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Best Credit Card For Everyday Use

credit card on top of a pile of moneyLast week, we debuted what will be a semiregular feature highlighting the best credit card for various spending categories.

In the first installment, we looked at all the great and glorious features of the best card for gas purchases.

Today, we examine the best card for everyday spending. This might be called the jack-of-all-trades card, one that offers solid rewards for most spending categories.

This is the card for someone who doesn’t want to have to worry about having to pull out a different piece of plastic for every transaction.

image of the American Express Blue Cash casrd

The pick: American Express Blue.

The card comes in two varieties, one with an annual fee, one without. But whichever one you choose, either card is best in class.

I generally don’t like credit cards with annual fees, but the rewards offered by the Blue Cash Preferred card are so compelling that it’s worth the $75 annual fee.

Moreover, you can easily earn an introductory bonus that will pay that fee for the first two years. But even without that bonus, the card is well worth the price.

Indeed, if you use this card to pay for your gas and groceries and everything else, you could easily earn upwards of $400 a year, even after you pay the annual fee.

The card pays a huge 6% cash back on your first $6,000 of grocery purchases a year, or about $500 a month, not unreasonable for a family of four or five. That works out to $360 in rewards each year. After that, you earn 1% on groceries.

You also get an unlimited 3% back at gas stations and select department stores. If you spend $100 a month on gas, that works out to an additional $36 a year in rewards, or a lot more depending on how much gas you buy.

You also earn 1% on everything else. Figuring another $5,000 in spending a year, that’s another $50 in rewards a year.

That adds up to $446 a year in rewards. If you subtract $75 for the annual fee, you’re still ahead by $371, just for spending what you probably normally do.

But AmEx makes it easy to pay the annual fee for the first two years. If you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months, you’ll earn a $150 statement credit.

And redeeming your rewards is simple and automatic: You get the cash back in the form of a statement credit as soon as you’ve earned $25.

If the annual fee is a problem for you, AmEx has a no-fee version that also pays better rewards than the competition, like Chase Freedom, Discover and Bank of America.

The Blue Cash Everyday card pays 3% back at supermarkets, up to the first $6,000 of spending, 2% at gas stations and department stores, and 1% on everything else. Assuming you spend as much as in our example, you’d earn $254 a year.

But Blue Cash Everyday also has a big introductory bonus. If you spend $1,000 in the first three months, you get a $100 statement credit, or $354 in cash back your first year.

Those numbers blow away pretty much anything in the credit card space when it comes to earning rewards on everyday spending.

For example, BankAmericacard Cash Rewards pays 3% back on gas, 2% on groceries and 1% on everything else. But the gas and groceries rewards only apply to your first $1,500 of purchases in both categories.

Both AmEx Blue Cash Everyday and Blue Cash Preferred also have a great introductory APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months. After that, the APR is 12.99% to 21.99%, depending on your credit history.

While I can’t say enough about Blue Cash Preferred and Blue Cash Everyday, please don’t confuse either of these two great cards with a very similar-sounding credit card from AmEx called American Express Blue Cash. You should avoid that one.

That card purports to pay you “up to 5% cash back” on everyday purchases. However, you only earn 1% on the first $6,500 on gasoline and groceries, and only 0.5% on all other purchases. Only after you spend $6,500 do you earn 5% on gas and groceries and 1% on all other purchases.

While that may not meet the definition of false advertising, it’s extremely misleading.

Compare these AmEx cards with all the cash-back credit cards in our database.

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Comments (2)
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  1. Michael said:
    on November 20th at 08:08 pm

    Another perk from the Blue Cash American Express cards is that you can now get a free Amazon Prime subscription along with the bonus cash back when you meet the initial spending threshold on either card.

    Also, there was just a segment about getting the best card for everyday use on the 10 o’clock news a couple days ago. ¬†You can see it here: http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2013/11/18/credit-rewards-are-points-miles-or-cash-back-best/.

  2. Card User said:
    on November 29th at 03:38 pm

    Re the other Blue Cash card. It’s not available now, but it was hardly a bad card. As you note, the blue cash preferred tops out at $6K of grocery spending, giving $360 in rewards. The original card was for heavy spenders, who can get basically unlimited 5% rewards after the initial $6,500 spend.