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If you want to maximize rewards, it’s important to use a credit card that caters to your purchasing habits. Since every credit card earns a different amount of points on your common category purchases, the bonus points earned might persuade you to get one credit card over another.

Fortunately, there’s a credit card out there for every type of purchase. Whether you eat out a lot, travel often or spend a lot on fuel, there’s a card that will maximize your points, allowing you to earn the most rewards possible.

You can also pick a card that works best for how you want to redeem your points. While some cardmembers are looking to jump on that next travel opportunity by increasing their travel rewards balance, others might prefer cash back. Meanwhile, some cards offer a mix of both, allowing you to pick the rewards that work best for your needs at the moment.

Looking to maximize your rewards? Let’s check out some of the best credit card to use for all of your spend categories.

Best credit cards for each category purchase in 2023

While the cards listed here are some of our favorites for their respective categories, they might not be the best for your needs. Run the numbers and analyze your spending habits to see if the listed card is a fit for your wallet.

American Express Gold Card: Best for restaurants

Hands reaching for two pizzas on a marble table at a restaurant.

When it comes to dining out, it’s hard to beat the American Express® Gold Card. The card earns 4 points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide. And with frequent-flyer site The Points Guy valuing Amex Membership Reward points at 2 cents apiece, you’re effectively earning an 8% return at restaurants, including takeout and delivery.

Not only will the card earn a high return on dining out, you’ll also earn the same 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1x), 3 points per dollar spent for flights booked directly with airlines or at and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.

You can redeem Amex Membership Rewards points for travel, gift cards and statement credits. However, you’ll often get the best value from your points when you transfer them to one of Amex’s travel partners like Air Canada, British Airways or Delta Air Lines, among others.

The card also offers up to $120 in dining credits annually. With this perk, you’ll receive up to $10 in statement credits each month when you use your card to pay at select merchants, including Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations (enrollment is required before you use this benefit).

To help further offset the card’s $250 annual fee (see rates and fees), you’ll also receive up to $10 per month in Uber Cash, which can be used for either Uber rides in the U.S. or Uber Eats deliveries (enrollment required).

If you’re able to maximize both of the dining and Uber Cash credits, that’ll ultimately leave you with just a meager $10 fee — all while earning 4 points per dollar spent on eating out.

Learn more and apply now for the American Express Gold Card.

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express: Best for groceries

A shopping cart full of various groceries.

Groceries can get expensive, but the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express will put a some cash back in your pocket. It offers an impressive 6% cash back as a statement credit at U.S. supermarkets for up to $6,000 in purchases per year (then 1% cash back after that).

Additionally, the card offers 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit, then 1% cash back on all other purchases.

While the Blue Cash Preferred carries a $95 annual fee (see rates and fees), the current offer includes a $0 introductory fee for the first year, giving you an entire year with the card to ensure it works for your needs. If your family averages at least $500 per month at U.S. supermarket purchases, the annual fee pays for itself.

If you want to skip the annual fee, Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express might be a better fit. This no-annual-fee card (see rates and fees) earns 3% cash back at U.S supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1% cash back). If you spend less than about $3,166 in grocery purchases annually, you’re better off with the Blue Cash Everyday instead of the Blue Cash Preferred after the first year.

Learn more and apply now for the Blue Cash Preferred.
Learn more and apply now for Blue Cash Everyday.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for travel

A United Airlines Airbus A319 in Houston, Texas

When it comes to earning points on travel, there’s no shortage of credit card options. But, to truly earn the most number of points on every single travel purchase you make, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is your best bet. The points add up quickly and the travel benefits you receive are top-notch.

The card earns 3 points for every dollar you spend on travel and dining, 10 points per dollar spent on Lyft rides (through March 2025) and 1 point per dollar on everything else. You can earn even more if you book travel trough Ultimate Rewards travel, too. Flights booked through the portal earn 5 points per dollar while hotel stays and rental cars earn 10 points per dollar.

You have two options when it comes to redeeming points for travel. You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Reward points to 14 airline and hotel partners. Alternatively, you can use your points through Chase’s travel portal where points on the Sapphire Reserve are worth a fixed 1.5 cents a piece.

The card comes has a $550 annual fee, but you’ll receive an annual $300 travel credit. This can be used towards any travel purchased paid for on the card, including Uber rides and public transit fare. This effectively will brings your annual fee down to a slightly more palatable $250.

You’ll also receive a complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge membership and up to $100 in credits when you apply for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

The card also extends some of the best purchase protection and travel insurance benefits we’ve seen on any card. When you use your Sapphire Reserve card on eligible purchases, you are covered against damage or theft for 120 days from the time of purchase, and receive an additional year of coverage with a manufacturer’s warranty of three years or less.

You’ll also receive primary rental car coverage, baggage delay and baggage lost insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance and trip delay protection. With trip delay protection, you’ll be reimbursed up to $500 per passenger for out of pocket incidentals if your flight is delayed for six-hours or more for a covered reason. You just have to pay for your flights (award taxes in the case of award tickets) with your Sapphire Reserve to be covered.

Want to avoid the $550 annual fee? Consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This card has a $95 annual fee but has less features than the Sapphire Reserve. For example, it earns just 2 points per dollar on travel and 5 points per dollar on Lyft (through March 2025) and doesn’t offer a travel statement credit. At the same time, it still earns 3 points per dollar on dining. Plus, cardmembers can redeem for travel through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal at 1.25 cents per point and transfer to the same travel partners.

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve new members will earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of opening an account. However, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is also offering a sign up bonus where you’ll earn the same 60,000 bonus points after spending the same $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.

Learn more and apply now for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Learn more and apply now for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Citi Premier Card: Best for gas

Hand putting credit card in a gas pump.

The Citi Premier® Card is not only the first Citi credit card you should have in your wallet, but also one of the best when it comes to gas purchases.

The card earns 3 Citi ThankYou points for every dollar spent at gas stations, on air travel, hotels, supermarkets and restaurants (including takeout), and 1 point per dollar for all other purchases. With ThankYou points worth 1.7 cents apiece, this is an impressive 5.1% return for filling up your car, as well as the other category bonus purchases.

You can redeem Citi ThankYou points for cash back, gift cards, travel or transfer them to over a dozen airline partners. Although many of their travel partners are for international airlines, you can use many programs to book flights on domestic airlines. For example, you can transfer Citi ThankYou points to Avianca LifeMiles and book United Airlines flights.

And right now, the Citi Premier is offering 60,000 bonus points to new card holders after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months after opening the account. Plus, with the current limited time welcome offer, new cardmembers will earn a total of 10 ThankYou points per dollar spent on hotel, car rentals and attractions (excluding air travel) booked through the Citi Travel portal through June 30, 2024.

Unfortunately, the Citi Premier doesn’t offer much when it comes to protecting your trip, as it doesn’t offer any travel insurance coverage. This means you won’t have access to car rental insurance, trip cancellation and interruption protection, trip delay protection, baggage delay protection and more.

Learn more and apply now for the Citi Premier Card.

Chase Freedom Flex: Best for drugstores

Man paying for a purchase at a pharmacy.

Finding a credit card that includes drugstores as a bonus category is a rarity, but fortunately, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card resolves that problem by offering 3% cash back in this category.

This no-annual-fee card also offers 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5% on Lyft rides (through March 2025) and 3% on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services). On a quarterly basis, the card also offers 5% cash back on rotating categories, up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter. As part of the welcome offer, you’ll also earn $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months.

On the surface, it appears that the Freedom Flex only earns cash back, but you can access more redemption options if you pair it with a premium Ultimate Rewards card. Doing this lets you effectively turn your cash back into Ultimate Rewards which you can transfer to various airline and hotel transfer partners.

Since the Freedom Flex is a World Elite Mastercard, you’ll also receive cell phone protection, Lyft credits, 5% rewards at Boxed for use on future purchases, a free ShopRunner membership and double VIP+ points for movie tickets purchased via the Fandango app

Also consider the Freedom Unlimited

If you prefer a card where you don’t have to keep track of quarterly bonus categories, but you’ll receive the same heightened cash back at drugstores, then you’ll want to consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card instead.

The Chase Freedom offers 3% cash back at drugstores, along with the same 5% on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5% on Lyft rides (through March 2025) and 3% on dining at restaurants. And you’ll earn a fixed 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

The other difference between the two is that the Freedom Unlimited is a Visa — not a Mastercard Elite — which means you won’t receive some of the valuable benefits that come with the Freedom Flex, such as cell phone protection.

Learn more and apply now for the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Bilt Mastercard: Best for paying rent

Exterior of two brownstone buildings in New York City.

Earning rewards for paying your rent has been hard to come by, until now. With the Bilt Mastercard® you can earn 1 point for every dollar spent on your monthly rent, up to $100,000 in rent payments per year. You can even pay landlords that don’t accept credit card as a form of payment. Best of all, there’s no fee for paying your rent with this card.

This no-annual-fee card (see rates and fees) also earns 3 points for every dollar you spend on dining (including food delivery services), 2 points per dollar on travel when booked directly with an airline, hotel, car rental or cruise company, up to 5 points per dollar on Lyft rides and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

Just note you must use this card at least five times per statement period to earn points.

Bilt currently partners with 11 different airline and hotel partners, which includes many big names like American Airlines and Hyatt. All partners transfer at a 1-to-1 ratio. Or, for the ultimate flexibility, you can use your points through Bilt’s travel booking site at a fixed 1.25 cents per point. This means if you have 10,000 Bilt points, they can be used towards $125 in travel purchases when booking through the portal.

The Bilt Mastercard also offers many favorable benefits, such as cell phone insurancepurchase protectionrental car insurancetrip cancellation and delay coverage, Lyft credits, a three-month DashPass membership and Mastercard World Elite Concierge services (see rewards and benefits).

Learn more and apply now for the Bilt Mastercard.

Citi Double Cash Card: Best for non-bonus categories

Person tapping a smartphone on a credit card terminal

The Citi® Double Cash Card is one of the best when it comes to earning cash back for your everyday purchases. With this no-annual-fee card, you don’t have to worry about category bonuses, and instead you’ll earn 2% cash back — 1% when you buy something and another 1% when you pay it off — on every purchase you make. There’s also no cap to the amount of cash back you can earn.

This card is marketed as a cash back credit card, but you’re actually earning ThankYou points. While these points have limited travel redemption options, if paired with a premium Citi ThankYou card, such as the Citi Premier, you can transfer your points earned with Citi Double Cash Card to all of Citi’s 16 partner airline and hotels.

Another advantage of the Citi Double Cash is that it offers a relatively long 18-month introductory 0% APR for balance transfers — a great way to pay off your debt (though make sure you pay it off, because the APR jumps to a variable 18.99% to 28.99% after the introductory offer ends). And you have up to four months after you open the account to make your first balance transfer and still have it qualify for the introductory offer.

However, the Citi Double Cash doesn’t offer many perks, such as travel or purchase protection. It also comes with a 3% foreign transaction fee, so it’s not the card you’ll want to bring while traveling overseas.

Learn more and apply now for the Citi Double Cash Card.

Click here for rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card
Click here for rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred.
Click here for rates and fees of the Blue Cash EveryDay.

Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best credit cards currently available.

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