Cash Back Credit Cards

May 22, 2018 - Cash back credit cards are the simplest way to get paid back for the things you buy every day. Many cards offer a flat cash back rate for all purchases, while others offer higher cash back rates across rotating categories like dining, groceries and shopping. We researched and analyzed 682 cash back card offers to find the best recommendations. Browse the 10 best cash back offers from our partners and find a card that fits your spending habits.

See the best cash back credit card offers from our partners below and start maximizing your savings on everyday purchases.

Estimated savings is based on on a total credit card transfer balance of $2,500, current APR of 15.00%, and a monthly repayment of $56.25 for the first 24 months.

Estimated Savings is a CreditCards.com calculation that is used to provide an example of how much you might save by transferring your balances to a new card after factoring in fees, length of promotional periods and interest charges. This amount is based on the transfer amount, assumes you make fixed monthly payments on time, and does not assume rewards or purchases, since those will vary per individual.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

APPLY NOW

Rewards Rate

1.5%
?

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day

Intro Bonus Value

$150
?

One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

Annual Reward Value

$288
?

Annual Rewards Value is a CreditCards.com calculation that is used to provide an example of how much you might earn with your new card based on your spending habits. This amount is based on average monthly spend, and actual results will vary by user.

$1325 monthly spend
Groceries
23%
Restaurants
14%
Travel (airline only)
4%
Travel total
8%
Hotel
2%
Gas
15%
Entertainment
5%
Other
33%

Annual Fee

$0

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate

1.5%

Intro Bonus Value

$150

Annual Reward Value

$288

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details

  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 14.49%-24.49% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 14.49%-24.49% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees

Recommended Credit Score

670 850
Good to Excellent

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% intro on purchases for 15 months
Regular APR 14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months
View More Details

at Capital One's
secure site

Discover it® Cashback Match™

APPLY NOW

Rewards Rate

5%
?

Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

on select categories

Intro Bonus Value

Cashback Match
?

Discover will match all the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Annual Reward Value

$229
?

Annual Rewards Value is a CreditCards.com calculation that is used to provide an example of how much you might earn with your new card based on your spending habits. This amount is based on average monthly spend, and actual results will vary by user.

$1325 monthly spend
Groceries
23%
Restaurants
14%
Travel (airline only)
4%
Travel total
8%
Hotel
2%
Gas
15%
Entertainment
5%
Other
33%

Annual Fee

$0

Discover it® Cashback Match™

(26,257 Reviews)

Rewards Rate

5%
on select categories

Intro Bonus Value

Cashback Match

Annual Reward Value

$229

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details

  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Intro Offer: Discover will match all the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • No annual fee.

Recommended Credit Score

670 850
Good to Excellent

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% for 14 months
Regular APR 13.49% - 24.49% Variable
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 14 months

Features

0% Introductory APR
EMV
Free Credit Score
Mobile Pay Ready
No Annual Fee
No Foreign Transaction Fees
Price Protection
Zero Fraud Liability
View More Details

at Discover's
secure site

See Rates & fees
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

APPLY NOW

Rewards Rate

1.5%
?

Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic

Intro Bonus Value

$150
?

Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

Annual Reward Value

$288
?

Annual Rewards Value is a CreditCards.com calculation that is used to provide an example of how much you might earn with your new card based on your spending habits. This amount is based on average monthly spend, and actual results will vary by user.

$1325 monthly spend
Groceries
23%
Restaurants
14%
Travel (airline only)
4%
Travel total
8%
Hotel
2%
Gas
15%
Entertainment
5%
Other
33%

Annual Fee

$0

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

(9,179 Reviews)

Rewards Rate

1.5%

Intro Bonus Value

$150

Annual Reward Value

$288

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49-25.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee

Recommended Credit Score

670 850
Good to Excellent

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Regular APR 16.49% - 25.24% Variable
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months

Features

0% Introductory APR
Concierge Service
EMV
Extended Warranty Program
Mobile Pay Ready
No Annual Fee
Purchase Protection
Travel Accident Insurance
Visa Signature®
Zero Fraud Liability
View More Details

at Chase's
secure site

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

APPLY NOW

Rewards Rate

1.5%
?

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases

Intro Bonus Value

$200
?

Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months

Annual Reward Value

$313
?

Annual Rewards Value is a CreditCards.com calculation that is used to provide an example of how much you might earn with your new card based on your spending habits. This amount is based on average monthly spend, and actual results will vary by user.

$1325 monthly spend
Groceries
23%
Restaurants
14%
Travel (airline only)
4%
Travel total
8%
Hotel
2%
Gas
15%
Entertainment
5%
Other
33%

Annual Fee

$0

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

Rewards Rate

1.5%

Intro Bonus Value

$200

Annual Reward Value

$313

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details

  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Android Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 14.49%-26.49% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions

Recommended Credit Score

670 850
Good to Excellent

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% for 12 months
Regular APR 14.49%-26.49% (Variable)
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 12 months

Features

0% Introductory APR
Auto Rental Insurance
Cellphone Insurance
EMV
Free Credit Score
Mobile Pay Ready
No Annual Fee
Zero Fraud Liability
View More Details

at Wells Fargo's
secure site

Chase Freedom®

APPLY NOW

Rewards Rate

5%
?

Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate

on select categories

Intro Bonus Value

$150
?

Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

Annual Reward Value

$238
?

Annual Rewards Value is a CreditCards.com calculation that is used to provide an example of how much you might earn with your new card based on your spending habits. This amount is based on average monthly spend, and actual results will vary by user.

$1325 monthly spend
Groceries
23%
Restaurants
14%
Travel (airline only)
4%
Travel total
8%
Hotel
2%
Gas
15%
Entertainment
5%
Other
33%

Annual Fee

$0

Chase Freedom®

(14,163 Reviews)

Rewards Rate

5%
on select categories

Intro Bonus Value

$150

Annual Reward Value

$238

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49-25.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee

Recommended Credit Score

670 850
Good to Excellent

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Regular APR 16.49% - 25.24% Variable
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months

Features

0% Introductory APR
Auto Rental Insurance
Concierge Service
EMV
Extended Warranty Program
Lost Luggage Reimbursement
Mobile Pay Ready
No Annual Fee
Price Protection
Purchase Protection
Roadside Assistance
Travel Accident Insurance
Travel Assistance
Trip Cancellation Insurance
Visa Signature®
Zero Fraud Liability
View More Details

at Chase's
secure site

Citi® Double Cash Card

APPLY NOW

Rewards Rate

1%
?

Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

Intro Bonus Value

N/A

Annual Reward Value

$318
?

Annual Rewards Value is a CreditCards.com calculation that is used to provide an example of how much you might earn with your new card based on your spending habits. This amount is based on average monthly spend, and actual results will vary by user.

$1325 monthly spend
Groceries
23%
Restaurants
14%
Travel (airline only)
4%
Travel total
8%
Hotel
2%
Gas
15%
Entertainment
5%
Other
33%

Annual Fee

$0

Citi® Double Cash Card

Rewards Rate

1%

Intro Bonus Value

N/A

Annual Reward Value

$318

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details

  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.99% - 24.99% based on your creditworthiness*
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*

Recommended Credit Score

670 850
Good to Excellent

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee $0*
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Regular APR 14.99% - 24.99%* (Variable)
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 18 months*

Features

Auto Rental Insurance
EMV
Extended Warranty Program
Free Credit Score
Mobile Pay Ready
No Annual Fee
Presale Tickets
Price Protection
Purchase Protection
Travel Accident Insurance
Trip Cancellation Insurance
Zero Fraud Liability
View More Details

at Citi's
secure site

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

APPLY NOW

Rewards Rate

1%

Intro Bonus Value

$150
?

$150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

Annual Reward Value

$318

Annual Fee

$0

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

(43,662 Reviews)

Rewards Rate

1%

Intro Bonus Value

$150

Annual Reward Value

$318

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details

  • No annual fee
  • $150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers
  • Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
  • Easily add your Mastercard® credit card to any digital wallet for a simple, secure, and convenient way to pay online, in-app, and in-store

Recommended Credit Score

670 850
Good to Excellent

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee $0
Intro Purchase APR 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles
Regular APR 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days

Features

0% Introductory APR
Auto Rental Insurance
EMV
Extended Warranty Program
FICO Score
Lost Luggage Reimbursement
Mobile Pay Ready
No Annual Fee
Purchase Protection
Travel Accident Insurance
World Mastercard®
Zero Fraud Liability
View More Details

at Bank of America's
secure site

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

APPLY NOW

Rewards Rate

1.5%
?

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases

Intro Bonus Value

$150
?

Earn a $150 cash rewards intro bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months.

Annual Reward Value

$317
?

Annual Rewards Value is a CreditCards.com calculation that is used to provide an example of how much you might earn with your new card based on your spending habits. This amount is based on average monthly spend, and actual results will vary by user.'

$1325 monthly spend
Groceries
23%
Restaurants
14%
Travel (airline only)
4%
Travel total
8%
Hotel
2%
Gas
15%
Entertainment
5%
Other
33%

Annual Fee

$0

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

Rewards Rate

1.5%

Intro Bonus Value

$150

Annual Reward Value

$317

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on all purchases.
  • Earn a $150 cash rewards intro bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
  • 10% Anniversary Bonus on all Cash Rewards earned once a year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers, then a 14.49%, 18.49% or 24.49% variable APR.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $0 liability for unauthorized purchases.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Recommended Credit Score

670 850
Good to Excellent

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Regular APR Variable APR of 14.49%, 18.49% or 24.49%
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% Intro APR for 15 months

Features

0% Introductory APR
Auto Rental Insurance
EMV
Extended Warranty Program
Mobile Pay Ready
No Annual Fee
No Foreign Transaction Fees
Price Protection
Purchase Protection
Roadside Assistance
Travel Assistance
Zero Fraud Liability
View More Details

at HSBC's
secure site

See Rates & fees
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

APPLY NOW

Rewards Rate

3%
?

Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, 2% on groceries and 1% on all other purchases

on select categories

Intro Bonus Value

$150
?

Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

Annual Reward Value

$290
?

Annual Rewards Value is a CreditCards.com calculation that is used to provide an example of how much you might earn with your new card based on your spending habits. This amount is based on average monthly spend, and actual results will vary by user.'

$1325 monthly spend
Groceries
23%
Restaurants
14%
Travel (airline only)
4%
Travel total
8%
Hotel
2%
Gas
15%
Entertainment
5%
Other
33%

Annual Fee

$0

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate

3%
on select categories

Intro Bonus Value

$150

Annual Reward Value

$290

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details

  • Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, 2% on groceries and 1% on all other purchases
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.99%-24.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.99%-24.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees

Recommended Credit Score

670 850
Good to Excellent

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% intro on purchases for 15 months
Regular APR 15.99% - 24.74% (Variable)
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months
View More Details

at Capital One's
secure site

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

APPLY NOW

Rewards Rate

3%
?

3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%); 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores; 1% back on other purchases.

on select categories

Intro Bonus Value

$150
?

$150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.

Annual Reward Value

$294
?

Annual Rewards Value is a CreditCards.com calculation that is used to provide an example of how much you might earn with your new card based on your spending habits. This amount is based on average monthly spend, and actual results will vary by user.

$1325 monthly spend
Groceries
23%
Restaurants
14%
Travel (airline only)
4%
Travel total
8%
Hotel
2%
Gas
15%
Entertainment
5%
Other
33%

Annual Fee

$0

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Rewards Rate

3%
on select categories

Intro Bonus Value

$150

Annual Reward Value

$294

Annual Fee

$0

Card Details

  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.49% to 25.49%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Recommended Credit Score

670 850
Good to Excellent

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% on Purchases for 15 months
Regular APR 14.49%-25.49% Variable
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months

Features

0% Introductory APR
Auto Rental Insurance
EMV
Extended Warranty Program
Free Credit Score
Mobile Pay Ready
No Annual Fee
Presale Tickets
Purchase Protection
Roadside Assistance
Travel Accident Insurance
Travel Assistance
Zero Fraud Liability
View More Details

at American Express's
secure site

See Rates & fees
Terms Apply

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank's website for the most current information.


Comparing Cash Back Credit Card Offers

Updated: May 22, 2018

The experts at CreditCards.com have pulled together the best cash back credit cards for various spending categories. Each card has different rewards and fees, but we make it easy for you to decide on which is best for your spending habits. Choosing a credit card is an important financial decision, so we lay out the pros and cons for you all in one place. We evaluated over 600 credit card offers using the criteria below to come up with our list of the top cards for cash back. Here are our findings.

Whether you want to know what to look for in a cash back card or how to use it, we can help.


Editor's Choice: Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2018

After analyzing 600+ card offers, we've hand-selected the 10 best cash back credit cards. The Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers a 1.5% flat-rate cash back on every purchase and ranks among our favorite picks due to its high rewards value and flexibility in redeeming cash back.

Research methodology: how we arrived at the best cards

Cash back credit cards analyzed: 682

Criteria used: Cash back rate, other rewards, redemption options, redemption flexibility, cash back categories, credit needed, miscellaneous benefits and features, security, ease of application, sign-up bonus, customer service, rates and fees

A closer look at the best cash back credit cards

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

With a 1.5% cash back rate on all purchases, the Capital One Quicksilver card is a well-rounded cash back card for people who have average credit and are just starting out in the rewards game. Couple that with no annual fee or foreign transaction fee, and you're all set to travel and earn cash while you spend.

Top 3 Benefits: Flat-rate cash back, easy to hit sign-up bonus, no annual fee

Discover it® Cashback Match™

The Discover it offers a phenomenal cash back rate on rotating categories throughout the year. If you can stay on top of which categories those are and when to spend with this card, it can be very lucrative. Also, Discover will match the amount of cash back you earn at the end of your first year.

Top 3 Benefits: Rotating bonus categories, use rewards at Amazon.com checkout, no annual fee

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

With a solid 1.5% cash back on all purchases, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of the best flat-rate cash back cards out there. It can also be paired with one of Chase's Sapphire cards and you can start earning valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points with your purchases on this card.

Top 3 Benefits: Flat-rate cash back, no annual fee, good sign-up bonus

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

The Cash Wise is very similar to the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Capital One Quicksilver in terms of its usual flat rewards rate (1.5%), but where it differs is in the much more valuable sign-up bonus and extra kicker for mobile wallet purchases. This card has a $200 sign-up bonus ($1,000 in spend in first 3 months) and also offers 1.8% cash back when you pay with Apple Pay or Android Pay in the first 12 months of account opening.

Top 3 Benefits: Big sign-up bonus, Bonus rewards for mobile wallet purchases, cell phone protection plan

Chase Freedom®

Very similar to the Discover it Cashback Match, the Chase Freedom card has quarterly rotating bonus categories where you can earn 5% cash back (and 1% everywhere else). Pair this card with a flat-rate cash back card or a travel rewards card, and you'll have a winning wallet.

Top 3 Benefits: Rotating bonus categories, no cash back redemption minimum, easy sign-up bonus

Citi® Double Cash Card

The Citi Double Cash is among the best flat-rate cash back cards out there, with 1% back when you buy and 1% back when you pay your bill - that's 2% total cash back on all purchases! And with no annual fee, this card is tough to beat.

From Lisa Gerstner (contributing editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance): "In the past year or so, Citi Double Cash has faced new competition among cash back cards that offer customers a strong, flat rebate on everything they buy. But so far, the rivals don’t quite match Citi Double Cash’s level of simplicity."

From Matt Schulz (senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com): "Points and miles cards with their big sign-up bonuses grab all the headlines, but most Americans just want a cash back card. They want a simple, set-it-and-forget-it cash back card that gives them a good return with minimal effort. For those folks, the Citi Double Cash card is the best choice."

Top 3 Benefits: Great cash back rate, also good for balance transfers, no annual fee

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

If you spend a lot on gas, this is a great no annual fee card to keep in your wallet. The Bank of America Cash Rewards card offers 3% back on gas and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.

Top 3 Benefits: Easy to hit sign-up bonus, good rewards rate for gas and groceries, no annual fee

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

A solid flat-rate cash back card, the HSBC Cash Rewards card nets you 1.5% cash back on everything with no need to track different categories. As a card with no annual fee, the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard keeps on giving with a 10% bonus on cash back earnings once a year.

Top 3 Benefits: Unlimited cash back on all purchases, easy sign-up bonus, 10% anniversary bonus

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Savor is a great card for people who like to earn cash back and dine out a lot. You get 3% back on dining and 2% back at the grocery store. Plus, this card has a $150 sign-up bonus that's easy to hit with just $500 in spend required in the first 3 months.

Top 3 Benefits: Great for foodies, no foreign transaction fee, decent sign-up bonus

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Everyday is what is sounds like - it's great for everyday spending. You get 3% back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year) and 2% back at gas stations. If you upgrade to the Preferred version of this card, you can double your U.S. supermarket cash back rate to 6%.

Top 3 Benefits: No annual fee, good cash back rates in common spending categories, decent sign-up bonus

What are cash back cards and how do they work?

If the thought of being rewarded – in the form of cash – each time you make an eligible purchase using your credit card appeals to you, then a cash back card may be the right fit for you.

But before applying for a cash back card, there are several things you should consider to ensure that you’re getting the best card for you, including:

  • What is the card’s rewards structure?
  • What specific purchases earn cash back?
  • How can cash back redeemed?

What is a cash back card?

Cash back cards are rewards credit cards that allow cardholders to earn back a percentage of the money they spend on their credit card. Depending on the card, cash back can be earned in the form of cents, points or miles, and can be redeemed in the form of statement credits, checks, bank deposits, gift cards or charitable donations.

While cash back cards typically allow cardholders to earn 1 to 5 percent back on eligible purchases, there are variations on how the cash back is earned. For example, some cards offer a flat rate of cash back no matter what you buy, while others are more or less based on the specific purchase.

How cash back cards work

Card issuers can afford to pay cash back because merchants pay an interchange fee on each transaction. For example, a TV that costs $700 would net you $14 with a 2 percent cash back card. The merchant, meanwhile, would pay a transaction fee of around $21 when you paid with your credit card.

Cash back rewards can also be funded by exclusive deals and partnerships between the credit card issuer and a specific merchant. An example of this is cash back earned through card-linked offers.

Read the fine print

To know exactly what qualifies as an eligible purchase, read through your credit card’s terms and conditions. While noneligible purchases usually include balance transfers, wire transfers and cash advances, it is also important to know what qualifies as an eligible purchase for specific categories. For example, the “gas stations” category may not include gas purchased at wholesale clubs.

Advantages and disadvantages of cash back cards

While many people prefer cash back cards because of their simplicity, the cards also have their drawbacks. Here are a few pros and cons of using a cash back rewards card.

Pros

Simple way to earn rewards: Cash back cards may be the simplest way to earn rewards since cardholders know exactly how much they will earn back from each purchase without having to convert a point or mile into an equivalent cash value.

Rewards are easily redeemable: Cash back rewards can be redeemed in a variety of ways, including statement credits, checks, bank deposits, gift cards and charitable donations.

Practical bonus categories: Cash back cards typically offer rewards on everyday spending categories, such as groceries, wholesale clubs, gas stations, department stores, restaurants and more.

Cons

Minimum to redeem rewards – Some cash back cards require you to earn a minimum amount of cash back before you can redeem your rewards.

Tracking bonus categories – While bonus category cards offer a generous rewards rate, keep in mind that there is a cap on the amount of bonus rewards you can earn, and cardholders are required to activate the bonus category each quarter.

Less benefits – Cash back cards tend to offer less perks, such as lounge access and annual travel credits, than co-branded, travel cards.

Why use cash back credit cards?

Cash back cards appeal to customers for a number of reasons, but mainly due to their ease and flexibility: Because they offer cash back rewards, there’s no need to convert points and miles to dollar values. In fact, polls show that people prefer cash back cards by a ratio of 3-to-1.

If you’ve ever considered cash back cards, here are some key reasons to give them a second look:

No annual fee – Cash back cards rarely charge an annual fee. Out of the 52 cards polled in our yearly cash back survey, only four had annual fees.

Cash back on every purchase – Some cards offers a bonus rate on certain purchases, but virtually all of them offer a standard rate of cash back on all other purchases. The Savor card from Capital One, for example, offers 3 percent back on dining, 2 percent back on groceries and 1 percent back on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonuses – More than 60 percent of the cards surveyed offered sign-up bonuses – of up to $200 cash back – after spending a certain amount within a specific timeframe.

Limited expiration dates – Although some cards place restrictions on the amount of time you have to redeem your cash back rewards, the vast majority do not. Only eight out of 52 cards had expiration dates.

Rewards on everyday purchases – Cash back cards, whether a simple, tiered or bonus category card, offer cash back on the items that you buy everyday, such as gas, groceries, department stores and wholesale clubs.

Added bonus: If you load your cash back rewards back onto your credit card, it will earn its own cash back when you spend it.

How to use a cash back card effectively and maximize rewards

1. Use credit cards for most of your spending

To quickly bulk up rewards earnings or meet the minimum spend requirement for a sign-up bonus, you should use your cash back cards for as many of your everyday purchases as possible. A large purchase -- such as a down payment on a car, furniture or other major purchase -- can help you meet a spending threshold and score a large amount of cash back in one swoop.

However, using cards for your everyday spending – including groceries, gas and utility bills – is the best way to go if you want to earn a large amount of cash back over time. Note that you need to watch out for merchants that tack on a convenience fee, since this can negate the value of your cash back.

2. Use multiple cash back cards

If you sign up for multiple cash back cards that offer bonuses in different spending categories and rotate them to earn bonuses in each of the spending categories, you can increase the rate of cash back that you earn.

For instance, you can pair the Citi Double Cash card with the Blue Cash Preferred card from American Express . With the Blue Cash Preferred, you earn 6 percent back on up to $1,500 in U.S. supermarket purchases per year, 3 percent back on up to $1,500 in U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department store purchases, and the Citi Double Cash card can get you 2 percent back on the remainder of your spending.

3. Keep a close eye on deadlines and fees

You need to take care to pay your card by the due date, since the late fees and penalties from a missed payment can quickly negate any cash back that you earn. For instance, a late payment on a $500 balance can add up to more than $40 in penalties and interest.

4. Never carry a balance

Even if you make your minimum payment on time, the interest that you own on a rotating balance can easily outmatch the cash back that you earn. Over time, you may find yourself owing more cash back than you earn.

5. Use online shopping portals to stack rewards

For online shopping, you can use shopping portals, such as Ebates and Swagbucks, to earn extra rewards on top of the cash back from your credit.

6. Maximize your cards’ spending categories

If you have a card with 5 percent rotating quarterly categories – such as the Discover it Cashback Match card or the Chase Freedom card – there are a few tricks you can use to reach the $1,500 spending cap each quarter:

  • Stock up on larger quantities of items that won’t spoil
  • Pay your annual bills in advance
  • Do your Christmas shopping early
  • Buy gift cards at a retailer that falls within a bonus category to earn a bonus on purchases that wouldn’t otherwise qualify for a bonus

7. Keep track of spending categories and payment due dates

Getting organized can really help maximize your credit card rewards and minimize losses due to late payments and missed spending thresholds. Put all of your card details into a spreadsheet, including payment due dates, rewards balances and spending thresholds. Add sticky notes to your cards to help you keep track of their spending categories.

Or download an app that tracks all this information for you. Our Wallet app helps you manage all your credit card accounts and tells you which card to use at the time of purchase.

What do you look for in a cash back credit card?

In general, you want to pick the cash back card that’s going to earn you the most cash back possible, but there’s more to it than that. Choosing the right card will depend on your spending habits and how much maintenance you want to put into a credit card. Here are the criteria that you should consider:

Required credit rating

The most generous cash back cards will usually have a high barrier to entry. While you want to get the best card possible for your credit rating, you also want to minimize inquiries into your credit history, which can lower your credit score. You should check the required credit rating for a card and make sure you can qualify before you apply.

Type of cash back card

There are three primary types of cash back cards, and the type you choose will depend on how whether you prefer simplicity or the ability to maximize your cash back through bonus categories:

  • Flat-rate cash back cards are the simplest type of cash back card, since they offer the same rate of cash back on every purchase (e.g., 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase).
  • Tiered-cash back cards offer bonus cash back in categories that remain the same throughout the year (e.g., 2 percent cash back on gas and groceries and 1 percent cash back on other purchases).
  • Rotating category cash back cards offer a high rate of cash back in a category that changes every quarter (e.g., the Chase Freedom card’s 5 percent rotating category bonus). These cards require the most maintenance, because you have to keep track of the categories, and you have to remember to activate them every quarter. On the other hand, they’re great for pairing with other cash back cards to maximize your rewards.

Bonus categories

You should take a look at a cash back card’s bonus categories to make sure they match your spending habits. For instance, if you have a family that eats at home most of the time, you may be best off with a card that offers a bonus on grocery purchases, whereas if you dine out often you may prefer a card with a bonus on restaurant purchases. Or, you may get a higher cash back rate with a card that offers the same flat rate on all your purchases.

Sign-up bonus

Many cash back cards offer a $100 to $200 sign-up bonus to new cardholders that manage to meet a spending threshold within a set time limit. You should factor this into your overall card rewards – depending on whether you plan to hold the card for the short term or the long term – it could put you ahead of a card with a higher cash back rate, but no sign-up bonus.

Annual fee

Cash back cards usually don’t include an annual fee, but a few do – such as the Blue Cash Preferred card from American Express. Don’t be deterred by a card with an annual fee. Depending on your spending habits, you can often earn more cash back, even once you subtract the fee.

Redemption flexibility

How hard do you want to work to get your cash back? You should consider the flexibility of the card’s redemption options, including how often you can redeem your cash back (some cards only allow you to redeem once a year), how many options you have for redeeming your cash back, how much cash back you need to collect before you can redeem it and whether you can set your account to redeem automatically to save yourself some work.

0-percent introductory offers

Do you intend to transfer a balance onto the card or do you want to finance a new purchase with the card for a few months? If so, you should factor the interest that you can save with a 0-percent introductory APR into the overall value of the card.

Interest rate

Interest rates and penalties are probably not the top priority for consumers who are considering a cash back card. Of course, you should avoid carrying a balance on the card, but you should also apprise yourself of a card’s interest rate before you apply and keep an eye out for rates that a far above average.

Foreign transaction fees

If you are planning to use your cash back card outside of the U.S., you should look for a card with no foreign transaction fee, to spare yourself a 2 to 3 percent fee on all your charges.

Benefits

In addition to cash back on all your purchases, cash back cards often include benefits that can add to a card’s value depending on how you use them. Common benefits on cash back cards include travel and purchase protections, such as car rental insurance and extended warranties.

What are common cash back categories?

The results from the latest CreditCards.com survey of leading cash back credit cards shows that simple is in. The majority of cards that we polled (27 cards) were flat-rate cards – that is, cards that offer the same percentage of cash back for every purchase. The next most popular category (22 cards) was “tiered” category cards – cards that offer a bonus on one or two fixed categories of purchases (e.g., gas and groceries). Rotating category cards – which require you to enroll in and keep track of categories each quarter – amounted to only three of the cards that we surveyed.

What is the average cash back rate?

According to our annual cash back survey, the average cash back card offers a cash back rate of around 1.25 percent per dollar. Here is the spread of cards that we found:

  • 1 percent base cash back: 31 cards
  • 1.5 percent cash back: 18 cards
  • 2 percent cash back: 3 cards

Redemption options and common questions

The most common redemption options for cash back cards are statement credits, checks mailed to you, bank deposits, prepaid gift cards and charitable donations. To redeem your cash back, you can go online or call the issuer directly to specify in what form you want to receive the cash back. Some issuers will allow you to opt to have the rewards automatically applied each month, while others require you to request the rewards each time you want to use them.

The amount of cash back needed to redeem your rewards varies depending on the specific card and the redemption option. Read on to see what options are available for Discover, Citi, Chase and American Express cardholders.

Redeeming Discover cash back

Discover allows the following redemption options:

  • Redeem for gift cards from more than 100 popular brands, starting at $20. At least $5 free will be added to each gift card.
  • Pay with rewards at Amazon checkout with no minimum.
  • Make a charitable donation, starting at a penny.
  • Deposit any amount into your bank account or apply to your Discover bill as a statement credit, starting at a penny.

Discover rewards never expire; however, if your account is closed or not used within 18 months, Discover will credit your account with your rewards balance.

Redeeming Citi cash back

Once your Citi rewards balance equals $25 or more, you can redeem your cash rewards as follows:

  • Request a check for at least $25 up to the total cash rewards balance at the time you redeem.
  • Redeem for a statement credit to your card account for at least $25 up to the total cash rewards balance at the time you redeem.
  • Get a gift card in set denominations from the available inventory.
  • Redeem for a credit to your linked Citi savings or checking account or to a checking account from which you have paid a Citi credit card bill at least two times.

You cash rewards balance will expire if you have not earned cash back from purchases or payments for 12 months. If you close or convert your card account, you must redeem any eligible cash rewards prior to account closure to avoid forfeiting your rewards. If your card account is closed by Citi, you cannot redeem cash rewards and you will forfeit any accumulated cash rewards.

Redeeming Chase cash back

Chase cardholders can redeem cash back rewards at a 1:1 value for gift cards, travel and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

  • Redeem for cash at any time, for any amount.
  • Redeem cash back for a wide variety of gift cards.

Your cash back will not expire as long as your account remains open. However, if Chase closes your account due to fraudulent activities, failure to pay or other reasons, you will immediately lose all rewards.

Redeeming American Express cash back

American Express offers cash back in the form of Blue Cash Reward Dollars, which can be redeemed in the following ways:

  • Redeem as statement credits in increments of $25 whenever your available balance is $25 or more.
  • At times, AmEx may offer alternative redemption options, such as gift cards or merchandise.

We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of your credit card’s rewards program. To avoid losing any rewards, be sure to use rewards before they expire or prior to closing your credit card account and pay your bill on time each month.

What is a statement credit?

A statement credit is money issued to your credit card account either, either as a rewards redemption or a reimbursement. While cash back cards typically allow cardholders to redeem their cash back as a statement credit, several cards also offer bonuses in the form of statement credits.

Types of statement credits:

  • Rewards redemptions – Cards may let you redeem your cash back, points or miles in the form of statement credits.
  • Travel credit – Cards sometimes offer annual travel credits that reimburse cardholders for purchases made directly through the airline or hotel.
  • Annual bonus – Several credit cards offer a bonus – sometimes worth $100 or more – each year on your card member anniversary.
  • Returns – When you return an item to a store or merchant, you will receive a refund to your credit card account in the form of a statement credit.

Are cash back rewards taxable as income?

Depending on how you acquire the rewards, they may be. It basically boils down to whether you spent money to earn the rewards or if you received them for simply opening a bank account.

When your rewards are based on the purchases you make, the Internal Revenue Service considers them nontaxable rebates. They are, in the IRS’ eyes, simply a reduction in the price you paid for goods or services. This has been the IRS’ position since 2002.

However, if you are awarded rewards as an incentive to switch or open a new bank account, those may be taxable. For example, in 2014, a Tax Court judge ruled that a couple who received airline miles for opening a new Citi bank account must count as income the value of the airline ticket they received for redeeming their rewards. According to the court, something was given in exchange for depositing money into the bank, and in this case, the points were equivalent to interest for the money. Subsequently, the receipt of interest, whether as cash or as redeemed mileage rewards, constitutes as taxable income.

Are sign-up bonuses taxable, too?

Although credit card issuers often use sign-up bonuses to lure customers to apply for new cards, it is unlikely that those bonuses will ever be taxed. The distinction between spending to get rewards and simply getting a bonus for switching or applying for a card comes into play here.

Sign-up bonuses typically require a new cardholder to reach a certain spend requirement to receive the bonus. Therefore, the bonus becomes nontaxable since spending is required before cash back, points or miles are awarded.

To be on the safe side, we recommend that you comb through the program’s terms and conditions prior to opening a new credit card or bank account.

How to compare two cash back cards

When it comes to cash back cards, the biggest priority is figuring out how much cash back you can earn with the card. Your first impulse may be to pick a card with the largest cash back percentages attached to it and to avoid anything with an annual fee, but it’s more complicated than that. If you take a moment to figure out exactly how much cash back you can earn with a card, you can significantly boost your earnings. You should ask yourself three questions:

  • How much do you spend on credit cards on average?
  • Which categories of purchases do you spend the most on?
  • How long do you plan to actively use the card?

Comparing rewards values

In comparing two cash back cards, you need to calculate the rewards value for the card. You need to add together the amount that you are likely to spend in the cards’ bonus categories and the sign-up bonus, minus any annual fees. You should use the following formula:

Rewards value = Spend in each category x Rewards rate + Sign-up bonus - Annual fee

For example, in the following table we compare the cash back earned on two cards – the Citi Double Cash card and the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card – for a cardholder who spends $15,900 in a year, with $3,657 allocated to U.S. supermarket purchases and $2,385 allocated to U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department store purchases:

Cash back in the first year ($15,900 spend)


Citi Double Cash

American Express Blue Cash Preferred
2% x $15,900 = $318(6% x $3,657) + (3% x $2,385) + (1% x $9,858) + $200 sign-up bonus - $95 annual fee = $494.42

As you can see, annual fees can be deceiving. Even with a $95 fee, the cardholder comes out ahead with the Blue Cash Preferred card in the first year, thanks to the card’s generous bonus on U.S. supermarket purchases and $200 sign-up bonus.

You also need to consider how long you will hold the card. You can see in our second table that the rewards value drops significantly for the Blue Cash Preferred card in the second year. For the cardholder in our example, the Citi Double Cash card is the better card in the long run:

Cash back in the second year ($15,900 yearly spend)


Citi Double Cash

American Express Blue Cash Preferred
5 years x (2% x $15,900) = $318(6% x $3,657) + (3% x $2,385) + (1% x $9,858) - $95 annual fee = $294.55

Comparing other features

Don’t forget to compare the card’s other features before you choose your cash back card.

You need to consider how easy it is to manage and redeem your cash back with each card. As you can see from the table below, the Citi Double Cash card and the Blue Cash Preferred card are both fairly flexible cash back cards. The Citi Double Cash card’s main drawback is that its rewards can expire if you don’t use the card. The Blue Cash Preferred card, on the other hand, is more limited on redemption options – mostly, you are restricted to redeeming your cash back for statement credits:

Comparing redemption flexibility


Citi Double Cash

American Express Blue Cash Preferred
  • Category enrollment required? No
  • Do awards expire? Yes, if card isn’t used over 12 months
  • Redemption options: Check, statement credit, gift card, deposit into a bank account
  • Limits on cash back? No
  • Minimum redemption amount: $25
  • Category enrollment required? No
  • Do awards expire? No
  • Redemption options: Statement credit, gift card, merchandise
  • Limits on cash back? $6,000 annual cap on 6% and 3 percent bonus categories
  • Minimum redemption amount: $25

Also, you should compare benefits – such as travel and purchase protections – that can add significant value to the cards. As you can see, the Citi Double Cash and the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card both offer a large list of additional benefits.

Comparing benefits


Citi Double Cash

American Express Blue Cash Preferred
  • Free concierge service
  • Presale for entertainment events
  • Car rental insurance
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty
  • Worldwide travel accident insurance
  • Price protection
  • Damage and theft protection
  • Trip cancellation and interruption protection
  • Pass on first late fee
  • Lost card service
  • Lost wallet service
  • Travel assistance
  • Presale for entertainment events
  • Car rental insurance
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Return protection
  • Travel discounts
  • Car purchase discount
  • Shoprunner

Final thought: Consider pairing cards

Who says you have to sign up for just one cash back card? You can sign up for multiple cash back cards and rotate them to earn additional cash back in the bonus categories. Cards such as the Citi Double Cash card and Blue Cash Preferred card make great companions to one another – you can use the Blue Cash Preferred card to earn 6 percent back on your U.S. supermarket purchases, 3 percent back on your U.S. gas purchases and then use the Citi Double Cash card to earn 2 percent back on the remainder of the purchases.

What types of rewards do people prefer?

In an online poll of 793 consumers with at least $100,000 of investable assets, CreditCards.com found that an overwhelming 60 percent of all respondents named cash back as their favorite credit card reward. Airline miles placed second at 22 percent, followed by hotel stays and merchandise.

Types of credit card rewards preferred by wealthy people

CreditCards.com Survey, January 2015

A 2017 report from the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau (CFPB) shows that cash back cards are more popular than miles-based cards for consumers across all categories – superprime, prime, near-prime, subprime and deep subprime – constituting 27 percent of overall credit card spending, compared to 21 percent for miles rewards cards.

Related Rewards Card Categories:

Check out our reviews

Interested in learning more about each card? We’ve reviewed several cash back credit cards – check them out in our reviews section.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2018 - Our Ratings

Credit CardBest For:CreditCards.com RatingCash Back Bonus CategoriesAnnual Fee
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit CardGood credit3.5 / 5None, 1.5% on everything$0
Discover it® Cashback Match™Amazon.com shopping4.1 / 5Changes each quarter, see full list here$0
Chase Freedom Unlimited®Flat-rate cash back3.4 / 5None, 1.5% on everything$0
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® CardCash sign-up bonus3.5 / 5None, 1.5% on everything$0
Chase Freedom®Rotating categories3.4 / 5Bonus categories change every quarter, see full list here$0
Citi® Double Cash Card2% total cash back4.0 / 5None, 2% on everything$0
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit CardGas rewards3.8 / 5Gas stations, grocery stores, and wholesale clubs$0
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit cardAnniversary bonusN/ANone, 1.5% on everything$0
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit CardRestaurants3.5 / 5Dining and groceries$0
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressGroceries3.3 / 5U.S. supermarkets, U.S. department stores, and U.S. gas stations$0

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