Instead of talking about which rewards cards have the highest sign-up bonuses, today I want to cover which five cards I am actually using the most for my day to day purchases. Make no mistake, I absolutely get rewards credit cards in part for the sometimes awesome sign-up bonuses, but that is just part of the points earning process for my family. Another major way we earn points is by strategically using the rewards credit cards that we already have. We don’t go crazy with signing up for tons of cards each year or rack up lots of charges by “manufacturing” lots of expenses we wouldn’t otherwise have. Instead we mainly just think twice about which card to use every time we buy gas, head to the grocery store, or pay bills. You know, boring normal people stuff.
While I have a bunch of rewards earning cards I use from time to time, here are the five I am using the most right now to maximize everyday purchases.
The more things I can earn 5x on the better, so I vigilantly keep up with the Chase Freedom 5x bonus quarterly categories. The third quarter just kicked off and with it the card earns 5x at gas stations and Kohl’s (be sure to register). I don’t frequent Kohl’s, but I do frequent the gas station, so this is my current go-to card for gas at 5x points. Remember that these points can transfer 1:1 to United, Hyatt, Singapore, Southwest, IHG Rewards, British Airways, and more because I also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus card. If you have the Freedom card, be sure to use it for all your fill-ups and other gas station needs his quarter until you hit the $1,500 quarterly 5x cap.
Again, since I am a 5x fan I use this card as much as I can for its 5x bonus categories including: cell phone bills, internet, landline, internet, cable, and office supply store purchases. I have many of those bills like cell phone, internet, and DIRECTV set to auto-pay each month to my Ink Bold so I earn 5x without even trying. This is literally thousands of Ultimate Reward points earned each month without lifting a finger…other than to pay the Ink Bold bill of course.
This card has won a big spot in my heart (and wallet) since it pays out 3x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year), 2x on US standalone gas stations, and 1x on everything else. That alone is pretty good, especially at grocery stores, but it also pays out a 50% bonus on all points earned in the billing cycle if you have 30 or more transactions. This means that grocery stores effectively pay out 4.5x Membership Reward points, which is great! I have easily hit 30 transactions every month that I have had the card, so I use it for my grocery purchases, as well as little purchases here and there to hit 30 transactions. That means that even the transactions that would normally be just 1x pay out at 1.5x for me since I have 30 transactions a month. It sounds uber corny, but this really is one of my everyday cards now.
The good ‘ol Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn’t get as much play in my wallet as it used to thanks to all the other awesome cards on the market, but it still is my go-to card for dining and travel since it earns 2x Ultimate Reward points on those charges. It is pretty much the perfect travel card since it also has no foreign transaction fees. It will be the stand alone best travel card once it has chip + pin instead of just chip + signature. This card also gives a 7% bonus on points earned each year, so really your 2x transactions are 2.14x assuming you keep the card long enough to get the bonus that is paid out roughly each February.
This very popular card pays out 100,000 American Airlines miles after you spend $10,000 in the first three months. It’s weak in terms of bonus categories at 1x on most everything, but we are still using it almost every day since my husband and I are both working on hitting the 10k spending mark on our respective cards. Since this will result in another 200,000 miles between the two of us, it’s worth the effort. Anything we spend money on that doesn’t fall into a bonus category on another card is pretty much going on this card.
That’s our current system with the main five cards we have in rotation right now. It isn’t overly elaborate, but it is very effective for us. What is your current spending system?
Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my affiliate links. The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided. reviewed, or commissioned by any company.