This post is not about the biggest bonuses in the credit card world, but rather cards that a regular family can use year after year. While my strategy is to switch the cards regularly and collect miles and points along the way, this is not for everyone.
I have long argued, that for a middle class family cash back for non-bonus spending usually makes more sense. With an introduction of Amex EveryDay Preferred card, there is a compelling case to earn flexible points instead of cash. It is listed second on my list, and for me personally, would be a top choice.
Additionally, I am the first to admit that the idea of getting close to a million points per year is not sustainable in the long run for a family with normal expenses. At some point you will run out of cards to apply for. Even though I’ve put this post together a few years ago, I try to update it regularly. You may also want to check out this list of best 2-card combinations for family
1) Blue Cash Preferred from American Express
It gives 6 percent back on groceries on up to 6,000 dollars per year, 3 percent back on gas and department stores and 1 percent back on everything else. The card comes with an annual fee of 75 dollars, but it’s worth it for groceries bonus alone.
If you spend 500 dollars a month on groceries (and most families do), you will have 360 dollars at the end of the year just from that category. That is fantastic! A couple of caveats: there are still places, that don’t accept Amex. Another one: usually Walmart is not coded as a grocery store, it depends on location. If you shop at Publix or similar store, it’s not an issue. The best offer for this card is a 100 dollar bonus after 1000 spend in 3 months.
You may be able to get targeted for a higher sign-up bonus of 250 dollars. Go to CardMatch tool I would pick the version with an annual fee because you can always downgrade. As I said, the 6 percent on groceries more than makes up for the fee IMHO. This card pays me commission.
2) The Amex EveryDay Preferred
You get 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1000 in 3 months. The annual fee is $95, not waived. It pays me commission. This may be your top pick depending on your goals.
3) Sallie Mae Barclaycard
This product is no longer open to new applications.
The card has no annual fee. Here is the earning structure.
5% rewards up to $250 total for groceries per month. Reports are, that Walmart currently qualifies.
5% rewards up to $250 total for gas per month
5% rewards up to $750 total for books per month. Notice, that Amazon purchases currently count under books.
1% on everything else
CLICK to my post for full analysis.
4) US Bank Cash Plus Visa Signature card
Pays me commission. You get $100 bonus after spending $500 in 90 days. You can also try to convert from an existing US Bank credit card over the phone. Here is the earning structure:
- Earn 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in net purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose like Restaurants or Department Stores.
- Earn 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category like gas, groceries or drug store purchases.
- Earn 1% cash back on everything else.
- Earn a $25 Cash+ Bonus when you redeem $100 or more in a single redemption. Limit of 1 per calendar year.
- No limit on total cash back earned.
CLICK to my post for full analysis.
5) Sam’s Club MasterCard
Sam’s Club membership is required to apply and maintain this card. You earn 5% cash back on gas (on up to $5,000 per year), 3% on dining and travel, 1% on everything else. Read this post for further analysis.
6) Chase Freedom Visa
You get a bonus of 10,000 points (good for $100) after spending 500 dollars in 3 months. It has no annual fee. I think this card is inferior to the first three choices when it comes to a middle class family. But it’s a decent choice and can get you established with Chase bank, which has most of the best sign-up bonuses. Chase Freedom has rotating categories where you get 5 percent back on gas, groceries, drug stores or restaurants, depending on the quarter of the year.
There are many ways to leverage this deal, like buying Amazon gift cards at CVS when it’s part of 5 percent bonus category and so forth. This is actually my primary card when I am not chasing after specific bonus. I would guess, if you were to put all of your expenses on this card, you probably would average out 2 percent cash back on everything, which is good. This card pays me commission.
7) Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature card
It gives flat 2 percent back on everything, no annual fee. I get no commission on this card. Non-affiliate application link.
Unlimited 2% cash-back
Every net $1 spent equals 2 rewards points
No limits on reward points and no restrictive categories
Points will not expire
8) Discover IT
It pays me commission. This is actually a pretty good “keeper” card as well, similar to Chase Freedom, though it’s not accepted everywhere. You get 5 percent back on rotating categories each quarter on up to $1,500 in spending. Check this link (pays no commission) and see if you can get an offer for $100 Amazon gift card as a sign-up bonus.
I also have a personal referral link that will give both of us $50 upon approval. Email me if interested.
9) Citi Double Cash Card
You would get 2% total cash back, as long as you pay your bills on time (and you should).
- 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 12.99%-22.99%, based on your creditworthiness
- There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
- The only card that earns you cash back twice on every purchase with:
- 1% cash back when you buy
- Plus 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases, whether you pay in full or over time*
- No Category Restrictions, No Caps, No Enrollments in Rotating Categories
- No Annual Fee
- Pays me commission if you apply through my site.
Keepers For Some
This is a list of cards that would work very well for some families, which is why I decided to create a special section.
Marukai JCB card If you live in CA, OR, WA or NV, you may want to consider it because it gives 3% cash back on almost all spending. Read more on the details HERE
US Bank FlexPerks Visa You earn points, which can be redeemed for gift cards or airfare. Airfare redemption starts at 20,000 points for up to $400 airline ticket, with no blackout dates or capacity controls. Read more about it HERE
Spirit Airlines MasterCard This is a “niche ” product and will not be a good fit for everyone. It’s a good deal due to 2,500 miles one-way redemption on certain routes at off-peak times. Read more about it HERE
You may also read my post on cards where annual fee can pay for itself HERE
So, these are my picks. No card is right for everyone. I suggest, you investigate the choices for yourself. All of these offers require good to excellent credit. Also, if you happen to have other cards from these issuers, you may be able to convert without applying for a new card. Don’t hesitate to email me or ask a question in the comments section.
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