The Best Credit Cards for Each Bonus Category [Dining, Airfare, Hotels, and More]

Credit Card Spend

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Trying to earn a respectable balance of points with credit card spending is highly scientific. Optimizing your usage of credit cards is, unsurprisingly, the most reliable way to earn rewards on everyday spending. Analyzing your types of spending and the amounts associated with each category are instrumental in crafting a strong strategy.

The main thing you’ll need to remember is that you should be using credit cards that earn the highest return on spend in each of the major bonus categories. You can do this without increasing the amount you spend; spending smarter doesn’t mean spending more of your hard-earned money.

Table of contents

Table of Contents

Bonus Categories: Straightforward or Not?

Each credit card has its own unique rewards structure. Undoubtedly, different credit cards will earn different percentages, and some even earn miles as opposed to cash-back. For those who are looking to optimize your travel (hence probably why you’re here), you might find that keeping track of all of the credit cards out there is totally overwhelming.

If you are expecting 3% cash-back on groceries, for example, your exact purchase might not earn the bonus points, as payment categories are actually a complicated matter. Depending on how the merchant codes to the payment processing companies, you might expect to earn more points, only to be disappointed.

One example is Costco. Many people think of Costco as a grocery store, but in reality, it’s actually coded as a warehouse, which would make Costco purchases ineligible for earning bonus points in the grocery category.

The only way to truly find out if you’ll earn bonus points for sure is to try it out and look at your earnings by logging into your online credit card accounts. Without further ado, let’s take a gander at the top credit cards in each bonus category.

Dining

Dining
Image Credit: Shutterstock

First, let’s start with dining purchases! Eating out makes up a huge portion of people’s budgets, especially with millennials. Dining can also be a large portion of your business expenses, so it’s imperative to get the most points you can when spending on dining.

American Express® Gold Card — 4x Points

Our top choice for dining purchases is the Amex Gold Card. You can earn 4x points on restaurants worldwide with this card!

According to our travel points and miles valuations, 1 American Express Membership Rewards point is worth 2.2 cents, which was the highest return. This means your return would be approximately ~8.8 cents per dollar spent.

Amex Membership Rewards points are insanely valuable and are one of the single most valuable transferable currencies out there. With a slew of transfer partners, there’s no end to the ways you can redeem your Membership Rewards points.

Hot Tip: How about a $120 dining credit, $120 of Uber Cash, or a free 12-month Eats Pass subscription? Check out tons of other benefits of the Amex Gold Card!

Citi Prestige® Card — 5x Points

Another great card is the Citi Prestige. This card earns 5x points on dining, which makes it a huge earner. This card earns the most points per dollar, but because Citi ThankYou Rewards points aren’t as valuable as Membership Rewards points, it falls just short of first place. We value ThankYou points at 1.6 cents, as compared to the 2.2 cents for Membership Rewards.

By earning 5x points, your return on spend would hover around 8 cents per dollar. Citi ThankYou Points, though not as valuable as Amex points, can still be redeemed for a tremendous value.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card — 3x Points

Our last recommended pick for dining is the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. This card earns 3x points on dining at restaurants (and up to $1,000 in monthly grocery store purchases from November 1, 2020, to April 30, 2021). According to our valuations, they can be worth around 1.9 cents per point for a total return on spend of around 5.7-6 cents per dollar.

Importantly, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can transfer to airline and hotel partners. The card offers access to 1,000+ airport lounges via the Priority Pass membership, which is a big perk.

Also, the card offers a $300 travel credit that can be used for virtually any sort of travel, whether it’s for airline tickets, cruises, or hotel stays (including gas and grocery purchases through June 30, 2021).

Hot Tip: There are a ton of benefits with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, so make sure you know how to make the most of this card.

Airfare

American Airlines
Image Credit: American Airlines

When booking airfare, it’s important to understand the different credit cards in detail. Some credit cards only earn bonus points when booking airfare in a specific way, so be sure to keep track of that when deciding which credit cards to open and use.

The Platinum Card® from American Express5x Points

american express platinum card
Image Credit: American Express

Our top pick for airfare purchases is the Amex Platinum Card. With some of the best earning structures in the business, you can earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar on airfare booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel.

Unfortunately, airfare purchased through online travel agencies (i.e. Expedia, Orbitz, etc.) do not earn you the bonus points.

Earning at a rate of 5 points per dollar is a phenomenal way to get tons of value on airfare. According to our valuations, your 5 points per dollar is equivalent to an approximate return of 11 cents per dollar!

Additionally, you’ll enjoy perks like a $200 annual airline fee credit, $200 annual Uber credit, $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit, complimentary subscription to Uber Eats Pass, access to Amex Centurion lounges, and more.

Hot Tip: Explore all of the benefits you get with the Amex Platinum Card, which we value at over $2,500.

Citi Prestige — 5x Points

The Citi Prestige is one of the most competitive cards out there. It was on our list for dining, and it’s back for airfare. You will earn 5 Citi ThankYou points per dollar spent on air travel and travel agencies.

That’s equal to an approximate return of around 8 cents per dollar in our points and miles valuations.

This card also earns 5x points on dining (mentioned earlier), 3x points at cruise lines and hotels, and 1x points everywhere else. You can also take advantage of the $250 annual travel credit and fourth night free among other benefits!

Hot Tip: Contemplating the Citi Prestige card but hesitating given the high annual fee? Read our article to answer the question: Is Citi Prestige Card Worth It

Chase Sapphire Reserve card — 3x Points

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card earns 3x points on all travel, and airfare is absolutely included. According to our valuations, your 3x points are worth around 5.85 cents per dollar, which is a great return on your spend.

There are so many other benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, including the $300 travel credit, Priority Pass membership, and the $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

Hotels

How To Find The Best Hotels At The Cheapest Prices
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Hotels are probably the single biggest portion of a vacation budget, so it’s imperative to optimize that expense as much as possible. There are many hotel rewards cards out there, and much of your decision will depend on your travel needs and predisposed loyalty to a particular brand.

However, you’ll find that some clear winners will maximize your return on hotel spending.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express — 5x Points

American Express Centurion Lounge Hong Kong
American Express Business Platinum cardholders get exclusive access to the network of Centurion Lounges worldwide. Image Credit: Greg Stone

Amex Business Platinum earns 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar on prepaid hotels through Amex Travel. These points are each worth approximately 2.2 cents, which makes an earning of 5 points per dollar equal to a return of about 11 cents per dollar.

Seeing as how hotel bookings are a huge percentage of travel costs, earning those points can add up quickly. Additionally, this card will grant you access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts and the Hotel Collection, among other benefits.

Hot Tip: Check out what else this card has to offer by reading up on the many benefits of the Amex Business Platinum.

The World of Hyatt Credit Card — 4x Points

The World of Hyatt card offers a marvelous way to earn Hyatt points with 4x points per dollar spent at their properties. You can also earn 2x points for restaurant, airfare, and car rental purchases with this card.

Hyatt points are the most valuable hotel currency according to our points and miles valuations, so you definitely don’t want to miss out on such an attractive earning rate. Your 4 points per dollar are worth around 1.6 cents per point, which means you’ll approximately 6.4 cents per dollar for spending at Hyatt properties.

Also, you will receive an annual bonus of 1 free night at any Category 1-4 property, and this free night certificate can be worth upwards of $200!

Given that Hyatt points are incredibly valuable, this card offers a way to earn points that you can redeem for maximum value.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card — 14x Points

The Hilton Aspire card is a top hotel card for 2 main reasons:

  1. Earn 14 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent at Hilton properties.
  2. Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status (free breakfast, executive lounge access, and suite upgrades, among other perks).

Update: – Bonus points earned through purchases that post to your Hilton Honors account before December 31, will count towards elite tier qualification and lifetime Diamond status
– Unexpired free weekend night certificates, and those issued through Dec. 31, 2020, can now be used on any night of the week, and those issued between May 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, will be valid for 24 months from the date of issuance

The first point is huge, and in fact, there’s no other credit card that offers anywhere near as many Hilton points. Although Hilton Honors points aren’t as valuable as Hyatt points, your 14x points will still equate to a return on spend of around 5.6%.

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card — 6x Points

The Marriott Bonvoy Business earns 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. Marriott Bonvoy points are worth around .7 cents per point, so your hotel spending would amount to a 4.2% return on spend

When you consider the fact that you can redeem Marriott points for flights, even Emirates First Class, you can imagine how you can drastically increase your return on spend.

You will receive 1 free night award every year after your card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional free night after you spend $60,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year.

Awards can be used for 1 night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees. There are countless ways to redeem Marriott points, so check out our best ways to redeem Marriott points for hotels.

Hot Tip: Want a deep dive into this co-branded Marriott choice? Check out our review of the Marriott Bonvoy Business card.

General Travel Purchases

Man reading a book while traveling
Image Credit: Shutterstock

What if you have travel spending outside of ordinary airfare or hotels? Some of these include car rentals, travel agencies, cruises, parking, and taxis.

Per Chase’s exact definition, “Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.”

Different banks allow different merchants to count as travel, so please consult each individual card’s terms and conditions to get adequate clarity on this.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card — 3x Points

The Ink Business Preferred is one of the best travel and business credit cards in the industry. With amazing travel earnings, excellent travel protection, and even cell phone protection, this card is a no-brainer.

You’ll earn 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases in the following categories each account anniversary year:

This means you could earn up to 450,000 points on travel every year. Earning 3 points per dollar is approximately equal to earning a return of 5.7-6 cents per dollar spent.

Also, you’ll enjoy these extra benefits:

  • Trip cancellation and interruption protection
  • Trip delay insurance
  • Purchase protection
  • Primary auto rental collision damage waiver when renting for business purposes
  • Delayed/lost luggage protection
  • Cell phone protection

Bottom Line: Ink Business Preferred is the best overall business credit card for travel. The ongoing spending categories and travel benefits make this card a must-have in your wallet. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card — 3x Points

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is the best consumer card for general travel. It earns 3 points per dollar spent on travel, and Chase’s definition of travel is quite generous. The 3 points per dollar earned are worth around 5.85 cents per dollar when you factor in our valuations.

Also, you’ll have great travel protection when you spend with this card too:

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Trip delay insurance
  • Purchase protection
  • Primary auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Lost luggage protection

The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s travel benefits matches up closely with the Ink Business Preferred, except for delayed luggage protection and cell phone protection.

Citi Premier℠ Card — 3x Points

The last general travel credit card is the Citi Premier, which earns 3x points on all travel. Citi ThankYou points are worth approximately 1.6 cents per point, which means that your effective earnings are around 4.8-5 cents per dollar spent on travel.

Also, you can earn 2x points on dining out and entertainment. There are lots of excellent ways to redeem your ThankYou points, most of which involve transferring your ThankYou points to Citi’s airline loyalty programs.

Of course, your points are worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed toward airfare booked through via the ThankYou Travel Center.

Gas Purchases

Best Credit Cards for Gas
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Spending on gas can be a significant expense, especially if you drive a lot. If you don’t have a special loyalty to a certain brand of gasoline, you can stand to save a large sum of money when filling up at the pump.

The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card — Up to 3x Points

The Amex EveryDay Preferred card is the clear winner in the battle for the best gas card. You will earn 2 points per dollar spent at U.S. gas stations. Also, if 30 transactions are made on the card within the billing month, you will earn a 50% bonus on your points earned for the month.

This means you can earn up to 3x points when you use the card 30 times per month. By maxing out the rewards earning structure, you can snag a return of around 6.6 cents per dollar, according to our valuations.

Remember that you earn 1x points at gas stations outside the United States.

Ducks Unlimited Rewards Platinum Edition® Visa® Card — 5% Cash-Back

The next pick is an uncommon choice to earn rewards. This particular credit card earns cash-back as opposed to travel rewards. So, while you won’t be able to use this to fly in first class anytime soon, you can earn a solid chunk of change on your regular gas purchases at 5% cash-back.

Note that the merchant category code must be “Service Stations” or “Automated Fuel Dispensers” to qualify. This means that no purchases in the gas station, such as candy, chips, or gift cards will count.

Also, you can earn 5% cash-back at sporting goods store purchases and 1% cash-back elsewhere. Best of all, there is no annual fee.

Hot Tip: Like the no annual fee part? Lots of great cards come with no annual fees so you can still earn rewards. 

Citi Premier Card— 3x Points

Back to rewards-earning credit cards, the Citi Premier card earns 3x Citi ThankYou Rewards points on gas, equal to a return of around 4.8-5 cents per dollar.

You’ll also earn 2x points on dining out and entertainment.

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card — 2x Points

The Ink Business Cash card is an excellent option for those who primarily focus on business spending. The card earns 2% cash-back or 2x points on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year:

  • At gas stations
  • At restaurants

You can also earn 5x points at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services, which we’ll talk about in the later sections.

Ordinarily, this card earns cash-back, but if you also hold a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards and transfer points to that card, you can transfer points to airline partners, opening the gate to first and business class award travel.

If you have a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you could potentially convert your 2x points on gas into a 3.8-4% return on spend.

In all, you can earn 2% cash-back or 2x points on up to $25,000 spent, which amounts to $500 cash-back or 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

Cellular Phone, Internet, Cable, and Other Telecommunications

Cell Phone Protection
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Telecommunications spending makes up a large portion of business spending, and missing out on extra points/cash-back translates directly to leaving money on the table. A recurring bill of a few hundred dollars per month can earn tens of thousands of points every year.

Ink Business Cash — 5x Points

Without a doubt, the best card to get the best return on your spend is the Ink Business Cash card. This card earns 5% cash-back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year:

  • At office supply stores
  • On internet, cable and phone services

If you have a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, you can effectively convert your 5% cash-back to 5x Chase points, which is worth approximately 10 cents per dollar, according to our points and miles valuations. This return is incredible for office spending, which is why it is our top winner.

Hot Tip: There are numerous other aspects of this credit card. Check out the valuable benefits of the Ink Business Cash card.

Ink Business Preferred — 3x Points

The Ink Business Preferred is, similarly, an excellent option. It earns 3x points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases in these categories each account anniversary year:

  • Internet, cable and phone services
  • Travel
  • Shipping purchases
  • Advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines

Your 3x points earnings are equal to around 5.7-6 cents per dollar when you take into account our points valuations.

Here are a couple of reasons you might want to use the Ink Business Preferred instead of the Ink Business Cash:

  1. You’ve already maxed out the 5% cash-back from the Ink Business Cash.
  2. You want the cell phone protection and are willing to forgo a few points to have it.

Entertainment

Credit Cards for Dining Rewards
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Needless to say, entertainment is a huge (and often necessary) expense in life. Things like event tickets, amusement parks, movie theaters, bowling alleys, and even zoos make up a large percentage of discretionary spending.

As always, you’ll want to maximize the value you get from spending, so let’s get into the top credit cards for the entertainment bonus category.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature Card — 5% Cash-Back

The U.S. Bank Cash+ card earns 5% cash-back on 2 quarterly categories you can choose, up to $2,000 per quarter. Here are the categories you can pick from:

  1. TV, internet, and streaming services.
  2. Fast food
  3. Cell phone providers
  4. Department stores
  5. Home utilities
  6. Select clothing stores
  7. Electronics stores
  8. Sporting goods stores
  9. Movie theaters
  10. Gyms/fitness centers
  11. Furniture stores
  12. Ground transportation

If you max out the $2,000 per quarter on qualifying entertainment spending, you can earn $400 per year on your $8,000 spent.

The card also earns 2% cash-back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores, plus 1% on all other eligible net purchases.

Capital One® Savor® Rewards Credit Card — 4% Cash-Back

The CapOne Savor card earns an unlimited 4% cash-back on dining and entertainment.

According to Capital One, eligible entertainment purchases can be: movies, plays, concerts, sporting events, tourist attractions, theme parks, aquariums, zoos, dance clubs, pool halls, or bowling alleys.

This is great because there’s a broad definition of what counts as entertainment, which will greatly increase your chances of getting 4% cash-back.

Citi Premier Card — 2x Points

The third and final pick for entertainment spending is the Citi Premier. This card earns 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on entertainment. This earns a 3.2% return on spend, according to our valuations.

Additionally, you can earn 3x points on travel, including gas stations. Because this card has lots of bonus categories, it is one of the best credit cards to earn points for ordinary spending.

You can read up on all the benefits to get a better idea of whether or not this card is a good fit for you.

Gym Memberships

Credit Cards for Gym and Entertainment Spending
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Gym memberships are a good chunk of many people’s spending habits. With recurring monthly/yearly transactions, it’s in your best interest to squeeze value where you can, and gym memberships are no exception.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Card — 5% Cash-Back

The U.S. Bank Cash+ card allows you to earn 5% cash-back on 2 categories chosen from the following list (up to $2,000 per quarter):

  1. Gyms/fitness centers
  2. Ground transportation
  3. Furniture stores
  4. TV, internet, and streaming services
  5. Movie theaters
  6. Fast food
  7. Sporting goods stores
  8. Cell phone providers
  9. Select clothing stores
  10. Electronics stores
  11. Department stores
  12. Home utilities

World of Hyatt Card — 2x Points

The other card that presents an excellent option to earn points with gym memberships is the World of Hyatt Credit Card.

Among other benefits, you’ll earn 2 bonus points per $1 spent on fitness club and gym memberships (and at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airlines, and on local transit and commuting).

Seeing as how Hyatt points are the most valuable hotel currency out there, your gym spending on the World of Hyatt Credit Card is equivalent to a 3.2% return on spend.

Also, you’ll earn a free night each year in any Hyatt Category 1-4 hotel on each cardmember anniversary, automatic World of Hyatt elite status, and much more. There are loads of benefits you get just by holding the card.

Office Supplies

Office Supplies
Image Credit: Slava17 via Shutterstock

Office supplies often constitute a big piece of overall business spending. Luckily, optimizing your office supplies spending is made easy, especially if you’re looking for business credit cards.

Ink Business Cash — 5% or 5x Points

The best way to earn points on office supplies is without a doubt the Ink Business Cash.

This credit card is our top choice because it offers 5% cash-back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supplies stores (and on internet, cable and phone services).

If you transfer your cash-back to a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can nearly double your return on spend, upping your 5x points to a 9.5-10% return.

Also, you’ll earn 2% back on up to $25,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations, followed by 1% back on other purchases.

Huntington Voice Business Credit Card℠ — 4% Cash-Back

The Huntington Voice Business card is an unexpected pick that not a lot of people know about. This card earns 4% cash-back on up to $7,000 in purchases per quarter in 1 of 10 categories.

These 10 categories are:

  1. Office supplies
  2. Auto parts and service stores
  3. Gas stations
  4. Home improvement stores
  5. Travel and entertainment
  6. Department, apparel, and sporting goods stores
  7. Restaurants
  8. Electronics, computer, and camera stores
  9. Discount and warehouse stores
  10. Grocery stores

If you’ve exhausted the 5% cash-back from the Ink Business Cash, the Huntington Voice Business card is yet another great way to get rewarded for office supplies spending.

Rotating Categories

Chase Freedom Quarterly Categories 2020
Chase rotating categories 2020. Image Credit: Chase

Most credit cards don’t have spending categories that change over time. While they have bonus earning structures on specific categories, the categories in which you earn bonus points themselves rarely change.

However, a few credit cards have bonus categories that change, typically every quarter. These categories typically have very appealing incentive structures. Let’s talk about the best credit cards for rotating categories.

Chase Freedom® Card — 5% or 5x Points

The Chase Freedom card offers rotating categories every quarter that enable you to earn 5% cash-back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in bonus categories.

Keep in mind that activation is always required to earn 5% cash-back. Historically, these categories have included:

  1. Gas stations
  2. Select streaming services
  3. Grocery stores (not including Walmart and Target purchases)
  4. Home improvement stores
  5. Tolls
  6. Drugstores
  7. Department stores
  8. Lyft
  9. Walgreens
  10. Internet/cable/phone services
  11. Chase Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay

This is not an exhaustive list, but the purpose is to give you an idea of what exactly rotating categories could mean.

By pairing this card with an Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you’d be earning a return of 9.5-10% on your spend.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card — 5% Cash-Back

The U.S. Bank Cash+ card earns 5% cash-back on combined purchases in 2 categories that you choose, up to $2,000 every quarter. These categories are:

  • Cell phone providers
  • Department stores
  • Electronics stores
  • Fast food
  • Furniture stores
  • Ground transportation
  • Gyms/fitness centers
  • Home utilities
  • Movie theaters
  • Select clothing stores
  • Sporting goods stores
  • TV, internet, and streaming services

Discover it® Cash Back — 5% Cash-Back

The Discover Cash Back card earns quarterly 5% bonus categories on up to $1,500 every quarter. Some of these have historically included:

  • Amazon.com, Target, and Walmart.com
  • Restaurants and PayPal
  • Gas Stations, Uber and Lyft
  • Grocery stores
  • Wholesale clubs
  • Home improvement stores

Supermarkets

Best Credit Cards for Supermarkets and Groceries
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Although the customer trend of grocery shopping is decreasing year after year thanks to e-commerce and eating out more, supermarket spending still represents a big chunk of consumer spending.

Amex EveryDay Preferred — Up to 4.5x Points

The best credit card, without a doubt, is the Amex EveryDay Preferred. You can earn 3x points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (after that, earn 1x points).

Also, you’ll earn 2x points at U.S. gas stations and 1x points on all other purchases. Also, if you’ve made 30 or more purchases during a billing period, you’ll earn a 50% bonus on points from those purchases.

This means you could potentially earn 4.5x points on your purchases at U.S. supermarkets, equal to an eye-opening 9.5-10% return on spend.

Hot Tip: Superstores and warehouse clubs such as Costco and Sam’s Club do not qualify for bonus points.

Amex Gold Card — 4x Points

The Amex Gold card earns big on groceries at 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1x).

Also, it earns 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants worldwide. It was the clear winner for the best dining credit card, and it is way up there for groceries, too.

Earning 4x points is equivalent to an 8.4% return on spend, which is stellar.

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card — Up to 2.4x Points

The Amex EveryDay card is also a great option for grocery spending. You’ll earn 2x points at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 in purchases each year. Plus, make 20 or more purchases with your card in a billing period, and earn 20% extra points.

This could make your grocery purchases provide an approximate return of 5-5.3% on spending, according to our valuations.

Hot Tip: Want to learn more about this excellent introductory card? Check out the top benefits of the Amex EveryDay card.

Miscellaneous Spending

Spending
Image Credit: Shutterstock

If all else fails or you have odd spending categories, don’t fret. There are a ton of ways to get rewarded for ordinary, non-bonused spending.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express — 2x Points

Amex Blue Business Plus is undoubtedly the best business rewards credit card for simple, non-bonused spending. 

This card earns 2x Membership Rewards points on all purchases for the first $50,000 spent each year, then 1x after. This is equivalent to an approximate 4.2-4.5% return on spend for the first $50,000 spent each year.

This earning structure allows you to earn lots of points in a simplified way across the board.

You can redeem your Membership Rewards points for flights, which is just one of the valuable benefits of Amex Blue Business Plus.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card — 1.5x Points

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers a solid 1.5% cash-back (or 1.5x points) on purchases outside of its bonus categories.

The rewards you earn are cash-back, but holding another Chase card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card that offers transfers to Ultimate Rewards allows you to consolidate your rewards and redeem them as points. This effectively generates around a 2.8-3% return on overall spend.

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card — 1.5x Points

Ink Business Unlimited is a business credit card used for non-bonus spending. It pays a fixed rate of 1.5% (or 1.5x points) on all business purchases with no limits.

Earning 1.5x points by pairing with a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points will boost the return on spending to 2.85%.

Hot Tip: Trying to compare the Chase business credit cards out there? Check out our detailed guide that breaks everything down!

Amex EveryDay Preferred — Up to 1.5x Points

The Amex EveryDay Preferred card earns 1x points on non-bonused purchases. But, if 30 transactions are made on the card within the billing month, you will earn a 50% bonus on your points earned for the month.

Also, you’ll earn 3x points at U.S. supermarkets for the first $6,000 per year (then 1x points) and 2x points at U.S. gas stations.

You could elevate your earnings to 1.5x points per dollar spent, which is worth 3.15%, according to our valuations. This is an excellent way to earn bonus points, provided that you use your card at least 30 times per month.

Final Thoughts

There are so many different credit cards out there that it’s nearly impossible to keep track of which cards are best for specific spending categories.

We’ve provided an outstanding resource to help figure out the best credit cards depending on your specific spending categories. You’ll want to make a habit of earning at least 2 points per dollar spent on all your spending.

There’s tons of value in strategically signing up for the cards where you’ll have the best bonus categories in alignment with your exact spending habits. Happy earning!


Information regarding the Citi Prestige® Card, Citi Premier℠ Card, Ducks Unlimited Rewards Platinum Edition® Visa® Card, Huntington Voice Business Credit Card℠, Chase Freedom® Card, Discover it® Cash Back, Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card,  U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa® Signature®, and the Capital One® Savor® Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and was not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.


Frequently asked questions

What are rotating categories?

Credit card companies often generate a schedule for earning rewards with specific types of spending. This is usually changed quarterly, hence the name rotating categories.

How can I maximize my credit card rewards?

The best way to maximize your credit card rewards is to sign up for cards that offer the most points for the type of spending you do.

People who spend lots of money on dining are excellent candidates for the Amex Gold, for example.

What is the best credit card rewards program?

Generally, the most valuable credit card rewards programs have transferable currencies. These are Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Which credit card gives more reward points?

The best credit cards will depend on what you spend your money on. Take a look at the cards presented in this guide to figure out which credit card gives the most rewards points for your situation.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

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