credit cards for summerUpdated: Aug. 7, 2018

Summertime is here, which means you likely have plans to travel, host a get-together or attend events in your area. While you may be tempted to pay for these activities with a debit card or cash, believe it or not, credit is actually the best option. Credit cards not only offer the most fraud protection and added consumer protections, but on top of that, many credit cards also offer rewards on purchases — even your summer-related purchases. Additionally, if you use a credit card responsibly and pay off the balance every month, you can not only reap rewards on purchases, but also avoid credit card interest and build a positive credit history. Since finding the perfect credit card for your summer plans can be hard, we’re detailing the best cards for financing your fun this summer and throughout the year.

Best all-around card

Having the right card for all of your summer purchases is nice, but it’s even better to have the perfect card for the whole year. Below is our pick for the best all-around card.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

credit cards for summerIf you’re looking for a card that will take you through the summer and beyond, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card is for you. That’s because the card offers rewards on your essential summer purchases, along with other purchases you’ll make throughout the year. This card earns an impressive 3X points on dining out or eating in, commuting purchases (e.g., gas, rideshares and transit purchases), popular streaming services and travel, which includes flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent. On top of these impressive rewards, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card offers an intro bonus worth $300 in cash — you’ll earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. As if that isn’t enough, the card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, along with a 12-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (with an intro balance transfer fee of 3% for 12 months, then it’s 5%). Finally, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card is available to those with good to excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 700 or higher).

Best cards for parties and get-togethers

If you’re planning a big summer party at a restaurant or in your backyard, you’re going to need to pay for food. These cards definitely have you covered on that front, as the first option earns stellar cash back rewards on groceries, while the following card earns solid cash back rewards on dining out.

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

credit cards for summerAs the winner of our Credit Card Cash Back Analysis, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express (a NextAdvisor advertiser) is a money-making machine. Its beefy 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000/year in purchases, then it’s 1% back) is impressive for anyone who plans to host any gathering or party. In addition, the card earns 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, like Sears and Macy’s, allowing you to shop for dishware and appliances should you need any. All other purchases yield 1% cash back. The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express also offers a $200 statement credit to cardholders who spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening – that’s 20% back right off the bat! If all of this isn’t enough, the card’s 12-month 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers (with a 3% balance transfer fee, $5 minimum) should be enticing. While the card has a $95 annual fee, it does offer some significant cash back rewards, as you saw, along with a number of added perks like purchase protection, return protection and extended warranty. Still, if you find the $95 annual fee off-putting, look at Blue Cash Preferred Card’s sister card the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express, which has no annual fee, though its cash back earnings aren’t quite as significant. Both Blue Cash cards require good to excellent credit (often considered a credit score of 700 or higher) for approval.

Best cards for road trips

Whether you’re heading out for the day or hitting the road, these cards will ensure that you get the most bang for your buck on gas.

Chase Freedom

credit cards for summerWhile it won’t earn cash back on gas all the time, as it earns cash back on rotating categories, Chase Freedom is the card you want to use at the pump this summer. From July to September, the card earns 5% cash back on gas, Lyft and Walgreens (up to $1,500/quarter in purchases, then it’s 1%), so if you’re planning a road trip and need gas and snacks or if you’re heading to a venue in town with Lyft, Chase Freedom has you covered. The categories rotate every quarter, giving you the opportunity to earn cash back on a number of different purchases throughout the year, and you’ll need to activate the 5% rewards every quarter, but Chase reminds you when it’s time. All other purchases made with Chase Freedom earn 1% cash back. On top of that, Chase Freedom offers a $150 bonus to cardholder who spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months — that’s a 30% bonus! Cardholder will also enjoy no annual fee and a 15-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (with a 5% balance transfer fee, $5 minimum). Chase Freedom is also available to those with good to excellent credit, which is considered a credit score of 700 or higher.

Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card

credit cards for summerIf you want a card that always earns cash back at the pump, the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card is a good option. This card earns a nice 3% cash back on gas and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to the first $2,500 in combined gas/grocery/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then it’s 1% back). It also earns 1% cash back on all other purchases and has a 12-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (with a 3% balance transfer fee, $10 minimum). New cardholders also have the opportunity to earn a $200 online bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days — note that you must apply online to receive this bonus. The Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card, which is available to those with good to excellent credit (often considered a credit score of 700 or higher), has no annual fee and offers a 10% bonus (Gold, Platinum or Platinum Honors Bank of America customers can get a bonus of 25% to 75%) to cardholders who redeem their rewards into an eligible Bank of America checking or savings account, making it a great card for banking customers.

Best cards for travel

Are you flying to your destination this summer? Be it a domestic trip or one that takes you abroad, here are the cards that are bound to be useful during your travels.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

credit cards for summerHaving earned top honors in our Travel Rewards Credit Card Analysis, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has the highest redemption potential of the cards we review on both flights and hotels with a value of $2.40 earned for each $100 spent. Kicking things off is a generous 50,000-mile bonus (worth $500 in travel!) that you’ll earn after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of becoming a cardholder. In terms of ongoing rewards, you’ll earn a whopping 10 miles per $1 spent on travel booked and paid for through Hotels.com/venture from now through Jan. 31, 2020, along with unlimited 2 miles per $1 on all other purchases. Using Hotels.com also gives you the opportunity to enroll its rewards program that’ll grant you a free night after you book 10 nights through the site. Several other benefits round out the card, which is available to those with good to excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 700 or higher), including no foreign transaction fees, complimentary concierge service, roadside assistance as well as travel and emergency assistance services. It also has a $100 reward to cover Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fees every four years to serve travelers’ needs. While the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has a $95 annual fee, it’s waived for the first year.

Discover it Miles

credit cards for summerDiscover it Miles isn’t a card that earns as much as the previously mentioned card, but it earns an unlimited 1.5X miles on all purchases and has no annual fee, unlike most travel rewards credit cards. Since Discover it Miles earns a flat rate on all purchases, you can use the card on all of your purchases during the summer and throughout the year to really rack up the rewards. It’s also the only card on this list that’s available to those with average to excellent credit (usually a credit score of 670 or higher). Plus, Discover will match all of the miles you earn in the first year as a cardholder, which means if you earn 30,000 miles in the first year, Discover will match 30,000 to give you a total of 60,000 miles. Like other travel credit cards, Discover has no foreign transaction fees, but unlike other travel cards, it offers a nice 14-month 0% intro APR on purchases (after the APR period expires, a go-to rate applies). Discover cardholders also receive a whole host of perks, including free identity theft protection alerts, special cardholder deals and more.

Making the most of your summertime is easy when you have the right credit card in your wallet. Visit our reviews of the best rewards credit cards to learn more about the cards detailed in this post and see how they compare to others on the market.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.