening||$0||At least 20,000 points||At least $595 (assuming you also have a full-fledged Citi ThankYou Rewards card)|
The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
And here are the same cards ranked by their effective return for non-bonus everyday spending in the second year and beyond:
|Annual Fee||Earning on Everyday Spend||% Return (Based on TPG valuations)|
|The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
||$0||2x Membership Rewards on the first $50,000 in purchases each year, then 1x||4%|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||$0||1x points per dollar at the time of purchase and another 1x when you pay your bill (2x total)||3.4%|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||$0||1.5x Ultimate Rewards||3% (assuming you also have a full-fledged Chase Ultimate Rewards card)|
|Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card||$95||1x Membership Reward points, 50% bonus points after making 30 purchases in a billing statement. Terms apply.||3% (including 50% bonus)|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||$95 (waived first year)||2x Venture Rewards miles||2.8%|
|Citi Rewards+ Card||$0||1x ThankYou Rewards (with all purchases rounded up to the nearest 10 points)||At least 1.7% (assuming you also have a full-fledged Citi ThankYou Rewards card)|
|Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card||$95||1.5x points (with up to a 75% bonus depending on your status in the Preferred Rewards program)||1.5% to 2.625%|
Let’s take a look at how these returns are calculated and which options might be right for you.
Best everyday spending Credit Cards
The Chase Freedom Unlimited has been around for a while and savvy users know that it pairs perfectly with Chase’s premium credit cards. The Freedom Unlimited is currently offering a sign-up bonus of $150 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months. But if you also hold a premium Chase card, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, you can transfer the points from your Freedom Unlimited to one of these cards. Doing so will turn them into full-fledged transferable Ultimate Rewards points, worth 2 cents apiece based on TPG’s latest monthly valuations. The Freedom Unlimited is a perfect starter card and a simple and easy introduction to the world of free travel.
It is often easier to get approved for the Freedom Unlimited than for most premium cards, but it is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. This means that you’ll be automatically rejected if you’ve opened five or more new cards in the last 24 months.
See our full card review for more information.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card earns 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases. The card comes with a $95 annual fee, but the annual fee is waived the first year.
You can redeem your miles at a fixed rate of 1 cent each as statement credits to “erase” travel purchases you’ve made in the last 90 days or you can transfer your miles to a selection of airline partners. Based on TPG’s valuations, transferring to these partners could get you about 1.4 cents per mile in value, meaning the 2x earning rate on this card equals a 2.8% return.
See our full card review for more details.
Amex EveryDay Preferred Card
The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express can be a lucrative option if you commit to it. In addition to 2x points at U.S. gas stations and 3x at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year), you’ll earn a 50% point bonus each billing cycle if you make 30 or more purchases. If you’re able to do this, you’ll effectively be earning 1.5 Membership Rewards points on everyday non-bonus spending. But, if you only make it to 29 purchases, you’ll be stuck earning 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent in that billing cycle.
You’ll have to take a look at your own spending history and see if you can consistently maximize this card, but even at its best, it still comes up somewhat short of the Blue Business Plus. The Everyday Preferred has a $95 annual fee; the Blue Business Plus has none, and obviously 1.5x is less than 2x. Still, it might be a good choice if you can’t get a business card or have more than $50,000 a year in credit card expenses.
The information for the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express packs a mighty punch. This no-annual-fee (see rates and fees) credit card earns 2x Membership Rewards per dollar spent on all purchases, up to $50,000 in a year; then 1x. TPG values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, meaning that this card gives an unparalleled 4% return on all spending. Maxing out this card would earn you 100,000 Membership Rewards points a year, which TPG values at $2,000 and is certainly enough to unlock some pretty impressive redemption options.
Small-business owners will also appreciate that this card has some of the best features of Amex charge cards. Specifically, you may be able to spend beyond your pre-approved credit limit as long as you pay off the balance in full during the next billing cycle. The only downside of this card is that it’s a business card, not a personal card, so not everyone will be able to apply for it (though you may be more eligible than you think).
See the full card review for more details.
This card becomes extra appealing for non-bonus spending if you have high standing in Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program. If you have more than $100,000 in assets with BoFA (including investment and retirement accounts), you could get a 75% bonus on all points you earn — meaning the 1.5x points you earn on non-bonus purchases with the Premium Rewards Card would be boosted to 2.625x points. The card has a $95 annual fee.
If you don’t have the requisite $100,000-plus in assets to secure the 75% bonus that comes with the Platinum Honors tier of the Preferred Rewards program, note that there are two lower tiers: Gold ($20,000-$50,000 in assets), which gets a 25% points bonus, equal to 1.875x points on non-bonus spending, and Platinum ($50,000-$100,000), which gets a 50% points bonus, equal to 2.25x points on non-bonus spending.
See the full card review for more details.
Despite offering a 2% return (1% when you purchase and 1% when you pay), the Citi® Double Cash Card has historically been overlooked because savvy TPG readers know that they can get more value from flexible credit card points than from a cash-back card. However, Citi’s decision to allow the points from the Double Cash to transfer to full-fledged Citi ThankYou Points radically improves this card’s value. Now, despite the lack of a sign-up bonus or any meaningful perks, this no-annual-fee card offers the second highest return on everyday spending. Based on TPG’s valuation of ThankYou Points at 1.7 cents each, the Double Cash card is really more like the “3.4% card” now.
The Citi Rewards+ Card earns basic ThankYou points that can be transferred to JetBlue at a 5:4 ratio or used toward travel booked through the Citi portal, gift cards or statement credits at a value of 1 cent each. But if you have a premium ThankYou Rewards card, like the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier℠ Card, the points become worth 1.7 cents each since then they can be combined with your full-fledged ThankYou points and transferred to more airline partners.
The points earned on each purchase are rounded up to the nearest 10 points, so purchasing a 50-cent pack of gum or $2 coffee will earn you 10 points (as though you had spent $10). These 10 points are worth 17 cents if you have a premium ThankYou Rewards card or 10 cents if not. So the Rewards+ Card is especially useful if you make lots of small purchases. The Rewards+ Card earns 2x points at gas stations and supermarkets (for the first $6,000; then 1x) and a 10% rebate on the first 100,000 points you redeem annually.
See the full card review for more information.
The information for the Citi Prestige, Citi Premier has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
The best everyday card for you will depend on your spending habits, travel goals and the cards you already have. In any event, at least one of the cards on this list should be able to help you earn more on your purchases that don’t fall into a bonus category.
The Blue Business Plus offers an impressive 4% return on general spending long-term, while the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers a valuable sign-up bonus paired with more than a 2% return on everyday spending long-term. The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a non-conventional bonus and is an excellent choice if you already have a card that earns full-fledged Chase Ultimate Rewards. And the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa®credit card is a solid option if you have high standing in Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program. Each card is on the list for a specific reason, so you just have to pick the best one for your situation.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Card, please click here.
Featured image by Burak Karademir / Getty Images
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page for the best credit cards for everyday spending. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to previous versions of this post below.
SIGN-UP BONUS: $150 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months.
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $150
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: No annual fee + earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
- 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
- No annual fee
- No minimum to redeem for cash back
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open