Credit Card Expert Roundup #57 - Best Credit Cards
While the last week or so has been trying to say the least for pretty much everyone, we decided to focus this edition of the roundup series on something other than what's going on from a health standpoint.
Eventually, things will get better, provided people stay indoors and when they do, and when restaurants open, and we are able to go about our lives like we did a few weeks ago, all of us are going to earn tons of rewards points! In anticipation of this, Jason Steele gives us some insight as to which credit card rewards programs the credit card experts take advantage of when he asks:
“As a credit card expert, which card do you use for the majority of your transactions, and why?"
David Bakke - Financial and money expert for Money Crashers
I actually have a two-pronged approach as far as which credit card I use for the majority of my transactions. I own the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card, which comes with 6% cashback on groceries (limited to $6000 per year), 3% cashback on gas, and 1% cashback on most everything else. I use that card for all of those relevant purchases. I also own the Citi Double Cash Card, which offers an unlimited 2% cash back reward on all purchases - 1% when you make the purchase and the other 1% when it’s p[aoid off. This strategy works well for me because it gets the most out of the traditional purchases I make (groceries and gas) and also my more general purchases.
I don’t think that it makes sense to limit yourself to one card for the majority of your transactions because there are plenty of cashback credit cards out there, some of which are targeted towards specific purposes. For example, if you make a lot of purchases on Amazon, you might want to get their credit card, which offers a 3% cashback. Along those same lines, you should think about your purchasing habits and then sign up for and get the credit cards that will net you the most cash back. The cashback credit card landscape is always changing; therefore, it would behoove you to do the research to ensure that you’re not leaving any money on the table.
Gerri Detweiler - Education Director for Nav
I have both the business and personal Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards, and I love them! Initially, I used sign-up bonuses to earn a free Companion Pass, allowing someone to fly with me at no cost. I’ve been able to maintain that benefit now for more than two years.
I selected this credit card because I fly Southwest frequently for work and find their rewards program to be the most flexible of any airline I've flown. Between card spending and flights I earn valuable rewards including A-list status which means I'm always in the first boarding group so I can choose a more comfortable seat. And a year ago, my family and I flew to Belize for a vacation and the only money we spent out of pocket for our flights was for fees.
Monica Kowollik - Founder of Credit Fast
I consider myself a Plain Jane when it comes to credit card rewards. I prefer cash back credit cards for simplicity. I use my Citi Double Cash Card as my main go-to card for all purchases that do not fall into particular categories where I can not earn more than 2% cash back. For higher cash back rewards, typically I plan my purchases around my Discover it Card. My favorite quarter is the summer quarter, where for the last few years, it has been 5% cash back on dining. I will plan out new restaurants to try, preferably with outdoor seating to enjoy the warm summer weather. I come from the Midwest, so many days can simply be classified as brrrrr!
Lately, I have been using my Capital One GM Buy Power Card. I plan to buy a new car, so I have been racking up 5% rewards on all my purchases that I can use towards a new car. A few times a year, Buy Power will offer special promotions to help earn even more rewards. Slowly without much effort on my part, I have been accumulating a respectable rebate.
I prefer to use credit cards, where I can earn rewards that do not expire. I can then take my time and accumulate rewards without the fear of losing them. As someone in the industry, the advice I give people is to keep it as simple as possible. Choose a few high earning cards and simply buy the things necessary for your everyday life, and you will be rewarded!
Holly Johnson - Founder of Club Thrifty
I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve for the bulk of my personal spending, but particularly on travel and dining since I earn 3x points on those purchases. I love Chase Ultimate Rewards points since I can use them in so many ways, but I mostly use them for travel through the Chase portal or for 1:1 transfers to partners like Southwest Rapid Rewards and Air France / Flying Blue, which are two of my favorite transfer partners Chase offers.
I love the Chase Sapphire Reserve for its travel protections too, including trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary auto rental coverage, baggage delay insurance, trip delay coverage, and more. Finally, I love using the Chase Sapphire Reserve during our 20 weeks of travel each year, most of which takes place overseas. This card doesn't have foreign transaction fees, and I benefit from zero liability for fraudulent purchases.
Other benefits I love include the $300 annual travel credit this card offers, along with a Priority Pass Select membership, which I use all the time. The Chase Sapphire Reserve recently raised its annual fee to $550 (from $450) but it's still a solid value due to new benefits from DoorDash and Lyft. I use DoorDash at least once per month anyway, so the $120 in credits more than make up for the higher annual fee. I also use Lyft several times per month and I love the fact that I'm earning 10x points on Lyft purchases now.
Lee Huffman - Credit card expert at Bald Thoughts
My primary credit card is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card. Although the points are only worth about 1.5 cents each, all of my spending counts towards earning the Companion Pass. With the Companion Pass, my designated companion can fly for free anywhere I fly on Southwest which doubles the value of my points. This benefit has saved our family thousands of dollars over the last 14 years that I've had it.
Dave Grossman - Runs the Miles Talk points community
I don't use any one card for anything.... I have a wallet full of cards to make sure I have the best one for each bonus category!
Right now I'm using the Citi Prestige for dining for 5X ThankYou points, the Amex Gold for groceries (and some dining) for 4X Membership Rewards, my Chase Sapphire Reserve for travel (3X Ultimate Rewards, trip delay cancellation included as well as primary car rental collision coverage) and then for most other purchases it's either my Amex Blue Business Plus for 2X on everything or my Citi Double Cash for 2X on everything, depending on if the charge is for business or pleasure. That said, I have a dozen other cards for specific bonus categories!
I always like to have a nice stash of transferable points across every program.
Sarah Silbert - Editor of Business Insider's Personal Finance Vertical
My go-to card is the Chase Freedom Unlimited. The card earns 1.5% cash back, or 1.5x points because I also have a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points and I can combine my rewards between the two cards. While I also have cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou points, I prioritize earning Chase points because I find them to be the easiest to use.
I use the Freedom Unlimited for all purchases that wouldn't earn me bonus points with my Chase Sapphire Reserve (so basically all non-travel and non-dining spending), and then I move rewards from my Freedom Unlimited over to the Reserve so I can transfer them to travel partners like Hyatt and United or redeem them at the highest rate through Chase's travel portal.
Bill Hardekopf - CEO of LowCards.com
I use the Citi Double Cash card for most of my transactions. The card gives 2% back on everything: 1% when you make the purchase and 1% when you pay it off. So getting 2% on every single transaction is an attractive deal. As the expression goes, "money talks, but cash shouts."
I prefer getting cash rather than miles or points because cash can be used to buy anything; it's the reward whose value never changes. If you build up miles on a certain airline and your travel plan or schedule changes for whatever reason, those miles may not be as valuable to you.
I also like the fact that you don't have to keep a number of cards in your wallet if you have a strong cash back card that works for all categories. And the Citi Double Cash certainly does. I do use the Blue Cash Everyday card from American Express for grocery purchases since it pays 3% on purchases up to $6,000 per year (so I stop using it later in the year when that 3% is no longer applicable) and the Costco Anytime Card for gas purchases since it pays 4% on the first $7,000 of gas purchases at Costco each year.
Andy Shuman - Credit card and travel expert at LazyTravelers.net
Food is one of the largest expenditures for American families, and my family is no exception. I always use the American Express Gold Card for both groceries and eating out. In our household, the Amex Gold card is dubbed “The food card,” and all of us, including my wife and daughter use it for anything edible.
Here is why Amex Gold is “the food card.” It gives 4X points for U.S. supermarkets, 4X for restaurants worldwide (granted, a weaker benefit since Amex isn’t widely accepted overseas, but still!), and let’s not forget $10 monthly “junk food” credits that we have never failed to use. In my book a Membership Rewards point is worth at least 1.8 cents, so 4X for food is huge – it’s like getting at least 7X cash back for every trip to a supermarket or restaurant.
And, of course, there are $100 annual incidental airline credits. Unfortunately, last year Amex made it almost impossible to use credits on anything but truly “incidental” expenses, which means even more food and drinks – this time, in the air. But even with the increased annual fee ($250) and devalued airline credits, I feel this card might be a keeper.
Jason Steele - CardCon Founder and Credit Card/Travel Expert
I’m pretty much addicted to Chase Ultimate Rewards points, as I love transferring my points to travel partners that are unique to this program, such as United, Southwest and Hyatt. So whenever a purchase doesn’t qualify for a bonus, I use my Chase Freedom Unlimited. That’s because it earns 1.5 points per dollar spent, and those points can be combined with my Sapphire Reserve, which I use just to earn 3x points on travel and dining.
Because you can redeem points from your Sapphire Reserve account for travel reservations, and receive 1.5 cents in value from each. As a result, I’ll never receive less than 2.25 cents in value per dollar spent, as 1.5 points per dollar multiplied by 1.5 cents in value is 2.25. But typically, I’ll receive much more than that, as it’s often possible to receive several cents in value per point transferred to my favorite airline and hotel travel partners.