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Best Credit Cards for a Summer Road Trip

May 20, 2015
Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
Best Credit Cards for a Summer Road Trip
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If you plan on hitting the highway this summer (and who doesn’t love a road trip?), you shouldn’t leave home without a credit card that rewards your spending along the way. With these cards, you’ll get cash back on things like gas, groceries and grub. Let’s dive in.

If you’re going with groceries: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

For those looking to take the frugal route and avoid spending at restaurants while traveling, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has you covered with 3% cash back on purchases at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in spending per year — then 1%). Just throw together a couple sandwiches and grab a few bags of chips, and you’ll be ready to hit the road.

Of course, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express will also save you money on gas, netting  2% back on purchases at U.S. gas stations. This makes paying at the pump a little less worrisome on the wallet. With 2% back at select U.S. department stores and 1% back on everything else, there are plenty of opportunities to earn cash back with this card.

This card also comes with a bonus offer for new cardholders. The no-annual-fee Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is a solid choice for those who don’t mind making their own meals as they travel from city to city.

If you want to earn higher rewards on rotating categories: Chase Freedom®

If you’d prefer a rotating-rewards-category credit card that earns cash back on road trip-related expenditures, the Chase Freedom® is a solid all-around choice. This card has quarterly rotating 5% bonus categories, which have historically allowed users to earn bonus points on things like gas, retail shopping, groceries and restaurants (on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter). No matter the time of the year, you’re bound to spend in one of these areas, and you’ll earn a big chunk of change back when you do. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1% cash back.

Nerd note: Remember, to earn points on bonus categories with the Chase Freedom®, you need to opt into the categories with Chase every quarter. Doing so through the issuer’s website takes just a few clicks.

Points can be redeemed as statement credit, and cardholders also have the option of getting a cash-back boost of 1%-15% when they make purchases through Chase’s online shopping mall. Many of the retailers included in “Shop through Chase” offer products you’d buy for your trip anyway, so why not earn some extra cash?

If you’re a new cardholder, you’ll collect a sign-up bonus, too: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. With a $0 annual fee, the Chase Freedom® is an all-around winner for those who want to earn big cash back on a new category every quarter.

As Tom Cochrane once said, “Life is a highway.” If you’re on the highway (literally or metaphorically), you might as well save some money with a reward card that best suits your spending.

›› MORE: NerdWallet’s Best Travel Credit Cards

Kevin Cash is a staff writer covering credit cards and consumer credit for NerdWallet. Follow him on Google+.

Image via iStock.