An everyday credit card rewards you for purchases you make regularly like on gas and groceries. But your savings will differ depending on your card’s annual fee, reward rate and your spending habits.
When comparing the best everyday credit cards we looked at several features, including eligible reward categories, points or cash back earned per dollar spent, earnings flexibility, annual fees, welcome bonus value, introductory APRs and other reward perks. The cards that stood out in one or several of these categories were chosen for our top picks.
We’ve added the Discover it® Secured to our list this year thanks to the surprisingly solid rewards offered for a secured card. We’ve also added an important niche to the list we hadn’t previously included.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express lost its intro APR on balance transfers, as well as the option for new applicants to make transfers at all. The good news is it still has an intro APR for purchases, but the changes are certainly a downgrade.
The best everyday credit cards of 2020
The best card for you depends on your budget and spending habits. Determine where you spend the most to help you decide which is best for you.
This is an excellent card to use for all of your day-to-day purchases. If you pay your balance in full every month, the Citi® Double Cash Card is the top no-annual-fee cashback product on the market.
Rewards: 1% cash back on all purchases and another 1% as you pay for them. If you consistently pay your balance in full, the Citi® Double Cash Card offers solid cash back.
Intro APR: 0% on balance transfers for 18 months following your account opening, and 13.99% to 23.99% variable after that. Citi offers a balance transfer intro APR from time to time, and an excellent one at that. This intro APR is one of the best you'll find.
Annual fee: None.
13.99% to 23.99% variable
Balance transfer APR
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Up to 2% cash back on purchases (1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay)
If groceries are your biggest bill, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a strong choice. Its grocery rewards are the best on the market, and you'll earn accelerated cash back on purchases made at US gas stations.
Rewards: Up to 6% cash back. Earn 6% cash back at US supermarkets. For this rewards rate, there's a $6,000-per-calendar-year spending cap. After you reach it, you'll earn 1% cash back in this category. Earn 6% on select US streaming services. Earn 3% on transit purchases. Earn 3% cash back at US gas stations and 1% cash back on other purchases.
Welcome offer: $250 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of card membership. If you qualify, you'll receive this welcome offer in the form of statement credit.
Intro APR: 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months after account opening, then 13.99% to 23.99% variable. This is a decent intro APR, though several other cards offer intro purchase APRs of 15 or more months.
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR
$250 after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
With 4x points on dining that can give you an 8% reward rate after point transfers, the American Express® Gold Card is a powerhouse choice if you're a foodie. You'll also earn the same rewards rate at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 per year in spending, then 1x points.
Rewards. 4x Membership Rewards points on dining. 4x points at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 in spending per calendar year, then 1x points. 3x points on eligible flights and 1x points on other eligible purchases.
Credits. Earn up to $120 in dining credits per calendar year. Receive up to $100 per calendar year in credits on one qualifying airline.
Welcome offer. Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $4,000 in purchases with your card within the first 3 months of opening your card.
See Rates & Fees
Balance transfer APR
See Rates & Fees
35,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
The Discover it® Secured is one of the rare secured cards that offers rewards on purchases. If you need to rebuild your credit, this card can help you earn rewards on everyday purchases at the same time.
Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on the first $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Earn 1% back after that and on everything else.
Discover will match the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.
Discover may upgrade your card to an unsecured card after eight months of responsible card usage.
Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit. Every four years, you're eligible for a statement credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.
Balance transfer APR
10.99% intro for the first 6 months (then 22.99% variable)
Discover will match cash back earned at the end of your first card year
2% back on gas and dining up to $1,000 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
How to choose the best everyday credit card
It can be difficult to choose the right credit card for everyday use as there are so many options. Here are a couple of factors to consider when making your choice:
What does your monthly spending look like? Each rewards cards offers a different rewards structure. One card might offer elevated rewards for your favorite categories, while another might not fit your spending at all. Take stock of how you spend and find a card that offers accelerated rewards for where you spend the most. Without changing your spending, you can get paid back daily in the form of cash back, points or miles.
Do you want to pay no annual fee? Many everyday cards have $0 or low annual fees, but lack spectacular features. Your main consideration with these products will be the rewards rates. Premium cards are loaded with great benefits, but they come with steep annual fees — often $450 or more.
How big of a signup bonus do you want? A signup bonus can give you a quick burst of rewards and cover your card’s annual fee several times over. Consider whether you can meet the spending requirement before the signup-bonus window closes. Cards with higher annual fees tend to have more impressive bonuses.
Do you want an intro APR? An intro APR can help you save on interest. But many of the top rewards cards don’t have promotional interest rates.
Alternatives to everyday credit cards
Everyday credit cards tend to be great picks for day-to-day purchases such as groceries, gas and the odd purchase here and there. But they’re not always the best if your spending is concentrated in other areas. Here are a few alternatives:
Premium travel credit cards. While these cards may have a higher annual fee, they can be worth it for the frequent traveler who will enjoy top-notch travel rewards. If that’s you, you might like cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Airline and hotel credit cards. If you’re a loyal customer with a certain airline or hotel chain, check if it has a cobranded card. You can earn accelerated rewards with your card, plus get access to special perks you might find nowhere else.
Compare everyday credit cards
An effective everyday credit card is one that rewards you for your day-to-day spending. Consider your budget and find a product that offers elevated rewards for your top categories.
This depends on your spending. If you spend relatively evenly throughout many categories, a flat-rate-rewards card might be a good choice. If your spending is concentrated in a few categories, you might earn great rewards from a tiered-rewards card. Consider the annual fee you’ll pay and see how it’ll affect your rewards.
If you want simpler rewards, lean toward a cashback card. Typically, your redemption options are statement credit or a deposit to your bank account.
Travel cards tend to be more complicated, but they can offer more valuable and versatile rewards. Redemption options often include hotel stays, flights, statement credit, cash back, gift cards and merchandise.
If you want a card with rewards, you’ll typically need a good to excellent score to qualify.
Kevin Joey Chen is a credit cards writer whose work and analysis have appeared on CNN, U.S. News & World Report, The Dallas Morning News, Lifehacker and CreditCards.com. He's passionate about helping you get your finances in order and expertly navigate the cutting-edge financial tools available -- including credit cards, apps and budgeting software.
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