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Many credit cards attract new customers by offering high introductory bonuses worth hundreds of dollars, or thousands of points or miles. More important than any welcome offer, however, is how good a credit card is at earning rewards on everyday spending. After all, you only earn an intro bonus once, but you might carry a particular card for several years and use it on a daily basis.
That's why you want to make sure any credit card you're considering earns the rewards you prefer—whether that's cash back, credit card points or airline miles—on the things you tend to buy the most. The best credit cards can earn you generous rewards on all of your everyday spending, in addition to other valuable perks.
3 Partner Offers
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card makes it easy for avid travelers to earn and redeem miles. It accrues 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases and 5 miles per dollar spent on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023. You can redeem points for travel, car rental and more, and also transfer your miles to more than 15 travel loyalty programs. Terms apply. The card does carry a $95 annual fee, so you need to spend $4,750 (and thus earn $95 worth of travel rewards) or more on it per year to recoup that cost.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
18.99% - 26.99% (Variable)
2x Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day, 5x Miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 5x Miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world’s largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
2x miles on All Purchases
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
- Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
- Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
- Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
- Enjoy two complimentary visits per year to Capital One Lounges or to 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges through our Partner Lounge Network
- Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
- Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
- Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
For a card with no annual fee, the earning potential of the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is incredible, no matter where you want to use it. Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on drugstores and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and 1.5% on all other purchases. The intro APR is currently 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (then 17.99% to 26.74% variable). New cardholders also earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything they buy on up to $20,000 spent on purchases in the first year of having the Chase Freedom Unlimited® - worth up to $300 cash back. For ongoing balance transfer fees, cardholders will pay a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days.Read full review
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
17.99% - 26.74% Variable
Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
3% cash back on Dining & Drugstores
1.5% cash back on All Other Purchases
Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back. That's 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.
- INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
- Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
- After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
- No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
- Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.99% - 26.74%.
- No annual fee - You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
- Keep tabs on your credit health, Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, real-time alerts, and more.
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
A great card for those with average credit, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no rotating categories to keep track of, as well as 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply). Among its downsides are a high APR on purchases and balance transfers (28.49% variable), and a $39 annual fee.
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day, 5% Cash Back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply)
1.5% cash back on All Purchases
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
- No rotating categories or limits to how much you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account. It's that simple
- Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
- Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
- Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
- Enjoy up to 6 months of complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
- Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
- Monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone
- Check out quickly and securely with a contactless card, without touching a terminal or handing your card to a cashier. Just hover your card over a contactless reader, wait for the confirmation, and you're all set
How to Choose the Best Credit Card
Check the Credit Score Requirements
The highest-earning rewards credit cards require applicants to have excellent credit, so you should review your credit report and score and think about whether you will be eligible for the card you want before applying. If you've just started to build credit, you may want to find out how to get your first credit card.
If you don't know your credit score, you might be able to request it for free from your bank or current credit card issuer. Experian also provides FICO® Scores☉ for free. If necessary, there are ways to improve your credit score, such as cutting down on debt and making all debt payments on time.
Consider the Annual Fee
Many rewards credit cards charge an annual fee. Before you open a card, calculate the amount of rewards you would earn by using it for purchases in a typical year, and make sure the value of those rewards is more than enough to offset the yearly cost.
Review the APR
If you think you might need to carry a balance on purchases with your new card, or transfer balances from another credit card account, you should review the annual percentage rate, or APR.
Some credit cards offer 0% intro APR on purchases, balance transfers, or both, for a period of several months. That means you won't accrue interest on the applicable transactions during that time, and you won't have to pay interest if you pay off your balance before the end of it. However, if you still have a balance at the end of the promotional period, you could incur interest charges on it at a much higher variable rate, so strategize carefully.
Aim for High Welcome Offers
Finally, you might want to aim for a credit card that is offering a welcome bonus, such as rewards points or extra cash back in the form of statement credits. Many introductory offers require you to hit a certain spending requirement, such as $500 in purchases within the first three months (many spending requirements are higher). Just make sure you can reach the required spend responsibly and without racking up debt.
How to Maximize Credit Card Rewards
Once you home in on the right card for your needs, you'll want to make a plan for maximizing its rewards.
Use One Card for Everyday Purchases
The keystone of your credit card strategy should be carrying one card that earns a solid rate of return on everyday purchases so you don't have to take too much time thinking about which card to use at which places. Look for one that earns at least 1.5% cash back on everything, such as the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.
Look for Bonus Categories
Many rewards credit cards offer what are known as "bonus categories." These are the types of merchants or transactions that earn extra cash back or points, and it's worth picking up a card that offers this type of perk for purchases you make often.
For instance, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® earns 1.5% cash back on most purchases, but an even better 3% back at drugstores and on dining at restaurants, and a stellar 5% back on travel purchased through Chase. If you have this card, you want to make sure you use it for those types of purchases instead of charging them to another card in your wallet.
Mix and Match Cards
Over time, you might consider getting both a card that racks up bonus rewards on all purchases and another that earns even higher bonuses in categories where your major expenses are each month. That way, you can maximize your spending even further.
Should I Use My Credit Card for Everything?
Using credit cards to pay for as many of your expenses as possible is a great way to boost your rewards, but you should beware certain pitfalls. On the positive side, using a credit card for everything will help with:
- Earning rewards: Of course, the most obvious benefit of using credit cards for everything is that you will then earn rewards on everything you purchase, which can help you offset some of your costs.
- Convenience and security: It's also easier and safer to use credit cards for purchases than carrying cash since many cards offer built-in security features like $0 fraud liability against unauthorized charges.
- Special financing: If you open a card with a 0% introductory APR on either purchases or balance transfers, you can take advantage of that special financing to pay off large items over time without falling into debt or getting hit with high interest charges.
That said, beware of overextending your purchasing power. If you use your credit card for everything but have trouble paying off your balance on time and in full every month, you could fall into debt, get dinged with late fees and interest charges, and even see your credit score go down over time.
The best credit cards for everyday spending earn rewards on purchases no matter where you use them, and perhaps even bonuses in certain categories. Many also extend welcome offers worth hundreds of dollars, and introductory special financing that can help you pay off purchases or balances responsibly. Before you open a new credit card, review your Experian credit report and your FICO® Score with a free Experian CreditWorksSM account, where you will also be able to see how your score has changed over time. Then check Experian CreditMatchTM for the best current options personalized just for you.