I recently spent the time going through my roster of credit cards to see which ones I should be using for various purchases. I believe I've come up with a pretty universal strategy, so I figured I'd share it since I've already done the research.
To preface, if you are ever paying late fees or interest on credit cards, you are better off without them. Points and cashback are fantastic, but they aren't worth paying fees for. But if you are discplined about paying your credit cards off in full every month, you can take advantage of cashback programs and earn a significant amount of money.
Here are the cards I use currently:
This card has no annual fee and gives you 4% cash back on all restaurants. If you go to Chipotle every day and spend $10.23 each time, that's $150 in cash back every year.
The card also gives back 3% on travel, which is pretty good, and 2% on all online purchases (including Paypal). For a no-fee card, this one really gives you some great cashback.
Amazon Synchrony Store Visa
Amazon has two credit cards which have no annual fees. Both give 5% cash back if you have a Prime account, which I do. Considering the huge percentage of my purchases that I make each year that come from Amazon, this saves me a ton of money.
The Visa one also gives you 5% back at Whole Foods. I didn't get it because I already have a lot of cards issued by Chase (their issuer), but it's very valuable if you shop at Whole Foods.
Chase Ink Cash
Chase Ink Cash also has no annual fees and gives a 5% cashback on phone and internet.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
This card does have an annual fee, but all of the benefits including travel credit and lounge access make it worth it even without the points you can earn. It gets 3 points back on travel and dining. I use the Uber card over this one for food since I don't often make the best use of my Chase points, but I always use it for travel.
You can go even further down the rabbithole, but these four cards will cover the basics other than gas. I don't buy a lot of gas, so I don't optimize for that. If you don't want to pay any fees, don't get the Reserve card and use Uber for travel as well. Three percent back on travel is respectable.
Photo is my friend Brian and I drinking tea on the island. We finally got furniture! That reminds me... Reserve and Uber Visa don't have foreign exchange fees, so you can use them anywhere.
These cards sound amazing. Is there a way to get them as a non-American? I imagine US banks would be hesitant to issue credit cards to non-residents visiting the US on a tourist visa...
There are three items I own which I'll always upgrade when a significant upgrade exists: my computer, my camera, and my Kindle. Yesterday I got my new Kindle, the fourth generation one that was just released. Before I talk about this specific Kindle, I want to address some general points about the Kindle.
Some people balk at the $189 price tag of the newest 3G Kindle (which is the only one to buy, by the way). It's expensive, but only if you consider it a drop in replacement for books. I consider it $200 to ensure that I read at least 10X more than I used to.
A credit card is secondary to your checking account. I suggest getting your primary finances in order first.
There are advanced tricks to getting the most out of your credit cards, but before you can do that, you should make sure the one you have is right for you.
First, check your credit score on Credit Karma.