NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards for Transit Spending

Many cards reward you at gas stations, but what if you don't drive? These cards can help many kinds of commuters.

Sara RathnerMay 21, 2020
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More than three-quarters of Americans commute by car, but millions of people also use public transit and other shared forms of transportation to get to work.

Whether it's bus/train/cab fare, rideshares, tolls or parking, you may spend hundreds of dollars a month just getting around. Thankfully, several credit cards offer bonus rewards specifically on those costs.

Even general travel cards that don't explicitly list "transit" as a bonus category may still help with your commute, thanks to broad definitions of "travel."

Here are our favorite credit cards for transit expenses.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Our pick for: High overall value

Card details

Rewards:

  • 3 points per $1 spent on gas stations, rideshares and transit.

  • 3 points per $1 spent on travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals.

  • 3 points per $1 spent on dining out or ordering in.

  • 3 points per $1 spent on eligible streaming services.

  • 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else.

  • Terms apply.

Welcome offer: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $200 cash redemption value.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: An intro 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 25.99% Variable APR.

WHY WE LIKE IT

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card is a good pick whether you drive yourself to work or let someone else do it for you. Either way, you can earn triple points back at gas stations or your eligible fare. Qualifying transit expenses include passenger railways and trains, taxis, ferries, toll bridges and highways, parking lots, and garages — not to mention the ultimate way to arrive at work in style: limos! This card also earns bonus rewards on certain streaming services, so feel free to turn to Spotify to drown out the sound of a stranger clipping their nails on the train. One other plus: The "Big Three" travel expenses — flights, hotels and rental cars — also qualify for triple points.

DRAWBACKS

If you cook at home more than you dine out, the next card on our list may be a better fit.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Our pick for: Families

CARD DETAILS

Rewards:

  • 3% back on transit including parking, tolls, trains, buses, taxis, subways, ferries and rideshare services. (More about the "transit" category here.)

  • 3% back at U.S. gas stations.

  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.

  • 6% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).

  • 1% back on everything else.

  • Terms apply.

Welcome offer: $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Annual fee: $95.

APR: An intro 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 12.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

WHY WE LIKE IT

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is an ideal pick for busy families with hungry mouths to feed at home. It earns bonus cash back on many forms of transit for mom and dad, plus a market-leading rate on select U.S. streaming subscriptions — which is handy on a commute, but also at home when your kids demand entertainment. Still, the star of the show is the card's eye-popping rewards at U.S. supermarkets. If the final stop on your daily commute is your kitchen, this card merits a hard look.

DRAWBACKS

Unlike a lot of other cash-back cards, this one charges a significant annual fee. Also be aware that expenses such as airfare, car rental and cruises do not qualify as "transit" spending.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Our pick for: Flexibility

CARD DETAILS

Rewards:

  • 5% cash back in two categories you pick from a list of a dozen (on up to $2,000 spent per quarter on combined purchases; then 1%).

  • 2% back in an everyday category you pick (grocery stores, gas stations or restaurants, as of May 2019).

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: $150 bonus after spending $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: 0% on Balance Transfers for 12 billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

WHY WE LIKE IT

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card is all about customization. You get to choose (from a list) what kind of spending earns bonus cash back. As of May 2019, "ground transportation" was one of several 5% cash-back options. That category includes eligible bus/passenger railway/taxi fares, plus spending on services like Uber and Lyft, limos and Zipcar. And if you're interested in optimizing your card to cover even more kinds of transit-related spending, you could select gas stations as your 2% "everyday" bonus category.

DRAWBACKS

You'll have to be willing to juggle several bonus categories and "opt in" to them each quarter. Also keep in mind that "ground transportation" doesn't include expenses like parking meters, parking garages or toll stations.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Our pick for: Bank of America® customers

Card details

Rewards:

  • 3% back in a category of your choice (from a list of six) and 2% back on grocery stores and wholesale clubs, for the first $2,500 of combined bonus category/grocery store/wholesale club spending per quarter (1% back after that).

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: An intro 0% APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR.

why we like it

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card also offers a choose-your-own-adventure rewards program. One of the 3% bonus-category options is "travel," but that doesn't just mean airfare and hotels. That category also includes parking lots and garages, bus lines, passenger railways, ferries, cabs, limos, toll and bridge fees, and eligible ridesharing. You can change your 3% category up to once a month. The default category is gas. Plus, if you're eligible for the Bank of America® Preferred Rewards program, you can earn higher rewards rates — from 25% to 75% more, depending on the amount of money you have in eligible Bank of America® accounts.

Drawbacks

This card requires a fair amount of maintenance; you'll need to keep track of bonus categories and your own spending. Its bonus-category spending caps mean it's not ideal for big spenders.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Our pick for: Lyft rides

CARD DETAILS

Rewards:

  • 10 points per dollar spent on Lyft through March 2022 (7 points per dollar spent on Lyft, plus 3 points per dollar spent on travel).

  • 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining. (Travel purchases that qualify for the card's annual $300 travel credit won’t earn points.)

  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® .

Annual fee: $550.

APR: The ongoing APR is 16.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

WHY WE LIKE IT

For a limited time (through March 2022), the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is offering the highest rewards rate on the market when it comes to rideshares through Lyft. You'll earn a total of 10 points back per dollar you spend with the service (7 points on Lyft purchases, plus the card's normal 3 points per dollar spent on travel). That's a fantastic rate. Also through March 2022, the card offers a free one-year membership to Lyft Pink, a subscription service that can get you up to 15% off rides, plus relaxed cancellations, priority airport pickups, and up to three 30-minute bike and scooter rides per month. Plus, the card's overall 3X travel category is broad and includes car rental agencies, passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, parking lots, toll bridges and highways, to name a few. The $300 annual statement credit is similarly expansive, covering most kinds of travel expenses.

DRAWBACKS

The card has a steep annual fee of $550. It's not worth it if you can't take full advantage of all the perks and benefits the card offers. If you prefer a lower annual fee, or no annual fee at all, some Chase credit cards offer 5 points or 5% cash back per dollar spent on Lyft rides through March 2022, and that's still an impressive rate.

Uber Credit Card

Our pick for: Uber rides

CARD DETAILS

Rewards:

  • 5% back in Uber Cash on all Uber purchases.

  • 3% back in Uber Cash on restaurants, bars, hotels and airfare.

  • 1% back in Uber Cash on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $0.

WHY WE LIKE IT

If you’d generally skip the crowded train and let someone else do the driving, the Uber Credit Card is a strong pick. It earns 5% in Uber Cash on Uber purchases, including Uber rides, Uber Eats orders, and Jump bike and scooter rides. It also offers solid rewards on purchases at restaurants, bars, hotels and airfare.

DRAWBACKS

Rewards come in the form of Uber Cash, not cash back. That gives you fewer redemption options. Uber Cash can only be used to pay for Uber rides, Uber Eats orders, and Jump bike and scooter rides. For Uber loyalists, though, this limitation might not matter.

Navy Federal Credit Union® More Rewards American Express® Credit Card

Our pick for: Military and qualifying family members

CARD DETAILS

Rewards:

  • 3 points per $1 spent at supermarkets, at restaurants, and on gas and transit.

  • 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 25,000 bonus points (a $250 value) when you spend $3,000 within 90 days of account opening.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: The ongoing APR is 11.15% - 18.00%, Variable.

WHY WE LIKE IT

Whether you drive or hitch a ride, the Navy Federal Credit Union® More Rewards American Express® Credit Card rewards you generously. The card offers a broad transit category that includes ridesharing services, tolls, ferries, parking lots and garages, limos, taxis, bus lines, charters, tour buses and rail lines. It's a rarity among rewards credit cards because it earns top rewards in many other everyday categories including gas, dining and groceries. Other credit cards reward only one or two of those categories, and sometimes they come with spending limits.

DRAWBACKS

You need to be eligible for membership at Navy Federal Credit Union to qualify for this card. Membership is generally limited to current or former military members, Department of Defense employees, or their qualifying family members. And as an AmEx card, the Navy Federal Credit Union® More Rewards American Express® Credit Card has limited merchant acceptance abroad, which might be a dealbreaker if you frequently move around the country.

Amtrak Guest Rewards® World Mastercard®

Our pick for: Avid Amtrak users

CARD DETAILS

Rewards:

  • 3 points per $1 spent with Amtrak.

  • 2 points per $1 spent at other eligible non-Amtrak travel merchants.

  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $79.

why we like it

This card's 3X category speaks for itself, but even its 2X category includes spending on eligible airlines, car rental agencies, hotels and resorts, steamship/cruise lines, commuter rail and passenger rail. While you can redeem points for a number of travel costs including car rentals and hotel stays, when you apply points toward Amtrak tickets you get a 5% point rebate.

Drawbacks

A general card will give you much more flexibility in how to use your points.

General travel cards to consider

Several general travel cards can work well for transit, especially those that allow you to redeem points to "erase" commuting-related purchases. Here are a few options:

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card makes redeeming rewards easy (it also makes earning them easy — you'll get 2 miles per $1 on all purchases). Use the Purchase Eraser feature to reimburse yourself for transit costs like train tickets and taxis within 90 days of purchase. Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel. The annual fee is $0 intro for the first year, then $95.

The Platinum Card® from American Express has a number of add-ons that help offset its eye-popping $550 annual fee, including Uber credits worth $200 a year. You’ll get $15 in Uber Cash per month ($20 in December) to use on rides in the U.S. Terms apply. New cardholders can earn this bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Information related to the Citi Premier℠ Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please visit this page.

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