I want to put it out there that I am not a points hacker. There are plenty of people out there who know more about credit card points and how to use them to their advantage than I do; however, I would consider myself fairly knowledgeable in the area. While I don’t necessarily go out of my way to open up tons of credit cards in order to get the best sign-up bonuses and points for every single purchase I make, I do have a variety of cards which provide great benefits for what I am interested in and where I spend most of my money . I’ll go into more detail on what these cards offer below, but the 3 credit cards I utilize in conjunction with each other are the Chase Freedom® Credit Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card. Everyone has different goals for their points (and different things they tend to spend their money on), so I figured I would compile a list of the best (in my opinion) credit cards for travel, food and more.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card – with this card you get 3% cash back on all travel and food (which really go hand-in-hand, in my opinion). Although the card has an annual fee of $450, the actual cost of the card is really $150 per year due to a $300 annual travel credit. Other benefits of this card are when you sign up you get 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months and you get 1.5 times the value of your points when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards (i.e., 50,000 points is equivalent to $500, but when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards it equals $750). You pay no foreign transaction fees when you use your card abroad. Additionally, you earn 1% for every dollar of other purchases with this card.
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card – earn unlimited 2X miles, or 2 miles for every dollar you spend on purchases. 100 miles is equal to $1 in travel rewards. If you spend $3,000 with this card in the first 3 months of opening it, you will receive a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles, which is equal to $400 in travel. Redeem your points as a statement credit once you book your travel using your card. You also pay no foreign transaction fees with this card. The annual fee is $0 the first year and $59 thereafter.
- BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card – this card offers both no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. With this card you earn an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent, anywhere, anytime. Similar to the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card above, you redeem your points as a statement credit when you book your travel. Also, when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of opening the card, you will earn 20,000 bonus points redeemable for a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – since I mentioned the Chase Sapphire Reserve® in the travel category, I figured I’d mention this one here since they are both applicable to travel AND food rewards. The cards are similar; however this one is less expensive with an annual fee of $0 the first year and $95 thereafter. You earn 2% cash back on all travel and food purchases and your points are 1.25 times the value when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards (i.e., per the example above, your 50,000 points would be worth $625 when redeem for travel). The Sapphire Preferred® offers the same sign-up bonus as the Reserve® (50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months). Unlike the Reserve®, though, this card does not offer an annual travel credit.
- American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card – while this card comes with various benefits (like 3% cash back at department stores and gas stations and 1% on everything else), the best one is the 6% cash back on grocery stores up to $6,000 per year (equal to $360 in rewards) then 1% from then on. This is the highest I’ve heard of on groceries and believe me when I tell you, we make sure we utilize this benefit to the fullest in our household. This card comes with a $95 annual fee, but if you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months of card membership, you will receive a $250 statement credit. Also, if you spend $1,600 on groceries alone, you will receive $96 cash back which offsets the annual fee. A few other great perks with this card: a free ShopRunner membership, an assortment of discounts/coupons and various cash back offers at different retailers, restaurants and more.
- Santander Bravo® Credit Card – this is a new one for me. I recently found out about this card while doing some credit card research. This card offers 3x rewards points on groceries, restaurants and gas stations up to 15,000 points per quarter, with 1x point thereafter. Points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards or statement credit. If you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days with this card, you will receive a $100 cash back statement credit. This card carries a $49 annual fee.
- American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card – similar to the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card, this card offers a variety of benefits, including 3% cash back at supermarkets (up to $6,000), 2% cash back at gas stations and department stores and 1% cash back on everything else. You also get a complimentary ShopRunner membership with this card. The best perk with the Blue Cash Preferred is that there is no annual fee, so you get all these perks for free with the card!
- Chase Freedom® Credit Card – with this card you get 5% cash back on alternating categories throughout the year on top of 1% cash back on everything else. The 5% categories rotate each quarter. For example, one quarter you may get 5% cash back on drugstores and grocery stores, while another quarter you may get 5% cash back on restaurants and Amazon purchases. This card is great to use in conjunction with others for maximum cash back benefits. There is no annual fee, which is also a good selling point.
- Citi® Double Cash Card – while I don’t use this card, it is one of my favorites because users get 1% cash back on all purchases and another 1% cash back as they pay for those purchases in full or over time. For those of you out there who don’t like credit cards because you’re afraid you’ll get yourself into the rabbit hole of debt, the 1% cash back as you pay off your balance is a nice little motivator! This card comes with no annual fee.
- Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card – this card offers an unlimited 2% cash back on every $1 spent with no annual fee. The catch here is that your rewards must be deposited into one of the following accounts: brokerage account, retirement account, Fidelity® Cash Management Account, Fidelity-managed 529 College Savings plan, Fidelity Go® account, or a Fidelity Go® account. This is an awesome way to fund your investment accounts, especially if you seem to find it difficult to find the money to do so. You just use your credit card for your usual purchases, earn 2% on those purchases and have that money deposited into one of the accounts listed above. Simple!