If everything is aligned and you’ve decided to charge your way to a new car, here are some top choices for credit cards that will provide the most value:
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card from American Express is designed for large purchases, making it an ideal card for buying a car. There is no predefined spending capacity because, except for certain charges, most balances must be paid in full at the end of every month.
What makes the Platinum Card especially ideal for car buying is American Express’ vehicle-purchasing program mentioned earlier, which allows cardmembers to find the best car and charge at least $2,000 toward it on an American Express card. You might even be able to charge the full amount.
This card has a great welcome bonus: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months. The amount you put toward your car might cover this minimum spend by itself.
This card earns 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases. So you’ll earn 1X points per dollar on your car purchase on top of the welcome bonus.
Since the Platinum Card is a premium card with luxury travel benefits, such as Uber credits and access to more than 1,200 airport lounges, it does come with an annual fee of $695 (See rates and fees), so unless you can maximize the travel benefits, it may not make the most sense. (Select benefits require enrollment.)
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum Card from American Express could be another great option for buying a car if you’re a business owner, and it comes with a few different business-specific perks than the consumer card mentioned above.
In addition to the Amex car-buying program, cardmembers can earn 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on Amextravel.com, 1.5X points on select business purchases and eligible purchases of $5,000 or more, and 1X points per $1 spent on other purchases.
This card comes with a generous welcome offer also: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months.
The Business Platinum Card from American Express has an annual fee of $695 (See rates and fees), but like the consumer card, it also comes with a handful of valuable benefits that can help offset this cost.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
If you’re not looking to take on an annual fee just to buy a car, the Chase Freedom Unlimited might be a great option. You can earn 1.5% cash back on the purchase of your vehicle, which isn’t the highest earnings rate possible, but it’s still higher than the 1X earnings you see on many cards.
Additionally, as a new cardmember, you can earn an additional 1.5% cash back on all purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). So, as a new cardmember, buying a car for $20,000 within the first three months of opening the card would earn you a total of $600 cash back — $300 from the 1.5% rate and $300 from an additional 1.5% cash back from the bonus offer.
Additionally, if you have also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can transfer your rewards from your Chase Freedom Unlimited, which are valued at one cent each, and redeem them for a higher 1.25 cents when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Couple all of that with the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s 0% introductory APR for 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% (variable)) and this just may be a car buyer’s dream card. If you’re able to pay off your car before the 15 months is up, you’ll have found a great way to finance a car while getting a decent amount of cash back in the process.
An automaker credit card could be a good option to save for a car
You may not hear about them too often, but there are several automaker credit cards out there that focus on earning rewards for the future purchase of a vehicle. Whether it’s your best option depends on your spending habits and if there are other comparable cards that can provide more value.
This list is not exhaustive, but here are a few automaker credit cards and what they offer:
- Earn 5% on your first $5,000 in purchases every year, then an unlimited 2%
- No annual fee
- 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months
- No foreign transaction fee
- No limits on how much you earn or how much you redeem, and earnings never expire
- All GM dealers participate — that’s Chevrolet, Buick, GMC (General Motors Company), and Cadillac
- Redeem toward the purchase or lease of a new vehicle
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after spending $500 outside of Toyota dealerships within the first 90 days
- Five points per dollar spent at Toyota dealerships
- Two points per dollar spent on gas, dining, and entertainment
- One point per dollar spent on everything else
- Redeem for Toyota vehicle purchase, service, parts, accessories, cash back, gift cards, and travel
- Earn five points per dollar spent at Infiniti or Nissan retailers
- Five points per dollar spent on gas
- Three points per dollar spent on dining
- One point per dollar on everything else
- Redeem toward a vehicle purchase or lease, cashback statement credits, services, and accessories
FCA DrivePlus Mastercard (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)
- Receive a $1,000 bonus certificate toward your next new FCA U.S. vehicle after spending $7,500 in your first year
- $100 cash back statement credit after spending $100 in FCA US purchases in your first billing cycle
- 0% intro APR for six billing cycles
- No annual fee
- 5% cash back at the dealership
- 2% cash back on gas and travel
- 1% cash back on everything else
- Redeem for vehicle purchases, services, accessories, cash back, travel, and gift cards
Getting a manufacturer-branded card will restrict you to buying a car within that brand, so if you aren’t sure what your next car will be, you may want to go with a general credit card that will allow you to purchase anywhere.