If you're looking to simplify your finances, consider using just one credit card. Here are 10 of the best picks for earning travel rewards or cash back
- One of the quickest ways to earn a large sum of points, miles, or cash back is to earn a credit card sign-up bonus. But there are benefits to using just one credit card as well.
- With a single-card strategy, you'll know exactly how much you're spending - without having to aggregate your balances across multiple credit card accounts.
- It also forces you to prioritize what rewards and benefits matter to you the most - do you care more about cash or travel points? High-end benefits or lower out-of-pocket costs?
- When it comes to travel rewards credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a solid option for a single-card strategy. On the cash-back, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card is a top pick.
When it comes to travel rewards credit cards, using several in tandem can often get you the most value. In order to get the most rewards for every dollar you spend, you could easily use one card for groceries, another for gas, and another for travel.
While a multiple-card strategy can be beneficial for accumulating various rewards and points, there's also something to be said for using just one credit card for everything.
Reasons to use just one credit cardUsing a single credit card simplifies your finances. You can better track your purchases, payments, and rewards when your spending is consolidated to just one card.
This eliminates the need to track via spreadsheet or app in order to keep up to date on reward expirations and other criteria. If you do have multiple credit cards, having a system for keeping track of your spending, card benefits, and more is key.
Amplified rewards and points
Imagine the total dollar amount of purchases you charge per year. If this total were charged to just one card, you'd accumulate all your rewards in the same currency. Depending on your goals, this could be better than earning smaller amounts of several different loyalty currencies. For example, you could end up with tens of thousands of Chase points to bring you closer to your next free flight, rather than a few thousands here or there in a variety of loyalty programs.
When you use one single card for all of your transactions, the potential savings and rewards add up much faster and with more intensity.
It forces you to prioritize
When you're using one single credit card, you have to decide what really matters to you.
Do you want travel points? Cash back? Both? Pick the one card that has the best rewards and benefits to suit your lifestyle so you can make the most out of your everyday purchases.
Lower annual feesIf you only have one card, you only have one annual fee, plain and simple. You no longer have to keep track of several fee charges to maintain your points and reward balances.
Here are the top credit cards to consider for a single-card strategy
Best travel rewards credit cards
Sign-up bonus: 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months
Annual fee: $95
Points earning: 2x points on travel and dining, 1 point per dollar on everything else
Other benefits: Primary car rental insurance. Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. If you like this perks and are willing to pay a higher annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve could also be worth a look. It has a $450 annual fee but comes with a $300 annual travel credit and other more premium benefits.
Annual fee: $95 (waived for the first year)
Miles earning: 2x miles on your purchases and 10x miles when book hotels at hotels.com/venture, 1 mile per dollar on everything else
Other benefits: An application fee credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck (up to $100).
Welcome bonus: 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months
Annual fee: $550
Points earning: 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, 5x points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com, 1 point per dollar on everything else
Other benefits: Up to $15 in Uber credits each month, with a bonus $20 in December. Airport lounge access. Up to a $200 annual airline fee credit for incidentals like baggage fees.Read more: Amex Platinum review
Welcome bonus: 35,000 points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months
Annual fee: $250
Points earning: 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x on the first $25,000 spent each year at US supermarkets (then 1x), 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, 1 point per dollar on everything else
Other benefits: Up to a $10 credit monthly at Seamless, Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. Up to a $100 airline fee credit for incidentals like baggage fees each year.
Best cash-back credit cards
Welcome bonus: 30,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months - that's $300 in cash backAnnual fee: $0
Cash-back earning: 3x points (cash back) on eating out and ordering in, travel including flights, hotels, homestays, and car rentals, gas stations, rideshares, and transit, and popular streaming services
Other benefits: No foreign transaction fee
Sign-up bonus: Earn 3% back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn 1.5% back on everything.Annual fee: $0
Cash-back/points earning: If you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards card like the Sapphire Preferred, you can combine your cash-back points from the Freedom Unlimited with the other card's points to get more value. So instead of just getting cash back, you could use your points with travel partners like Hyatt and United.
Welcome bonus: $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in the first three months
Annual fee: $95
Cash-back earning: 6% back on select US streaming services, and at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1% back), 3% back at US gas stations and on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more, 1% back on everything else
Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95
Cash-back earning: Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
Having one card can help you maximize your rewards earnings, so choose your card wisely and go all in to reap the benefits.
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