I receive compensation for content and many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).
If you want to earn the most points for your spending — beyond just earning a big signup bonus — you need to pay attention to what you spend the most money on and which cards give you the best juice for that specific spending.
If you drive a ton you want a card that maximizes gas spend. If you eat out a lot, there are cards that bonus restaurant spend. Since I travel a lot it’s air, hotel, and dining. Some cards are great for multiple categories.
I’ve been a big fan and user of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for many years which gives you double points for both travel and dining. It’s the best all-around card for people getting started seriously collecting miles and points with a $0 annual fee the first year (then $95), though the $450 annual fee Sapphire Reserve Card earns triple points on travel and dining. Sapphire Reserve can be tough to get approved for so getting Chase Sapphire Preferred, waiting a year, and then product changing may be the best strategy to get it.)
I’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be the best card for several spend:
- Best for gas: Citi Premier℠ Card earns 3 ThankYou points per dollar on gas. Those points transfer to a variety of airline frequent flyer mileage programs. I value that like a 4.8% rebate. PenFed’s Platinum Reward Visa Signature earns 5x on gas but those are less valuable points.
- Best for groceries: The new American Express® Gold Card earns 4 points per dollar at US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year) and I value that as a 7.2% rebate!
- Best for dining: Citi Prestige Card earns 5 points per dollar and those points transfer to a variety of airline programs. I value American Express points more and the American Express® Gold Card earns 4 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants.
- Best for airline tickets: Platinum Card by American Express earns 5 points per dollar on airfare booked directly with airlines. So does the Citi Prestige Card but American Express points are more valuable in my view.
- Best for Car Rentals: Chase Sapphire Reserve Card 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar and the card offers primary collision when you rent with it.
- Best for hotels: Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve 3 points per dollar. Although individual hotel cards may be better, for instance Chase points transfer 1:1 to Hyatt but the World Of Hyatt Credit Card earns 4 points per dollar on Hyatt spend and that’s more lucrative. (Citi Prestige Card also offers 3 points per dollar on hotels, but Chase’s transfer partners are better in my view.)
- Best for shipping: Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card 3 points per dollar.
- Best for Social and Search Advertising: Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card 3 points per dollar on Facebook ads, Google advertising, etc.
- Best for Office Supplies and for internet, telephone, and cable TV: If you have a Chase card whose points transfer to airline miles like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card — the best strategy is to get the Chase Ink Cash Card which offers 5 points per dollar (but whose points don’t transfer to miles), move those over to your Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, and from there to miles or points in your preferred program.
- General purchases: The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express earns 2 points per dollar on all spend for your first $50,000 in purchases per year (1 point thereafter). At two points per dollar on all spend this the best most rewarding card for otherwise-unbonused spend.