Americans spend the most money on food and travel.
Consumers shell out an average of $7,923 on groceries and eating out each year, and a combined $4,805 on gas and public transportation, according to a CreditCards.com analysis of the Bureau of Labor data.
Americans living in Seattle spent the most money, as much as $6,195 on average, on groceries for the home (38.78 percent above the national average), while eaters in Washington, D.C., splurged the most on dining out, $5,629 yearly (62.73 percent above the national average), according to the CreditCards.com survey. People living in Atlanta, meanwhile, spent the least amount of money on groceries at $3,779 annually, or 15.34 percent below the national average of $4,464, and Miami spent the least amount of money on eating out ($2,761 or 20.18 percent below the national average of $3,459).
Not surprisingly, those living in Los Angeles spend the most money on gas ($2,706), while D.C. residents are spending the most money on public transportation at $2,099, up from the national average of $818.
Ted Rossman, an industry analyst at CreditCards.com, advises consumers to seek out credit cards that provide cash-back or travel reward perks to get the most bang for their buck, as long as they're able to pay bills in full on time and avoid interest.
"It's all about knowing yourself and your lifestyle and where you spend your money," Rossman said, adding that he earned nearly $2,500 in cash back last year. "Two-thirds of rewards credit cardholders prefer cash back, and I'm one of them. I travel some, but it's not a passion of mine, and it's not always practical with a young child and a full-time job. What's most meaningful to me is earning cash back from purchases I would have made anyway. It's like an extra paycheck."
When it comes to eating out, he recommends the Capital One Savor card, which offers 4 percent back at restaurants, and 2 percent back at grocery stores. Those who sign up get a $300 bonus and no annual fee for the first year, then they pay $95 per year after that.
Rossman also suggests the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card (particularly for those living in Seattle) for the most bang for your buck when spending on food. The card offers 6 percent cash back on up to $6,000 of annual grocery store spending, with a $250 sign-up bonus and a $95 annual fee. Users also get 3 percent back on gas and transit, and annual $545 back for the first year. And $295 annually in the next two years.
And for transportation, Rossman says the Wells Fargo Propel card provides 3 percent cash back on travel and dining. It comes with a $200 sign-up bonus and no annual fee. That’s $367 in cash back the first year, and $167 annually in year two and beyond.