Because I don’t travel (see migraines), the only points I care about are cashback points. There are many cards that offer a sign-up bonus too, which you should always take advantage of, whether you want to use that card or not. In just sign-up bonuses alone, I made over a grand, and that grand really helps when you just get out of college.
In succinct terms, here are the best cashback credit cards according to category:
Amazon Store Card – 3% (Amazon purchases)
American Express Blue Cash Preferred – 3% (groceries)
Bank of America Cash Rewards – 3% (gas)
Citi Double Cash Card – 2% (everything)
US Bank Cash Plus – 5% (fast food, cell phone bill, department stores, newegg – pick 2)
Discover and Chase both have 5% on gas at least once a year, 5% on Amazon purchases, and 5% on department stores (Macy’s) and home improvement stores (Lowe’s) – one even has 5% off Bed Bath Beyond – but you have to sign up for them in advance (which they send an email to you asking) and only buy during those quarters. It is usually too much work to plan, except for the gasoline quarters. However, I do take advantage of the Amazon 5% during the final quarter of the year since I get all my Christmas presents on Amazon.
You should also sign up for Capital One, but ONLY for the sign-up bonus.
If you are like me and you want just a simple life, then you can just put everything on the Citi Double Cash Card and call it a day. I get 2% off everything, including travel, CEUs, membership dues, software support, and anything else you can imagine. This is especially pragmatic because most of the cards require you to get up to $50 in bonus points before you can redeem the money (except for Discover); and it’s easier to get to that $50 if you’re putting everything on one card.
I do automatic bill pay for my cell bill to my US Bank Cash Plus card (which is tied to my US bank account), so I automatically get 5% each month for that without a second thought.
Note: If you frequently overspend or forget to pay bills on time, then this is not the post for you. It is better to start at a minimalism post (to counter the overspending) or a chore chart post (to get the bills paid on time) before opening up any card in this post.