Most Rewarding Credit Cards for My Family in 2016

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There is an ever-rotating cast of credit cards that make their ways through our wallets. Some make random supporting appearances based on promos or benefits, and some are leading stars that are often in rotation. These days we keep life and our wallets as simple as possible, so there are a smaller handful of cards that are getting the bulk of the use than in some previous years.

Even though we aren’t using dozens of credit cards at any given time right now, we are still doing pretty well with the number of points we earn per dollar by ensuring that the type of expenses we rack up most frequently are aligned with the bonus structures for the cards that are in our wallets. Now I don’t think every single one of these cards that we use are the right choice for other families, but I just want to walk you through what we do, knowing you would need to tailor your selections to your expenses, preferences, and travel goals.

Most Rewarding Credit Cards for My Family

Earn 4.5x Points on Groceries

I also have been using Whole Food gift cards purchased at 5x points from office supply stores such as Staples.com with the Chase Ink Plus, so I have been earning between 4.5x – 5x points on hundreds of dollars worth of groceries monthly. That amounts to several thousand points a month just in grocery purchases!

Earn 5x at Gas Stations

We aren’t going through tons of gas right now, and it isn’t pricey to begin with at the moment, but it is still nice to earn 5x points at gas stations up to $1,500 this quarter thanks to gas stations being one of the 2016 first quarter 5x bonus categories via the Chase Freedom. It is harder to find gift cards at gas stations to purchase with a credit card than in the past, but if you can find those you could also pick them up with the Freedom and earn 5x points on those purchases.

At 5x points, I would estimate we earn between 1,000 – 2,000 points on gas purchases monthly.

Earn 5x – 10x at Amazon

I had some Amazon credit built up from buying gift cards for my Amazon account when the Chase Freedom was paying out 10x points at Amazon.com last quarter, so I am still working through that for my Amazon purchases. However, when I have exhausted that balance I will try and reload my Amazon balance with Amazon gift cards that I purchase either at a grocery store, office supply store, or gas station with a card that pays out a bonus there to earn close to 5x on those (oh so frequent) purchases.

Since so many of our baby and family needs are met by Amazon, 5x – 10x racks up quickly to total a couple thousand points a month just from Amazon purchases.

Earn 2x on Restaurants

For restaurant charges the old standby is the Chase Sapphire Preferred as it earns 2x on travel and dining, but I don’t actually have a CSP in my wallet at the moment so I have been using my Hyatt Credit Card to earn 2x at restaurants since many of my Ultimate Reward points historically got transferred to Hyatt anyway. Many rewards credit cards pay out 2x at restaurants these days, so there is no reason to earn just 1x when you eat out of pick up some food to-go.

While we try to cook as frequently as we can, there are still lots of meals and Josh’s lunches that are eaten at restaurants, so at 2x I would guess we are likely over 1,000 points a month on restaurant charges alone…sometimes lots more if we are super busy or on the road.

Earn 5x on Many Bills

Our cell phone, TV, and internet charges all auto-bill to our Ink Plus to earn 5x points monthly on hundreds of dollars worth of recurring bills charges. This amounts to several thousand points earned each month without lifting a finger other than to pay the credit card bill each month.

Earn Valuable Points on Other Charges

For purchases outside of those common categories I personally often use the United Club Card to earn 1.5x United miles or the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card to earn 1x valuable SPG points per dollar. I also occasionally pay for things with Visa gift cards purchased at an office supply store with a Chase Ink Plus or similar at 5x points.

We aren’t traveling quite as regularly right now, but if we were then using the Citi Premier Card to earn 3x on travel charges would often be my selection.

If you just earn points at a flat 1x rate they don’t add up very quickly unless you are a serious big spender. However, when you are able to earn points at 2x, 3x, 5x, and occasionally higher, they add up much quicker. Without even trying very hard we easily clear 10,000 points earned monthly just on everyday expenses by paying for things with the right credit card. It may not be the most exciting way to earn miles and points, but for us it is a very effective way!

Which cards are the most rewarding for your family these days?

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Disclaimer: The comments below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. Citi Premier – 3X Gas, travel; 2X dinning
    HH Surpass – 6X grocery unlimited
    INK plus – 5X office supplies (Wholefood, Chain dining restaurants GC)
    Citi DoubleCash – uncategory purchases

  2. Why pay an annual fee on the Barclays after getting the sign up bonus? You would have to put 100K/year on that card just to pay the annual fee vs a no annual fee 2% card.

    100k on Barclays and the Citi Double would both yield you $2000. That extra 5% you get back on Barclays is only $100 and you paid an $89 annual fee. Not worth it past the first year!

    • Nick, if you can’t get it waived it may not make sense to keep it past the first year. After that time a different card may make more sense. 😉

  3. Hi there! I love your blog. Just started on the journey of miles/points and it’s been quite exciting. I recently applied for chase sapphire and got declined I’ve never had an application declined. I called and they said I have had 6 cards opened in the last year. I don’t think that’s right. Not sure what my next step should be. How long should I wait to reapply? Also I was interested in trying for the southwest companion pass by applying for the personal and business but now hesitate to do so. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  4. I recently got the amex everyday preferred. I thought it would be great since I spend a lot on groceries. How do you use your membership rewards points for your family. As a family that only travels in the country Im not sure how to use these points?

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