Posted by William Charles on April 17, 2017
Credit Cards

Published on April 17th, 2017 | by William Charles

101

Best Credit Cards For Every Day Purchases

We’ve recently looked at credit cards that earn at a high rate on specific categories, but one of the most important cards to have is one that earns at a high rate on all purchases. This should be used as your baseline card, below we’ve outlined your best options when it comes to these purchases.

This post is affiliate link free. If you think we’re missing any cards then please let us know in the comments section or by using the contact us page.

It’s also important to keep in mind that you can often earn at a higher rate by employing some basic manufactured spending strategies (e.g purchasing prepaid Visa, MasterCard or AmEx gift cards or similar with a card that has a high category bonus).

Contents

Personal Credit Cards

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest, 1x Point & $95 Annual Fee

Card only earns 1x on all purchases, but some people highly value these points (either for redeeming on SPG properties or for the ability to transfer to many airline partners at a rate of 1:1 and get a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred).

AmEx Everyday No Annual Fee, 1-1.2 Membership Rewards Points, No Annual Fee

This card earns membership rewards points on all purchases at a rate of 1x point per $1 spent, if you make more than 20 purchases per month you get a 20% bonus on all points earned meaning this card would earn at a rate of 1.2x points on all purchases.

You’d need to value these points at 1.67¢ or more for it to beat out a card that earns at 2% cash back.

Capital One Quicksilver, 1.5% Cash Back, No Annual Fee

This card earns at a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases and has no annual fee. It’s a decent card, but the cards below offer better value.

AmEx Everyday Preferred, 1-1.5x Membership Rewards Points $95 Annual Fee Waived First Year

Our full review

This card earns membership rewards points on all purchases at a rate of 1x point per $1 spent. If you make more than 30 purchases per month you get a 50% bonus, meaning this card would earn 1.5x points on all purchases. It does come with a hefty annual fee of $95 per year which is waived the first year.

You’d need to value membership rewards points at 1.34¢ each or more to beat out a card that earns at 2% cash back. This isn’t taking into account the annual fee of $95.

 Chase Freedom Unlimited: 1.5x Chase Ultimate Rewards, No Annual Fee

This card earns 1.5x Chase Ultimate Rewards per $1 spent with no annual fee. These points are worth 1¢ each when redeeming for cash and you can transfer them to travel partners if you have a premium Chase card (e.g Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Ink Plus)

Capital One Venture Miles Rewards: 1-2% Cash Back, $59 Annual Fee

This card earns 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases. When you redeem for cash or statement credit these points are only worth 0.5¢ each. When you redeem against travel expenses points are worth 1¢ each which would make it a 2% cash back card. You can also redeem for gift cards and get the same 1¢ in value. There is an annual fee of $59.

Barclays Arrival Plus: 1-2.1% Cash Back, $89 Annual Fee Waived First Year

Our full review

This card earns 2 miles per $1 spent. These miles are worth differing values depending on what you redeem them for. If you redeem these miles against charges that are not travel related they are only worth 0.5¢ each which would make this a straight 1% cash back card and rather ordinary.

If you redeem these miles against charges that are travel related you get 1¢ per mile in value and you also get a 5% rebate. This makes this card 2.1%+ cash back on all purchases when redeeming against travel expenses. Obviously you should only use this card if you’ll have enough travel expenses to redeem against. You can view what Barclays considered as travel here.

It has a hefty annual fee of $89 which is $30 higher than the Capital One Venture. We discuss why this is worse than a straight 2% cash back card here.

Bank of America Travel Rewards – 1.5%-2.625% No Annual Fee

This card earns 1.5x points on all purchases (points are worth 1¢ each). With Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program you can get up to 2.625% back though.

Bank of America Premium Rewards – 1.5%-2.2625% – $95 Annual Fee

Basically same as the travel rewards card mentioned above, card does come with a $95 annual fee but this is offset by the generous $100 travel credit. Card also offers 2x points on travel and dining (3.5 with Preferred Rewards) . Our full review here.

Alliant Visa Platinum Rewards Credit Card – 2%, No Annual Fee

Earns 2x points (worth 1¢ each) and has no annual fee. Also comes with a $50 sign up bonus currently. Our full review here.

Citi Doublecash: 2% Cash Back, No Annual Fee

The Citi doublecash card has no annual fee and can earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases. You earn 1% cash back when you make the purchases and another 1% when they are paid off. You can view more information on this card here.

Visa Fidelity: 2% Cash Back, No Annual Fee

This is the best no nonsense card in our opinion. It earns a flat 2% cash back on all of your purchases and there is no annual fee to worry about. There is also no need to worry about having any travel expenses to redeem against (although you can get slightly more value out of this card by exchanging cash back for world points). It’s currently possible to get a bonus of $100 on this card as well.

Paypal Cashback Mastercard: 2% Cash Back, No Annual Fee

Paypal’s Cashback Mastercard has no annual fee and earn a flat 2% cash back on all purchases into your Paypal account. No minimum redemption. Our full review here.

Blispay: 2% Cash Back, No Annual Fee

Read our full review

This is better than the other 2% cash back cards on the market due to the fact that it comes with free financing on purchases over $199 and there is also no minimum redemption amount (it’s applied as statement credit at the end of each month).

 

Discover it Miles 3% Cash Back For First Year, No Annual Fee

This card earns 1.5 miles on all purchases and at the end of the first year all of the miles you have earned are doubled. Miles are worth 1¢ each which means that this card basically earns 3% cash back for the first year and then 1.5% thereafter. Obviously it only makes sense to use it in the first year.

Alliant Cash Back 3% Cash Back First Year, Then 2.5% ($59 AF Waived First Year)

Read our full review

Card is the same as the Discover it Miles mentioned above (but you get the 3% straight away rather than waiting a year). Year two onwards you get 2.5% cash back but have to pay an annual fee of $59. This means you need to spend $11,800 per year to be better off with this card compared to a 2% cash back card with no annual fee.

Honorable Mentions

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve 3x Points On Mobile Wallet Transactions, $400 Annual Fee

Read our full review here

This card earns 3x points on all mobile wallet transactions, including MST transactions. If you have Samsung Pay then this means you can basically earn 3x points on almost all purchases. Points are worth up to 1.5¢ each as well. $400 annual fee is somewhat offset by the fact that you get $325 in travel credits as well.

Proponent Federal Credit Union Visa Signature Card 2x Points (Up To 2.5% Back In Airfare), No Annual Fee

Read our full review here

Card earns 2x points per $1 spent when you spend $1,000 or more per month. You can use the points for:

  • FlexPass travel discounts: Start at $100 for 8,000 points (1.25¢)
  • Gift cards: Start at 1,500 points for $10 gift card (0.67¢ per point)

This means at best you’re getting 2.5% back but can only redeem it for airfare and must book through their portal.

BB&T Spectrum Rewards Up To 4.05% For The First Three Months, No Annual Fee

This card can earn up to 4.05% cash back on all purchases for the first three months. It earns at a base rate of 3% for the first three months, you can also get a 30% bonus on all cash back earned annually if you spend $50,000 or more and you get an additional 5% bonus as an anniversary bonus.

It’s only available in the following states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia or D.C and only earns 1% cash back after the introductory three month period. More information can be found here.

Business Credit Cards

Capital One Spark Cash 2% Cash Back, $59 Annual Fee Waived First Year

This business card earns at a flat 2% cash back on all purchases and it’s annual fee of $59 is waived for the first year. I’d only recommend this card over the American Express Fidelity card if you have a lot of purchases that cannot be put on AmEx or JCB.

You’d probably be better off putting these expenses on a 1.5% personal card unless you’re spending more than $11,800 per year.

Amex Blue Business Plus 2x MR, No Annual Fee

Read our review

This card earns a flat 2x Membership Rewards points on all purchases and has no annual fee. There is an annual cap of $50,000 which can earn 2x, subsequently it earns just 1x, so keep that in mind.

BECU 3% Cash Back For First Six Months, No Annual Fee [WA only]

Read our full post

Card earns 3% cash back on all purchases with no cap or annual fee, downside is that this is only for the first six months and the card is only available in WA and also requires joining the credit union.

Cards That Didn’t Make The Cut

The following cards did not make the cut for our best everyday list for various reasons. We’ve listed them below as they still might be of interest to some readers.

  • Hilton HHonors cards: Hilton has continually devalued their points to the point where you will struggle to get 0.5¢ per point in value. You’d need to get 0.67¢+ per point in value on a card that earns 3x Hilton points to beat out a 2% cash back card.
    • Hilton HHonors Surpass From AmEx: 3x points on all purchases
    • Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve: 3x points on all purchases
    • Hilton HHonors From American Express: 3x points on all purchases
    • Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature
  • We didn’t include cards that earn at a high rate on specific categories.

If you’d like to see what the best credit cards are for purchases in other categories, click on one of the following links:

 



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Surprised to not see the Sallie Mae credit card mentioned here. Am I missing something?

Sallie Mae no longer exists. New apps were stopped over a year ago and all remaining Salle Mae’s were converted to the FAR inferior Commence card as of March 1st, 2017.

By using this card over a flat 2% cash back card you’d be forgoing $750 in cash back before you hit the $15,000 threshold to earn 2% on all purchases.

Looks like you accidentally added a zero to $75.

Barry Kryshka

“By using this card over a flat 2% cash back card you’d be forgoing $750 in cash back before you hit the $15,000 threshold to earn 2% on all purchases.”

That gave me a scare, I use this card daily and hate the though of losing $750 a year. But $15,000 x 0.5% = $75.

“you’d be forgoing $750 in cash back before you hit the $15,000 threshold to earn 2% on all purchases”. Should read “$75”.

Hi William,

I want to apply Lufthansa, SW and SPG cards using your affiliate links…….but before that, please tell me how do I meet the minimum spending to get the sign up bonus since we cannot load Vanilla gift cards into BB at WM anymore. I checked around my area and all the Office Depot and Staples are out of the $200 fixed about Visa gift card, only the $100 one available but I don’t want to buy a lot of $100 visa gc because it’s a hassle to load them one by one at WM (besides amazon payment, using the gc for regular spending and evolve, since I want to pay my credit card bills with bluebird)……I don’t want to be stuck with many GC that cannot be liquidated ……..please advise so I can use your link to apply before the offer expires.

Carol

If you have places that sell OneVanilla (Duane Reade, CVS, Walgreens) buy them and get MO at USPS. That has been the easiest way to MS so far

Which card do you use for cvs drugstore?

The JCB cards are notorious for meager CL so not useful for MS. And as I understand their T&Cs (vaguely worded is an understatement), your CB % is reset every statement and isn’t cumulative. So if you made $3K in purchases in one month and $1K the next, you only earn 1% on the second month spend. And that first month would be 1% on $1K ($10), 2% on second thousand ($20) and 3% on third thousand ($30), for total of $60 on $3K = 2% effective. If they offered sizable CL, would be one of the best CB cards for MS as you could easily get your average spend above $3K per month and get effective CB closer to 3%. https://www.jcbusa.com/disclosures/marukai-premium-jcb-card-california/

You missed the Carlson card that gets 5x everywhere. Not that I’d ever put any spend on the card but it is an option for those who might want a cheap roof over their heads.

I think it would be worth mentioning that the Quicksilver card does not come with a foreign transaction fee. Most (if not all) no-annual-fee cards listed here can not boast this.

[…] you’re looking for a card that earns more than 1% cash back on all purchases, we’ve got a full list here. If you’re looking for a card that has a higher cash sign up bonus, we’ve got another […]

If you can park 100K in BoA or Merrill Lynch Edge, you can get 2.625% no fee BoA travel. I put my Roth IRA to Merrilllynch Edge account, I have 30 commission free trade each month, free checking account, free safety box, and 2.625% back.

This card gets no love. It’s honestly one of the best non-bonused cards. No FTF, no AF, and an earning rate that rivals or beats SPG. DOC, you should also include SPG on this list.

There is that big if you can park 100K. Not many have 100K laying around hence I assume these cards dont get the mention.

Does it has to be Cash or can we put mutual funds and stocks in Merrill Edge account,

It’s based on account value. So if you invest $20k and then the stock goes down you may lose your tier bonus. Just talked to them today. They calculate the rolling 3 month period as daily averages so no real way to game.

I am surprised not seeing the Priceline Visa card. Though the card image is ugly, it has a flat 2% CB as well.

3.3% when redeemed for Priceline purchases! I travel a bunch and often there are no points options but almost always Priceline. I pay my taxes and anything where there’s a fee for using your card since the return covers the fee. I lost my shatner card and now just have the plain Jane, sad.

[…] cards are extremely lackluster, it’s possible to get 2% cash back on all purchases and up to 5% cash back on gas purchases with no annual fee. Even for people with terrible credit, […]

[…] will earn UR points (see below), if it doesn’t then you’ll be much better off with a card that earns 2%+ cash back on all purchases. If it does, then you’ll need to value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.34¢ a piece otherwise […]

It may be worth mentioning that the Barclay Arrival/ Arrival Plus, Capital One Quicksilver/Venture/Venture One, and BOA Travel Rewards and PNC Travel credit cards have no FTF (foreign transaction fees).

[…] 5% rate, as you need to make 15 or more purchases that total $500 per month. If you put that on a credit card earning 2% cash back, you’d earn $10 per month (you’d be earning ~$20 per month from the interest, but there are […]

[…] You can earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases (this card offers a maximum of 1.1%) […]

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