How to choose an everyday spending card

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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 that 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 a credit card to cover the majority of your everyday expenses? Some people don’t think carefully enough about which credit card should be their default card—and might miss out on valuable credit card rewards in the process. So when picking an everyday spending card for the first time, don’t default to whatever credit card is closest at hand.

Want to know how to choose the best credit card for everyday spending? We’ve got tips for choosing a credit card as well as advice on how to maximize 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.

What is an everyday spending card?

An everyday spending card is exactly what it sounds like—a credit card that you use for the majority of your day-to-day spending. With an everyday spending card in your wallet, you don’t have to decide which credit card to use every time you make a purchase. Instead, you can rely on your everyday spending card because you already know it’s the best credit card for daily use.

Plus, putting most of your spending on a single credit card can help you improve your FICO credit score. Once you have one of the best credit cards for everyday spending in your wallet, you can either pay off all of your credit card balances in full every month or—if you need to temporarily carry a balance—keep your credit card debt limited to a single credit card. Carrying a balance on just one card, leaving your other cards with a 0 percent credit utilization, can have a positive impact on your credit utilization ratio, which makes up 30 percent of your FICO credit score.

How to choose a credit card for everyday expenses

When choosing a credit card, it’s important to consider how that card might reward your everyday expenses. If you are trying to stock up points to cover the cost of a big trip, for example, you might want to 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 a lot of rewards that you can redeem towards your next vacation. Plus, you might even be able to earn a sign-up bonus that can significantly increase your total points or miles.

That said, many people prefer using a more flexible rewards credit card for their 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.

If a lot 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? Bankrate has plenty of tips for choosing a credit card, including how to choose a credit card for the first time.)

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. If you have a flat-rate cash back card and an airline credit card, for example, 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 they’re 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.

Best credit cards for everyday spending

What’s the best credit card for everyday spending? It depends. Many of the top rewards credit cards could end up being 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:

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card offers unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase. This makes it one of the best credit cards for everyday spending, hands down. The fact that it has no annual fee and new cardholders can get a $200 cash bonus after spending $500 in the first three months makes it even better.

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card is designed for people with good or excellent credit. So if you’re still working on building your credit score, you might want to consider the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card instead. This card comes with a $39 annual fee but also offers 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases and is an excellent starter credit card for people who might be wondering how to choose a credit card for the first time.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

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, new cardholders can earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.

This card does come with an annual fee of $95 per year, waived the first year. However, savvy shoppers may find that 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

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.

That said, don’t let Discover’s rotating cashback categories discourage you from considering this card for the majority of your purchases. Discover’s cashback calendar is packed with bonus categories that should appeal to most shoppers—think groceries, restaurants, gas stations and select streaming services. New Discover cardholders can also take advantage of Discover’s Cashback Match program, which matches all of 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.