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As I’ve explained before, there are different factors to consider when applying for credit cards. These include the sign-up bonus, the ongoing perks offered by the card, and the return the card offers on everyday spend.
There are cards I keep long term exclusively for the benefits they offer, without actually putting much spend on the cards. Just to give a few examples:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express is worthwhile for the $200 annual airline fee credit, access to Centurion Lounges, access to Delta SkyClubs, etc. ($550 annual fee)
- The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card offers an annual free night certificate valid at any IHG property worldwide, along with Platinum status ($49 annual fee)
- The Hyatt Credit Card offers an annual free night certificate valid at any Category 1-4 Hyatt property ($75 annual fee)
With that in mind, I figured I’d talk a bit about the cards I use most for everyday spend. Which cards are at the top of my wallet, and under what circumstances do I use them? Here are the cards I use, roughly in order:
This is my default card for spend in the U.S. Unless my spend falls in another bonus category, this is my go to card. The Amex EveryDay Preferred offers:
- 3x points at U.S. supermarkets, up $6,000 per year
- 2x points at U.S. gas stations
- A 50% points bonus when you make at least 30 purchases per billing cycle
Given that I make 30 transactions per billing cycle, I earn:
- 4.5x points at U.S. supermarkets
- 3x points at U.S. gas stations
- 1.5x points on everyday purchases
I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me the return on spend is worth:
- 7.65% at U.S. supermarkets
- 5.1% at U.S. gas stations
- 2.55% on everyday purchases
While the supermarket and gas station return is of course awesome, earning a return I value at 2.55% on everyday spend is incredible.
This is a card I have for many reasons, and find to be worthwhile for the benefits alone. That being said, it can make sense for everyday spend as well. The card offers:
- 3x points on hotel and airfare
- 2x points on dining and entertainment
- 1x points on everyday spend
I value those points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me that’s like a 5.1% return on my airfare and hotel purchases, which is a big part of what I spend money on. A nice added benefit is that the card offers great travel coverage in case something goes wrong during your travels. I also use this card for dining purchases, as it offers double points there.
If you’re using this card internationally, it’s worth noting that it’s a Mastercard, which generally offers better foreign exchange rates than Visa cards.
This is a great no annual fee card that offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, for up to $1,500 of spend per quarter. So I use this card very selectively for the bonus categories.
Right now I can earn 5x points on restaurants, which is pretty awesome. In conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Plus® Business Credit Card, these points can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points, and transferred to the Ultimate Rewards airline transfer partners.
On a per point basis, I consider Starpoints to be the most valuable points currency out there. As of last year, the card doesn’t have foreign transaction fees anymore, so for me it’s my “go to” card for international, non-bonused spend. I also sometimes like to mix up the points I earn through credit card spend.
I also often use this card in the US, when I’m not using the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card for my everyday purchases.
Sometimes I’m a bit inconsistent with my credit card strategy, as there’s not just one right approach to take. Often my spend preferences are motivated by what my points balances look like in different currencies. For example, at the moment I have a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, while my balance of Amex Membership Rewards points and Citi ThankYou points is a bit lighter, which is why I’m directing more spend onto those cards.
What are the primary cards you use for your credit card spend?
Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the AmEx Everyday Preferred has been collected independently by One Mile At A Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.