Many credit cards have valuable bonus spending categories such as travel, groceries, and gas, among others. But what card should you use for non bonus spending? Most people are under the impression that 2% cash back cards are the highest earners available, but there are, in fact, higher earning rates out there. Two credit card options that are currently on the market allow you to earn 2.25% and 2.625% respectively back on non bonus spending. These cards require a little more work than just having one card though, so you’ll need to decide if a little extra work is worth between 25% to 62.5% more in rewards.
Option 1: Chase Freedom Unlimited + Chase Sapphire Reserve Combo earning 2.25%
To earn 2.25% back with option 1, you’ll need to carry both the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. The strategy includes putting your every day spending on the Chase Freedom Unlimited card earning 1.5 Ultimate Reward points per dollar, then transferring those points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, which gives a 50% bonus on points when booking through the Chase travel portal (1.5 (points per dollar) x 1.5 (50% bonus) = 2.25).
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is:
- 1.5% cash back card but you earn the cash back in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards, which are transferable to any Chase card that also earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
- No annual fee
The Freedom Unlimited card by itself is pretty weak cash back card as it doesn’t have access to the Chase transfer partners or any bonus in the travel portal. In order to access travel portals or bonuses, you’ll need to carry either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve (or the Chase Ink Preferred if you’re a business owner).
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is Chase premium travel card which offers:
- 3 Ultimate Reward points per dollar on travel and dining
- 50% bonus on points in the Chase travel partner
- Access to Chase transfer partners
- Global entry/TSA Precheck fee reimbursement
- $300 annual travel credit
- Priority Pass lounge access
- Premium travel insurance
- Plus many more benefits seen on Chase.com
- $450 annual fee
Before I lose your attention because of the annual fee, take a look at all the benefits you receive with this card. After the $300 annual travel credit, the annual fee is effectively only $150 dollars. To earn this $150 (effective) annual fee back, all you’ll need to do is spend $6667 dollars on your Chase Freedom Unlimited card a year ($150/(2.25/100)). This doesn’t even account for any dining or travel spending which would earn you 3 points per dollar or 4.5% after the 50% travel portal bonus (3 x 1.5 = 4.5).
If you feel inclined, Chase also offers the Chase Freedom card (different from the Chase Freedom Unlimited card), which offers 5% quarterly on spending categories like gas, groceries and Amazon.com at no annual fee. If used with the 50% travel portal of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can earn 7.5% back on your quarterly spending categories.
Option 2: Bank of America BankAmericard Travel Rewards with Platinum Honors status earning 2.625%
To earn 2.625% back with option 2, you’ll need to carry the Bank of America BankAmericard Travel Rewards and also carry the Platinum Honors status with Bank of America. The BankAmericard Travel Rewards card earns a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchase and Platinum Honors status gives a 75% bonus on cash back earned (1.5 x 1. 75 = 2.625). I listed the 2.625% in parenthesis in the title of this post, as Platinum Honors status with Bank of America requires that you invest $100,000 or more in Bank of America or Merril Edge investment accounts, which is likely out of reach for many.
While neither option above is as easy as carrying a 2% cash back card, they both offer much more return on your every day spending. I personally use the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited combo for my daily spending (when not meeting minimum spending on another credit card).
Have any thoughts on the subject? Please comment below.
-Nick a.k.a. Points Tutor