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What’s the Best Rewards Credit Card for People Who Don’t Travel?

Published April 18, 2023
4 min read

Table of contents

Key points about: rewards credit cards for people who don't travel

  1. Co-branded airline or hotel credit cards may not be a good choice for people who don’t travel.

  2. A cash back rewards card lets you earn rewards on everyday purchases.

  3. When choosing the best credit card for you, check whether there are features besides rewards, like no annual fee or an introductory 0% APR offer.

When you’re choosing the best rewards credit card for your needs, the first thing to do is review where you spend money. Although a rewards credit card may have the same rewards rate for all categories of spending, some reward credit cards may give a higher level of rewards in certain categories, such as flights, hotels, gas, restaurants, or purchases at specific merchants. 

If you don’t travel, you’re not likely to benefit from airline or hotel travel credit cards that let you earn rewards with flights or hotel stays. The best reward credit card for people who don’t travel may be one that offers cash back rewards on everyday purchases such as groceries, restaurant meals, and gas.

Types of rewards credit cards

Cash back rewards

Cash back rewards cards give you rewards as a percentage of your spending. There may be higher levels of rewards in specified categories, such as restaurants and gas. The Discover it® Chrome Restaurant and Gas Card has no annual fee and lets you earn 2% Cashback Bonus® at Gas stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically.1

In addition to cash back, some cash back rewards cards may let you redeem rewards for a gift card, charitable donation, or a statement credit toward your bill.

Travel rewards

A travel card usually offers miles or points in a travel provider’s loyalty program. These cards tend to be most valuable for frequent travelers.

Review other credit card features

Balance transfer offers

If you’re carrying a balance on a high-interest credit card, you may benefit from a balance transfer offer with an introductory 0% APR. This means you pay no interest on the balance you transferred, as long as you don’t make purchases or take cash advances, and you pay the balance transfer in full by the end of the introductory period.

Did you know?

Some Discover cards offer an introductory 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers, which means you can avoid interest as long as you don’t take a cash advance and you pay your balance in full before the intro period ends.

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Annual fee

When you’re comparing rewards cards, check whether the value of the rewards you can earn is higher than any fees you might incur, such as an annual fee, cash advance fee, or late payment fee. Some rewards credit cards have no annual fee, so if you always pay on time and don’t take out cash advances, you can avoid fees that will cut into the value of your rewards.

Interest rate

If you carry a balance from one month to the next, your credit card’s APR (annual percentage rate) will affect the total cost of your purchases. Some credit cards offer an introductory 0% APR on purchases for a specified term after your account opening, so that’s something to look for if you need longer to pay for upcoming purchases. You’ll also want to check the interest rate that will take effect after the intro period ends.

Foreign transaction fee

You might think a foreign transaction fee wouldn’t affect someone who does no international travel, but you can actually incur a foreign transaction fee without leaving home. This fee may be added to the cost of your purchases when you buy online from a merchant in another country.

Features you can ignore

If you don’t travel, you don’t need to look for a credit card that offers travel features. For example, even a card that’s not a travel rewards credit card may pay for the global entry program, but this doesn’t offer an advantage when you don’t travel. Any benefit that requires a travel purchase isn’t helpful for people who don’t travel, so you don’t need to include it when evaluating the best credit card for you.

Don’t rule out travel credit cards

Sometimes a travel credit card may allow you to earn cash back rewards on everyday purchases. The Discover Travel Credit Card lets you earn 1.5X Miles on every purchase, and your Miles can be redeemed for cash. So even if you never leave your hometown, you can turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time.2

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Can you get a rewards credit card without a great credit score?

Even if you have no credit history, or your credit score isn’t the best, you may qualify for a cash back rewards card. If you’re a student and new to credit, student credit cards may be your best option for earning cash back rewards. Even if you’re not a student, you may qualify for a secured credit card with cash back rewards. A secured card requires a deposit in the amount of your credit limit, and with responsible use, you can eventually qualify for an unsecured card.

Choosing the best rewards credit card for you

While you should evaluate your spending to see how it lines up with cash back rewards categories, it’s important to review other benefits that may be important. Check the credit card issuer’s terms to see whether there’s an annual fee, and what interest rates apply to different types of transactions. Ultimately, the best rewards credit cards for you are the ones that let you earn the most cash back with the least amount of fees and interest.


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