How to rack up rewards on your daily commute

Ride-hailing services, air travel, fueling up are ways to earn you bonus points or cash back

John Egan
Personal Finance Writer
Writes trendy stories about credit cards.

How to rack up rewards on your daily commute


The length of Americans’ everyday commutes keeps growing – and so does commuters’ frustration. However, you can turn some of that transportation rage into funds by using credit cards that speed up the rewards you earn.

Ride-hailing services
If you’re an Uber lover, then you should check out the Platinum card from American Express*.

A Platinum card member receives $15 in Uber credits for U.S. rides every month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That’s as much as $200 for Uber rides each year. On top of that, every holder of a Platinum card secures Uber VIP status and earns 2x rewards points on U.S. rides when charging them on an eligible AmEx card.

Don’t have a Platinum card? You still can reap ride-hailing rewards.

For instance, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers 3x points for every $1 spent on travel, including Uber and Lyft rides, as does the Citi ThankYou Premier card.

Airline hubs
If you regularly fly out of the same airport for vacations, romantic getaways or business trips, you could be racking up points (and earning free flights) with an airline card. But which airline card?

Do you fly regularly in and out of Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey? Since Newark is a hub for United, it would make sense to apply for a United-branded credit card so that you can earn more reward miles.

The same scenario holds true for airports across the country where one or two airlines dominate. For instance, if you fly frequently in and out of Phoenix, an American Airlines-branded card might pay off more than another, since Phoenix is an American hub.

By the same token, Southwest Airlines covers a large swath of the country, but it doesn’t fly in or out of airports in places like Colorado Springs, Colorado; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Syracuse, New York. If you live in these cities, another airline card is a smarter choice.

Gas station rewards
In the U.S., the average commuter travels close to 15 miles each way to work, and a vast majority are behind the wheel of their own cars.

Therefore, if you’re logging a lot of miles on your car – and especially if you drive more than the average commuter does – why not apply for a card that pumps up your gas-buying rewards?

One of the best cards for gas guzzlers is the Blue Cash Preferred card from American Express, which gives 3 percent unlimited cash back for every $1 spent at U.S. gas stations. Another is the BankAmericard Cash Rewards card, which offers 3 percent cash back on every $1 spent on gas for the first $2,500 in combined quarterly purchases at grocery stores, wholesale clubs and gas stations.

Buses, parking, toll roads and more
Parking fees, public transit tickets, toll road fees and other commuting expenses take a toll on your wallet. But you can recapture at least some of that money by picking a credit card that rewards you for charging those costs.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, for example, provides 2x miles for travel, including buses, ferries, limos, taxis and trains. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card really goes the distance, offering 2x miles in a broader travel category that includes buses, ferries, limos, parking lots, parking garages, passenger trains, taxis, toll bridges and toll roads.

Another card that belongs in this group is the Citi ThankYou Premier card. The card offers 3x points for a boatload of commuting modes, such as car services, commuter railways, commuter trains, limos, ferries, subways, taxis, toll bridges and toll roads.

Since you’re going to be on the road, catching a flight or hailing a ride, it just makes sense to be earning rewards while you’re doing that. And if having so many credit cards makes it hard to remember which card to pay with, wherever you use your cards, download our Wallet app. Wallet tells you which of your cards to use to earn the most cash back or rewards points.

*The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date. Please see the bank’s website for the most current version of card offers.

See related: Maximizing card rewards after you've earned the sign-up bonus4 easy ways to stack card rewards


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Updated: 02-17-2019