When it comes to earning maximum rewards from credit card spending, category bonuses are key. After all, why earn one point for every dollar spent on your most important purchases when you can earn two or more?
This is especially important since the number of points you earn on your top spending categories can help you justify a credit card’s annual fee. To really maximize your points earnings, you need to be strategic with your cards and know which one to use for specific purchases.
Naturally, not everyone enjoys this process. Some people prefer a simple but rewarding credit card strategy. If you’re one of those consumers who doesn’t want to deal with category bonuses, you can opt for a card that pays a flat rate of more than one point per dollar spent. Here is a list of the best options:
Discover it Miles Card
The Discover it® Miles card mostly goes under the radar, but happens to be one of the best cards if you want to earn generous rewards without tracking category bonuses. The card has no annual fee and offers 1.5 miles per $1 on all purchases. While that might not sound very appealing, it’s worth noting that Discover will match any miles you earn at the end of your first year through Discover Match®.
At the end of the year, you’ll get a nice bonus equal to the number of miles you’ve already earned. This can be quite lucrative as there is no limit to the number of miles Discover will match.
Granted, the Discover It Miles card has no annual fee, but earning the equivalent of 3 miles on all credit card spend is an exceptional value proposition. Even beyond that first-year bonus, the card’s easy earning and redemption structure, along with a $0 annual fee, make it a great option for those who want a credit card with a payout system. simplified reward.
Amex Blue Business Plus Card
American Express offers a fairly comprehensive range of cards for earning Membership Rewards points. However, many of these cards have high annual fees that are hard to justify for people who don’t travel enough to take advantage of their benefits.
The Blue Business® Plus credit card from American Express is unique in that it has no annual fee and earns 2 fixed Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on the first $50,000 spent per year.
That’s incredibly generous, considering the many great uses of Amex Membership Rewards. For example, American Express is a transfer partner of ANA Mileage Club, which offers some of the cheapest award flights to Europe: 55,000 return miles in economy class and 88,000 in business class. With many other loyalty programs charging nearly the same number of miles one way, Amex Membership Rewards is a great program for earning points.
As an added benefit, you will be eligible for Amex offers, which will give you access to discounts and bonus points at popular retailers. Over the past year, I’ve saved almost $200 with Amex offers on my Blue Business Plus card. Since this card has no annual fee, keeping it in my wallet has paid off—literally!
If you want to earn lots of Membership Rewards without having to worry about category bonuses and high annual fees, the Blue Business Plus Card is a great option.
Chase unlimited freedom
If you want a card with no annual fee that earns valuable points on all your spending, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a great option. The card earns at least 1.5% cash back on all spend. However, if you have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards, you can convert those cash back rewards into Ultimate Rewards points.
Chase transfer partners include more than a dozen airlines and hotels, making Ultimate Rewards one of the most valuable currencies on the market. You can redeem your cash back at a fixed value for travel purchases or transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to valuable partners like World of Hyatt, United MileagePlus, and Southwest Rapid Rewards, to name a few- one.
It’s a great companion to a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card since it allows you to earn more than 1 point per $1 spent on the bonus categories offered by the Sapphire Preferred.
Since Chase Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee, you can keep this card in your wallet for the long term, strengthening your credit history without having to pay recurring fees.
Citi Dual Charge Card
Similar to the Chase Freedom Unlimited, the Citi® Double Cash Card is more valuable when paired with a points-generating credit card. The card normally earns up to 2% cash back on all spend (1% unlimited when you buy, 1% when you pay for your purchases). However, if you have a credit card that earns Citi ThankYou® points, such as the *Citi Prestige® card or the Citi Premier® card, you can convert your cash back earnings into ThankYou points.
The Citi ThankYou program offers one of the most valuable rewards currencies, with access to 18 airline and hotel partners. While the Citi Prestige and Premier cards both offer generous category bonuses, adding the Citi Double Cash card to the mix ensures that you earn a high bonus on all spend, regardless of category.
This can be very advantageous if you spend a lot on purchases that are not eligible for category bonuses. It can also be a great option for those who don’t want to think too much about taking advantage of category bonuses with every purchase.
Virgin Atlantic MasterCard World Elite
Due to hefty fuel surcharges on some award flights, the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program doesn’t get much fanfare. However, the program offers many interesting points (10,000 points flights between New York and London, anyone?). The *Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® is a great way to stock up on Flying Club miles, especially if you want a simplified earning structure.
The card earns 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases and 3 points per dollar on direct purchases made with Virgin Atlantic. At $90, the card’s annual fee is on the lower end of the airline credit card spectrum. Plus, you get the added benefit of earning airline elite status via credit card spending: you’ll receive 25 tier points for every $2,500 spent, rewarding you for spending many ways.
The bottom line
Earning lots of rewards and maximizing every dollar spent doesn’t have to be complicated. By adding one of these credit cards to your wallet, you can earn more than the standard mile per dollar spent without having to remember tier bonus amounts. Simplicity is key and it doesn’t get simpler than these cards.
*All Citi Prestige® Card and Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard name information here has been independently collected by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer.