This is a fairly common question and quite understandable. And you may have noticed that my answer has always been, it depends. It depends on what your spending habits are. Which is why if you ask 10 different people, changes are, you will get 10 different answers. The truth really is that it will vary from person to person, because of 2 main factors:”
- How much do you spend per month?
- How much do you spend per category (gas, grocery, restaurants, etc.)?
First of all, before I continue with this post, I would like to go on record saying that if you ever want to master the maximize all the rewards, you should aim to have way more than 1 credit card. How many? As many as possible! But that’s a topic for another day.
Going forward, I am going to list a few situations where a specific credit card would be the best fit. Note that I can probably list hundreds of different scenarios, which would change the answer anyway.
Best Credit Card to use on Gas and Groceries combo
I really like the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card earning 4% cash back on gas and groceries. This is the best credit card for someone spending at least $600 a month on gas and groceries, and doesn’t want the hassle of dealing with figuring out how to redeem the rewards. The cash back gets paid out once a year on your November statement.
This is really a no hassle, high rewards type of credit card. Below are the key highlights of the credit card:
- $99 annual fee (first year fee frequently waived)
- $30 annual fee for a supplementary cardholder
- Earn 4% cash back for every $1 spent on gas and grocery purchases
- Earn 2% cash back for every $1 spent on drug store purchases and recurring bill payments
- Earn 1% cash back for every $1 spent on all other purchases
Best Credit Card to use for Entertainment and Restaurants
I really like the Scotiabank Scene Visa Card, because it is a no annual fee card and it does give 5 points per dollar spend at Cineplex Entertainment theatre or online. So this could potentially be the best credit card for someone who has minimal expenses (i.e. a student living at home) and really enjoys going to the movies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t cover restaurant expenses, so it is a very niche credit card. I would say that the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is a better option. Earning 4 points per dollar on dining and entertainment is awesome, along with adding gas and groceries to this category.
The main catch with this credit card is that you do need to use these points on travel purchases. So the rewards are not as easy to use, that’s why it is not the top gas and groceries credit card. Below are the main highlights of the credit card:
- $99 annual fee (annual fees can be waived)
- $29 annual fee for a supplementary cardholder
- Earn 20,000 sign up bonus (sign up bonus may vary)
- Earn 4 points for every $1 you spent on gas, grocery, dining and entertainment purchases
- Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
Best Travel Credit Card
I find American Express Membership Rewards one of the most valuable points currency out there, along with RBC Avion and Starwood Preferred Guest. I actually really like the American Express Gold Rewards Card, because you do earn 2 points per dollar on travel purchases. I value 1 Membership Rewards at 1.7 cents a piece, so that means you are essentially getting a 3.4% return on travel purchases. Could be worth more depending on how you leverage your points. That being said, this credit card does not really give much benefits and perks, other than some decent travel insurance. This could be the best credit card for someone who travel once or twice a year, and puts a fair amount of spending on gas, groceries, drug store purchases, where you also earn 2 points per dollar.
But if I really had to choose one best travel credit card, I would rather go with the American Express Platinum Card. The benefits and perks associated with the credit card is what makes the card so valuable, not so much the every day spending. So this is really the credit card for someone who travels multiple times per year (at least long haul 5 trips). Below are the key highlights of the credit card to watch for:
- $699 annual fee
- $175 fee for supplementary cardholders
- Earn 50,000 sign up Membership Rewards bonus points (after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months); 60,000 sign up bonus points when referred by a family or friend
- Earn 25,000 referral bonus points for referring a family or friend (up to a maximum of 225,000 bonus points per calendar year)
- Earn 1.25 point for every $1 spent on all purchases
- Receive a $200 Annual Travel Credit
- Receive a complimentary and discounted companion tickets and upgrades
- Airport lounge access worldwide
- Access to elevated status with many hotel & car rental loyalty programs
Best Credit Card to use with no multiplier Bonus
The circumstance where this would occur is when you have high spending outside of the multiplier categories. For example, let’s say you are doing a lot of home renovations, so you need to purchase a lot of stuff from stores that do not qualify for 2x or 3x the points for that purchase. So if you are not getting any bonus rewards anyway, you would need to find a credit card that gives you the best bang for your buck. I would go with the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card. The vast variety of reward options is what makes the Starpoints currency so attractive. Below are the key highlights of the credit card:
- $120 annual fee
- $50 annual fee for a supplementary cardholder (first year fee waived)
- Earn 20,000 points when you spend $500 in the first 3 months of having this card
- Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all purchases
- Spend $30,000 a year (anniversary year of having the credit card) to receive an automatic upgrade to Starwood Gold Preferred Guest membership
- Spend $40,000 a year (anniversary year of having the credit card) to receive a Free Weekend Night Award
For this one specific credit card, I would sign up for it sooner rather than later, because with the Marriott merger, Starpoints may soon be a thing of the past. So get them and enjoy the rewards while you still can!
This will is the last situation that I will list for this post. If you want me to cover more scenarios, please let me know in the comment section below! Otherwise, what do you think is the best credit card out there?