Maximize your commute: The 6 best credit cards to use

Nov 14, 2021

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Travel credit cards compete for the top spot in your wallet by offering valuable bonus earning categories such as travel, dining and groceries.

But even if you spend a lot on these expenses, you probably aren’t going grocery shopping or buying plane tickets every single day. Not as many cards step up to the plate to offer bonus points on the one thing many of us have to do every single day: commute.

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If you’re looking to earn bonus points on this expense, here are the top cards you should consider.

Best credit cards for commuting

Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $550

Why we like it: You’re not going to find the word “commute” anywhere in the fine print on this card, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s beloved 3 points per dollar on travel purchases will extend to your morning commute. Chase defines travel in the broadest way possible. You’ll earn bonus points for all the conventional things like airfare and hotels, but you’ll also earn for ride-hailing services like Uber, public transit, toll bridges and highways and even some parking fees.

This makes the Sapphire Reserve a great choice for your day-to-day life – and for your vacations as well. The 50,000-point welcome bonus (earned after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening) will jump-start you toward your next tropical getaway. Plus, its $550 annual fee is largely offset by a $300 annual travel credit. This credit is automatically applied to any eligible purchases you make (though note you won’t earn points for the travel this credit reimburses). So you might even find yourself getting reimbursed for your commute by Chase if you pay with a Sapphire Reserve.

The Sapphire Reserve also offers 10 points per dollar on hotel and car rental purchases booked through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal and 5 points per dollar on airline travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal. Read our Chase Sapphire Reserve review for more details.

Apply here: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn $300 cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first six months of account opening.

Annual fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 (see rates and fees)

Why we like it: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express can be a great option for those looking to earn a little cash back on their commutes. The card underwent a recent refresh that included the addition of a 3% bonus category for transit. Amex indicated that this category will cover parking, tolls, ride-hailing services, subway tickets and more. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.

Importantly, unlike the earlier cards on this list, it carries a 2.7% foreign transaction fee (see rates and fees). This means that you’ll want to leave it behind when packing for vacation overseas. Read our Amex Blue Cash Preferred review for all the details.

Apply here: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

World of Hyatt Credit Card

Sign-up bonus: Up to 60,000 points:

  • 30,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening
  • 2 additional points per dollar (3x total) on up to $15,000 in purchases, for a total of 30,000 points

Annual fee: $95

Why we like it: The World of Hyatt Credit Card offers commuters 2 points per dollar on all local transit and commuting expenses, which is great whether you’re traveling or just heading to work or school. Eligible expenses include taxis, mass transit and ride-hailing services.

The card’s benefits extend to your stays at Hyatt as well. You receive automatic Discoverist status, which is good for travelers who don’t frequent Hyatt. For travelers who want to earn higher elite status, this card can help you with that, too. You’ll receive five elite night credits from the card automatically and two additional night credits for every $5,000 you spend on the card.

On your Hyatt stays, you’ll earn a total of 9x points on your bill – 4x from the card and 5x from being a World of Hyatt member. And best of all, you’ll receive a Category 1-4 free night each year when you renew the card. You have the opportunity to earn a second free night when you spend $15,000 in a calendar year. Read our World of Hyatt Card review for more card info.

Apply here: World of Hyatt Credit Card

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn $200 after you spend $750 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $0

Why we like it: This could be your favorite credit card for commuting expenses. The Citi Custom Cash Card earns 5% cash back on the first $500 you spend in your top spending category each billing cycle (then 1% thereafter). With gas stations and transit as category options, you’re covered no matter how you get to work. After you max out the 5%, all other purchases earn 1% cash back with no caps.

The best part is that you never have to activate rotating cash back categories (as you do with competitors like the Chase Freedom Flex). Instead, Citi will automatically apply the 5% cash back bonus to whichever qualifying category you spend the most in each billing cycle. Other eligible categories include restaurants, grocery stores, drugstores and home improvement stores. There’s no annual fee, so all of the cash back that you earn is yours to keep.

Read our Citi Custom Cash review for more card details.

Apply here: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

United Quest℠ Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus United miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $250

Why we like it: The United Quest℠ Card is the best card for commuters who have to pay tolls on their daily commute. The card earns 2 miles per dollar on travel, which includes traditional travel expenses like trains, taxis, and ride-hailing services, while local transit and tolls also earn bonus miles. You’ll also earn 3 miles per dollar on United purchases, 2 miles per dollar for dining and select streaming services and 1 mile per dollar everywhere else.

There are noteworthy additional benefits. When you fly United, this card provides the first and second checked bag for free for you and one companion on the same itinerary. Most travel credit cards only include one bag with the free checked bag benefit. You’ll also get a statement credit of up to $125 on United purchases each year, as well as two 5,000-mile award flight reimbursement credits each cardmember year. Between the United credit and free checked bags, even if you only fly United once a year, this card could be worth the annual fee.

Read our United Quest review for all the details.

Apply here: United Quest℠ Card

Amtrak Guest Rewards® World Mastercard®

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

Annual fee: $79

Why we like it: While many people use cars to commute, we can’t neglect our friends who travel by train. The Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard is the ideal card for commuters who take Amtrak to work. It offers 3 points per dollar on Amtrak travel, including onboard purchases like food and beverages from the cafe car. You’ll also earn 2 points per dollar on all other travel purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

If Amtrak Guest Rewards elite status is important to you, you’ll get 1,000 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) for every $5,000 you spend in a calendar year, up to 4,000 TQPs each year. You’ll even get a 5% points rebate when you book Amtrak with rewards.

Read our review: Amtrak Guest Rewards® World Mastercard®

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

Bottom line

Commuting to and from work can make a long day even longer. While you can’t cut your commute time by carrying the right credit cards, you can get a good amount of points or cash back on transit expenses. Some of the cards with the best “travel” bonus categories include very broad definitions that will cover your morning commute, whether you’re filling up the gas tank or hopping on the subway.

Featured photo by Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

For rates and fees of the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, click here.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.