Best Overall Credit Cards for Airline, Hotel, and Cash Back
A lot of people ask me my opinion on, “What is the best credit card to get?” While there is no answer to this question, we can name a few depending on your situation. Join me on this journey to find the best overall credit card for everyday spending.
Best Cards at Bird’s Eye View
I’ll begin this article by simply stating that the card I put my everyday spending on is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. There are a number of reasons for that choice: 1) I like UR points 2) I spend a lot at restaurants and 3) I’m too lazy to spread my spending across multiple cards. Is this the right choice? No. The right choice would be to pick apart a number of cards, find the best spending categories, and use the appropriate cards depending on your purchases.
I like UR points because at absolute worst case scenario, the points are worth 1 cent per point. Best case, they can be much more valuable. Since I spend a lot of money at restaurants, that makes this card a 3% UR earning card. For me, that’s the selling point. Compare that to the Chase Freedom Unlimited that earns 1.5% on every purchase.
For those who do not visit restaurants frequently, there are other choices out there that may be more fitting. Let’s break credit cards into their three respective categories: hotel, airline, cash back. We will pick a winner in each category and then choose an overall winner.
Hotel Credit Cards
Best signup bonus: Chase Hyatt – Two free nights in any Hyatt. This is the winner for me because I enjoy luxury. I would much rather stay two nights in a $1,000 a night hotel than 10 nights in a $79 a night room.
Best card for spend: American Express Starwood – Although the card only earns one point per dollar, SPG points can be used in a variety of ways making them very valuable. Starwood hotels can be booked as low as 2,000 points. However, SPG points can also be used by transferring them to airlines at a 1:1.25 ratio, awesome Starwood exclusive events (concerts, meeting chefs, backstage passes, etc). For all those reasons, the SPG card is the best hotel card if you only used one card for all your spend.
Airline Credit Cards
Best signup bonus: Chase Southwest Plus – 50,000 points. 50k Southwest miles can get you a number of round trip tickets. Tickets from PIT-FLL start at only 3,000 points or 6,000 RT! That makes the sign up bonus worth NINE round trip tickets from PIT-FLL after you meet the minimum spend plus a little more. To top it off, if you apply for the Plus (50k) and the Premier (50k) or Business (60k), you would be on your way to earning the most coveted trophy in all of award travel – the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass. Stay tuned for our upcoming post that dives into this one of a kind award.
Best card for spend: Chase Southwest Plus – For all the same reasons above. Most airline cards offer one point per dollar on spend; however, Southwest miles are in a league of their own in terms of value.
Best Cash Back Credit Cards
Best signup bonus: Chase Ink Business Preferred – 80,000 points ($800). $800 cash or lots more money in travel. Flexibility is key here but cash is king. The Chase Ink Business Preferred is a business card, so you may want to consider some of the personal cards that offer 50,000 points regularly such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve.
Best card for spend: Citi Double Cash – 2x cash back on every purchase. The Citi Double Cash pays you 1% on every purchase and 1% for every dollar you pay back. Honorable mention goes to the Discover It which is only a 1% card; however, they match all of your earnings for the first year making it a 2% also. If I had to pick a 2nd runner up, I would go with the Chase Freedom Unlimited which is only 1.5x on purchases, but it is another Chase UR earning card and the flexibility is always great to have.
Overall Best Credit Card
For people unsure what category means the most to them, I would go with the Chase Southwest Plus. As little as $3,000 worth of spend can get you a one way airline ticket, which is pretty incredible. This, of course, changes if you maybe don’t want airline travel. This again changes if you know you spend more money at grocery stores, restaurants, travel, or the dozens of other categories some credit cards determine are more valuable.
The bottom line comes down to picking a card that is right for you. There are many banks out there putting out various products trying to get your business. Use a tool like YNAB (You Need a Budget) to track your overall spending for a couple months before jumping in and using one card for all of your purchases. For the best credit card specific tracker of course this is where Etoshin is going to be your best friend! Plug all these into Etoshin to be sure you’re on top of your annual fees as well as the sign up bonuses you will be getting in the form of points, miles, and nights!