Favorite Credit Cards for Everyday Spending - picture of African American woman kissing credit card with laptop on floor in front of her

My Favorite Credit Cards for Everyday Spending (Plus How I Earn So Many Points)

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Because Greg and I earn a ton of points and miles for travel, a lot of people ask us about our strategy. Most people want to know if we manufacture spending, and if so, how. In addition, they ask about which cards we use to earn more points over time. Which cards are we using for our everyday spending and bills, and which ones are easiest for us to rack up? Which are our favorite cards? Which are the best airline credit cards on the market, what is the best credit card for travel?

First of all, I will tell you that we rarely use manufacture spending to earn additional points and miles. It’s just not our style…nor is it really sustainable. So, we hardly ever do it!

The bulk of our points and miles are earned through everyday spending in our personal lives and for our business. And, because we don’t manufacture spending or do anything too exotic to earn additional points and miles, we take strategizing our spending pretty darn seriously – as in, we focus the bulk of our spending on a handful of cards.

Which cards, you ask? Depending on the purchase, we usually use one of these four:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

sapphire_preferred_card smallThe fact that I’m pretty obsessed with Chase Ultimate Rewards means that I focus most of our spending on Chase credit cards.

My favorite of all is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, mainly due to its excellent perks for travel and its earning structure. With this card, I earn 2x points on all travel and dining purchases, plus 1x points on everything else. Plus, I enjoy free trip cancellation and interruption insurance and free primary rental coverage – both perks I use often since I travel so frequently. I also believe that Chase has the best transfer partners, and rely heavily on the fact that I can transfer Chase points to IHG Rewards, Hyatt, Marriott, British Airways, and especially Southwest Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.

The best part about this card, however, is its increased signup bonus for newbies. For a limited time, you’ll earn 50,000 points worth $625 in travel after you spend $4,000 on your card in 90 days. If you have a huge expenses coming up, now is the time to pull the trigger. Read here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Chase Freedom® Card

Chase freedomThe Chase Freedom® Card is one I tend to use in spurts. But since it offers 5% back on grocery purchases from April of this year until the end of June, I’m using it pretty heavily right now. Plus, I’ll probably use it quite a bit next quarter since the 5% bonus category will update to “restaurants and more” starting July 1st. We don’t eat out a ton, but 5% can add up fast! And since I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, I can transfer Chase points into my Sapphire account and use them for travel.

If you don’t have this card, I consider it a standard in anyone’s wallet. For the time being, you can also earn a $150 signup bonus after you spend just $500 on your card within 90 days. Pretty sweet, huh? Read here to learn more about the Chase Freedom® Card.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

blue for business american expressThis is a card we added to our wallets fairly recently. Why? Because the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers 6% cash back on your first $6,000 in grocery spending every year. We don’t spend a bunch of money on anything, but spending cash at the grocery store is pretty inescapable. No matter what, you can’t really do much better than 6% back.

Meanwhile, this card does offer a pretty sweet signup bonus – worth $150 – after you spend just $1,000 on your card within 90 days. It does come with a $75 annual fee though, so beware of that. The 6% back at grocery stores more than makes up for it, but only if you maximize it!

Ink Plus® Business Credit Card

chase ink plus smallThe Ink Plus® Business Credit Card is a no-brainer if you have a small business or a side hustle. With this card, you get 5x points on your first $50,000 spent at office supply stores, telephone, or internet every year. And that includes purchases of gift cards made at office supply stores.

While I don’t buy gift cards often, I almost always swing by Staples to see if they have a gift card before I make a large purchases. I even used our Ink Plus® Business Credit Card to buy $6,500 in Lowe’s gift cards to pay for our new floors. Since I earned 5x points for every dollar spent, I netted 32,500 extra points from that ordeal. Pretty sweet!

Of course the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card also comes with a hefty signup bonus, provided you haven’t earned a signup bonus on this card for the last two years. Currently, it offers 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 on your card within 90 days. It does have a $95 annual fee, but the 60,000 signup bonus is worth $600 in cash back. That is way more than enough to make up for it! Read here to learn more about the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card.

The Bottom Line

Note: Beware the 5/24 rule. Starting in April of this year, Chase made it increasingly difficult to get approved if you have had five new credit cards within the last 24 months. Because of this, you should choose your signups carefully.

At the end of the day, the biggest boost to how many points and miles we earn is the fact that we both sign up for cards all the time. If you like any credit card rewards signup bonus, it only makes sense to have your spouse sign up for it as well!

In addition, we go out of our way to pay all of our bills with credit as long as there are no fees involved. The little “extra bills” add up, and it helps that we can now pay our health insurance, car insurance, and homeowner’s insurance with credit. The more bills anyone can pay, the better.

The key to making it work is being extremely serious about paying your bills in full before the due date. While credit card rewards are awesome, debt really, really sucks.

Which credit cards do you use for everyday spending? What is your favorite credit card of all time?

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  1. We are currently work on our $4k spending with our Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to get our 50k bonus. It’s quickly becoming our favorite card.

  2. I’m amazed at what you’re able to do with credit cards and points, Holly! I also love how we can be so different with our card usage and both be friends and personal finance bloggers. One of the amazing things about this space – there’s room for everyone!

  3. I always end up going back to the Discover it card when I’m not churning. It’s probably not the absolute “best” card I could be using for everyday spending, but I like having a card that has cash back options that doesn’t require an annual fee.

  4. The big problem with this article is you forgot to say that if any of us have gotten 5 or more cards in the last 24 months, Chase will say NO to you. I have felt this pain personally even though I have been a Chase customer for 20 years.

    1. Very true, John! I hate their new rule! I will add that to the post – It didn’t cross my mind when I wrote it!

  5. We use our Freedom card for our everyday spending and just transfer our UR points to our Ink cards. We also used to use our SPG card quite a bit, but with the merger we have far too many points we need to burn so we don’t use it nearly as much anymore.

  6. The Chase Freedom and Sapphire cards are easily my most favorite cards as well. We also have a Citi Dividend card that offers 5% cash back on categories that are different than the categories on the Chase freedom card, so we rotate what cards we use depending on the bonuses for that quarter. I think 3 personal credit cards is a great number for us – any more and it probably wouldn’t be worth the hassle of keeping track of all of them. We don’t have use for a business one, but I would definitely consider Chase Ink first, since I’ve had such great customer service with Chase in the past 10 years.

  7. As we are aging my husband and I both are less enthusiastic about travel than we once were. Now we are looking for strictly the best cash back rewards. Any suggestions?

    1. I like both the Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited. I personally have the traditional Chase Freedom card already, and will probably keep it since I have had it so long. If I had the choice, I would probably go with the Chase Freedom Unlimited to get a standard 1.5% back.

      If you’re not going to travel though, you may not care about staying within the Chase program. In that case, you could always sign up for Citi Double Cash – you earn a standard 2% back on all purchases. It also comes with no annual fee (just no signup bonus).

  8. We pretty much use our Chase Freedom whenever we are not churning a credit card. We’re looking for a new card to churn right now actually. What are you churning?

  9. I always use our SPG AmEx card for regular spending, which yields at least one or two good hotel stays per year, and used to use the Costco AmEx for gas and Costco spending. We churned the United Mileage Plus and Alaska Air cards most recently to stockpile miles for upcoming travel. Thanks to Chase’s new rules, I’ve been rethinking our approach to churning to make sure we’re evenly distributing our card signups.

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