Which Are the Best Cards to Keep for Everyday Spending?

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Million Mile Secrets reader, Gia, writes:

Which card(s) have the most benefits for annual spending?  I spend more than $5,000 a month on credit cards these days, but I feel like I ran out of options for sign-up bonuses as I’ve had most of the cards in the past.

What do you use as your default credit card for everyday purchases to build points?  Could you give me couple of suggestions?

Which Are The Best Cards To Keep For Everyday Spending

Which Card Should Gia Use for Her Everyday Purchases?

When I’m not working to meet the minimum spending requirements to earn sign-up bonuses for Big Travel, there are 2 cards I keep in my wallet for everyday spending.

Which Cards Do I Recommend for Everyday Spending?

The AMEX Starwood and Chase Sapphire Preferred are my default cards, when I’m not working towards earning sign-up bonuses.  That’s because with both cards, I can transfer points to most airline and hotel partners.

This is a great way to top off my account when I need extra points to book an award.

1.   AMEX Starwood

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

With the AMEX Starwood card, you’ll earn 25,000 Starwood points when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.

And you get other perks:

I like this card because Starwood points are flexible.  My series on Starwood will show you all the ways you can use Starwood points.

Which Are The Best Cards To Keep For Everyday Spending

You Can Use Your Starwood Points for a Stay at Hotels Like the Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Kaanapali or Transfer to Any of 30+ Airline Partners for Your Next Flight!

Starwood’s transfer partners include:

 Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Transfer Partners 
AegeanAeroMexicoAir Canada
Air BerlinAir ChinaAir New Zealand
Alaska AirlinesAlitaliaANA
American AirlinesAsia Miles (Cathay Pacific)Asiana Airlines
AviancaBritish AirwaysChina Eastern
China SouthernDeltaEmirates
Etihad Flying BlueGol Smiles
Hainan AirlinesHawaiian AirlinesJapan Airlines
Jet AirwaysKorean AirlinesLAN
Miles & More (Lufthansa)Qatar AirwaysSaudi Arabian Airlines
Singapore AirlinesThai AirwaysUnited Airlines
Virgin AtlanticVirgin Australia

And when you transfer to an airline partner in increments of 20,000 points, you’ll get a 5,000 point bonus.  That makes this card more useful for non-bonus spending than many airline branded cards!

I like using my AMEX Starwood card for purchases that don’t normally earn extra miles and points in bonus categories, like car repairs, insurance, or doctor visits.

But for travel, dining, and online shopping, there’s a better card to use!

2.   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Everything You Need to Know About the Chase Sapphire Preferred

As most folks who’ve read this blog for a while already know, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is 1 of my favorite cards.  And if I could only have 1 credit card in my wallet it would be this card!

You can earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening a Chase Sapphire Preferred account.

And you also get:

  • 5,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user who makes a purchase within the 1st 3 months
  • 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 you spend on travel and dining
  • Primary car rental insurance – Covers damage or theft to your rental car, when you pay for the rental with your card
  • Trip delay reimbursement – Get up to $500 back per ticket when your trip is delayed more than 12 hours
  • No foreign transaction fees

What I like about this card is you can earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on dining and travel (2 categories where I do a lot of spending!) and the points are flexible.

And it’s easy to earn lots of Chase Ultimate Rewards points for online shopping through the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal.  For example, you can currently earn 7X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on clothing at Saks 5th Avenue.

You can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel with access to most airlines and hotels through the Chase Travel Portal.  Plus, you don’t have to worry about blackout dates.

Or transfer the Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn to airline and hotel partners for Big Travel:

 Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Transfer Partners 
British AirwaysFlying Blue (Air France/KLM)Korean Air
Singapore AirlinesSouthwestUnited Airlines
Virgin Atlantic
 Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners 
HyattIHGMarriott
Ritz-Carlton

Emily and I have used our Chase Ultimate Rewards points for trips to ParisMauiKauaiSwitzerlandItaly, and many more.

Which Are The Best Cards To Keep For Everyday Spending

We Transferred Our Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to British Airways for a First Class Flight to Paris

When you transfer your AMEX Starwood or Chase Ultimate Rewards points to an airline, you can use the miles to book flights on their partners as well.  With these 2 cards, you can cover all 3 major airline alliances.

Here are a few examples:

So with both cards you have options!

Bottom Line

When deciding which card to use for a purchase, you’ll most likely want to choose your newest card to finish meeting your minimum spending requirement!

But when you’re in between new cards, I recommend using the AMEX Starwood and Chase Sapphire Preferred for your regular spending.

That’s because, between these 2 award programs, you’ll be able to transfer points to airlines in all 3 major alliances and to many hotel chains.

Which cards do you use for everyday purchases?

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7 responses to “Which Are the Best Cards to Keep for Everyday Spending?

  1. Amex PRG and SPG, Chase Ink and Freedom.

    CSP is overrated IMO once you have an Ink Plus.

  2. I would use the Wyndham Rewards card for everyday spending because it earns 2x on everything. With each $7500 spent, I’ll a get a free night. Some of the high-end properties cost about $400 / night. So that means the 2x really becomes 5% cash back (400 / 7500) on everything.

  3. Depends so much on what you’re saving up for and what you spend the most on. Amex Everyday Preferred I would say is the best by far (especially if you really know how to use MR Points). Or if you’re looking just for hotel rewards I would say the Hilton Amex. Though an argument can be made for the Wyndham credit card too.

    Though the CSP card is way overrated nowadays. It’s not anywhere near where it used to be and isn’t really worth it. I am cancelling mine once the AF comes around, they gutted it way too much and next year isn’t looking much better.

  4. I just signed for a discover it miles card to take advantage of the Apple Pay offer. I also use it as my everyday card, because it doubles the earning at the end of year for the first year, resulting in a 3% cash back. I wouldn’t use it after the first year though.

    Cards that I carry everyday:
    Chase Freedom, 5% cash back in different categories each quarter.
    Chase Ink bold (discontinued) for 2% on gas and restaurants, and 5% on office supply store. I am keeping this card for transferring points earned from Chase Freedom. I cancelled Chase Blue Sapphire 2 years ago, which was not used often.
    Amex Costco True earning, for Costco membership and Costco related shopping (since Costco only accepts Amex credit card). Plus its 90 day purchase protection and theft insurance etc.

  5. @Erik: none of the chase ink cards give you a bonus on restaurants. That’s why it’s worth considering keeping the CSP if you dine out a lot.

  6. Pingback: Which Are the Best Cards to Keep for Everyday Spending? « Rewards Points Heaven

  7. @Chris: Your statement about none of the Chase Ink cards giving a bonus on restaurants is incorrect. The Chase Ink Cash card gives you 2% back on restaurants.