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NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards for Transit Spending

May 29, 2019
Cash Back Credit Cards, Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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  • Citi Premier Card

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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.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best gas credit cards

For high overall value

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Apply Now on Wells Fargo's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No annual fee
    • Sign-up bonus
    • No foreign transaction fee
    • Intro APR period on Purchases and qualifying Balance Transfers

    Cons

    • American Express isn’t accepted at as many merchants as Visa or Mastercard
    • Requires good/excellent credit

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 15.99% - 27.99% Variable APR

    Bonus Offers

    Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value

    Intro APR

    • 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers
  • Additional Information
    • Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value
    • $0 annual fee and no foreign currency conversion fee
    • Earn 3X points on eating out and ordering in
    • Earn 3X points on travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
    • Earn 3X points on gas stations, rideshares and transit
    • Earn 3X points on popular streaming services
    • Earn 1X points on other purchases
    • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions

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 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: An intro 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 27.99% 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 on your gas 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.

» MORE: Full review of the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

For families

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Apply Now on American Express's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Leading cash-back rewards at U.S. supermarkets
    • Bonus offer for new cardholders
    • Intro APR period on Purchases and Balance Transfers

    Cons

    • Has annual fee — but if you spend more than $31 per week at U.S. supermarkets, the rewards offset the fee
    • American Express isn’t accepted at as many merchants as Visa or Mastercard
    • $25 minimum redemption

    Annual Fees

    $95

    APR

    • APR: 14.99% - 25.99% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: 29.99%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 27.24%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

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

    Intro APR

    • 0% intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months
  • Additional Information
    • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
    • NEW 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
    • NEW 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more.
    • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations. 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
    • You spoke, we listened. Over 1.6 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
    • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.99% to 25.99%
    • $95 annual fee.
    • Terms Apply.

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% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 25.99% 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.

» MORE: Full review of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

For flexibility

Citi Premier Card

CARD DETAILS

Rewards:

  • 3 points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations.
  • 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on entertainment.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. (This offer is no longer valid on our site).

Annual fee: $95.

APR: The ongoing APR is 18.24% - 26.24% Variable APR.

why we like it

The Citi Premier Card earns triple ThankYou points per $1 spent on travel, and that includes a host of commuting costs: gas stations, ferries, railways, subways, taxi/limo/car services, buses, bridge and road tolls, and parking lots and garages. Your choice of redemption options is similarly wide-ranging, although points are worth 25% more if you redeem them for airfare through the ThankYou® Travel Center.

Drawbacks

There’s an annual fee, and point values differ widely depending on what you’re redeeming for.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Apply Now on US Bank's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • High rewards rate
    • Bonus cash back categories
    • No annual fee
    • Intro APR period on Balance Transfers

    Cons

    • Complex rewards require maintenance
    • Foreign transaction fee

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 15.99% - 25.49% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 25.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

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

    Intro APR

    • 0% Intro APR* on purchases and balance transfers for 12 billing cycles
  • Additional Information
    • Earn up to $550 cash back in the first year.
    • $150 bonus after spending $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
    • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases ($100 per quarter) on two categories you choose. That adds up to $400 cash back!
    • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores.
    • 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
    • 0% Intro APR* on purchases and balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 15.99% - 25.49%.
    • No limit on total cash back earned.
    • No annual fee*
    • Great Offer from U.S. Bank, a 2019 World's Most Ethical Company® - Ethisphere Institute, February 2019
    • View Rates and Fees

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 Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 25.49% 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.

» MORE: Full review of the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

For Bank of America® customers

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Apply Now on Bank of America's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No annual fee
    • Cash bonus offer
    • Cash rewards

    Cons

    • If you're a big spender with excellent credit and willing to pay an annual fee, there are cards with higher rewards

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: up to 29.99% APR

    Bonus Offers

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

    Intro APR

    • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
  • Additional Information
    • No annual fee
    • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
    • Earn 3% cash back on gas or your choice of one of five other popular categories, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
    • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers
    • No expiration on rewards
    • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase

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% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 16.24% - 26.24% 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.

» MORE: Full review of the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

For foodies

Uber Visa Card

CARD DETAILS

Rewards:

  • 4% cash back on dining, including Uber Eats.
  • 3% back on airfare and hotels.
  • 2% back on online purchases (including Uber, online shopping and streaming services).
  • 1% back 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 Visa Card earns 2% cash back on Uber purchases, and you can redeem points for Uber Cash (which lets you prepay for future rides) at a value of one cent per point. But this card’s true strength is its outstanding rewards rate on dining — which includes Uber Eats.

DRAWBACKS

Other cards offer higher rewards on actual Uber rides, or on rideshares in general. Also note that you don’t get a discount when redeeming points for Uber Cash — where, if you were to purchase Uber Cash with actual cash (as opposed to reward points) through the Uber app, you’d save 2% when you add $25, 3% when you add $50 and 5% when you add $100.

» MORE: Full review of the Uber Visa Card

For avid Amtrak users

Amtrak Guest Rewards® World Mastercard®

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 for the first year, then $95.

One perk that sets the Chase Sapphire Reserve® apart is a $300 annual statement credit for travel costs, which include trains, buses, taxis, limos, ferries, tolls and parking. Using this benefit is foolproof, too. You’ll automatically receive statement credits to cover the cost of anything categorized as a travel expense up to the $300 limit. After that, you’ll earn 3 points per $1 on travel purchases. The travel statement credit helps offset the considerable $450 annual fee, as does this 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® .

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.

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

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