When you reach for your wallet to pay for groceries, gas, dinner out or any other everyday purchase, are you searching for cash, a debit card or a credit card? Many people hesitate to charge this type of everyday spending to a credit card; they feel that it’s more responsible to pay by cash or debit, to avoid the risk of not being able to pay the amount back later and possibly going into debt.
But this kind of thinking can cause you to miss out on the many rewards you can get when you use a credit card to pay for everyday purchases. There are many benefits of reaching for a credit card, not cash – especially if you use the right card. Here are a few reasons to rethink your stance on cash, credit or debit next time you pull out your wallet at the register.
What are the advantages of credit over cash?
The most obvious advantage of using a credit card is that you can earn cash back with every purchase you make. Of course, paying for necessities like groceries, gas and utilities is always a drag, but when you can put a little money back in your pocket, it eases the burden of these everyday expenses a bit. Cards like the Discover it® Cash Back card let you earn up to 5% cash back in rotating categories that change with the seasons, up to the quarterly maximum (1% cash back after that and enrolment is required). This can translate into an extra $75 in your bank account every few months – and even more, when your cashback reward is doubled, as is currently being offered by Discover.
If you’re fearful that you’ll end up paying interest on these purchases, there’s a way to prevent that from happening. All you have to do is pay your balance off in full each month, and you’ll never have to pay a penny in interest. So there’s really no reason not to take advantage of this cash back earning opportunity. There’s no catch and no downside to using a credit card to pay for anything you might normally use cash or a debit card to cover.
Other benefits include the ability to track your spending easily and using online account management tools. You’ll also have complete protection from fraudulent charges, with zero-liability guarantees from all major credit cards. Some cards even offer travel insurance, roadside assistance, and concierge service to help you make restaurant reservations and find your way around when you’re on the road.
There are several different types of cashback credit cards to choose from, so if you’re ready to start trading in your cash habit for using a credit card wherever you can, choose the one that fits your lifestyle best. Whether you do most of your everyday spending at the supermarket, the gas pump, or even on hotels and airlines, you’ll find that the perfect card is out there for you. Here are our top picks for best everyday credit cards. One of them is sure to be right for you:
Best travel rewards for all purchases:Discover it® Miles
This card is great for everyday spending. Even though it rewards you with miles – 1.5x miles per dollar on all purchases – these miles are more like cash back and can be used for statement credits or you can keep them accruing until you are ready for vacation. There are no rotating categories and no caps. You earn a set number of miles per dollar spent with no limits. Plus, it comes without an annual fee. The bonus offer is one of a kind: you don’t have to spend a particular amount within a specified period of time, you just make purchases, earn rewards, and get all of your rewards matched at the end of your first year of card membership.Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
This card is a perfect option for those who love to travel and want to earn miles on everyday purchases. The card allows to earn two miles per $1 on every purchase. And if you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months of account opening, you will get 50,000 bonus miles, which equals $500 in travel. In addition to generous rewards, you also have the freedom to use earned miles to cover any airline expense. Miles can be redeemed for anything that falls into the travel category. If you want to transfer earned miles to a travel loyalty program, you can choose from over 12 programs. Miles won’t expire for the life of the account and there’s no limit to the amount of miles you can earn. The Venture Rewards card comes with a $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first year. There is no foreign transaction fee, which is perfect for travelers.Citi Premier℠ Card
This is a good card for foodies as it gives 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on entertainment. If you also like traveling, you will be able to add to your rewards balance quite a lot because travel and gas purchases earn 3 points per dollar. All other purchases earn standard 1 point per dollar spent. The card also has a sign-up bonus: you can get 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Earned points can be redeemed at thankyou.com for gift cards, airfare, and more. All these generous rewards are not free. The card has an annual fee, which is waived for the first year though.Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
If you travel frequently, this is the card for you. It allows to earn two miles for every dollar spent on all purchases. Plus, you can get 5% miles back anytime you redeem earned miles. There are no foreign transaction fees (a great perk for those who travel abroad) and the annual fee is $89 (waived first year). If you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days, you can get 70,000 bonus miles. Once you have enough miles, you can redeem them for travel statement credits. You can redeem towards any airline ticket or hotel stay without restrictions.
Runner up for gas:Discover it® Cash Back
This card is great for anyone who wants to earn rewards in multiple spending categories, and who is willing to stay on top of what promotions are currently running. The 5% cashback reward rotates every three months, letting you earn the maximum cash back in different categories according to the seasons (up to the quarterly maximum, 1% cash back after that, enrolment is required). At the beginning of the year, you may get 5% back at grocery stores. Gas purchases earn 5% cash back from April through June. From July through September you can get 5% cash back at restaurants. In fall and winter, purchases at Amazon.com can bring you 5% back, making your holiday shopping more rewarding. All you have to do is make sure you sign up for each quarter’s bonus award, which you can easily do through the Discover website.
Best for restaurants:Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Those who dine out a lot will definitely love this offer. The Savor card allows to earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment. There’s no need to sign-up to earn cash rewards and your cash back will not expire. If you use this card to pay for your shopping at grocery stores, you will earn 2% cash back. All other purchases will earn standard 1% back. If you get this card, you will be able to earn a great one-time bonus of $500 for spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. Add here no annual fee for the first year and this card becomes quite a deal. Just remember that you will be charged an annual fee starting the second year. So, make sure your potential cash back rewards will cover it and you will have some left to treat yourself.
Runner up for groceries:Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card
This credit card from Capital One will allow you to earn 1% cash back rewards on all purchases, including higher cash back on dining and grocery store purchases. Dining and entertainment will earn 3% cash back, and grocery stores will earn 2% cash back. So, if you have a habit of putting all your purchases onto a credit card, this card will give you something back. In addition to ongoing rewards, you can qualify for a one-time bonus of $150 after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. The card has no annual fee, which makes it ideal for everyday spending.
Best cash rewards for all purchases:Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
For everyday spending, it’s hard to beat this card, which gives you 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay. You don’t need to keep track of rotating categories or try to spend strategically to earn more cash back or points. This is the card you’ll definitely want to pay off in full each month, as you earn 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and another 1% back when you pay your monthly statement. Plus, there’s no annual fee, and a sweet 0% 18 months on Balance Transfers* APR with a balance transfer fee of 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. Note that the ongoing APR will be 15.74% - 25.74%* (Variable).