5 Rewards Credit Cards I Use the Most for Everyday Purchases

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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.

Chase Freedom®

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.

Ink Plus® Business Card 

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.

Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card

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.

Amex Everyday Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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. 

Citi Executive AAdvantage Card: (offer expired)

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?


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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.

The responses 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.


  1. Glad to see someone else also has the Amex Everyday Preferred card in their wallet. I snatched one of these up a few weeks after applications went live and between the 15K point signup offer I’ve manage to accrue nearly 40K points on this card just for everyday spending and bonus categories.

    My lineup is pretty much the same as yours minus the Citi AA card. Hopefully the 100K signup bonus will return sometime next year. 🙂

  2. How quick was the turnaround time on the Citi Aadvantage card (after approval)? We have a trip on AA (paid with Avios) in the near future and the free bags plus lounge access seems tempting. I know Amex sends some of their cards via overnight access. Is Citi as accommodating?

  3. Amex Blue Cash for grocery/gas/drug stores
    Ink Bold/Plus for phone/cable/office supplies
    Chase Freedom and Discover IT when applicable
    Barclay Arrival+ for everything else

  4. @Greg,
    Yes, Citi is. I applied (& was approved) for the card on a Wednesday, had it in hand by Saturday morning. Hope that helps. Good luck!

  5. Greg: I applied for my Citi Exec AAdvantage on 6/30 and received the card on 7/2. I hit my 10k spend a few days later (mostly tuition bill with no cc fee). Still waiting for the $200 credit and the points to post on the 16th, then will cancel the card during cancellation period without paying fee. I have another one that I did pay for.

      • Not lucky to have to pay them, but lucky that I don’t have to do any manufactured spend and can meet the 10k before the first statement closes in order to save the $450.

  6. I use the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for travel and dining, and Chase Freedom for the current 5% categories. These are my 2 primary cards.

    • I use the exact same cards. The only time I switch to Chase Freedom for dining is when it is 5% back.

      Also, I use Freedom for everyday purchase vs. CSP because I get 10% back with Chase Checking.

  7. My new spending system is just underway, geared toward our big trip next year (you inspired us to to do a RTW tour). I’m in Hawaii for the rest of the summer so have no need for my Freedom card’s 5x on gas), but:
    1) Hilton Honors Visa (furiously saving toward Seychelles stay)
    2) Chase Sapphire Preferred
    3) Lufthansa Miles&More MC
    4) AA Platinum VS
    5) First Hawaiian Bank Priority Destinations MC (5% on first $6000 in travel, 2x points on groceries, gas, cable, phone & other utilities, 10% bonus when redeemed on travell), no transaction fees

  8. My spend is just from me, and as much as I love the Barclays World Arrival, I simply can’t justify the annual fees on both that and Chase Sapphire Preferred. My system is
    1. Ink Classic for office supplies, internet, and gas
    2. Freedom whenever the 5X categories apply
    3. Chase Sapphire Preferred

  9. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree LOL! My strategy and use are same as yours. Freedom card is new as is our AA 100K. Happy to have both!

  10. “uber corny”? Yes you are! 🙂

    Especially as I have connected my AEP (AMEX Everyday Preferred) to my Uber account for the additional extra points.

  11. I use my PenFed card for 5% back as a monthly statement credit for gasoline. I use my Fidelity Amex for 2% cash back unless I have something better to work on. For miles instead of 2% cash, for those who value miles more than that cash, the Starwood card would be my go to card for most airlines.

  12. I have two in college and I was able to put one of the boys tuition on a card without a fee from the college. In fact, they gave us a 10% discount if we paid by a certain date. My other son goes to a school that will charge 2.5% if we put it on a credit card. I am trying to think of everything possible to earn some points for that tuition. That school gives me every reason to hate them. They nickel/dime us for EVERYTHING! Maybe bluebird? As far as everyday spend, lately I take advantage of category spend and then I have been working on minimum spend for new credit cards. I just got out of the hospital and I think that my portion is going to take care of almost all of that unfortunately. If anybody has any ideas for tuition for a school that doesn’t take credit cards without a fee, let me know.

    • I am in the same boat and would also be interested in ideas for avoiding/minimizing fees while making tuition payments via credit card.

      I have found only a few universities on the payment list at evolve, though I don’t think the search feature is very straightforward. If you are able to use evolve or a similar option, the fees for purchasing prepaid cards might be well worth the rewards you earn.

        • I wrote about that a long long time ago so I’m betting some has changed since then. My memory at the time is that most schools did have a fee of some sort for paying via credit card. Of course the VR/BB check option would have been good when it was super easy to do. Evolve is a good option to look into. I can certainly work toward putting a list together of options!

          • Yes….college payment possibilities would be an awesome list! Gig ‘Em 🙂 (sorry…couldn’t resist)

  13. Mine are Chase Freedom/Discover for their 5% quarterly bonuses. Discover also usually has the best shopping portal cash back. AMEX SPG and Barclay’s Arrival for everything else. Chase Ink cards for the office supply/cable bills etc. . . So far, not a big fan of the Chase Sapphire. I’d rather put spend on Barclay’s.

  14. I’m in the same boat with tuition this Fall. I’d love to hear some ideas as well. Originally, my thought was to use VRs@CVS to stock BB and then just write checks, but now VRs are much harder to come by…..obviously not worth the convenience fee to put directly on CC. Any ideas??

  15. So ticked at myself for not getting the 100K Citi Executive for my husband. I got it for myself but I was afraid to get it for both of us at the same time because that was a lot of minimum spend at the same time. Now, I realize that we are going to have a lot of bills in the next few weeks. The minimum spend won’t be a problem. Would love it if someone would post a link that still works.

  16. Re Tammy: While VRs aren’t so available with cc now, various types of Visa or MC Gift cards are from supermarkets in many areas. Providing they aren’t Vanilla, they can, for now, be loaded onto BB at Walmart.
    Generally $2 more per $500 than VR, and much less convenient unless Walmart is part of your usual trips, but doable.

  17. Another card that does not get much mention on is the Sallie Mae Rewards card issued by Barclay. The sign up bonus is only $25 statement credit but there’s always 5% cash back on grocery and gas.

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