Best Credit Cards for Each Bonus Category

One of the best ways that everyday people can earn points and miles through credit cards is by maximizing each purchase. Knowing the best credit cards for each bonus category is important.

We have done two things to help out readers – made a list of the best credit card for each bonus category, as well as compiled a spreadsheet that tracks most travel credit cards.

A couple of things to note:

  • Our “best” cards favor transferrable points more than hotel or airline cards that offer miles because we consider them more valuable.
  • The spreadsheet only has domestic airline and hotel cards with a couple exceptions.
  • Cash back cards ARE NOT included unless they are part of a travel redemption program, but you can find more info about those cards here.

Best Credit Cards for Each Bonus Category

Best Card for Travel

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve (annual fee: $450, 3x on travel)

Chase Sapphire Reserve gets 3x on travel purchases
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card gets 3x on all travel purchases.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card has a very broad definition of travel. Cardholders will get 3x points when spending on things like hotel, airfare, tolls, parking, and more. To make it better, it also comes with an annual $300 travel credit. Not only is it a transferrable points card, but it pairs with other Chase cards to make up the Chase Trifecta. Cardholders can get a lot of value by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards into Hyatt points.

Runner-up: Chase Sapphire Preferred (annual fee: $95, 2x on travel)

Best Card for Airfare

Winner: American Express Platinum Card (annual fee: $550, 5x on airfare)

The American Express Platinum card gets a remarkable 5x points on all airfare purchased with an airline or amextravel.com. This is a better category bonus than almost all of the co-branded airline cards, plus you’ll have many more transfer partners to choose and redeem from. The Platinum comes with a hefty annual fee, but one its perks is a Priority Pass membership, which will make your travel more enjoyable.

Runner-up: American Express Gold Card (annual fee: $250, 4x on airfare)

Best Card for Rental Cars

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve (annual fee: $450, 3x on travel)

The reason the Chase Sapphire Reserve card stands out for rental cars isn’t because of the 3x points you will earn, but instead because of the primary rental car insurance – meaning it’s applied before your own personal car insurance. Your insurance company will never know your accident happened.

Runner-up: Chase Sapphire Preferred (annual fee: $95, 2x on travel, also primary rental car insurance)

Best Card for Restaurants

Winner: American Express Gold Card (annual fee: $250, 4x at US Restaurants)

AMEX Gold Card offers 4x the points on US Restaurant purchases.
AMEX Gold Card offers 4x the points on US Restaurant purchases.

The revamped American Express Gold Card has turned into our go-to card to use when eating out in the United States. The card not only comes with a $10 credit for Seamless, GrubHub, Shake Shack, and the Cheesecake Factory, but cardholder also earn 4x the points on restaurant purchases. If you will be dining outside the United States, check out the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred cards.

Runner-up: Chase Sapphire Reserve (annual fee: $450, 3x on restaurants)

Best Card for Groceries

Winner: American Express Gold Card (annual fee: $250, 4x at US Restaurants)

The American Express Gold Card again takes the cake as our go-to card to use when spending on groceries. The card now earns 4x points at US Supermarkets up to $25,000 each year.

The only card that earns a better return is the Chase Freedom card, but only for part of the year. It typically has groceries as its 5x category for at least one quarter per year.

Runner-up: American Express Everyday Preferred (annual fee: $95, 3x at US Supermarkets up to $6,000 per year, 50% bonus on 30 or more transactions per month.)

Honorable Mention: Chase Freedom (annual fee: free, TBA 5x quarterly bonus on groceries)

Best Card for Gas

Winner: Chase Freedom (annual fee: free, 5x quarterly bonus in 2019 Q1 on Gas)

Chase Freedom is one of the best credit cards for specific bonus categories.
Chase Freedom is one of the best credit cards for specific bonus categories.

The Chase Freedom card is one of the most rewarding cards for everyday people to earn points and miles. Not only is there no annual fee, it rewards 5x the points in quarterly bonuses – gas is the 2019 Q1 bonus.

Runner-up: American Express Everyday Preferred (annual fee: $95, 2x at US Gas Stations, 50% bonus on 30 or more transactions per month.)

Best Card for Shopping

Winner: Chase Freedom Unlimited (annual fee: free, 1.5x on all purchases)

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card earns 1.5x on all purchases, which makes it a great card for shopping. The Chase Freedom will typically have quarterly bonuses for Department Stores and sometimes even Amazon.

Runner-up: American Express Everyday Preferred (annual fee: $95, 1x on other purchases (not US Gas or Supermarkets), 50% bonus on 30 or more transactions per month.)

Honorable Mention: Chase Freedom (annual fee: free, TBA 5x quarterly bonus on department stores and Amazon)

Best Bonus Category Spreadsheet

The Everyday Points and Miles spreadsheet for best credit cards for each bonus category is updated on a monthly basis. If you would like us to add a card or see something that needs to be updated, please let us know!

How to use this spreadsheet

  • This is a Google Spreadsheet. To download, go to File > Download As.
  • Once downloaded, you can create a filter to include just your credit cards. This will make it easier when comparing.