The Cards I Use for Bonus Spending

Yesterday Ben at One Mile At A Time wrote a post about which cards he uses for different bonus categories.  I thought I’d do the same with the cards in my wallet.

Airfare Purchases

I’ll typically use my airline-specific card if I’m flying one of the three US legacy airlines. For flights on other airlines I’ll use my Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) for 3x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points even though I could earn 5x Membership Rewards (MR) points with my Amex Gold card. That’s because I already earn lots of Membership Rewards points on dining and I’m hardly ever using my CSR card these days.

Dining Purchases

I spend a lot on dining so I use my Amex Gold Card for 4x MR points here unless – like my favorite Italian/pizza place – they use Square for processing the card. Square transactions do not code as restaurant spend so I do use my Sapphire Reserve for those. An exception is that when my Discover card offers 5% cash back or the Chase Freedom offers 5x UR points as a rotating quarterly bonus. I use my CSR for dining when I’m out of the country since Amex only gives 4x MR points at US restaurants.

Cell Phone, Internet, Cable/Satellite TV Purchases

I use my Chase Ink Business Preferred to earn 5x UR points in these categories.  My backup to this would be my US Bank Cash+ card which earns 5% cash back in these categories.

Office Supply store purchases

I also use my Ink Business Preferred at office supply stores to earn 5x UR points.

Rotating Quarterly Categories

I have three cards that have rotating categories:

  • Chase Freedom offers 5x UR points
  • Discover offers 5% cash back
  • US Bank Cash+ allows you to choose two 5% cash back categories each quarter along with 3 x 2% cash back categories

For each of these cards the 5%/5x is good for the first $1500 in purchases. The US Bank Cash+ card offers home utilities as an option each quarter so I use that. In my area I pay for electricity, gas, water, sewer and fire protection all on a single bill from the utility company so this works out well for me.

US Supermarket Purchases

I use an Amex Blue Cash card that is no longer available. It earns 1% cash back for the first $6000 in spend at grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies but after that it earns 5% cash back. If needed I’d use my Gold Card as a backup as it earns 4x MR points at groceries.

Non-airfare travel

If I have an affiliated card for the hotel I’m staying in, I will use that card. This includes Hyatt, IHG, Marriott and Radisson. I’ll use my Sapphire Reserve for all non-hotel spend. For other hotel spend it may depend on the length of the stay. For longer or more expensive stays I’ll use my Barclays Arrival+ so I can offset the charges with Arrival+ points.

Gas Stations

I’ll typically use my Citi Premier card at gas stations for 3x Thank You Points unless it’s a bonus quarter and I’m getting 5% cash back for my Discover card or 5x UR points for the Chase Freedom.

Non-bonused spend

I will normally use my Barclays Arrival+ card as it earns two points per dollar. Those points are used to offset travel charges made with the card.  I might also use my Chase Freedom Unlimited which earns 1.5x UR points on all spend.

If you’d like to know more about any of these cards or would like a referral, just drop me a line at

How do you make the most of bonus categories?

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