If you want to earn cash back on every purchase without the hassle of dealing with a complicated rewards structure, a flat-rate, 1.5% cash back credit card is a great option.
If you prefer to be rewarded for your spending with cash or statement credits instead of points or miles, a cash back rewards credit card is the way to go. There is a wide variety of cards that offer cash back bonuses on specific purchases, such as dining and gas. But for those who want to earn cash back on every purchase without the hassle of dealing with rotating categories or complicated rewards structures, a flat-rate credit card is a great option.
There are quite a few credit cards on the market that offer 1.5% cash back on every purchase, but that doesn’t mean they offer the same value. Read on to learn more about 1.5% cash back cards and which one might be the best choice for you.
Comparing 1.5% cash back cards
Once you decide that a flat-rate, 1.5% cash back card is the right fit for you, there are a variety of other factors you need to consider. See what we found when comparing these cards:
|Introductory bonus||Annual fee||Average yearly earnings ($15,900 spend)|
|American Express Cash Magnet® Card*||$0||$288|
|Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card||$200 online cash rewards if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days||$0||$239|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||$200 if you spend $500 in the first 3 months||$0||$408|
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card||$200 if you spend $500 in the first 3 months||$0||$305|
|Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||None||$39||$212|
|Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Card*||$0||$321|
|Ultimate Cash Back card from Santander Bank*||3% cash back for the first year on qualified purchases, up to $20,000||$0||$272|
|M&T Visa Signature*||$100 if you spend $500 in the first 90 days||$0||$272|
|USAA® Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card*||None||$0||$238|
As you can see, typically, cards that offer 1.5% cash back also don’t charge annual fees – aside from the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.
Which card is best?
It depends on what you’re looking for in a card. For example, if you’re interested in earning a sign-up bonus, the USAA® Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card and Capital One QuicksilverOne cards are not the right fit for you. Here are some other factors you should consider:
Best for the highest yearly rewards value
If you’re interested in earning the highest yearly rewards value from a 1.5% cash back card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is your best bet.
By our estimates, the average consumer who spends approximately $15,900 each year on purchases can earn around $392 worth of rewards annually with the Freedom Unlimited card. This is due to the fact that after the recent changes to the card, it received additional cash back categories, including 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on dining and 3% cash back on drugstore purchases. On top of that, the Freedom Unlimited will earn you 5% cash back on Lyft purchases through March 2022, and 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
Since other 1.5% cash back credit cards don’t offer any bonus cash back categories, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is the clear winner when it comes to the rewards value.
Best for carrying a balance
If you want to purchase a big-ticket item and pay it off over time, or you just plan to carry a balance on your card (though we recommend that you pay off your balance in full each month), the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card, Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, American Express Cash Magnet® Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards offer the longest interest-free introductory periods on purchases among these cards.
Best for not spending a large sum of money up front
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money up front, you should be on the lookout for a card that doesn’t require a large spend threshold to receive the sign-up bonus.
Among the cards listed in the table, the Quicksilver Cash Rewards and the Chase Freedom Unlimited cards require the lowest spend thresholds to earn a $200 sign-up bonus – $500 in the first three months of card membership.
How about a 2% cash back card instead?
We would also note that there are a few flat-rate cards that offer a higher rate than 1.5% cash back. For instance, the Citi® Double Cash Card offers up to 2% cash back – 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay your bill on time. It doesn’t include a sign-up bonus, so it’s less valuable in the short term, but if you are looking for a great cash back card for the long haul, the Citi Double Cash card could be an excellent option.
Wells Fargo also just released a 2% cash rewards card – the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card. Unlike the Citi Double Cash, the Active Cash card doesn’t require any hoops to earn your 2% cash rewards; you’ll earn it on every purchase. Plus, the Active Cash card comes with a sign-up bonus of $200 if you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
A 1.5% rate is still pretty standard among flat-rate cash back credit cards, but it is not the best in the game anymore. Consider using a tool like CardMatch™ to see prequalified offers and other matched products that you might qualify for. While not a guarantee of approval, the tool can give you a good idea of cards that fit your credit profile, and there is no harm to your credit score. That way, you can get an idea of if a 1.5% or 2% cash back card is in reach for you.
*Information about the American Express Cash Magnet® Card, USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card, Navy Federal Credit Union cashRewards Card, Ultimate Cash Back card from Santander Bank, and M&T Visa Signature has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.