Best Credit Card for “Everything Else” — Earning 2% to 4.5%
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When it comes to credit card rewards, most of the focus is usually on the special categories that various cards emphasize with heightened earning rates. For example, a card might offer 4x on dining, 5x on rotating quarterly categories, or even 10x on rental car booking via a specific travel portal. However, outside of those handful of categories, all other purchases tend to offer just 1% back. That said, there are a few rewards card options that break the mold and give customers more for their everyday purchases.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best credit cards for “everything else.”
Citi Double Cash
- Annual fee: N/A
Starting with what’s been a gold standard for years, the Citi Double Cash card allows consumers to effectively earn 2% back on all purchases. More specifically, they’ll earn 1% back when making the purchase and get another 1% back when they pay off that purchase. As a result, the Double Cash card is a great option for filling out your credit card portfolio and creating a cash-back base for yourself.
Normally, the one downside of the Double Cash card is that there’s no welcome bonus. However, for a limited time, that’s not the case. Currently, new cardholders can earn $200 back after spending $1,500 in purchases on the card in their first six months. In other words, now is a great time to add this perennial favorite to your wallet.
Wells Fargo Active Cash
- Annual fee: N/A
Although the Citi Double Cash card has long been cited as a solid 2% flat-rate card, more recently, a slew of other options in the same vein have rushed to join the popular card. Among them is the relatively new Wells Fargo Active Cash card. With this card, customers earn 2% back on all eligible purchases — simple as that.
In terms of a welcome bonus, the Active Cash card currently offers $200 back when new cardholders spend $1,000 on the card within their first 3 months. That’s technically a bit better than the Double Cash card’s current offer — although the timeline for meeting the minimum spend is shorter. Either way, you really can’t go wrong with one of these 2% flat rate options.
Capital One Venture/Venture X
- Annual fee: $95/$395
Another pair of options come from Capital One. First, the Venture card earns 2x miles on all purchases, with miles redeemable for travel bookings or transferrable to travel partners. Alternatively, the new Venture X features that same benefit but throws in some other travel perks, such as airport lounge access. The Venture does carry a $95 annual fee, while the Venture X has a $395 annual fee (but includes an up to $300 annual travel credit for bookings on Capital One Travel).
If you’re having trouble deciding between the two Venture options, then both having the same welcome offer probably doesn’t help. Regardless, both cards currently offer 75,000 bonus miles after new cardholders spend $4,000 on the card within their first 3 months. Whichever Venture option you choose, you’ll be rewarded with 2x miles on purchases as well as plenty of travel flexibility.
- Annual fee: N/A
Despite the Apple Card‘s unique, numberless, titanium physical card being heavily featured in Apple’s marketing for its credit card, it’s the digital version that actually holds most of the benefit. With Apple Card, customers earn 2% Daily Cash on all purchases they make via Apple Pay. With acceptance of mobile payments continuing to grow, there’s a good chance that this offer will cover at least a majority of the purchases you make. Plus, the card also earns 3% from select brands, including Ace Hardware, Walgreens/Duane Reade, Exxon/Mobil, Nike, Panera, T-Mobile, Uber/Uber Eats, and (of course) Apple.
In terms of downsides, for those without iPhones, the Apple Card is really of no benefit. Additionally, aside from a few random brand-specific offers from time to time, the Apple Card doesn’t offer a welcome bonus. However, those in the Apple ecosystem who want to earn 2% back on (nearly) everything may find value in the card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Annual fee: $550
There are plenty of things to like about the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which is why it remains one of the most celebrated credit cards on the market. Alas, the 1x points that it earns on “everything else” is less than stellar. However, the reason the card lands on this list is because it allows users to redeem at a value of 1.5¢ per point when they book travel via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal or use the Chase Pay Yourself Back program. Thus, that 1% can effectively be 1.5% depending on how you redeem. By the way, Chase also maintains a stable of travel transfer partners, so you may be able to claim even better value per point.
Admittedly, a $550 annual fee for just 1.5% back still doesn’t sound too appealing. Luckily, the Sapphire Reserve offers other benefits, including up to $300 annual travel credit. Plus, other useful reward categories include 3x points on all travel purchases and 3x on dining among others. As luck would have it, the Sapphire Reserve is also currently boasting an enhanced welcome bonus, enabling new cardholders to earn 80,000 points when they spend $4,000 on the card within their first 3 months. For all of those reasons, the Chase Sapphire Reserve may be worth a look, even if its “everything else” rate is far from the highest on this list.
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve
- Annual fee: $400
In a way, the “everything else” benefit that the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve offers is a cross between the Apple Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. First, with the Altitude Reserve, cardholders can earn 3x points on all purchases they make using digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. Then, when those points are redeemed for travel purchases, they’ll be worth 50% more. Thus, customers who use mobile wallets and use their earned points for travel can effectively earn 4.5% back on their purchases.
While that’s a pretty promising prospect, the downside here is the card’s $400 annual fee. However, that’s heavily offset by the annual $325 credit that can be used for eligible travel and dining purchases. Also, currently, new cardholders can earn 50,000 points when they spend $4,500 in purchases on the card within their first 90 days. So, while it may be a sizeable buy-in, those who regularly travel and use mobile wallets could certainly benefit from the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve.
Whether you’re looking for a solid flat-rate card, the ability to increase the value of your points via travel redemptions, or earn enhanced reward rates on mobile wallet payments, there are several ways to increase how much you earn on “everything else.” Of course, there’s more to consider beyond this base benefit. Therefore, be sure to consider the annual fee, other perks offered, welcome bonuses, and more to determine which rewards credit cards are right for you.
Also published on Medium.