From “The Best List” in the December issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, our picks for the best credit cards:
- Cash back with no annual fee: The Citi Double Cash card keeps it simple. Earn 1 percent cash back when you make a purchase and an additional 1 percent when you pay the bill, for a total of 2 percent on everything you buy.
- Cash back for big spenders: Get 3 percent back on all purchases with no annual fee the first year you use Alliant Cashback Visa Signature. From the second year on, you’ll pay a $59 annual fee and earn 2.5 percent back. If you spend at least $2,360 a year on the card, you’ll earn enough in rewards to cover the annual fee. See www.alliant creditunion.org for details on how to join the credit union.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus ($89 annual fee, waived the first year) offers 2 points per dollar on everything you buy.
When you exchange miles for statement credit on travel purchases (value: 1 cent per mile), you’ll get a 5 percent bonus on the number of miles redeemed.
Prefer not to pay an annual fee? BankAmericard Travel Rewards (0 percent for 12 months) gives you 1.5 points per dollar on all spending (or 3 points per dollar on purchases through Bank of America’s Travel Center shopping portal). Redeem points at a rate of a penny per point for statement credit on travel purchases.
Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee, waived the first year) is more flexible. Each point is redeemable at a rate of 1.25 cents toward travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, or transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to partner hotel and airline programs. Travel and dining purchases earn 2 points per dollar, and all other spending earns 1 point per dollar.
PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature doles out 5 points per dollar on fuel you buy at the pump, 3 points on supermarket spending and 1 point on everything else.
You’ll get the best exchange rate when you use points to book travel through PenFed’s shopping portal (1 point equals 1.18 cents, on average). See www.penfed.org for details on how to join Pentagon Federal.
Supermarket purchases capture a whopping 6 percent cash back on up to $6,000 spent yearly with the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card ($95 annual fee; 0 percent for 12 months). Earn 3 percent back at gas stations and select department stores and 1 percent on everything else.
The no-fee version, Amex Blue Cash Everyday, pays back 3 percent on groceries (also on up to $6,000 spent), 2 percent on gas and department store spending, and 1 percent on other purchases.