What Is The Best Credit Card For Non Bonus Spending?

american express spg personal

While it would be nice if all our spend was in bonus categories, likely it’s not. Realistically too, your non bonus spend will be a lot more than your bonus spending, so you’ll want to make sure your maximizing your point earnings as it’s the bulk of your spending. So what is the best credit card for non bonus spending?

The 5 Best Cards

In my opinion there are 5 cards you should consider which are the Chase Freedom Unlimited, American Express Everyday Preferred, American Express SPG, Barclaycard Arrival Plus, and Citi Double Cash back cards. The reason why I suggest these cards over others, are they are, in my opinion, the most rewarding cards on the market for non bonus spending. Transferable points from Chase and Amex can be very valuable when transferred to travel partners, as you will generally get a couple of cents in value from each point. I value Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, and SPG Starpoints at 2.0, 2.0, and 2.5 cents respectively.

If you are eligible for USAA, consider the new Limitless cashback card which earns 2.5% cashback when you have a direct deposit into your USAA checking account.

If you have $100,000 to invest, consider investing with Bank of America to earn Platinum status which will allow you to earn 2.625% cash back with the BankAmeriCard.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

chase freedom unlimited

(Picture courtesy of Chase)

  • Sign up bonus: 
    • 15,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $500 in 3 months
    • Visit your local Chase branch for a possible targeted pre-approved 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points offer
  • Points Earnings: 
    • 1.5x per $1 on all purchases
    • Effective return: (1.5x per $1) x (2.0 cents per point value) = 3x per dollar
  • Benefits:
    • Transfer points to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Ink Business Preferred cards to be able utilize the 11 Chase transfer partners
    • Price and purchase protection
    • 1 year extended warranty
  • Annual Fee: $0

American Express Everyday Preferred

American Express Everyday Preferred

(Picture courtesy of Amex)

  • Sign up bonus:
    • 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 in 3 months
    • Try opening AmericanExpress.com in an incognito branch to be targeted for a 30,000 Membership Rewards points offer
  • Points Earnings:
    • 3x per $1 at supermarkets (4.5x per $1 with 30 monthly transactions)
      • Effective return: (4.5x per $1) x (2.0 cents per point value) = 9x per dollar
    • 2x per $1 at gas stations (3x per $1 with 30 monthly transactions)
      • Effective return: (3x per $1) x (2.0 cents per point value) = 6x per dollar
    • 1x per $1 everywhere else (1.5x per $1 with 30 monthly transactions)
      • Effective return: (1.5x per $1) x (2.0 cents per point value) = 3x per dollar
    • 50% bonus on all points earned when making 30 transactions in a month
  • Benefits:
    • Shoprunner membership
    • Purchase and price protection
    • 1 year extended warranty
  • Annual Fee: $95

American Express SPG

american express spg personal

(Picture courtesy of Amex)

  • Sign up bonus:
    • 25,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 in 3 months
    • Additional 10,000 Starpoints after spending an additional $2,000 in 6 months (Highest ever public offer)
  • Points Earnings:
    • 2x per $1 on SPG, Marriott and Ritz Carlton Hotels
      • Effective return: (2x per $1) x (2.5 cents per point value) = 5x per dollar
    • 1x per $1 everywhere else
      • Effective return: (1x per $1) x (2.5 cents per point value) = 2.5x per dollar
  • Benefits:
    • 5 nights/2 stays towards SPG Elite status
    • Boingo Wifi membership
    • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $95

Barclaycard Arrival Plus

barclaycard arrival plus

(Picture courtesy of Barclaycard)

  • Sign up bonus:
    • 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days
  • Points earnings:
    • 2x per $1 on all purchases
      • Effective return: (2x per $1) x (5% miles back) = 2.1x per purchase
  • Benefits:
    • Get 5% miles back for every redemption’s
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Travel accident and trip cancellation insurance
    • Chip and pin availability
  • Annual Fee:
    • $89 waived the first year

Citi Double Cash

citi double cash

(Picture courtesy of Citi)

  • Sign up bonus:
    • None, though targeted bonuses were sent out during the initial launch of the card
  • Points Earnings:
    • 1% cash back on all purchases
    • Additional 1% cash back after you pay off your purchases
    • Effective return: 2% cash back on all purchases
  • Benefits:
    • Citi PrivatePass
    • Citi Price Rewind
    • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Annual Fee: $0

Which Is Best For You?

The best card for you is which type of rewards you want to earn whether it be Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, SPG Starpoints or cashback.

You’ll also want to consider if you receive enough value from your rewards to justify paying for the annual fee on either the Amex Everyday Preferred, Amex SPG card or Barclaycard Arrival Plus cards.

If you want to earn Amex Membership Rewards:

American Express Everyday Preferred

If you want to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards:

Chase Freedom Unlimited

If you want to earn SPG Starpoints:

American Express SPG

If you want to earn cashback towards travel:

Barclaycard Arrival Plus

If you want to earn cashback:

Citi Double Cashback (USAA members: USAA Limitless, Bank of America Platinum members: BankAmeriCard Rewards)

Conclusion

To me, selecting the best non bonus spend card is one of the most important things to be successful within the points game. Realistically, your non bonus spending will likely comprise of at least 50% of your total annual spending, so it’s really important you maximize all that spending.

I myself currently use the American Express SPG card for my non bonus spend, as I love SPG Starpoints and generally find I get at least 2.4-2.5 cents per point which equates to earning between 2.4-2.5% cash back on all my purchases.

What card do you use for non bonus spending?

– Points Tutor