I was at a business lunch last week and the person I was with offered to pay the tab. She took out her American Express Business Platinum card to pay. I’m pretty quick to tell people which credit cards they should be using when they use the wrong ones, and I was quick to tell her she should almost always be earning more than one point per dollar for every credit card transaction.
So, what cards am I using for various personal transactions? Keep in mind, I have an actual business where I keep all expenses separate and use separate credit cards for business transactions. Also keep in mind that if you are working on a sign-up bonus, try and spend on that card first so you meet the minimum spend for the bonus points.
Dining/Restaurant Delivery: I use the American Express Gold to earn 4 points per dollar. My wife and kids all have authorized user cards and they do the same (unless they forget which card to use).
Groceries: I use the American Express Everyday Preferred to earn 4.5 points per dollar (after the 50% monthly bonus for 30 or more transactions – my wife and kids use their authorized user cards too so we always hit 30 or more). Once I hit the $6,000 annual maximum for the grocery bonus on this card, I will use the Amex Gold at 4 points per dollar.
Gas: American Express Blue Business Plus – 2 points per dollar. Usually, the Amex Everyday Preferred or Citi Premier would be a better option at 3 points per dollar (with the 50% bonus), but for my car, gas is a business expense, so I use a business card. The rest of the family use their Amex Everyday Preferred authorized user cards for gas.
Hotels: I use the card for the chain where I’m staying (Hilton/Hyatt/Marriott/IHG) as those points are harder to earn and all give nice bonuses for spend at the hotel chain itself. If I’m staying at an AirBnB, I use Chase Sapphire Preferred for 2x on travel and at a non-chain hotel, I use Citi Premier for 3x on hotels.
Uber/Lyft: I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve for 2x on rideshare. Often, Lyft provides extra discounts after a certain number of rides paying with a MasterCard.
Rental Car: I use the Chase Sapphire Preferred for their excellent CDW primary insurance. Capital One Venture X also has this feature, but I’ve read that claims are easier with Chase.
Rent: I pay my daughter’s grad school rent with the Bilt card to earn points from this category.
Non-bonused spend: Capital One Venture X/Citi Double Cash: Both these cards earn 2 points per dollar on all spend. I try to mix up which one I use to keep a nice stash of both types of points. As a Visa, the Capital One Venture X can also be used at Costco. I value two Capital One points more than the 2% cash you can receive for using the Costco credit card.
There are other business categories with bonuses, but these are the main monthly expenses that require you to think about which card you are using before you reach into your wallet.
If you enjoyed this post (or have questions), let me know in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are thinking about opening a new credit card, please use one of my links.