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Cash back credit cards are some of the best rewards cards on the market. Why? Because you’ll earn simple, easy and flexible rewards for your spending. Some offer sign-up bonuses. Others give extra rewards on groceries, dining, gas, travel and other spending categories. And a lot of them don’t carry an annual fee, making them a good fit for just about anybody.
In general, cash back credit cards fall under one of four types of rewards structures:
Flat-rate rewards. These cards earn the same rewards rate on all spending. It’s great for everyday purchases because you won’t have to remember bonus categories. However, flat-rate cards do limit your earning potential.
Tiered rewards. Like most travel credit cards, tiered cash back cards give bonus earnings on specific spending categories. Tiered rewards cards have excellent earning potential, but only if your spending matches the bonus categories.
Rotating categories. These cards earn bonuses on spending categories that change every quarter. While the earning rate is high, cards with rotating categories usually have caps on their bonuses. Plus, you have to remember to activate new categories each quarter.
Customized categories. These cards let you choose your bonus category, usually on a month-to-month basis. Cards with customized categories allow you to tweak their rewards structure to fit your spending. It’s a great option if the types of purchases you tend to make change throughout the year. However, like cards with rotating categories, you have to remember to activate your bonuses.
So what’s the best type of cash back credit card for you? That depends on: what you spend, where you spend and how much work you want to put into your rewards.
What We Considered
To make our best cash back credit cards list, we considered the following:
Unlimited vs. capped rewards
The Best Cash Back Credit Cards
CHASE FREEDOM FLEX℠
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ credit card is going to earn you a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. The welcome bonus comes in the form of 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points. This card has no annual fee.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has an offer for $350 after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months. The offer is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as statement credits.
This card earns 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases and 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. You’ll also get 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and transit that includes taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more. All other purchases will still earn 1% back.
The introductory annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95 thereafter. See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply.
The Citi® Double Cash Card is offering a welcome bonus of $200 cash after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. Also, earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases. You’ll earn 1% cash back for all purchases charged to the card. You’ll then earn an additional 1% cash back when you pay off those purchases, as long as you pay at least the minimum due. There are no spending categories to keep up with and the card has no annual fee.
Consider the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card if you would like a 2%-3% cash back rewards rate for grocery stores, wholesale clubs and a category of your choice. It’s especially worthwhile if you’re a Preferred Rewards client, where being a loyal customer translates into attractive relationship bonuses.
Here is the breakdown of the card’s earning rates:
3% cash back in the category of your choice*
2% back at grocery stores & wholesale clubs*
1% back on everything else
*On the first $2,500 in combined spending in 3% and 2% categories each calendar month. 1% thereafter.
Redemption options for these reward include statement credits, direct deposits, and credits to a Merrill account (minimum redemption is $25).
The card also offers the following benefits:
0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 15 months.
Credit card protection
The card comes with all of the benefits mentioned above but charges no annual fee.
Best Cash Back Credit Cards That Require Memberships
The cash back cards below are great options as well, but they require certain memberships. They didn’t make it on our “best of” list, but they’re definitely worth a mention. While the information presented below is current at the time of publishing, it may have changed without notice. Please check with the card’s issuer before considering the membership associated with these cards.
Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card. 2.5% cash back on all purchases. $99 annual fee, waived your first year. You must be an Alliant Credit Union member.
Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi. 4% cash back on gas (up to $7,000 per year, 1% thereafter), 3% on dining and travel, 2% at Costco and 1% on all other purchases. No annual fee with your paid Costco membership.
Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card. 2% cash back on all purchases. No annual fee. You must have a specific Fidelity account.
Sam’s Club Mastercard. 5% cash back on gas (up to $6,000 per year, 1% thereafter), 3% on dining and travel, and 1% on all other purchases. No annual fee. You must have a Sam’s Club membership.
USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card. 5% cash back on the first $3,000 on combined gas and U.S. military base purchases per year, 2% on the first $3,000 on grocery purchases per year, and 1% on all other purchases. No annual fee. You must be a USAA member.
Diana's passion for travel eventually led to her separation from the 9 to 5 office life and into the arms of freelance work. Cali-born and Philly-bred, she's a creative professional with a delightful knack for words. When she's not gallivanting across the globe, Diana can be found writing (of course), teaching yoga and dreaming of her next big adventure.
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