The Best Credit Cards for Commuters of All Kinds

If you spend on tolls, public transportation, rideshares, or gasoline, consider these cards to earn valuable credit card rewards.
10/25/19 | By Brett Holzhauer
The Best Credit Cards for Commuters of All Kinds

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For many American workers, commuting is a decent chunk of their budget. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017 report on consumer expenditures, the average American spends roughly 13% of their monthly budget on commuting costs. Of course, this expense is dependent on where you live and if you work from home or not. But regardless of whether you drive, take public transportation, pay for tolls, use a rideshare service, or call a taxi, there’s potential for you to earn valuable credit card rewards that can offset the cost of your commute.

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How to choose the best credit card for your commute

The perfect card for one commuter may not be perfect for the next. The best card for you will depend on a few factors:

  • What costs you’re incurring for transportation
  • If you want to earn cash back versus travel rewards
  • If you’re willing to pay an annual fee
  • If you have other expenses you’ll be putting on the same credit card

Also, you may consider changing up your mode of transportation if you live in a city or suburb. I recently went from owning a car to a carless lifestyle. This lifestyle change has saved me thousands of dollars. This is in part because I always pay for my public transportation and rideshares with a rewards-earning credit card to help bring down my costs even further.

So, with all that in mind, let’s dive into the best credit cards for commuters of all varieties to ensure your transportation costs are also being maximized to their fullest potential.

Best credit cards if you commute by public transportation

Card Earning rate (points/miles) Annual fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card 3X points on travel immediately after earning $300 travel credit, 3X points at restaurants and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else $450
Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card 3X points on eligible dining, transportation, travel, and streaming service purchases; 1X points on other purchases $0
Citi Premier Card 3X points on travel, including gas stations; 2X points on restaurants and entertainment; and 1X points on all other purchases $95

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

As one of the best travel credit cards on the market, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is perfect for anyone who travels at least a few times per year. You can earn three points per dollar on all travel costs. It’s a great card for commuters since the earning category of “travel” includes public transportation like passenger trains, buses, and ferries.

However, keep in mind Chase’s 5/24 rule, which will exclude any card applicants who have applied for more than five credit cards in the past 24 months. So, if you’ve been on an application spree over the past two years, skipping over this card would be best for now. Or if you’re starting to cut it close, make sure you apply for this card first.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card has extremely generous spending categories that address public transportation. With this card, you can earn 3X points on eligible dining, transportation, travel, and streaming service purchases; 1X points on other purchases. That means you’ll earn points for every dollar you spend on bus, subway, train, and rideshare services along with many other of your expenses.

Citi Premier Card

The Citi Premier Card is a great choice when it comes to public transportation costs as well as general travel expenses. Purchases on ferries, commuter railways, subways, passenger railways, and bus lines will earn you three points per dollar. If you’re a fan of Citi ThankYou points, this card can boost your ThankYou points balance quickly to get you on the road to your travel destination of choice.

Best credit cards if you commute by car

Card Earning rate (points/miles) Annual fee
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on first $6,000 in purchase per year, 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% cash back on all other purchases $95
Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases worldwide (up to $7,000 spent), 3% cash back on restaurant and travel purchases, 2% cash back on all other Costco purchases, and 1% back on everything else 

$0

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card 3X points on eligible dining, transportation, travel, and streaming service purchases; 1X points on other purchases $0

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is an outstanding card for those looking to save money on their commuting expenses. And if you’re able to utilize a variety of options for commuting, this card is a slam-dunk. You’ll earn cash back on transit expenses, including spending at gas stations as well as on taxis, rideshares, parking, tolls, trains, and buses.

Along with saving on transportation costs, you’ll earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on first $6,000 in purchase per year, 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi

The Costco Anywhere Visa Card is perfect for anyone who has a Costco membership and is relatively close to a Costco location. Costco has some of the best gas prices in the country, and if you use the Costco Anywhere Visa Card, you’ll also get 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases worldwide (up to $7,000 spent), 3% cash back on restaurant and travel purchases, 2% cash back on all other Costco purchases, and 1% back on everything else.

I wouldn’t recommend getting a Costco membership only for gas unless you’re spending thousands of dollars per year on gas, as the membership fee for the wholesale store will defeat the savings. But if you’re already considering shopping at Costco to save by buying in bulk, then adding on the Costco Anywhere Visa could multiply all your savings.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card is a great option for someone looking for no-fuss earnings in a widespread amount of categories. You can earn three points per dollar on gas, rideshares, transit, eating out, ordering in, flights, hotel, homestays, car rentals, and popular streaming services. And all of this reward-earning potential comes with no annual fee.

Best credit cards for rideshares

It’s becoming more and more popular for people to completely ditch their car. For many, using rideshare services has become more convenient, simpler, and more cost-efficient than owning or renting a car. With that in mind, here are the best credit cards for rideshares.

Card Earning rate (points/miles) Annual fee
The Platinum Card from American Express 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare and hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases

$200 yearly credit for Uber

$550
Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card 3X points on eligible dining, transportation, travel, and streaming service purchases; 1X points on other purchases $0
Uber Credit Card 4% cash back on dining, including restaurants, takeout, bars, and Uber Eats
3% cash back at hotels and on airfare
2% cash back on online purchases, including Uber
1% cash back on all other purchases
$0

The Platinum Card from American Express

With the American Express Platinum Card — a luxury charge card — you’ll receive a wide array of travel benefits, including $200 per year in Uber credits. You’ll get $15 per month from January to November, and in December, you’ll enjoy $35 ($15 plus a $20 bonus) to round out the $200 annual credit. Be aware that the credits are “use it or lose it” each month, though.

While the American Express Platinum Card does have a $550 annual fee, these credits (if used) reduce the cost of the card considerably.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

With the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card, you can earn three points per dollar on rideshares and many other travel expenses. You’ll also get one point per dollar on everything else.

Uber Credit Card

With the Uber Credit Card, you’ll earn 2% cash back on your Uber rides, along with online shopping and streaming services. While I wouldn’t recommend the card solely for the 2% cash back on Uber rides, this card is respectable for its other categories and no annual fee.

Best credit cards if your commute is a business expense

If you’re a business owner, you have the ability to select from some of the best business credit cards for your costs when traveling for work. Here are three of the best business cards for commuters, while also keeping in mind that you may be traveling farther for work as well.

Card Earning rate (points/miles) Travel insurance policies Annual fee
American Express Business Gold Card 4X Membership Rewards points for the first $150,000 spent in two select categories each year, and 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases Premium roadside assistance, travel accident insurance, and car rental loss and damage insurance (secondary coverage) $295
Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card 3X points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, or phone services, and advertising purchases with social media and search engines; and 1X points per $1 on everything else Trip cancellation/interruption insurance, roadside dispatch, and auto rental collision damage waiver (primary coverage) $95

American Express Business Gold Card

The American Express Business Gold Card is a flexible business card with zero hassle. You’ll benefit from a valuable welcome offer, along with extensive options to earn American Express Membership Rewards points. You can earn 4X Membership Rewards points for the first $150,000 spent in two select categories each year, and 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.

The categories you can select from as of August 2019 include U.S. purchases at gas stations; airfare purchased directly from airlines; U.S. purchases for advertising in select media; U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions; and U.S. purchases at restaurants.

If you’re driving consistently for work, being able to earn generous points per dollar at gas stations can create major points earnings. This card also offers protections if your work “commute” may occasionally involve flying or renting a vehicle.

Chase Ink Business Preferred

The Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card is great for a business owner that will reward you for a wide variety of commuting expenses, protect you when you travel to other cities for work, and give you a lucrative sign-up bonus. The travel category for this card is defined as car rental agencies, buses, taxis, passenger trains, parking lots, garages, limousines, ferries, toll bridges, highways, airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, cruise lines, travel agencies, and discount travel sites.

Why we chose these cards (methodology)

When picking these cards, we looked at the bonus available when signing up and the continuing earning potential of the card after the bonus. All of the cards mentioned above have a large welcome bonus, great spending rewards, or both. Many of these cards also have other benefits, such as travel insurance, TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee reimbursement, or other travel-related credits.

When selecting a card for yourself, be sure to look into the card beyond just the welcome bonus and spending categories. If you’re frequently traveling either for work or pleasure, a card with more insurance coverages might be more worth pursuing over another.

Bottom line

You don’t have to pick just one of these great credit cards for commuters. In fact, you may need multiple credit cards if you think you’ll max out the rewards potential on one card. Strategizing with more than one card is a great way to earn even more points or cash back.

And if you’re a business owner, consider applying for both a personal card and a business card to easily separate your personal and business expenses.

Regardless of which card (or cards) you choose, you can now see that being intentional with your credit card use when it comes to your commute can be a valuable strategy.

#1 Premium Travel Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Benefits

  • 50,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 3X on travel after earning your $300 travel credit
  • 3X points at restaurants
  • Access to Priority Pass airport lounges
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