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One of the best ways to maximize the points you can earn with credit cards is by using the right cards for the right spend categories. Over the past few years we’ve seen so many lucrative new cards introduced with great bonus categories, so just having the right cards can help you earn lots of points.
Admittedly I pay a lot in credit card annual fees, though I’d like to think I get value out of each card I choose to renew each year. I spent a bit of time crunching the numbers on the cards I have to figure out the average number of points I earn per dollar spent.
To do the math I added up the spend on each card and divided it by the number of points earned, to figure out the average points earned per dollar spent. However, I removed any sort of sign-up bonuses, Amex Offers bonuses, etc. There’s a chance I may have made a slight miscalculation on some of these, but I feel pretty good about my math.
With that in mind, here are the seven credit cards that personally earn me the most points per dollar spent:
Average points per dollar: 4.96
For years the Amex Platinum Card is one I’ve held onto for the perks, which more than justify the annual fee, in my opinion. This includes a $200 annual airline credit, $200 Uber credit, a Priority Pass membership, access to Centurion Lounges, access to Delta SkyClubs, etc.
However, last year the card added 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines, which is a huge benefit based on my spend patterns. So I almost exclusively use this card for airfare purchases, while I find other Amex cards to be more rewarding for everyday spend.
Average points per dollar: 4.93
I use my Chase Freedom to complement the other cards I have that earn Ultimate Rewards points. The Freedom offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 of spend per quarter. I do my best to maximize these bonus categories, and don’t find it especially worthwhile to put other spend on the card, since the no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers a better return on non-bonused spend.
Average points per dollar: 2.81
The Sapphire Reserve offers triple points on dining and travel. Travel and dining is just about what I spend all my money on, so this covers a vast majority of the categories on which I make purchases on the card. For non-bonused spend I instead use the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.
Average points per dollar: 2.00
This no annual fee card offers double Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent annually. We haven’t yet passed that spend threshold, so up until now we have earned two Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on this card.
Average points per dollar: 1.86
This no annual fee card offers 5x points on the first $25,000 spent each account anniversary year in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services, plus 2x points on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants.
While I don’t pay for cable, I do get quite a bit of value out of the 5x points on cell phone purchases. There are some purchases I should probably put on other cards, but I find it more convenient to just keep those business purchases on a business card, even at the cost of some points. Oh well.
Average points per dollar: 1.77
This card offers 3x points at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases), and 2x points at US gas stations. On top of that, the card offers a 50% points bonus when you make at least 30 transactions per billing cycle, meaning you can earn up to 4.5x points at supermarkets, 3x points at gas stations, and 1.5x points on everything else.
Personally I don’t spend all that much on gas and supermarkets, so I don’t get quite as much value out of this card as some others may. However, I still find it worthwhile for daily spend, and use it whenever I’m at a supermarket or gas station.
Average points per dollar: 1.5
This card offers a flat 1.5x points per dollar spent in all categories. Ordinarily this is a cashback card, meaning you’re really earning 1.5% cashback.
However, if you have this card in addition to one of the cards that accrues Ultimate Rewards points, you can transfer these points to Ultimate Rewards. Cards that accrue Ultimate Rewards Cards include the:
Using the right credit card to maximize your daily spend can be a great way to boost your points balance. However, always do the math about whether or not you’re getting value out of a card compared to the annual fee. As you’ll see above, four of the seven cards that earn me the most points per dollar are actually no annual fee cards, which is pretty awesome.
What cards earn you the most points per dollar spent?