Say you want to dip your toe into the world of miles and points but don’t want to have to think about it all the different types of credit cards, which has bonus categories, wondering if a credit card’s annual fee is worth the benefits. Well this post is for you.
Below are my 3 recommended credit cards for keeping things simple. You will earn valuable flexible points that can be used numerous different ways including transferring to travel partners to get out sized value.
#1 – American Express blue business plus
My absolute favorite ‘No Brainer’ credit card is the American Express Blue Business Plus.
First it has NO ANNUAL FEE so you will never be charged a fee for holding the card.
Second it earns 2X American Express Membership Rewards points on ALL purchases (up to $50,000 per year). And these Membership Reward points currently can be transferred to 22 different airline and hotel partners (19 airlines and 3 hotels). And you don’t need to hold another premium American Express card to make transfers like Chase & Citi require).
American Express Membership Reward points are generally valued at least 1.7¢ each, making this essentially a 3.4% cash back card.
I once transferred 88,000 American Express Membership Reward points to ANA airline miles and redeemed the miles for a roundtrip business class flights to Paris, France and a one way first class seat to San Francisco!
This is a business credit card so you need to have a business to apply for it. But don’t forget a Sole Proprietorship is the most common business type in the United States for a single individual who has a side gig such as tutoring, mowing lawns, selling items on ebay, etc.
Two other benefits of this card include a 0.0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months from account opening and a 10,000 point referral welcome offer after you spend $3000 in the first 3 months which is almost an unheard bonus for a no annual fee card.
American Express Blue Business Plus
American Express's Blue Business Plus card is arguably the best and simplest earning card available. It's at the top of my wallet and stays there since there is NO annual fee.
Currently there is a 10,000 point referrer offer after spending $3000 in the first 3 months. The 10,000 point offer is not publicly available on American Express's and only available through a referrer.
What makes this card simple to use is that it earns 2X points on ALL purchases (up to $50,000 per year). No need to memorize different categories. The valuable Membership Rewards can be transferred to airline and hotel partners for even more value.
Again the card has NO annual fee. Learn more and apply here.
#2 – Citi Double Cash
Second, this card earns 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay your bill – so 2% total. No bonus categories and no cap on the amount you can earn.
After you have at least a $25 cash back balance, you can log in to your Ciit account and redeem for a statement credit, direct deposit (if you have a Citi account), or a check which they will mail to you. It’s that easy.
Here’s why it’s one of my favorites: In 2019, Citi upped their game by allowing the cash back earned with this card to transfer to Citi Thank You Points at a 1 to 1 ratio. But unlike the American Express Blue Business Plus (above), you need to also have either the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige card to be able to transfer the cash back to Thank You Points travel partners such as Singapore, Cathay Pacific, or Turkish.
I’ve used 50,000 Cathay Pacific miles to fly business class to Venice, Italy. Or how about transferring 7500 Thank You Points to Turkish Airlines to book a flight to Hawaii from anywhere in the US!
Unfortunately Citi does NOT offer a welcome bonus like American Express. But this is a personal card so you don’t have to have a business.
Citi Double Cash Card
The best thing about this card is you technically are earning Thank You points which are redeemable at a rate of 1 Thank You Points = 1¢. But if you also have a Citi premium card such as the Citi Premier, you can use the transfer the earned Thank You points to a bunch of travel partners.
The card has no annual fee. Learn more and apply here.
#3 – Chase Freedom Unlimited
Like the two other cards above, the Chase Freedom Unlimited also has NO ANNUAL FEE.
This card earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases in the form of Ultimate Reward points which is good (but not great since the Citi Double Cash earns 2%).
But if you also hold a premium Chase card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can easily transfer the cash back ultimate reward points earned with the Chase Freedom Unlimited to the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve and do much much better than 1.5% cash back.
If you have the Sapphire Preferred, points can be redeemed for 1.25¢ towards travel purchases which is effectively 1.875% cash back(1.5 points earned x 1.25¢/point). Or redeem for 1.5¢ towards travel if you have the Sapphire Reserve which is effectively 2.25% (1.5 points earned x 1.5¢/point).
But my favorite redemption is to transfer to Chase’s Ultimate Reward travel partners – 10 different airlines and 3 different hotels. My absolute Chase Ultimate Reward travel parter is Hyatt. I once transferred 12,000 Ultimate Reward points to Hyatt and used at a $800/night hotel! Crazy amazing value.
Also the Chase Freedom Unlimited also typically has a welcome bonus – see below for the latest offering.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
This card earns a solid 5% on travel booked at Chase travel site, 3% on dining at restaurants and drug stores and 1.5% Ultimate Reward points on ALL other purchases.
There is currently a $200 bonus (20,000 points) after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Also, this card is currently offering 5X points on grocery store purchases up to $12,000 in the first year.
There is also a 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
Points are worth 1¢ each (15,000 points = $150) unless you hold a Chase Premium Ultimate Rewards card (such as the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve) where you can transfer points to airlines and hotels.
No Annual Fee. Learn more and apply here.