How to choose a credit card for everyday spending
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What credit card do you use for your day-to-day purchases? Whether you’ve thought about it or not, you probably have an everyday spending card — that is, a card you automatically reach for every time you complete an in-store checkout or make an online purchase. Tools like digital wallets make this process even easier by allowing you to select a single credit card as your default card.
But how do you choose the best everyday card for maximizing the rewards you earn? We’ve got tips for getting the most out of your rewards by combining an everyday spending card with a specialized credit card. We’ve also got a short list of the best credit cards for daily use.
Comparing the top credit cards for everyday spending
|Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card||Unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases||$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 within first three months|
|Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express||1% to 6% cash back||$250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 within first six months|
|Discover it® Cash Back||1% to 5% cash back||Automatic Cashback Match™ for the first year|
|Chase Freedom Flex℠||1% to 5% cash back, depending on category||$200 cash bonus after spending $500 within first three months|
There are several factors to consider for selecting the top credit card for everyday spending. Not only is the rewards potential a vital consideration, but so is its annual fee. Plus, if your goal is to maximize potential rewards, you’ll want to meet the spending thresholds required to earn welcome offers or sign-up bonuses. Keep in mind these are usually only available for brand new cardholders.
A closer look at the best credit cards for everyday spending
What’s the best credit card for everyday spending? It depends. Many of today’s best credit cards could be excellent everyday spending cards, depending on where your money goes every month. If you’re looking for some tips on choosing a credit card, here are three of our favorite everyday spending cards for you to consider:
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card: Best for straightforward rewards program
The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card offers unlimited 2 percent cash rewards on purchases. This makes it one of the best credit cards for everyday spending, hands down and you don’t have to keep up with any promotions, activations or bonus categories to maximize earnings. The fact that it has no annual fee and new cardholders can get a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three months make it even better.
The Wells Fargo Active Cash is designed for people with good or excellent credit. So if you’re still working on building your credit score, you might instead consider a card with lower requirements, like the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. This card comes with a $39 annual fee but offers 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases and is an excellent starter credit card.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express: Best for grocery, gas and streaming purchases
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is one of our favorite everyday spending cards for families that do a lot of grocery shopping. Cardholders earn 6 percent cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (for up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1 percent), 6 percent back on select U.S. streaming services, 3 percent cash back on transit and U.S. gas station purchases and 1 percent back on all other purchases. Plus, you can earn a $250 statement credit after making $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months.
This card does come with an annual fee of $95 per year ($0 intro annual fee for the first year). However, savvy shoppers may find their cash back rewards quickly outpace the card’s annual fee — especially once you do the math and figure out that it only takes about $1,600 in grocery purchases to earn $95 in cash back rewards.
Discover it® Cash Back: Best for Lucrative Bonus Categories
The Discover it® Cash Back card is a rotating bonus category credit card, offering 5 percent cash back on categories that rotate every quarter (for up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1 percent, activation required) and 1 percent cash back on everything else.
Some people love the idea of cash back bonuses that change every quarter. Other people are concerned that they won’t be able to take advantage of everything the Discover it Cash Back card has to offer. Can a rotating bonus category card still be one of the best credit cards for everyday spending?
We think so. Discover’s cashback calendar is packed with bonus categories that should appeal to most shoppers — groceries, restaurants, gas stations and select streaming services. New Discover cardholders can also take advantage of Discover’s Cashback Match program, which matches all the cash back rewards you earn during your first year.
If you’re looking for an everyday spending card that offers top rewards on popular spending categories, the Discover it Cash Back card should be at the top of your list.
Chase Freedom Flex℠: Best for Welcome Bonus Offer
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a smart choice for someone who wants to take advantage of a welcome bonus offer but without too much complexity or a high spending threshold. Currently, cardholders who spend $500 within the first three months of account opening can earn a $200 welcome bonus. $500 is one of the more minimal spending requirements out there and can be easily achieved through routine purchases for gas, groceries and other necessities.
However, the welcome bonus isn’t the only thing to like about the card. You have plenty of opportunities to earn up to 5 percent cash back on activated bonus category purchases each quarter, up to $1,500 (after you reach this level, you earn 1 percent). Lyft rides (through March 2025) and Chase Ultimate Rewards travel purchases also earn 5 percent cash back each quarter. Additionally, you earn 3 percent cash back on dining and drugstore purchases and 1 percent for all others, all of which are ideal categories for everyday spenders.
Should I get a credit card for everyday purchases?
When considering a credit card for everyday purchases, the first question is what type of reward benefits you the most? If you are trying to stock up on points to cover the cost of a big trip, you should put your day-to-day shopping on a travel credit card or an airline credit card. That way, you’ll have the opportunity to earn many rewards that you can redeem towards your next vacation. Plus, you might even earn a sign-up bonus that can significantly increase your total points or miles.
Or, you may prefer earning rewards that go straight to your budget’s bottom line. Many prefer using a more flexible rewards credit card for everyday expenses, such as a flat-rate cash back credit card that earns at least 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase. While travel credit cards often reserve their best rewards for purchases related to travel, flat-rate cash back cards give you the same percentage of cash back no matter what you buy — and you can redeem that cash for everything from statement credits to Amazon purchases.
After you evaluate your spending habits and you realize that most of your day-to-day expenses fall into a single shopping category, like groceries, gas or online shopping, you might want to look into a card that specifically rewards that type of spending. Use our guides to the best credit cards for groceries, the best credit cards for gas and the best credit cards for shopping online to help you choose the best credit card for daily use.
Need more help choosing a credit card? Check out our Credit Card Spender Type Tool where you can get personalized credit card recommendations based on your credit score, spending habits and daily needs.
How to combine an everyday spending card with a specialized credit card
Everyday spending cards are great on their own, but they’re even better when combined with a specialized spending card. Suppose you have a flat-rate cash back card and an airline credit card, for example. In that case, you can maximize your credit card rewards by putting the majority of your day-to-day spending on your everyday spending card and putting all of your airline and travel purchases on your airline credit card. Not only will you earn both cash back and miles, but you’ll also be able to take advantage of the other perks that come with top airline credit cards, including elite membership status, annual airline credits, companion passes and more.
How do you know which specialized credit card to choose? Ask yourself if there’s one category of spending that takes up a large percentage of your budget. Combining an everyday spending card with a store credit card, for example, could save you a lot of money every time you shop at your favorite retailer. Some people pair an everyday spending card with a travel, airline or hotel credit card to get the most out of every purchase, whether at home or on vacation.
Knowing where your money goes and where you’d like to earn the most rewards will help you choose the credit card combination that works best for you.
What credit score is needed for an everyday-spending credit card?
If you want to go for the types of credit cards that offer super lucrative rewards, you’ll need a good or excellent credit score rating. The more attractive the rewards program is, the more stringent the qualifications for approval.
If your credit score falls in the poor or fair categories, you still have options. You might qualify for a credit builder card or a secured credit card option, and you can always work towards improving your credit score for future applications.
The bottom line
How do you choose the best credit card for everyday spending? It all comes down to where your money goes and what you hope to get out of your purchases. If you want the same cash back rate on every purchase, a top cash back card might be your best everyday spending card. If most of your budget goes towards gas and groceries, you might want a credit card that offers higher rewards on those purchases. If you’re planning a vacation, using a travel credit card every time you shop could help you save big on your next trip!