Best rewards for everyday spend

Note: American Express is a Frequent Miler advertiser. Please see our Advertiser Disclosure.

Elsewhere, I’ve listed credit cards with the Best Category Bonuses, the Best Category Bonuses, and the Best Big Spend Bonuses.  All of these can be found on the Frequent Miler Resources pageThis page is essentially the “all other” category.  What cards are worth using when you are not working towards a big signup bonus, you’re not angling for a big spend bonus, and you have no good category bonus options?

For cards that earn points instead of cash back, I used my Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs) to estimate the rebate value as a cash back percentage.  For example, if a card earns 5X on all spend and the Reasonable Redemption Value of those points is .4 cents each, then the card earns an estimated 2% rebate on all spend.  This does not mean that you will get only 2% in value from your points, you may get much more… or less.  Reasonable Redemption Values are intended to be an estimate of a reasonable value that you can expect to get from your points.  In real life, the value you get from your points depends entirely upon how you use them.

To account for annual fees, I assumed a total of $30,000 spent per year and subtracted the annual fee from the total rebate value before calculating the overall percent rebate offered by each card.  Mostly only cards offering rebates above 2% are shown here, but I did include two popular no-fee 2% cash back cards to anchor the list.

 Card Annual Fee Estimated Rebate % Notes
The Blue Business Plus Credit Card $0 3.64% This small business card offers 2X Membership Rewards points for all spend, up to $50K per calendar year.
Discover It Miles (Year 1) $0 3% The Discover It Miles card offers 1.5% for all spend, plus they will double all points earned in the first year.  Points are worth 1 cent each.  So, in year 1 this card offers 3% returns.
Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard $0 2.9% This card earns 2X for Amtrak spend, and 1X elsewhere. Points are worth up to 2.9% each towards Amtrak travel.  Obviously this is a good choice only for those who intend to travel Amtrak frequently.  See: Amtrak Guest Rewards credit card review.
Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard $79 2.64% This card earns 3X for Amtrak spend, 2X for qualifying travel, and 1X elsewhere. Points are worth up to 2.9% each towards Amtrak travel.  Obviously this is a good choice only for those who intend to travel Amtrak frequently.  See: Amtrak Guest Rewards credit card review.
Bank of America Travel Rewards with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards $0 2.63% Redeem your miles for any travel expense. Base earning is 1.5X, but you will get an additional bonus through the BOA Preferred Rewards program. Platinum Honors status (75% bonus) requires $100K or more invested in BOA and Merrill Edge / Merrill Lynch.
Bank of America Premium Rewards with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards $95* 2.63%

Redeem for cash back.  Base earning is 1.5%, but you will get an additional bonus through the BOA Preferred Rewards program. Platinum Honors status (75% bonus) requires $100K or more invested in BOA and Merrill Edge / Merrill Lynch.

* Even though this card has a $95 annual fee, it has an annual $100 in airline fee reimbursements so I assumed the effective annual fee to be $0 for the purpose of calculating the rebate % column.

USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards
(No longer accepting new applications)
$0 2.5% Combine with a free USAA Bank checking account and direct deposit in order to earn 2.5% cash back on all spend!  Unfortunately, you do need to be a member of USAA to get this card (which means you or a family member needs to be active or retired military).  Also, this card is currently available only in select states.
Chase Freedom Unlimited paired with $95 premium card $95 2.41% This no-fee card earns 1.5 points per dollar for all spend.  Pair with a premium card such as the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Business Preferred, or Sapphire Reserve in order to unlock the ability to transfer points to airline and hotel programs.
Chase Ink Business Unlimited paired with $95 premium card $95 2.41% This no-fee card earns 1.5 points per dollar for all spend.  Pair with a premium card such as the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Business Preferred, or Sapphire Reserve in order to unlock the ability to transfer points to airline and hotel programs.
The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express (requires 30+ uses per billing cycle) $95 2.41% This card earns 3x points at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 2x points at US gas stations; and 1x points on other purchases.  Key feature: Use your Card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period and get 50% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.  This means that the card earns at least 1.5 points per dollar on all spend as long as you use the card 30 or more times per billing cycle.  Transfer points to airline miles for best value.  Amex Business Platinum cardholders can get 2 cents per point value when using points to pay for flights within preferred airline (or for a premium ticket).
Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card $59 2.3% Earn 3% cash back first year, then 2.5% cash back everywhere in ongoing years. No foreign transaction fees. $25 minimum redemption. Join Alliant by donating at least $10 to Foster Care to Success
Bank of America Travel Rewards with Platinum Preferred Rewards  $0 2.25% Redeem your miles for any travel expense. Base earning is 1.5 points per dollar, but you will get an additional bonus through the BOA Preferred Rewards program. Platinum status (50% bonus) requires $50K to $100K invested in BOA and Merrill Edge / Merrill Lynch.
Bank of America Premium Rewards with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards $95* 2.25%

Redeem for cash back.  Base earning is 1.5%, but you will get an additional bonus through the BOA Preferred Rewards program. Platinum status (50% bonus) requires $50K to $100K invested in BOA and Merrill Edge / Merrill Lynch.

* Even though this card has a $95 annual fee, it has an annual $100 in airline fee reimbursements so I assumed the effective annual fee to be $0 for the purpose of calculating the rebate % column.

The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express (requires 20+ uses per billing cycle) $0 2.18% This card earns 2x points at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x) and 1x points on other purchases.  Key feature: Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and get 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.  This means that the card earns at least 1.2 points per dollar on all spend as long as you use the card 20 or more times per billing cycle.  Transfer points to airline miles for best value.  Amex Business Platinum cardholders can get 2 cents per point value when using points to pay for flights within preferred airline (or for a premium ticket).
Citi Double Cash $0 2% Get 1% cash back for purchases + 1% cash back when paying your bill.
Fidelity Investment Rewards Visa $0 2% This card earns 2% back when points are deposited to an eligible Fidelity investment account.

Most of the calculations for this page can be found in this Google Docs Spreadsheet.  If you would like to change assumptions or calculations, open the spreadsheet, click File… Make a Copy….

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[…] dollar, or 3% cash back, for all spend.  That will easily catapult this card to the top of my “Best rewards for everyday spend” page.  But it gets […]

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[…] You’ll find more good options here: Best rewards for everyday spend. […]

Carole
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Carole

I currently have all the cards your recommend, except for the Discover Miles. I use the Freedom appropriately, as well as the Sapphire, Ink and Arrival. I put the maximum amount in my Prepaid Target every month. I take at least 2 international trips a year, in addition to several domestic ones.
In addition, my husband has most of the same cards. Both my husband and I have been turned down, occasionally, the reason given as having applied for too many cards. Should I get the Discover Miles card?

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Arrival $89 annual fee can be waived if you spend a lot. I just got both my wife’s and mine waived within the past month. Both arrival cards are over 80K each yearly. I also got my flexperks annual fee waived by using over 35K.

I mainly use Fia for AGC purchase so I will not put too much monthly charge on my two arrivals, and my BOA travel(2.62%). I also have Chase freedoms, Ink plus and flexperks. I only used ink plus on Staples/office depot/max. I am not going to pay $95 for Ink plus if I cannot waive annaul fee by end of June. I used flexpoint for RBs sometimes. I charged old blue cash within 45K each year ( try to under Amex radar).

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Update:

I am going to spenf both of my arrivel+ points and close both cards at March & April since there is no incentive for me to use them anymore. I have 2 BoA 2.625% travel cards. Mainly use for daily spend, and new bank account deposit. I also a Fia Amex card which is no use for now due to useless Serve cards. I also have 1 Fia Visa and 1 Fia Mastercard which I haven’t use them for years. Not sure if I will get three new Fidelity Visas after June.

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[…] Best rewards for everyday spend […]

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[…] Best rewards for everyday spend […]

Akshay
Guest
Akshay

I have Fidelity Amex and Arrival+.
Arrival+ annual fee is not refund for 2nd year renewal. Its not worth keeping Arrival+ card as recovering cost of annual fee is very high.
You have not listed Capital One Venture and Fidelity Visa. I am debating on applying for one of below to replace Arrival+ for MS activity.
Any comment, recommendation?

1. Capital One Venture
down side is it will pull credit report from all 3 credit agency and no 5% bonus on travel resumption. Good part is, its universally accepted as its a Master cad and 40,000 signon bonus.
2. Citi® Double Cash Card
downside is few transactions are identified as cash advance or no reward earning. Good part, no annual fee.
3. BOA Travel Rewards with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards
downside is to make it meaningful 2%+ reward, one need to have 50k+ asset with Merrill Lynch for at least first 3 months of the year.
4. Fidelity Visa:
downside, 2% after 15k spend.

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[…] Best rewards for everyday spend […]

Brooke
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Brooke

Any way you could email me the spreadsheet? My computer blocks google docs from opening for some reason.

Thanks!!

Chris
Guest
Chris

Please correct me if I am wrong but some of the data needs to be updated. For example, Sallie Mae no longer offer World MasterCard. They now offer UPromise MasterCard.

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[…] Best rewards for everyday spend […]

Max
Guest
Max

What is your take on the Orbitz card? How does it stack up against the cards in your list? What is its estimated value?

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[…] Best rewards for everyday spend […]

themanwhocan
Guest
themanwhocan

FNBO Complete Rewards 2%
Blispay 2%
Fidelity (Elan) VISA 2%
Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus 1.8%

Ben
Guest
Ben

Hi,
Just recently got debt free from CCs, but would like to begin using CCs responsibly and begin to earn points/miles .. I have next to no points/miles with any program.

Cards i currently have are SPG(personal), Amex Blue Cash Everyday, Chase SP, Discover IT, Chase BA, and Citi Preferred. Three areas most spending is done are groceries, gas, and amazon. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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[…] Best rewards for everyday spend […]

Clare N
Guest
Clare N

You need to update. Chase points are no longer transferable to Amtrak.

Patty
Guest
Patty

In talking about the Cap One Spark Bus vs the Venture, you say “you don’t have to worry about using it against travel expenses as you would with the Venture card” – what exactly do you mean?

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[…] There are many reasons you may want to increase credit card spend.  You may need to meet spend requirements on several new credit cards in order to earn huge signup bonuses.  Or, perhaps you want to earn high level elite status or other big spend bonuses, as I do with Delta.  Or, perhaps you simply want to earn extra rewards using cards with big category bonuses, or big rewards for everyday spend. […]

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[…] free stuff for signing up.  That’s not what this post is about.  And, many cards offer great rewards for spend.  This post isn’t about that […]

Mohammad M
Guest
Mohammad M

Add Chase Freedom Unlimited. 1.5 UR > 2% as well either with CSR’s 1.5cpp or transfer to mileage programs.

Richard
Guest
Richard

The JCB card offers 2% cash back on the next $2000 of purchase, and then 3%

Vicki
Guest
Vicki

I like my Hilton Honors Surpress American Express card. I get 6 points for every dollar I spend in restaurants, grocery stores & gas stations & three points for all other spending. This card automatically gives me Gold status at Hilton Hotels.

Cindy Rodriguez
Guest
Cindy Rodriguez

I have the Amex Gold card. I want a credit card for everyday spending and get rewarded and not get cash back for business. I like to save my points and travel once a year. Do you recommend the Hilton Honors Surpress American Express card for this daily purchases?

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

If SPG points are worth > $0.02 each, why is this not included on this list?

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[…] better for you than the SPG card.  For examples of cards with great rewards for all spend, see: Best rewards for everyday spend.  And, for examples of cards with great rewards within categories of spend, see: Best category […]

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[…] Profit: A number of credit cards offer rewards worth more than 1.87 cents per dollar.  Use one of those cards to profit while paying taxes (and you don’t have to pay taxes on that profit!).  See: Best rewards for everyday spend. […]

Abby Williams
Guest
Abby Williams

Wouldn’t the Chase Freedom Unlimited be 2.25% not 2.4%? 1.5% for all charge and 1.5% if redeemed for travel (paired with Chase Reserve). Probably a bit less after deducting annual fee? Thanks

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[…] UPDATE 3/23/2015: This page is no longer up to date. For updated information, please see the new page of the same name: Best rewards for everyday spend. […]

Yuri
Guest
Yuri

I think you should add Altitude Reserve to the mix, cause it’s giving 4.5% when paired with Samsung Pay.

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[…] single feature has propelled this new card to the top of our Best rewards for everyday spend […]

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[…] credit cards offer 2% rewards, or better.  See Best rewards for everyday spend for an up-to-date list of cards that offer 2% or better returns after including the card’s […]

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[…] Everywhere Else: See: Best rewards for everyday spend. […]

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[…] This is a great find if you live near one of these malls as it provides an opportunity for up to $2500 in fee-free spend per day through Saturday. Most Macerich Malls will require ID and record your information if you are buying any substantial quantity. However, it’s an easy way to pick up some miles or cash back. I’m not aware of any cards that offer a bonus on spend at Macerich Malls, so it would be wise to choose a card that earns a high return on everyday spend. […]