The chart below will tell you the best card to use for each category based on your non-sign up bonus spending. To customize the table (1) click in any blue box, (2) type your number, and (3) press enter. You can also sort the table by clicking on the row above the first credit card.
Sign-Up Bonus Spending- Spending on your credit card to obtain a sign-up bonus will always be the most lucrative. (e.g. a 100,000 point bonus on the American Express Platinum with a $5,000 minimum spend will net the equivalent of a 42% return on spending, assuming you value Membership Rewards at 2 cents each (105,000 points*.02= $2100/$5000= 42%)
2% Cashback- 2% cashback is a good baseline to measure whether you’re getting a good return on your non-bonus credit card spend since you can easily get 2% cashback with several no fee cards such as the Citi DoubleCash card. To show this baseline, we highlighted that row in yellow.
Points Valuations– If you disagree with our points valuations, you can also customize what each point is worth on the chart.
Assumptions- For co-branded credit cards (e.g. American Express Hilton or Chase United Explorer), the chart assumes you use the card for that specific airline or hotel, which usually offers a higher earn rate for using the card with that company. If you use multiple airlines or hotels, target the Chase Reserve/Preferred/Ink Preferred, American Express Platinum, US Bank Altitude Reserve, or Citi Premier/Prestige.
List of “Other Special Category” Bonuses
Chase: Ink (3x for shipping, advertising, and internet/cable/phone), Sapphire Reserve (3x on travel), Sapphire Preferred (2x on travel), and Hyatt (2x on local transit/commuting (taxis/Uber/Lyft) and fitness/gym memberships)
Citi: Prestige and Premier (2x for Entertainment); American Airlines Business (2x for car rentals and telecommunications)
Barclays: Wyndham (3x for utilities); Uber (2% for online purchases, Uber, video, and music streaming services), JetBlue (2x at office supplies stores)
American Express: Hilton Aspire (7x with Car Rentals)
US Bank: Altitude Reserve (3x for mobile wallet (Samsung, Apple, Android Pay).
Discover: 5% cash back rotating categories.
Note: If a card offers extra points for car rentals but does not offer primary rental car insurance, it is not considered in the “Other Special Category” section. It is worth getting potentially fewer points in return for primary rental car insurance (e.g., the Hilton Aspire offers 7x points on car rentals, but only secondary rental car insurance)
Hotel or Airline Credit Cards– I assumed you used that particular hotel or airline credit card to book a hotel or flight with that particular hotel or airline. For example, the Hilton card earns 14x points at Hilton, but only 3x if you use that card for a Marriott hotel. So the formula for the Hotels cell for the American Express Hilton would be (14 * yearly hotel spend * Hilton points value) since we assume that you use the Hilton card to pay only for Hilton properties.
Everyday Preferred– American Express offers 50% points bonus for Everyday Preferred if you complete 30 transactions in a month. I assumed that you met that requirement. (To get the monthly bonus, you could do small amazon reloads or $1 square transactions.)