Credit card bonus categories are some of the best ways to earn extra points and miles on everyday spend. There are many credit cards that have lucrative categories such as Dining, Grocery Stores, and General Travel. However, most people have expenses that do not fall into a bonus category. This where a non-bonus spend card comes in handy. Non-bonus spend cards usually have flat rate earning structures and earn points or miles that complement cards with bonus categories. This post highlights the best credit cards for non-bonus spend.
Both personal and business cards that earn points and miles are covered in this post. Many of these cards also earn cash back. And in most cases, cardholders can transfer rewards earned with these cards to a more premium card.
This post starts with four of the best personal non-bonus spend cards. Consumers should look here first, especially if they do not have a side hustle or own a business.
Citi Double Cash
The Citi Double Cash was revamped in the fall of 2019 as rewards earned on the Double Cash became transferrable to Thank You (TY) points. This change was huge because the Double Cash became one of the best non-bonus spend cards for international travelers.
The Double Cash earns 2x TY points on all purchases. But you don’t get all the points immediately. You earn one point per dollar upon purchase and a second point per dollar upon paying your bill. This gives you more incentive to pay your bill in full every month and be wise with your Double Cash card.
Unfortunately, the Citi Double Cash does not come with a sign-up bonus or any perks. But it’s the best pure earner among personal credit cards. The Citi Double Cash has no annual fee, making it a great keeper card for your credit history as well as a great downgrade option.
Capital One Venture
The Capital One Venture is not one of my favorite travel cards. But it’s a great earner, nonetheless. That’s because it earns 2x Capital One Miles on all purchases. And it comes with a sign-up bonus worth 50,000 Miles. You can earn this bonus by spending $3,000 within the first year.
However, Capital One is one of the worst issuers for points redemption if you choose to transfer your points to a partner. Capital One has a 4:3 transfer ratio for most partners, which devalues your points by 25% upon transferring. This is the biggest weakness of the Venture and its one of the way that Capital One can improve it.
The Capital One Venture has a $95 annual fee. That means you must spend $6,333.33 per year on it to break even assuming a Miles valuation of 1.5 cents per point (CPP). 1.5 CPP is what Capital One Miles are worth if you transfer to most of their partners. The only other redemption option is via statement credit.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of the best cards for domestic travelers and hotel dwellers. That’s because it earns 1.5 Ultimate Rewards (UR) points per dollar for all purchases. Plus, it comes with a sign-up bonus worth 15,000 UR points (or $150) for a low minimum spend of just $500. This is one of the easiest sign-up bonuses to earn because the minimum spend is so low. The Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee as well.
This is the card that I use for my non-bonus spend as I use it in tandem with my three other UR point-earning cards. Using the Freedom Unlimited like this is the best way to do it. That’s because you can transfer your UR points to a premium Chase card account. Thereafter, you can transfer points to a partner or use the Chase Travel Portal.
Chase World of Hyatt Card
The Chase World of Hyatt Card is an unusual choice for this post because it does not have a flat rate earning structure. However, I like to think of this card as the “new SPG card” because World of Hyatt points are very valuable.
The World of Hyatt Card earns 9.5x points (that includes 4x for having the card, 5x for having Discoverist status, and a 10% of 5x points bonus) on World of Hyatt purchases. It also earns 2x points on Gym Memberships, Airfare, Dining, and Car Rental purchases. And it earns one point per dollar on non-bonus spend. That might not seem like much. But Hyatt points are very valuable for many travelers. I personally value them at 1.8 CPP, but your mileage may vary.
This card has a $95 annual fee. But it also comes with a plethora of perks including Hyatt Discoverist Status and a free anniversary night.
Businesses often have varied expenses that do not fall into a business-oriented bonus category, such as Shipping. That’s why there are non-bonus spend cards for businesses whose owners or management want to travel.
American Express Blue Business Plus
The American Express Blue Business Plus is the best card on the market for businesses with varied expenses. It earns 2x Membership Rewards (MR) points for the first $50,000 per year. Thereafter, it earns just one point per dollar.
This card does not come with a sign-up bonus like the Citi Double Cash. But unlike the Double Cash, it comes with one significant benefit. The Blue Business Plus is the only business card with no annual fee that lets cardholders transfer points to partners. This benefit is so huge that consumers with side hustles get this card for their business (or even their personal) expenses.
Chase Ink Business Unlimited
The Chase Ink Business Unlimited is the business version of the Freedom Unlimited. It comes with the same perks and earning structure (1.5x UR points per dollar for all purchases) as the CFU. However, it offers a much larger sign-up bonus. This card’s bonus is worth 50,000 UR points and has a minimum spend of $3,000. That’s one of the best sign-up bonuses for any no annual fee credit card in the industry today! This bonus also makes it a fantastic earner in the short-term.
Non-bonus spend credit cards are great tools for a lot of consumers and business owners who want to earn points and miles. Sometimes, the biggest expenses are those that do not fall into a bonus category. And such expenses should not be left out. That’s where non-bonus spend cards come in handy.
However, the only instance in which you should not use a non-bonus spend card is if you are currently trying to get a sign-up bonus. This can be temporary (if you recently got a new card) or long-term (if you are hunting for bonuses). Some travelers prefer not to have a non-bonus spend card because they would rather earn sign-up bonuses on new cards. But for most people, non-bonus spend cards are worth the hard pull.