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CNET Money's mission is to help you maximize your financial potential. Our recommendations are based on our editors' independent research and analysis, and we continuously update our content to reflect current partner offers. How we rate credit cards

Best Credit Cards for Everyday Use in August 2022

These credit cards specialize in common spending categories like groceries, gas, travel and restaurants.

For most US households, gas, groceries and restaurant spending will take up a large part of a daily budget. To determine the best credit cards for the typical ledger, we identified the cards with rewards programs that could maximize value across these categories. Most of these cards have no annual fee, so they are less costly to maintain if used responsibly. We've included a variety of picks for cardholders with a range of credit scores. Read on for more details. 

Best simple cash-rewards program

See Rates and Fees
Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
APR17.24%, 22.24%, or 27.24% Variable APR
Intro Purchase APR0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers
Balance Transfer APR17.24%, 22.24%, or 27.24% Variable APR
Balance Transfer Fee up to 5%; min: $5
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

Our Take

The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card will help you maximize cash rewards on purchases across the board. It's got one of the highest flat rates on the market, with 2% cash rewards on your purchases. While you can find higher rewards rates for specific spending categories elsewhere, you won't have to switch between different cards to get a good overall return. Your everyday spending may earn you the welcome bonus, as well.

For more details and benefits, see our full review of the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card.

Best for fluid spending habits

Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
APR16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APR0% for 15 months on purchases
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter.
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% for 15 months on balance transfers
Balance Transfer APR16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Late Payment Fee Up to $41
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR Up to 29.99% (Variable)
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter.
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Our Take

If you find yourself going through different phases of spending from month to month -- maybe you primarily use groceries at home for a few weeks and then turn to takeout the following weeks -- the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card card allows you to optimize your cash-back rewards automatically.

This card earns you 5% cash back on your highest eligible spending category each billing cycle (on up to $500 spent, then 1%), calculated by Citi without any work required on your end. Eligible spending categories include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment.

You'll earn 1% on all other purchases, and you can take advantage of the welcome bonus, too. To learn more about this card and its benefits, see our full review of the Citi Custom Cash card.

Best for cash back and extra perks

Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
APR16.49% - 25.24% Variable
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Balance Transfer APR16.49% - 25.24% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign Transaction Fees 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Penalty APR Up to 29.99%
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Our Take

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ claims many rewards categories in an eclectic fashion. There is a rotating 5% category that changes every quarter. It typically covers common everyday spending categories -- like grocery stores, gas stations and retailers like Walmart -- but it only applies to your first $1,500 in spending per quarter (then 1%). You'll also have to manually activate this benefit each quarter to use it.

Besides the other cash-back rates, you'll also get benefits for Lyft and DoorDash. Through March 2025, you can earn 5% cash back on all Lyft rides when you use the Chase Freedom Flex to pay. You also get three complimentary months of DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service (activate by Dec. 31, 2024). This service provides unlimited deliveries for a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders of $12 or more on DoorDash and Caviar. You'll then automatically be enrolled in DashPass at half off for the next nine months, but you can opt out if you decide not to keep the service.

For more details on this card's other offerings, check out our full review of the Chase Freedom Flex.

Best for everyday spending with an annual fee

Card Highlights
Intro OfferFor a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
APR18.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Annual Fee$95
Additional Details
Balance Transfer APR18.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Late Payment Fee Up to $41
Foreign Transaction Fees 0%
Penalty APR Up to 29.99% (Variable)
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Our Take

The $95 annual fee for the Citi Premier® Card is well worth it for most people when you can get a 3 points per dollar spent on everyday spending like restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations as well as big-ticket travel costs like air travel and hotels. If you redeem these points for a statement credit on Thankyou.com, travel or gift cards, you can get 1 cent per point -- essentially a 3% return rate. This is the closest many households will get to earning a flat 3% return rate on their spending, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. 

For more information, see our full review of the Citi Premier Card.

Card Highlights
Intro OfferIntro Offer: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
APR17.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APR0% for 12 billing cycles on purchases
Recommended Credit Excellent Credit
Reward Rates
  • 4X points on dining, takeout, and restaurant delivery.
  • 2X points on streaming services.
  • 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, gas stations, and EV charging stations
  • 1X point on all other eligible purchases.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% for 12 billing cycles on balance transfers
Balance Transfer APR17.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater
Foreign Transaction Fees N/A
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 4X points on dining, takeout, and restaurant delivery.
  • 2X points on streaming services.
  • 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, gas stations, and EV charging stations
  • 1X point on all other eligible purchases.

Our Take

Food away from home is one of the biggest everyday spending categories for Americans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you love grabbing takeout or dining out, the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card earns 4x points on dining, takeout and restaurant delivery. At a redemption rate of 1 cent per point, you earn 4% back. The other rewards rates and the welcome bonus aren't as competitive but they're a nice bonus.

FAQs

How should I choose a credit card?

Ultimately, the right credit card is individual to each person and their goals and preferences. Decide what features you're looking for: maximized rewards, spaced-out payments on a large purchase, credit building, an emergency credit card or other benefits. From there, you can decide the type of card you're looking for. You can then use online reviews like those at CNET to further narrow down what terms will work best for you.

How do I qualify for a credit card?

The better the benefits, the more hoops you'll need to jump through to be eligible for certain credit cards. Credit cards with attractive rewards programs or cash-back rewards require better credit than more basic credit card varieties.

If you have poor or fair credit, you might only qualify for credit builder or secured credit cards. If you have good to excellent credit, you may easily qualify for any credit card you want. But if you don't have the right score, you can always work to improve your credit for better odds of approval.

What's the best credit card to get for first-time users?

The best credit card for beginners is one that will help you build credit, so make sure to get a card that reports to the three credit bureaus. You'll also want to determine how you plan to use a credit card. Are you expecting to carry a balance from month to month, or can you reliably pay the credit issuer off? Are you a student who needs to finance a bunch of back-to-school purchases? Depending on what you need, one credit card might be better than another.

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash back, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles -- with the understanding that everyone's financial situation is different -- and the designated function of a card. 

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.