Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Cash back credit cards are a useful tool to get paid back for the things you buy every day. Many cards offer flat cash back for all purchases, while others offer higher cash back across rotating categories like dining, groceries and shopping. We researched 682 cash back card offers and narrowed them down to our top recommendations. Browse our editor’s picks for the 10 best cash back offers from our partners and find a card that fits your spending habits.

Cash back credit cards are a useful tool to get paid back for the things you buy every day. Many cards offer flat cash back for all purchases, while others offer higher cash back across rotating categories like dining, groceries and shopping. We researched 682 cash back card offers and narrowed them down to our top recommendations. Browse our editor’s picks for the 10 best cash back offers from our partners and find a card that fits your spending habits.

Summary

Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2020

See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

Apply Now

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 Bonus
$250
Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
12.99% - 23.99% variable
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

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

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$150
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
12.99% - 23.99% variable

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Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

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

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
Cashback Match™
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
11.99% - 22.99% variable
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

1.5%
Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$150
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
12.99% - 23.99% variable

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

1.5%
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
1.8%
Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified digital wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$150
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% - 25.99% variable

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

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

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$150
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.49% - 25.49% variable

Fair to Good

Credit Recommended (580-740)

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

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

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
No current offer
Annual Fee
$39
Regular APR
26.99% variable

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

3%
Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment
2%
Earn 2% at grocery stores
1%
Earn 1% on all other purchases

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$150
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
15.49% - 25.49% variable

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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.

All information about Bank of America Cards, Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card, Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card, and Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. Bank of America Cards are no longer available through CreditCards.com.


Comparing the best cash back credit cards

Updated: April 1, 2020

It’s clear that Americans love their cash back cards, according to our July 2019 poll, which notably shows a jump in cash back from 43% in 2018 to 49% in 2019. Cash back beat out gas/retail (29%), airline/hotel (20%), general travel (19%) and business (18%).

Want to know more? Our experts at CreditCards.com have pulled together the best cash back credit cards for you in various spending categories. Each card has different rewards and fees, but we make it easy for you to decide which is best for your spending habits. With the current uncertainty surrounding the economy, the comfort of earning cash back can add tremendous value to your finances and peace of mind in knowing you’re earning cash back for your daily purchases. Choosing a credit card is an important financial decision, so we lay out the pros and cons for you all in one place.

The best credit card for you will depend on your personal needs and preferences. Here’s our take on 2020’s best cash back cards with pros and cons to consider for each offer. Feel free to email us at editors@creditcards.com if you have any questions!


best cash-back credit cards of 2020

Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Citi® Double Cash Card

Why it’s the best credit card for flat-rate cash back

The Double Cash’s unique ongoing rewards offer pays you 1% back when you purchase, then another 1% back when you pay your bill, which beats its competitors in the flat-rate field.

Pros

This card is exceptional in a number of ways, from its ongoing rewards offer to its balance transfer offer. Be sure to include this card in your lineup of cards to eye before making a decision.

Cons

There’s no sign-up bonus, and while there’s a 0% intro APR balance transfer offer for 18 months (it’s 13.99% - 23.99% (Variable) after that), no such luck with purchases.

Blue Cash Preferred®Card from American Express

Why it’s the best cash back credit card for U.S. supermarket purchases

The Blue Cash Preferred offers an unprecedented 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 annually, then 1%). Try to find that elsewhere.

Pros

The BlueCash Preferred Card has recently introduced some unique new cash back categories like 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions (including Netflix, Hulu and Spotify, among others), and 3% cash back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, buses and more. Not to mention, this card offers an unprecedented 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 annual, then 1%).

Cons

This is one of the few cards on our list of top cash back cards that requires an annual fee, and it is not waived the first year.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Why it’s the best cash back credit card for travel

This card’s unlimited 3X points bonus on dining, travel and transit, gas station purchases, and select streaming services should help you quickly rack up points for your next trip. Plus, its sign-up bonus – 20,000 points if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months – is among the best you can get without paying an annual fee.

Pros

You can choose from a number of redemption options, including cash back, statement credits, travel and more without sacrificing point value. The card also carries no foreign transaction fee, making it a smart choice for travel abroad.

Cons

You can’t transfer points to airline and hotel rewards programs to boost their value. Additionally, the card may not be the best choice if your credit is less than stellar: It offers a wide range of APRs, from 13.99%-25.99% (Variable), and while the low-end APR is well below average for a cashback card, the high end is very high indeed.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Why it’s the best cash back credit card for families

You’ll get 2% back at U.S. gas stations with the Blue Cash Everyday Card, making it a great option for that daily commute or for shuttling the kids to music lessons.

Pros

Unlike the Blue Cash Preferred, there’s no annual fee with this card, and the ongoing rewards at U.S. supermarkets are quite good with 3% back (on up to $6,000 each year in purchases, then it’s 1%).

Cons

This card doesn’t have the heightened category features of the Blue Cash Preferred, which could be a deal-breaker if you have an ever-growing family.

Discover it® Cash Back

Why it’s the best credit card for rotating cash back categories

Through everyday spending and maximizing the Discover it Cash Back’s 5% rotating categories on up to $1,500 in purchases quarterly upon activation (then 1%), the earnings really add up over the first year.

Pros

If you like the idea of working towards maximum rewards, this card is a good choice for you, because you could potentially earn up to $600 at year end by earning 5% back on select rotating categories for up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter (activation required) and the cash back match at the end of the first year. 5% categories can include Amazon.com and grocery stores. You can also receive free Social Security number alerts, a special feature of Discover cards.

Cons

While competitive, Discover as a network is not as robust as Mastercard and Visa and is accepted at fewer locations abroad. Also, you’ll need to decide if rotating categories are for you as they require a bit more legwork than a flat-rate cash back card. Finally, there’s no sign-up bonus.

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

Why it’s the best cash back credit card for card benefits

This card’s perks are especially impressive considering it charges no annual fee. Among other benefits, you’ll enjoy free shipping at dozens of online stores with a complimentary ShopRunner membership and a chance at no-interest financing through Amex’s “Pay It Plan It” program.

Pros

Offering unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, the Amex Cash Magnet should be a great fit if you’re looking for a hassle-free, “set-it-and-forget-it” cash back card. It also comes with a respectable introductory bonus of $150 when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months and a competitive 0% intro APR offer on both balance transfers and new purchases (0% for 15 months, then 12.99%-23.99% Variable).

Cons

This card only earns cash back, not points, so you’re out of luck if you’re hoping to earn Amex Membership Rewards. Even worse, you can’t redeem until you’ve earned a minimum of $25 in cash back.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why it’s the best credit card for your first cash back card

If you’re looking for a card with all the boxes checked, you’ll want to eye the Capital One Quicksilver Card. From waived fees to straightforward rewards, this card is a fine first choice.

Pros

If you’re looking for a card with all the boxes checked, you’ll want to eye the Capital One Quicksilver Card. It has competitive ongoing rewards as well as a decent sign-up bonus. With the 1.5% back on all purchases, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of rotating categories or quarterly sign-ups. Also, you won’t have to choose between an introductory APR and rewards, because this card has both. Finally, there is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee.

Cons

The sign-up bonus isn’t the highest, with the BofA Cash Rewards card now offering $200 back with a $1,000 spend within the first 90 days, while some luxury cards offer even larger sums. And the required credit of good to excellent is a high bar for someone whose credit isn’t the best.

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why it’s the best cash back credit card for restaurants

You’ll be hard pressed to find a no-annual-fee card that beats the dining and entertainment rewards of the Capital One SavorOne. Also, Capital One now partners with OpenTable with its Premium Access program, which allows you to make fee-free reservations at select, elite restaurants throughout the U.S.

Pros

The SavorOne offers a hearty 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, as well as 2% back at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. It’s ideal if you lead an outgoing lifestyle and are looking for a card without an annual fee. It also has no foreign transaction fee, which makes it suitable for use abroad.

Cons

The sign-up bonus and cash back rate at supermarkets are lower than alternative cards such as the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, but this is to be expected in exchange for no annual fee.

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why it’s the best cash back credit card for average credit

Not only can you qualify for the QuicksilverOne even if your credit is only average (most cash back cards require you to have good to excellent credit to qualify), the cash back rate is impressive: You’ll earn unlimited 1.5% cash back, and you won’t have to worry about tracking spending or enrolling in bonus categories.

Pros

This card’s generous perks will be a pleasant surprise for credit-builders. It charges no foreign transaction fee and offers free CreditWise credit monitoring, car rental insurance, extended warranty protection, roadside assistance and more. Even better, you may be eligible for a credit limit increase after 5 months of on-time payments.

Cons

The card comes with a very high APR of 26.99% (Variable), regardless of your credit history, so it’s not the best choice if you suspect you’ll need to carry a balance from time to time. Additionally, it offers no sign-up bonus and charges an annual fee of $39. This means you’ll need to spend $2,600 per year with the card just to break even.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Why it’s the best credit card for cash sign-up bonus

The Bank of America’s Cash Rewards card offers a $200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening – a nice incentive when paired with the card’s generous rewards structure.

Pros

The Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card recently switched its 3% back offer at gas stations to a monthly option of one of 6 categories, then you can earn 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. (That’s with a $2,500 maximum quarterly spend when combining the 3% and the 2% categories.).

Cons

The tiered rewards can be beaten by other cards, if you know in advance how you tend to spend. Also, because of the varied tiers, this card takes a little organization, including changing your 3% category each month if you want to maximize your earnings.

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

Why it’s the best cash back credit card for business

This card’s exceedingly simple rewards earning scheme should appeal to small-business owners too busy to deal with tracking bonus categories. You’ll earn unlimited cash back at a flat rate of 1.5% on every purchase – no matter where, when or what you buy. You can also get employee cards at no additional cost and set individual spending limits.

Pros

You’ll score a $500 sign-up bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months, which shouldn’t be too hard for most small-business owners. The card is also a great choice if you need to free up cash flow or pay off a large business expense over the course of a year: It comes with a 0% introductory APR on new purchases for the first 12 months, after which the APR is 14.74% - 20.74% Variable.

Cons

The Ink Business Unlimited does not offer a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers. If you’re carrying debt on another card and are looking for a way to hit pause on interest charges while earning cash back, consider a business card that offers balance transfers, like the American Express® Blue Business Cash Card.

Summary of the Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Credit Card Best For: Cash Back % Annual Fee CreditCards.com Rating
Citi® Double Cash Card Flat-rate cash back 2% (1% as you buy, 1% as you pay) $0 4.0 / 5
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express U.S. supermarket purchases 6% at U.S. supermarkets** $95 4.3 / 5
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card Travel 3% on dining and travel $0 3.5 / 5
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Families 3% at U.S. supermarkets; 2% at U.S. gas stations; 1% on everything else $0 3.5 / 5
Discover it® Cash Back Rotating cash back 5% on rotating categories each quarter* $0 4.3 / 5
American Express Cash Magnet® Card Card benefits 1.5% cash back on every purchase(terms apply) $0 2.9 / 5
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card Your first cash back card 1.5% $0 3.4 / 5
Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card Restaurants 3% on dining and entertainment $0 3.7 / 5
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card Average credit 1.5% $39 4.1 / 5
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card Cash sign-up bonus 3% on a chosen category $0 3.4 / 5
Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card Business cash back 1.5% $0 3.5 / 5

*On up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter after enrollment, then 1%
**For the first $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1% 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

What are cash back cards?

Cash back cards are pretty straightforward – they allow you to earn cash for spending on your favorite card. Once you build your credit and know how to manage your credit cards, it’s time to think about rewards. And cash back rewards can be among the most straightforward of the rewards cards out there, making them a great starter product. According to our 2019 cash back survey, the average cash back card offers a cash back rate of around 1.25 percent per dollar, though you can easily exceed that amount with careful card selection and usage.

How do cash back credit cards work? Whether you choose a card with a flat rate or a product with rotating categories, this is a great way to earn cash while making purchases. For example: Let’s say you spend $500 a month and the cash back rate is 5% on specific categories. That means you are earning $25 a month just for card loyalty. There are sometimes spending requirements and sign-up rules, though.

Cash back cards will usually also have a sign-up bonus of up to $300 back, so be sure to shop around. However, as with all rewards cards, you need to be sure to pay in full each month, because otherwise, you’ll pay interest charges on the balance each month, and that would defeat the purpose of having a rewards card.

What are the different types of cash back cards?

Cash back cards can be a little confusing when you are shopping around because each one has a slightly different rewards plan. The best plan for you is the one that matches your past spending habits. Here are some different types:

Flat rate

Flat-rate cash back cards typically offer 1.5% back on all purchases, allowing you to not worry about maximum spends or quarterly sign-ups. However, the rewards are lower, which is the tradeoff for not having to think about what and where you are making purchases. Examples of flat rate cards include:

  • Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card – This card gets you 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make, charges no annual fee and comes with a sign-up bonus of $150 if you spend $500 in the first 3 months. Redeem cash back for a check, statement credit, gift cards and more in any amount, any time.
  • Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa card – Another 1.5% flat rate cash back card that comes with a $150 bonus if you spend $500 in the first 3 months. What really sets it apart is its included cellphone insurance: Pay your monthly cell phone bill with the card and you’ll get $600 worth of protection against covered cellphone damage and theft (subject to a $25 deductible).

Multiple tiers

Some cards offer boosted cash back on specific categories. The rate is year-round in this case, but there may be a maximum spend limit. Examples of a tiered cash back card include:

  • Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express – Even with an annual fee of $95, this card is a great choice for families and lovers of home cooking, offering 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%) and 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. You’ll also earn 3% back at U.S. gas stations, 3% back on transit and 1% back on everything else.
  • Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express – Another practical choice for earning cash back on everyday spending, this card gets you 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% back on everything else, all without paying an annual fee.

Rotating categories

This type of cash back card requires the most thinking because select categories reward you with, for example, 5% back for a specific amount of time (typically 1% cash back after a $1,500 maximum spend each quarter). You have to sign up for bonus categories each quarter and you have to pay attention to when and where you make purchases. Examples of cash back cards with rotating categories include:

  • Chase Freedom (No longer available on our site) – Enroll in rotating bonus categories and score 5% cash back on the first $1,500 you spend in a quarter (1% back after that). Through March, the Chase Freedom’s bonus categories include select streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Disney+, as well gas stations and phone, cable and internet services.
  • Discover it Cash Back – Like the Chase Freedom card, the Discover it Cash Back lets you enroll in rotating bonus categories and earn 5% cash back on the first $1,500 you spend in a quarter (1% back after that). Discover’s full 2020 cash back calendar is now live and features categories like grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, Amazon.com and Walmart.com. You’ll also enjoy the famous Discover cashback match at the end of your first year.
  • Discover it Student Cash Back – This card is almost identical to the Discover it Cash Back, but designed for students. It offers the same rotating bonus cash back categories and first year cashback match, plus a $20 statement credit every year you earn a GPA of 3.0 or higher (for up to the next 5 years).

Customizable choice of category

A new type of cash back card opportunity has appeared in the last year that allows you to choose your own bonus category. There can be a requirement to sign up for a boosted category with some cards, and you need to keep track of which category you are currently signed up for to maximize your rewards. These kinds of cards include:

  • Bank of America Cash Rewards – You get 3% cash back in a category of your choice and 2% cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases (on up to a combined $2,500 in spending per quarter, then 1%). Choose from 3% bonus categories including gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores and home improvements/furnishings. Plus, you can change your bonus category choice once per calendar month.
  • U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature Card – It also lets you customize your rewards, offering 5% cash back in 2 bonus categories of your choice (on up to $2,000 in spending per quarter) and 2% back in an everyday spending category of your choice. Listed among the card’s 5% bonus categories are department stores, fast food restaurants, furniture stores, movie theatres and more. You can change your bonus category once per quarter.

Which is better – cash back or points?

If you’re still getting your feet wet in the world of credit card rewards, it can be hard to tell what sort of card – cash back or points — fits you best. When comparing the value of cash back and points, you should weigh annual fees, bonuses and perks, as well as reward redemption and flexibility.

Fewer cash back cards charge annual fees, but travel cards that use points or miles usually offer large sign-up bonuses and more valuable travel perks like lounge access and credits for expedited security screening. Additionally, cash back cards generally make redeeming rewards as a statement credit, check or direct deposit simple, while redemption can be more complicated with travel cards, as well as less rewarding if you aren’t redeeming for travel. That being said, when things pick back up and we’re able to think about travel again, travel rewards cards can help you squeeze extra value out of your rewards via redemption through a travel portal or transfer to airlines and hotel loyalty programs.

What credit card gives the most cash back?

The best cash back card for you depends on how you’ll use the card, but here are some of the favorite categories and the top credit cards in those groups.

  • U.S. supermarkets: Blue Cash Preferred – 6% up to $6,000 a year
  • Gas: Bank of America Cash Rewards – 3% up to $2,500 a quarter including 2% categories
  • Dining out and entertainment: Capital One Savor Cash Rewards – 4%
  • Grocery stores, Walgreens, CVS: Discover it Cash Back – 5% up to $1,500 spend in the 1st quarter (then 1%, enrollment required), plus another 5% at the end of first year
  • All categories: Citi Double Cash Card – 2% cash back on all purchases. Earn 1% as you make purchases and 1% as you pay them off.

Popular cash back categories

When we asked consumers in November 2018 what their favorite rewards categories are, we were a little surprised to find that time and again, they turn to groceries overall, with travel following close behind.

Favorite cash back categories…

  • Groceries
  • 35%
  • Travel
  • 27%
  • Gas
  • 23%
  • Dining
  • 14%

Our own CreditCards.com analyst, Ted Rossman, reminds us that you want to make sure the card you choose matches your lifestyle. “Whether you’re planning a family vacation, stocking up at the grocery store, enjoying a dinner out with friends, or refueling your car on the way home, credit cards can reward you for things you’re planning to purchase anyway.”

Comparing two cash back credit cards

With so many options to choose from in the way of cash back cards, it helps to know how to compare them. Here, we look at the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express and the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa card, each with their own advantages.

Ongoing rewards

Rewards can vary widely, sometimes with maximums on spending and sometimes unlimited. For example, the Cash Wise Visa offers 1.5% back on all spending, while the Blue Cash Preferred has boosted rewards at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and more (for the U.S. supermarkets, it’s up to $6,000 a year, then 1%). The Cash Wise Visa also offers 1.8% cash rewards on qualified digital wallet purchases, like Apple Pay or Google Pay, during the first 12 months from account opening.

Welcome bonus

Most have a welcome bonus, typically of $150 after a set amount of spend, however, cash back cards with an annual fee may have a higher offer. For example, the Blue Cash Preferred offers $250 after a $1,000 spend within the first 3 months, while the Cash Wise Visa offers $150 after a $500 spend within the first 3 months.

Annual fees

Annual fees can stop you in your tracks, but they don’t have to. Sometimes, they are worth the cost, whether there are certain benefits or particularly rich rewards. While the Blue Cash Preferred’s annual fee of $95 is not waived the first year, the rewards at U.S. supermarkets can be unbeatable for the large family. Meanwhile, many of the cash back cards on the market have no annual fee, such as the Cash Wise Visa.

Special features and benefits

Some cards have features like auto rental insurance, price protection and more. Look at your lifestyle and see if there is a benefit that makes the card worth your while. For example, the Cash Wise’s famous cellphone protection is a great find, while the Blue Cash Preferred’s travel benefits such as auto rental insurance may be worth your attention.

Here we put it all together.

Comparison of Blue Cash Preferred and Cash Wise Visa, first year…

Card: Blue Cash Preferred
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Cash Wise Visa
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card
Welcome bonus $250
after $1,000 spend/3 mths
$150
after $500 spend/3 mths
U.S. supermarkets $500*12 mths*6%=
$360
$500*12 mths*1.5%=
$90
U.S. gas stations $200*12 mths*3%=
$72
$200*12 mths*1.5%=
$36
Select U.S. streaming $100*12 mths*6%=
$72
$100*12 mths*1.5%=
$18
Digital wallet purchases $100*12 mths*1%=
$12
$100*12 mths*1.8%=
$21.60
Other spending $200*12 mths*1%=
$24
$200*12 mths*1.5%=
$36
Annual fee $95 $0
Total first year $695 $351.60

As you can see, if you are a big spender on groceries, the Blue Cash Preferred is best, but if you favor all types of spending, the Cash Wise Visa might be the right choice.

Why I should get a cash back card: pros and cons

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.

While many people prefer cash back cards because of their simplicity, the cards also have their drawbacks, so we’ve compiled a short list of the advantages and disadvantages of using a cash back rewards card. If you’ve ever contemplated whether a cash back card can help you, here are some key considerations to keep in mind as you make a decision.

Pros

Whether you are treating your new cash back card as a starter card or if you want redemption options, a cash back product has a number of benefits:

  • Easy to earn rewards
  • Sign-up bonuses are usually available
  • Everyday spending or boosted rewards
  • Build and maintain credit score
  • Practice to get a more rewarding travel card
  • Frequently no annual fee
  • Cash back rewards frequently don’t expire

Cons

Cash back cards aren’t for everyone. For example, the world traveler may want to look elsewhere, and some cash back cards can have onerous rules.

  • Lack of travel benefits
  • Cash back rewards could expire
  • Some cash back cards have maximum spend limits on certain categories
  • You may have to sign up each quarter to qualify for boosted cash back rewards
  • Sign-up bonuses usually require a minimum spend within 3 months
  • Carrying a balance negates any rewards you earn

How to maximize cash 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 furniture or another 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.

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.

4. Find other ways to earn cash back

Some cards reward for signing on an authorized user or referring new cardholders, so check for that.

5. Maximize your cards’ spending categories

If you have a card with 5% rotating quarterly categories – such as the Discover it Cash Back 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 and birthday shopping early

6. Call your card issuer

After your first year of card membership, if there is an annual fee, consider calling your card issuer and asking if they’ll waive the annual fee a second year. Our study shows that when cardholders ask for better terms on their cards, chances are they’ll get it.

Ways to redeem cash back

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
  • Pay with rewards at Amazon checkout
  • Make a charitable donation
  • Deposit into your bank account
  • Apply to your Discover bill as a statement credit

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
  • Redeem for a statement credit
  • Get a gift card
  • Redeem for a credit to your linked Citi savings or checking account
  • Redeem to a checking account from which you have paid a Citi credit card bill at least 2 times

Your 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
  • Redeem for gift cards

The Chase cash back cards offer a unique feature in that you can transfer your rewards to certain higher-end Chase cards, then use those rewards for a higher award by redeeming for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

In general, 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.


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.


Laura Mohammad is an editor and writer at CreditCards.com. She regularly covers the best credit cards and works to bring you the most up-to-date analysis and advice. You can reach Laura at laura.mohammad@creditcards.com.


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