Best credit cards for bills and utility payments
One of the most lucrative credit card rewards strategies for many consumers is to purchase everyday items with a card that earns points or cash back in common purchase categories.
You don’t have to overspend on large purchases or wait to book a vacation in order to earn. Instead, you can rack up rewards at a slow pace on everything from your grocery haul to your utility bills and gas tank fill-ups. Using your cards for lots of these regular purchases each month can help steadily increase your point haul over the course of weeks and months.
If you’re looking to maximize your regular bills and utilities, choosing the right credit card can depend on where you spend most, but there are some standouts to consider based on rewards rates and other benefits.
Bankrate’s picks for the best cards to use for bill and utility payments in 2022
- Best overall: Citi® Double Cash Card
- Best for groceries: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Best for cellphone bill payments: Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
- Best for business expenses: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
- Best for flexibility: U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card
Citi Double Cash Card
- Earn 2 percent back on all spending—1 percent when you make a purchase and another 1 percent as you pay it off
- 0 percent APR on balance transfers for 18 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.74 percent to 24.74 percent
- No annual fee
Why it’s the best overall
The Citi Double Cash Card is the best credit card for paying all your bills and regular expenses due to its 2 percent back on each dollar you spend—1 percent when you make a purchase and another 1 percent as you pay it off.
If your utility service providers or even your landlord allows online payment via credit card for your monthly bills (especially if you’re not charged a fee), this is a great card for earning on regular expenses that don’t fall easily into common rewards categories.
This rate is higher than many cash back credit cards with no annual fee, which often offer 1.5 percent back for each dollar you spend. You also won’t have to keep track of bonus categories or limits on what you can earn and you can cash in rewards for statement credits, direct deposit or a check.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
- Earn 6 percent back on up to $6,000 spent each year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1 percent) and on select streaming services, 3 percent back on U.S. gas stations and transit and 1 percent back on other purchases
- Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months.
- 0 percent intro APR on purchases for 12 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.74 percent to 24.74 percent variable
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
Why it’s the best for groceries
The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is the best credit card for groceries based on the simple fact you earn 6 percent back on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets per year (then 1 percent). If you can max this category out with $500 in supermarket spending per month, you’ll earn $360 annually on your groceries alone.
To maximize even more everyday spending, you also get 6 percent back on select streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, plus 3 percent back on gas and transit. And that’s on top of the welcome offer: Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
As a final bonus, this card comes with a zero percent intro APR offer on purchases for 12 months (14.74 – 24.74 percent variable APR thereafter), which could lead to big savings if you need to pay off a large purchase over time.
Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
- Earn unlimited 2 percent cash rewards on purchases
- Earn $200 bonus cash rewards after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months.
- 0 percent intro APR on purchases from account opening and qualifying balance transfers from account opening for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 15.74 percent, 20.74 percent, or 25.74 percent variable
- No annual fee
Why it’s the best for cellphone bills
The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card is an excellent credit card to use for your cell phone bill since you get cellphone protection when you pay your bill with your card. This coverage is good for up to $600 in protection against damage or theft per claim, but a $25 deductible does apply. On top of that, you’ll also earn 2 percent cash rewards on every cellphone payment.
The Active Cash offers a generous 2 percent cash rewards on purchases, making this a straightforward and potentially high-yield flat-rate rewards card. You can also earn a cool $200 in bonus cash rewards after spending $1,000 in the first three months.
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
- Earn 100,000 bonus points (worth $1,250 in travel redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards) when you spend $15,000 within three months of account opening
- Earn 3X points on up to $150,000 spent each year in combined travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services and select advertising spending (then 1X points); plus 1X points on all other purchases
- $95 annual fee
Why it’s the best for business expenses
There are several reasons the Ink Business Preferred credit card is a good option for the bills your business may incur, including its 3X points rewards on up to $150,000 in combined spending in categories such as shipping, internet, cable and phone services. If your business incurs large expenses in these categories, you could rack up rewards rather fast.
And if your business spending is enough to reach the $15,000 minimum spend within three months to qualify for the 100,000 bonus points welcome offer, you can gain even more value.
The Ink Business Preferred also offers consumer protections that can be useful. You’ll get trip cancellation and interruption insurance, roadside dispatch, primary auto rental coverage when you rent a car for business purposes, purchase protection against damage or theft and extended warranties. Cellphone protection is also provided when you pay your cellphone bill with your credit card.
U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card
- $200 bonus after spending $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening.
- 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter on two categories you choose.
- 5% cash back on prepaid air, hotel and car reservations booked directly in the Rewards Travel Center.
- 2% cash back on one everyday category, like Gas Stations/EV Charging Stations, Grocery Stores or Restaurants.
- 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
- 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 14.74% – 24.74%.
- No annual fee
Why it’s the best for flexibility
With the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card, you actually get to choose the categories you earn 5 percent back in, and many common utility and bill payments are among the options.
While this bonus rate only applies to the first $2,000 you spend in the two categories you select each quarter, that’s more than enough to cover many common utility bills. Categories range from fast food and department stores to cellphone coverage and home utility bills.
You also earn 2 percent back in one category of your choosing among grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants, which covers even more everyday spending categories, all for no annual fee.
Should you use a credit card to pay your bills?
Paying your regular bills with a credit card is convenient and features like autopay can help ensure no utility bill or monthly gym membership fee ever goes unpaid, all while you earn rewards for each dollar you spend.
However, you shouldn’t pay your bills with a credit card if you don’t plan to pay your balance off in full each month. Credit cards charge high interest rates even to those with the best credit scores, so you should never charge bills to your card you can’t afford to pay off at the end of the month.
Credit score impact
Provided you use credit in a responsible manner, paying your bills with a credit card will not hurt your credit score.
Your payment history makes up 35 percent of your FICO Score, so you can use your credit card to help build credit over time just by paying your bill early or on time each month. Since your credit utilization makes up another 30 percent of your FICO Score, limiting your total balances to under 30 percent of your available credit can also help your credit score stay in great shape.
The bottom line
Whether you’re building credit from scratch or looking for ways to maximize rewards, making everyday purchases with a card that you’re able to pay in full is a smart way to build credit without overspending, while earning rewards along the way.