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Best Cash Back Credit Cards of December 2022

Written by: Ryan Noonan | Edited by: Jeanine Skowronski | Reviewed by: Jason Steele
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November 30, 2022

Best Cash Back Credit Cards of December 2022

BEST FOR FLEXIBLE CASH BACK CATEGORIES
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
Our rating:4.4 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

3%
Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
2%
Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
1%
Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro offer
$200 $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
See Terms
BEST FOR DINING AND ENTERTAINMENT
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Our rating:4.9 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

10%
Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
8%
Earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases
5%
Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
3%
Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®).
1%
Earn 1% on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro offer
$200 Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.99% - 27.99% variable
BEST FOR INTRODUCTORY APR ON PURCHASES
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Our rating:5.0 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

5%
Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more;
3%
3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
1.5%
1.5% on all other purchases

At A Glance

Intro offer
Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.99% - 26.74% variable
BEST FOR U.S. SUPERMARKETS
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Our rating:4.6 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

6%
6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
6%
6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
3%
3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more.
3%
3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
1%
1% Cash Back on other purchases

At A Glance

Intro offer
$250 Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
Annual fee
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Regular APR
17.74% - 28.74% variable
BEST FOR UNLIMITED REWARDS
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Our rating:3.7 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

5%
Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
1.5%
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day

At A Glance

Intro offer
$200 One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.99% - 27.99% variable
BEST FOR GROCERY, GAS AND ONLINE REWARDS
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Our rating:4.9 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

3%
3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%.
3%
3% Cash Back on U.S. online retail purchases, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%.
3%
3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%.
1%
1% Cash Back on other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro offer
$250 Earn up to $250 - Here's How: Earn up to $150 back when you shop with PayPal. Earn 20% back as a statement credit on purchases when you use your new Card to check out with PayPal at merchants in the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $150 back. Plus, earn $100 back as a statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership.
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.74% - 28.74% variable
Best for flat rate + sign-up bonus
Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa®
Our rating:4.3 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

2.2%
Earn 2.2% unlimited cash back on card purchases every time you make a payment

At A Glance

Intro offer
$200 $200 bonus on your Upgrade Card after opening a Rewards Checking account and making 3 debit card transactions within 60 days.*
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 29.99%
BEST FOR FLAT-RATE CASH BACK
Citi® Double Cash Card
Our rating:4.1 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

2%
Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

At A Glance

Intro offer
No current offer
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.74% - 27.74% (Variable)
BEST FOR ROTATING CATEGORIES
Discover it® Cash Back
Our rating:4.6 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

5%
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
1%
Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

At A Glance

Intro offer
Cashback Match™ Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.74% - 26.74% variable
BEST FOR AUTOMATICALLY MAXIMIZING CASH BACK
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Our rating:4.5 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

5%
Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter.
1%
Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro offer
$200 Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.74% - 27.74% variable
BEST FOR CASH BACK ON ELIGIBLE TRAVEL
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Our rating:4.8 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

5%
5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
5%
5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
3%
3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
1%
Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Intro offer
$200 Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
17.99% - 26.74% variable
BEST FOR CASH BACK FOR PREFERRED REWARDS MEMBERS
Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card
Our rating:3.8 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

670-850 (Good to Excellent) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

1.5%
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

At A Glance

Intro offer
$200 $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
See Terms
BEST FOR STUDENTS
Discover it® Student Cash Back
Our rating:4.3 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Recommended credit

(No Credit History) CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Rewards rate

5%
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
1%
Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

At A Glance

Intro offer
Cashback Match™ Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
16.74% - 25.74% variable
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All information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card and Alliant Visa®️ Signature Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the content, nor is it responsible for its accuracy.


Best cash back credit cards compared

Credit cardBest forCash back %Annual feeCreditCards.com rating
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card2% cash rewards2% cash rewards$04.1 / 5
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit cardFlexible cash back categories3% on category of your choice Also 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases $04.4 / 5
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit CardDining and entertainment3% on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores$04.9 / 5
Chase Freedom Unlimited®Introductory APR on purchases3% cash back on dining 5% cash back on travel through Chase; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases; 5% cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 31, 2025); 1.5% cash back on all other purchases $05.0 / 5
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American ExpressGroceries/ U.S supermarkets6% at U.S supermarkets For the first $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1% cash back $95 ($0 intro annual fee for the first year)4.6 / 5
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit CardUnlimited rewards1.5% cash back on every purchase$03.7 / 5
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressGrocery, gas and online rewards3% cash back at U.S supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, U.S. online retail purchases up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1% $04.4 / 5
Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa®Flat rate + sign-up bonus2.2% on card purchases every time you make a payment$04.3 / 5
Citi® Double Cash CardFlat rate cash back2% 1% on purchases; 1% as you pay off the purchases $04.6 / 5
Discover it® Cash BackCash back5% in rotating categories On up to $1,500 in purchases quarterly, then 1% cash back, activation required $04.6 / 5
Citi Custom Cash℠ CardAutomatically maximizing cash back5% on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, then 1% $04.5 / 5
Chase Freedom Flex℠Cash back on eligible travel5% in rotating categories On up to $1,500 in purchases quarterly, then 1% cash back, activation required $04.8 / 5
Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit cardCash back for Preferred Rewards Members1.5% cash back on every purchase$03.8 / 5
Discover it® Student Cash BackStudents5% in rotating categories On up to $1,500 in purchases quarterly, then 1% cash back, activation required $04.3 / 5

best cash back credit cards of 2022

Best for 2% cash rewards: Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

  • Best features: The Wells Fargo Active Cash keeps it simple by letting you earn an unlimited 2% flat cash rewards rate on your purchases. No rotating categories. No enrollment. No need to think about which card to use for each purchase.
  • Biggest drawbacks: If you’re assigned this card’s high-end APR, you could be stuck with hefty interest charges should you carry a balance beyond the introductory APR period. Plus, this card’s perks are limited compared to those of some pricier rewards cards.
  • Alternatives: If you’re looking for a card with a generous base rate plus some additional perks, check out the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which earns at least 1.5% cash back on all purchases and allows you to transfer points to a higher-tier Ultimate Rewards card and redeem for travel at an up to 50% higher value.
  • Bottom line: The Active Cash Card is a hassle-free credit card for people who value simplicity and consistent flat-rate cash rewards over earning high rewards in specific categories.

Related: Wells Fargo Active Cash vs. Wells Fargo Platinum

Read our Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for flexible cash back categories: Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

  • Best features: The Bank of America Customized Cash card gives you the freedom to change your bonus category once per calendar month, allowing you to tailor your rewards to your spending habits. That’s especially handy when your summer budget may skew more heavily toward gas or travel, but you spend more on online shopping during the holidays. Bonus categories include gas, online shopping, travel, drug stores, dining and home improvement/furnishings. If you plan ahead, this card can be exceptionally valuable, especially since there’s no annual fee.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The $1,000 in spending required in your first 90 days to earn the $200 online cash rewards sign-up bonus is $250 to $500 larger than some other rewards cards offering the same $200 bonus. There’s also a $2,500 combined spend cap on 2% and 3% reward categories for each quarter. It may be a hassle for big spenders to have to track those categories to make sure they avoid only earning 1% cash back on their purchases.
  • Alternatives: If you enjoy choosing your own categories to maximize rewards, the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card may be a good fit. It lets you choose two categories that earn 5% cash back (up to a combined $2,000 in eligible purchases each quarter) and one category that earns an unlimited 2% cash back on eligible purchases. While this takes a little more effort to maintain, it also gives you more chances to earn cash back in a variety of categories.
  • Bottom line: The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card is a solid choice for people looking to earn rewards in a wide variety of categories while avoiding an annual fee.

Related: Is the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card worth it?

Read our Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for dining and entertainment: Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Best features: The SavorOne is one of the only no-annual-fee cards out there to offer 3% cash back on both dining and grocery store purchases (excluding superstores like Target® and Walmart®), making it an obvious choice for home cooks and restaurant lovers alike. Plus, its broad entertainment category covers everything from concert tickets to tourist attractions and amusement parks.
  • Biggest drawbacks: Since its bonus categories are focused on food and entertainment, it may not make sense as an all-purpose rewards card. To get the most value, you’ll need to pair the SavorOne with another rewards card that earns more than 1% on your everyday purchases.
  • Alternatives: Depending on how much you spend, you might be better served by the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card. It offers higher rewards to the tune of 4% cash back on dining, entertainment and popular streaming services, 3% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on other purchases, but charges a $95 annual fee. (Learn how to decide what Capital One Savor card is right for you.)
  • Bottom line: Food and entertainment enthusiasts will have a hard time finding a no-annual-fee credit card that matches the benefits of the SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Related: Is the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards card worth it?

Read our Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for introductory APR on purchases: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • Best features: You’ll have plenty of opportunities to earn cash back with the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Along with consistent cash back in popular everyday categories, the card carries a generous flat cash back rate on general purchases, making it easy to rack up rewards. There’s also a lengthy 15-month 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers (17.99% to 26.74% variable APR after that). That’s a lot of perks for a no-annual-fee credit card.
  • Biggest drawbacks: There’s no annual bonus or statement credits, though that may not deter many considering the lack of rewards limits and the competitive return rate.
  • Alternatives: If you’d rather earn cash back in a variety of rotating categories than a high base rewards rate on general purchases, the Chase Freedom Flex is worth a look. It earns 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories each quarter (upon enrollment, on up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1%).
  • Bottom line: Rewards seekers looking to earn rewards on their everyday purchases will get plenty of value out of the Chase Freedom Unlimited. It will be especially appealing to people who prefer to carry only one credit card in their wallet.

Related: Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited worth it?

Read our Chase Freedom Unlimited® review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for U.S. supermarkets: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

  • Best features: This card’s 6% cash back rate at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases each year, then 1%) is one of the highest rates out there. Plus, there are no rotating categories or enrollment to worry about. Read more on how our expert, Brady Porche, uses the Blue Cash Preferred card.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The $250 welcome offer is nice, but it comes with a sizable spending requirement compared to other rewards cards ($3,000 in your first six months). Some other cards offer a not-far-off bonus of $200 after just $500 in spending in the first three months.
  • Alternatives: If you’re seeking an American Express card but are put off by an annual fee after the first year, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is worth a look. It charges no annual fee and offers a decent rewards rate not only at U.S. supermarkets, but also on U.S. online retail purchases.
  • Bottom line: Some may find the annual fee of $95 ($0 intro annual fee for the first year) a tad steep, but it’s worth remembering the card’s high rewards rates. We estimate a Blue Cash Preferred cardholder only needs to spend around $132 per month at U.S. supermarkets to cover the card’s annual fee and only around $265 per month at U.S. supermarkets to both cover the ongoing annual fee and beat the rewards you’d earn on the same spend with the Blue Cash Everyday card. (Learn how to decide which Blue Cash card is right for you.)

Related: Who should get the Blue Cash Preferred Card from Amex?

Read our Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for unlimited rewards: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Best features: Ideal for those who prefer to keep it simple, this gimmick-free card has no annual fee and offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Rewards remain valid for the life of the account and there are no caps on how much you can earn. Read more on how credit cards expert Ana Staples uses the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The 1.5% cash back rate isn’t all that great compared to some of the best flat-rate cash back cards, several of which earn 2% cash back on all purchases and also don’t charge an annual fee.
  • Alternatives: The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is another relatively simple cash back card. However, it stands out for its rewards flexibility: You can pool your points with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards to potentially boost the value of your rewards by 25% to 50% when you redeem for travel through the Chase portal.
  • Bottom line: While other cards offer higher cash back rates, the simplicity of unlimited 1.5% back on every purchase may appeal to someone in the market for a pared-down cash back card.

Related: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards benefits guide

Read our Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for grocery, gas and online rewards: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

  • Best features: This card’s new cash back rates and perks make it a terrific choice for earning rewards on everyday spending. Household shoppers on a budget won’t want to pass up the generous cash back in multiple everyday categories, welcome offer and newly-added credits, which include $7 back each month when you spend at least $13.99 per month on an eligible subscription to The Disney Bundle (enrollment required).
  • Biggest drawbacks: You’re out of luck if you like to shop at superstores like Walmart or warehouse/wholesale clubs like BJs and Sam’s Club, all of which will only earn 1% cash back on purchases. And since the card only earns 3% back on your first $6,000 in spending per year in each of its bonus categories, big spenders may prefer the unlimited cash back bonus categories found with other cash back cards.
  • Alternatives: The Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card comes with six bonus categories that earn 3X points and covers everyday purchases like dining, gas, travel, transit and phone plans plus, earn 1X points on other purchases. Plus this no-annual-fee card has enough additional benefits to give the Blue Cash Everyday Card and even some cards with an annual fee a run for their money.
  • Bottom line: If your spending lines up well with the Everyday card’s everyday rewards categories and credits, this card is a great choice.

Related: Is the American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card worth it?

Read our Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for flat rate + sign-up bonus: Upgrade Cash Rewards Elite Visa®

  • Best features: This hybrid credit card/personal loan comes with a lot of versatility and value for no annual fee. You’ll earn one of the highest flat rates on the market on all purchases (every time you make a payment) and enjoy a number of additional features that are hard to find with other flat-rate credit cards. If you take advantage of the welcome offer and open an Upgrade Rewards Checking account, you’ll not only quickly put cash back in your wallet but also get a chance to earn lower rates on future Upgrade cards and loans.
  • Biggest drawbacks: Rewards are not flexible and are automatically put toward paying off your balance. This isn’t ideal for people looking for more options, like travelers who prefer to transfer their rewards for greater value.
  • Alternatives: If you prefer the simplicity of a traditional flat-rate credit card, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card has a straightforward sign-up bonus and earns an unlimited 2 percent cash rewards on eligible purchases. It’s a versatile card with some features not found with the Upgrade Elite, like an intro APR offer and a variety of redemption options.
  • Bottom line: This card’s unique sign-up bonus and generous flat rate could help rewards maximizers rake in more cash back than they would with the typical flat-rate card.

Jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for flat-rate cash back: Citi® Double Cash Card

  • Best features: Offering 1% cash back when you make purchases and an additional 1% back as you pay them off, the Citi Double Cash boasts one of the most competitive flat rewards rates available on a cash back card with no annual fee. Plus, the card’s rewards are flexible and can be redeemed not only for cash back, but also travel, gift cards and more.
  • Biggest drawbacks: There’s no intro APR offer on purchases, which differs from other top cash back cards that usually offer an intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers.
  • Alternatives: The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card offers the same flat rate of 2 percent cash rewards on purchases but stands out by offering an intro APR on both new purchases and balance transfers.
  • Bottom line: This uncomplicated flat-rate cash back card would be a good match for someone who values flexibility.

Related: Is the Citi Double Cash Card worth it?

Read our Citi® Double Cash Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for rotating categories: Discover it® Cash Back

  • Best features: Discover will automatically match all of your cash back earnings at the end of your first year. This is a popular incentive that encourages you to use the credit card often in the first year. Plus, Discover credit cards have a few consumer-friendly policies attached to its popular credit cards, including no foreign transaction fees, free FICO credit score access and no fee the first time you pay late (up to $41 for any late payments after that).
  • Biggest drawbacks: It takes some work to maintain this card: You’ll have to remember to enroll in a bonus category each quarter and you may need to track your spending since the 5% cash back rate is limited to your first $1,500 in combined rotating category purchases per quarter (then 1%).
  • Alternatives: If you aren’t a fan of tracking bonus categories, the Citi Double Cash card offers one of the best flat cash back rates available (up to 2 percent back on every purchase (1 percent when you buy, 1 percent as you pay off those purchases)  – for no annual fee.
  • Bottom line: The Discover it Cash Back is a solid pick thanks to its generous cash back rate in a wide variety of popular and practical rotating categories. Read more on how credit card expert, Ana Staples, uses the Discover It Cash Back card.

Related: Guide to Discover it Cash Back rewards and benefits

Read our Discover it® Cash Back card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for automatically maximizing cash back: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

  • Best features: It’s one of the only credit cards that automatically earns 5% cash back in your highest eligible spending category (on up to the first $500 spent each billing cycle, then 1%). That should appeal to rewards seekers looking for a no-maintenance credit card. Plus, the card touts a generous sign-up bonus: $200 worth of ThankYou points after you spend $1,500 in your first six months.
  • Biggest drawbacks: Your cash back potential is limited since you’ll only earn 5% back in a single eligible spending category, and only on the first $500 you spend in that category each billing cycle (after which you earn just 1% back). You’ll also pay a steep 5% balance transfer fee (or $5, whichever is greater) if you take advantage of the card’s balance transfer offer.
  • Alternatives: If you like the idea of customized rewards but want a single card that earns in multiple categories at once, a great alternative could be the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card. Although you’ll still have a cap on spending to earn at the card’s highest rewards rate, you’ll have more flexibility with your spending across multiple categories. Instead of earning 5% back in one category on the Custom Cash card, the Customized Cash Rewards card would be great for cardholders who spend evenly in a few categories.
  • Bottom line: If you like the idea of automatically maximizing cash back in your biggest eligible spending category, the Citi Custom Cash Card is a great pick, especially when combined with other rewards cards that earn more than 1% back in other categories.

Related: Citi Custom Cash card rewards and benefits guide

Read our Citi Custom Cash Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for cash back on eligible travel: Chase Freedom Flex℠

  • Best features: It’s one of the only cash back cards that offers both rotating bonus categories and fixed categories, including generous rates on travel and dining.
  • Biggest drawbacks: Remembering to enroll in the 5% bonus category each quarter requires some attention and categories may not always line up with your spending habits.
  • Alternatives: If you’d rather earn a higher cash back rate on general purchases and not worry about tracking or enrolling in rotating bonus categories, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great option. (Learn how to decide between the Chase Freedom cards.)
  • Bottom line: It can take some work tracking all the rewards categories this card offers, but if your spending aligns with the bonus categories, the Freedom Flex will make it worth your while.

Related: Chase Freedom Flex benefits guide

Read our Chase Freedom Flex℠ review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for cash back for Preferred Rewards Members: Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card

  • Best features: If you’re a Bank of America customer with large savings, checking or investment accounts, this could prove the most valuable flat-rate cash back card available. You’ll earn at least 1.5% cash back on all purchases and may qualify for a rewards boost of 25% to 75% as an eligible Preferred Rewards member.
  • Biggest drawbacks: You’ll need a three-month average balance of at least $20,000 across your eligible Bank of America or Merrill accounts to be eligible for any Preferred Rewards boost. And to get the 75% boost, you’ll need at least a $100,000 average balance.
  • Alternatives: Unless you’re a Preferred Rewards member at the Platinum tier or above, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, which carries a flat 2% cash rewards rate, will almost certainly be a more rewarding long-term choice.
  • Bottom line: While this card has huge rewards potential, the best rates are reserved for people with sizable account balances. For everyone else, other flat-rate options can beat the Unlimited Cash Rewards card’s base cash back rate.

Read our Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for students: Discover it® Student Cash Back

  • Best features: Students can build healthy credit habits while enjoying some of Discover’s best features, including an intro APR offer, very forgiving rates and fees and Discover’s famous Cashback Match offer, which matches all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The rewards program can be a bit confusing and takes some work compared to flat-rate cards and other cash back cards with a more straightforward rewards structure.
  • Alternatives: The Chase Freedom® Student credit card not only offers students a foot in the door of Chase Ultimate Rewards, but also comes with a $50 bonus if you make a purchase in your first three months and a $20 annual bonus for your first five years as a cardholder if you keep your account in good standing.
  • Bottom line: This is a top-notch student credit card that lets you earn rewards even as you’re learning how to build and manage your credit.

Related: Is the Discover it Student Cash Back card worth it?

Read our Discover it® Student Cash Back review or jump back to this card’s offer details.


What are cash back credit cards?

Cash back credit cards are a type of rewards credit card. Unlike other rewards credit cards, which offer redeemable points or miles on purchases, cash back credit cards give a particular dollar amount of each eligible purchase back to the cardholder. Cash back essentially works like a rebate. Because reward points often come with a lot of restrictions in terms of how they can be redeemed, some people may prefer the simplicity of a cash back rewards card.

How do they work?

Issuers offer cash back rewards as an incentive for consumers to use their card over a competitor’s. Although it varies by issuer, the money that funds cash back typically comes from the interest paid by other cardholders carrying a balance, fees gathered for missed or late payments and interchange fees paid by businesses for accepting credit cards.

With a cash back credit card, you’ll earn back a percentage of whatever you spend on eligible purchases, usually between 1% and 5%, depending on the card, the spending category and any spend limitations.  The cash back accumulates in your credit card account until you redeem it. When you redeem your cash back, you’ll probably have several options. Most cards allow you to redeem your cash back as a statement credit, which will lower your credit card balance. Direct deposits to your bank account, gift cards and checks are also common redemption options.

How to calculate cash back

Exactly how much cash you earn back per purchase will vary depending on the terms of your card and the type of purchase you make. Let’s say you spend $500 each month in a category with a cash back rate of 5%. That means you earn $25 a month, just for card loyalty ($500 X 0.05 = $25). Sometimes there are spending limits, which is why it’s important to read through a card’s terms before applying.

Read our full guide to how cash back credit cards work to learn more.

Types of cash back cards

Since there are several different cash back cards, there’s likely one that suits your spending habits. Card issuers are privy to consumer spending patterns and flesh out cash back cards with different rates to compliment those patterns. This consumer-based approach amounts in a number of differently styled cash back programs on various amounts of cards, but overall there are typically three different kinds of cash back cards.

Here are the different types:


Types of cash back categories

It’s important to choose a cash back credit card that aligns with the categories you spend on most frequently. Here are some examples:

  • Restaurants. Whether you enjoy dining out or take out, many cash back cards are designed with foodies in mind to maximize spending at your favorite restaurants. The Capital One SavorOne card is one of the best cash back dining credit cards, since it earns elevated cash back at restaurants.
  • Grocery stores and wholesale clubs. Cards that offer cash back on grocery store purchases are perfect for families or anyone that enjoys home cooking. Grocery stores and wholesale clubs are usually considered distinct categories. If you want to earn on your weekly or monthly grocery trips, one of the best cash back cards for groceries is the Amex Blue Cash Preferred or the Blue Cash Everyday.
  • Gas stations. Getting cash back at the pump can be especially rewarding for frequent drivers. Cards that offer cash back rewards at gas stations can be a great credit-building tool as well. Two popular cash back gas credit cards are the Discover it® chrome and the Sam’s Club® Mastercard®.
  • Retailers and drugstores. Loyal shoppers of companies like Amazon, Walmart and Target can receive cash back on online purchases when equipped with the right card. Pharmacy-goers can also benefit from cash back on prescription purchases. For cash back on drugstore purchases, the Chase Freedom Flex is your top option.
  • Fitness. If you work out at a gym or fitness club membership, some cards offer cash back rewards on membership payments. Discover’s 2022 rotating bonus category calendar recently featured gym memberships for the Discover it Cash Back, so you may see it again in 2023.
  • Streaming and internet services. Internet service subscribers and binge-watchers of services like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ can receive cash back rewards on their subscription payments when using certain credit cards. The Amex Blue Cash Preferred is one of these cards, since it earns 6% back on select streaming services, so it’s worth a look.

Pros and cons of cash back cards

Cash back credit cards are a popular type of rewards card, given their return on spending and ease of use. But, depending on your financial goals, they’re not always the best fit for your wallet. Understanding the big draws and disadvantages of cash back credit cards can help you pinpoint if one is right for you.

Pros

  • Flexibility. Earning and redeeming rewards is generally straightforward and easy to master. You can typically cash in rewards as a statement credit and there are low-to-no minimums for redemption across popular cards.
  • Affordability. Many cash back cards carry low-to-no annual fees.
  • Easy welcome offers. Cash back sign-up bonuses tend to have low spending requirements. For instance, some cards let you score bonus points by spending as little as $500 in your first three months. Travel credit card spend requirements tend to run much higher.
  • Credit building potential. When you use a cash back card responsibly, it helps build your credit profile by not only adding to your overall credit history, but improving your credit utilization with increased access to credit. Responsible credit usage — which includes always making on-time credit card payments and paying your balance in full as often as possible — is a major contributing factor to receiving increased credit lines and a higher credit score.

Cons

  • Pricey APRs. Cash back credit cards are rewards credit cards, meaning their APRs tend to be higher than no-frills credit cards. As such, they’re not ideal for people prone to carrying a balance.
  • Limited value. You can’t really stretch the value of cash back in the same way you can stretch the value of travel points or miles. For instance, you generally can’t transfer to or pool rewards with airline partners.
  • Less lucrative sign-up bonuses. Cash back sign-up bonuses are generally less lucrative than the big sign-up bonuses you see associated with travel or business credit cards.
  • High credit requirements. Most cash back credit cards require the applicant to have at least a good to excellent credit score rating (which is 670 to 850 on the FICO scale) to increase the likelihood of approval. This higher credit requirement may keep cash back cards out of reach for some, such as people just getting started with their credit journey or anyone still rebuilding their credit profile.

How to choose a cash back credit card

Comparing cash back credit cards can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not sure where you spend the most or how different card types fit different lifestyles.

  • Nail down your credit score. Before applying for a credit card or even beginning your search, you will need to know your credit score. Not only does this score determine if you are eligible for a cash back credit card, but it impacts the interest rate of the credit card, too. Typically, cash back credit cards require a good to excellent credit score range; however, there are secured options with cash back rewards for those with a bad or fair credit score. If your goal is to build your credit, you may consider focusing on credit-builder cards versus cash back or rewards cards.
  • Find out what the card will cost you. There are numerous fees associated with owning a credit card and understanding these up front can save you money in the long run. Start first with the annual fee and consider if the card’s cash back potential and benefits are worth this annual cost. Foreign transaction fees are another costly expense your card may have. This fee is added onto any purchases you make in other countries. If you plan to use your card while traveling abroad, consider getting a card without foreign transaction fees. Late fees, balance transfer fees and membership costs are other examples of fees that could add extra costs to a credit card.
  • Track your spending and determine what spending category is most important to you. To maximize your cash back earnings, it is helpful to choose a credit card offering the best cash back for the categories you spend the most in. You can track your spending ahead of time and pinpoint the categories where you are most likely to use your card the most, such as groceries, dining out or gas. If you do not have one category in particular that stands out, you may benefit from a flat-rate cash back card versus a bonus category or membership-based one.
  • Know how much effort you want to put into a rewards strategy. Some cash back credit cards require more effort to keep up with than others, such as credit cards with rotating cash back categories or bonus categories. If you prefer a simpler approach to earning cash back and are unsure if you can keep up with too many options, then a flat-rate cash back credit card may be a better fit.

Check out this example, which shows how your earnings can vary based on how much you spend and the structure of your card’s rewards program. Depending on your spending habits, you could come out on top with either a flat-rate card or a card that earns bonus rewards in a specific category.

CardCard typeRewards rateEstimated rewards earned on $20,000 annual spendEstimated rewards earned on $40,000 annual spend
Citi Custom CashTiered bonus category card5% back in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle (on up to the first $500 in spending, 1% after that); 1% back on all other purchases$440*$640*
Citi Double CashFlat-rate cardUp to 2% back on all purchases (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay off purchases)$400$800

* Assumes a $500 spend in an eligible bonus category each billing cycle, after which the rewards rate drops to 1 percent back.

Alternatives to cash back credit cards

Not everyone has the same financial goals, which is why some cash back cards may not be the best fit depending on what works for your particular lifestyle. Cash back is one of numerous options for rewards cards, but other cards offer benefits for travel, specific purchases and lower interest rates.

  • Travel cards. These credit cards offer travel rewards for purchases, which can be used towards future travel or experiences. While these cards can help reduce the cost of travel, you often need to redeem through select travel partners to receive the highest rewards value.
  • Student cards. Student cards are often wise options for those building or establishing their credit. Most feature no annual fees while offering incentives such as free credit monitoring or no penalty APRs.
  • Low-interest cards. If you tend to carry balances often, a low-interest card may be the best option. You can save a potentially large amount of money by avoiding the most costly interest charges.
  • Starter/credit builder cards. For borrowers with lower credit scores (500 and below on the FICO scale), these credit accounts focus on building credit from scratch and improving existing credit. The goal of opening an account of this kind is usually to improve credit over time, increasing accessibility to lower-interest, higher-reward cards with better benefits.

Who should get a cash back credit card

  • The strategic spender. If you’re aiming to maximize cash back earnings, you can combine the strengths of flat-rate and tiered cards. With this helpful strategy, pair a credit card that offers a high rewards rate for your large, frequent purchases with a straightforward flat-rate card to cover everything else.
  • The minimalist. Those who strive for simplicity can see a lot of benefit from a good cash back credit card. A flat-rate cash back credit card that carries no annual fee is a great choice for someone who wants to earn rewards without much additional thought. Certain cards in this category can help you “set and forget” by automating bill payments and reward redemptions.
  • The foodie. Whether you love cooking meals at home or dine out on a regular basis, there are valuable cash back cards on the market rewarding your food-focused purchases by offering strong cash back offers tailored to foodies. For example, the Capital One SavorOne card offers a generous 3% cash back on both dining purchases and grocery purchases — ideal for a night out or night in. If your food purchases skew more towards groceries, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers an impressive 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%).

Who should skip a cash back credit card

  • The luxury traveler. While cash back is relatively universal, frequent travelers may want to consider a travel, airline or hotel credit card that offers high-end perks and discounts when booking with their favorite travel brands.
  • The overspender. The concept of getting cash back on all or most of your purchases is enticing, but it may tempt you to spend more than necessary, especially if you anticipate carrying a balance from month to month.
  • The credit-builder. If you’re on a journey to rebuild or build credit from the ground up, earning cash back shouldn’t be your top priority. Cash back cards often require a good credit score and could tempt you to spend more than you normally would in order to earn cash back. Instead, focus on building credit with responsible card use.

Read more on factors to consider when choosing a cash back credit card.

How to maximize your cash back credit card

  • Match yourself with a card that best suits your spending habits. Before you choose a card, take a hard look at your budget and identify the areas where you’re spending the most. If a good portion of your budget goes towards groceries, it makes sense to seek out a card that offers a high cash back rate for supermarkets. If in the course of a month you spend a lot of money on a broad range of purchases, a flat-rate card with no cap might offer you the best value.
  • Strategize spending on bonus categories. With some cards offering cash back rates from 4% to 6% in the higher ranges, bonus categories can be an enormous boon to your rewards earnings. But rotating bonus categories aren’t always easy to keep track of, especially when spending across multiple credit cards. Luckily, many credit cards release bonus categories annually or sometimes quarterly, which gives you time to strategize. Match these categories with your personal calendar, identifying occasions where you’re most likely to spend such as birthdays, holidays, vacations and weekend getaways.
  • Pair cards to fill in reward gaps. Even the most robust rewards program will have its limitations. You can fill in those gaps by adding another card in your rotation. Let’s say you have a great flat-rate cash back card like the Citi Double Cash Card and earn 2% on general purchases (1% when you buy combined with an additional 1% cash back as you pay off those purchases) but feel like you’re missing out on potential travel rewards. With its 5% cash back on travel (purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® ), the Chase Freedom Flex would provide much more value when booking travel.
  • Pay your balances in full each month. If you do not, you’ll end up losing the cash back you’ve earned to interest. Paying your monthly balances on time and in full is a best practice regardless of what type of card you’re carrying, but cash back credit cards tend to carry higher APRs than low-interest credit cards.
  • Utilize a sign-up bonus. If your cash back credit card offers a sign-up bonus, you can receive bonus rewards if you reach the spending requirement in a given amount of time. Make sure the requirement lines up with your current spending habits to avoid carrying a balance and losing your rewards to interest.
  • Check the card’s online shopping portals. Some larger banks, like Bank of America or Capital One, offer private shopping portals where cardholders can access exclusive deals and discounts. Check with prospective lenders to see whether an account comes with access to one of these sites, which can allow for substantial cash-back savings on travel bookings, partner brand discounts, and more.

How we picked the best cash back credit cards

  • Cash back rate and categories. Of course, the best cash back credit cards make it easy to earn cash back. That’s why we chose credit cards that offer high rewards rates on common purchases. We understand that “everyday spending” looks different for various lifestyles, so we chose a variety of bonus categories, from travel to groceries to entertainment.
  • Redemption options. What’s the use of cash back if you can’t redeem it in a way that’s valuable to you? Most cash back cards allow the option to redeem as a statement credit, but some also allow you to redeem as a bank direct deposit, gift card, charitable donation or even a credit toward a loan balance. Since these alternative redemption methods can sometimes add value to your cash back earnings, we weighed all methods of redemption. We also considered ease of redemption since some cards require a minimum cash back balance in order to redeem.
  • Sign-up bonus. When analyzing a credit card’s overall value, we always think long-term: ongoing rewards rate, fees, etc. But a sign-up bonus is a nice way to kickstart your cash back earnings. The ideal sign-up bonus rewards you generously for a low spending threshold.
  • Rates and fees. Here, we dug into a few costs that may cut into the card’s potential value. When assessing cards with annual fees, we did the math to ensure that cardholders’ cash back and other benefits could likely surpass that cost. We also avoided cards with sky-high interest rates.
  • Miscellaneous benefits and features. Additional perks and benefits are rarely the main attraction, but they can be tie-breakers when comparing two similar offers. Features like auto rental insurance and price protection are often overlooked but can save you hundreds if you remember to use them.

Additional information on cash back credit cards

For more information on all things cash back cards, continue reading content from our credit card experts:


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