NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for May 2021

As you’re navigating May expenses and planning for travel, get more value from your credit cards.

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The vaccine rollout across the country has inspired a slow return to normal — or at least some version of it. Many kids have gone back to school in person, people have started cautiously planning vacations and Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and graduation events are right around the corner.

As you encounter new expenses and plan for a brighter summer, look to your credit cards to unlock additional value.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card
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Spend strategically on those May celebrations

Look for opportunities to stack rewards with May purchases to defray costs. Turn to your credit cards to make the most of rewards categories, and explore other platforms that offer rewards.

Cinco de Mayo

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card
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If you celebrate Cinco de Mayo, look out for restaurant specials and combine them with a credit card that earns the most rewards on dining. With a card like the $0*-annual-fee U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card, you can earn 4 points per $1 spent on dining (including takeout and deliveries).

Mother’s Day

Similarly, a card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® gets 3% back at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services. It has a $0 annual fee. So, you can earn handsome rewards when treating mom to a nice dinner.

American Express Blue Cash Everyday Credit Card
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Memorial Day

A credit card that earns rewards at grocery stores can beef up that Memorial Day barbecue or put some money back in your pocket. The $0-annual-fee Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, for instance, gets 3% cash back on up to $6,000 in annual spending at U.S. supermarkets. Terms apply.

graduations

Target REDcard™ Credit Card
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You may also be able to use the grocery store category to earn big rewards on a gift card for a new graduate. Or your credit card issuer's targeted offers may allow you to redeem points for gift cards at a discounted rate. The $0-annual-fee Target REDcard™ Credit Card, for example, saves you 5% on specialty gift cards for travel, restaurants and more.

Save on return-to-normal expenses

As you return to work and the kids go back to school, unexpected purchases may creep into your budget, from new clothes ("quarantine 15," anyone?) to equipment for kids' extracurricular activities. Lessen the potential blow with the right credit card.

Skip interest with a 0% intro APR

Chase Freedom Flex
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If you need some cushion for your purchases, consider a 0% intro APR offer that can provide breathing room on interest. The $0-annual-fee Chase Freedom Flex℠, for instance, offers a 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR. In the second quarter of 2020, it earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent at gas stations and home improvement stores. And, its ongoing rewards are fitting for sanitizer purchases or dining out. It gets 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.

Pair your credit card with a cash-back shopping portal or coupons

Citi® Double Cash Card
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If you don't need the 0% interest, turn to a flat-rate credit card in your wallet to spruce up that quarantine hairdo or beard. The $0-annual-fee Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, for instance, earns 2% cash back: 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay it off. Pair it with a coupon like a local Groupon deal for even more savings.

If you buy it through Rakuten, you can also snag 10% back on a Groupon deal while offers last.

Get on track with travel goals

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
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If you’re ready to start making travel plans, some travel credit cards’ sign-up offers can get you to that dreamy destination. Here are some hefty bonuses to consider:

  • The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. This card earns 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases. It has a $95 annual fee.

Chase United Quest Credit Card
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  • The New United Quest℠ Card: Chase recently launched this card with a limited-time sign-up offer: Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months. You can get either or both of these bonuses. It also earns 3 miles per $1 spent on United purchases; 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel, dining and select streaming services; and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. It has a $250 annual fee.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
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  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card: Marriott Bonvoy cards have temporarily increased their sign-up offers. Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening + 10X total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores within 6 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card. It offers 6 points per $1 spent at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, and 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, you get a Free Night Award every year after your account anniversary. It has a $95 annual fee.


To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, see this page.

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