From flat-rate cash back to lucrative travel rewards, there’s something for everyone.
Have you shied away from using rewards credit cards because you don’t know where to start? Maybe you’ve been carrying around the same rewards credit card for a decade, even though your spending habits have changed.
If that’s the case, you’re probably leaving a lot of money on the table. Using research by The Ascent on the monthly spending habits of American households, we’ve found the best rewards credit cards for the average American. If your spending falls in line with that average, you could save from $638 to $1,638 with one of these rewards credit cards.
For unlimited cash back with a bonus: Chase Freedom Unlimited®
The latest developments on the Chase Freedom Unlimited® make it one of the most lucrative cash back cards on the market for just about anyone. You’ll get 5% back on up to $12,000 in grocery spending in the first year, 3% back on travel (booked with Chase Ultimate Rewards), dining, and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% back on all other purchases. This card also earns you a $200 cash bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months.
The Chase Freedom cards also come with a value-boosting perk that many don’t know about. If you have one of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can convert your cash back into Ultimate Rewards points. These points are worth more than $0.01 each — in fact, some redemptions will get you over $0.02 per point, doubling the value of the cash back you earn with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.
If the average person puts all their spending on this credit card — excluding categories like housing and pension contributions — and earns the sign-up bonus, they’ll cash in on about $898 in cash back rewards for the first year. Convert that to Ultimate Rewards points, and that’s around $1,122.50 to $1,347 in travel rewards.
For flexible flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Whether you’re a credit card rewards beginner or looking to boost your earnings with a good everyday card, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers easy, flexible, and generous travel rewards. You’ll get 2x miles per $1 on all purchases, so you can use this card for everything, every day. This card also comes with a sign-up bonus of 100,000 miles if you spend $20,000 in the first year. If you don’t, you can still earn 50,000 miles for spending $3,000 in the first three months.
Capital One Venture miles can be used to “erase” any travel purchase at a rate of $0.01 per point, making them very easy to use. This also means the 50,000-point sign-up bonus is worth $500, and the 100,000-point sign-up bonus is worth $1,000. If the average American puts all purchases on this credit card for a year, the rewards equal about $638, plus the $1,000 sign-up bonus, for a total of $1,638 in savings in the first year.
For high-powered rewards on groceries and gas: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
If you spend a lot on groceries, gas, and transportation, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is worth looking into. While it comes with an annual fee, it also earns 6% cash back on groceries ($6,000 annual spending cap) and 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit. Plus, you’ll get a $250 cash bonus if you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
For the average American spender, this means about $810 in annual rewards on grocery and transportation spending alone, assuming you earn the sign-up bonus. With the annual fee subtracted, that’s still $715 in rewards in just two spending categories. Rotate this card with a flat-rate rewards credit card on all other purchases, and you’ll really earn big.
For generous, flat-rate cash back: Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has long been one of the best flat-rate, everyday cash back cards. You get an effective 2% cash back rate on all purchases, with no annual fee — it doesn’t get much better than that.
If the average person puts all annual expenses on this card (except for housing, insurance, pensions, and cash contributions), they earn about $638 per year in cash back rewards. These earnings are even higher when you pair this flat-rate card with a card that offers bonus cash back in your preferred spending category.