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.
See our best credit card bonuses here.
But not all cash back cards are created equally. Let’s take a closer look at the best cash back credit cards.
|Chase Freedom FlexSM||Best cash back card with rotating bonus categories|
|Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card||Best cash back card for dining & entertainment|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||Best cash back card for gas & groceries|
|Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card||Best cash back card for fair or average credit|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||Best cash back card for pairing|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||Best flat-rate cash back card|
Best no-annual-fee cash back card
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card||Best cash back card with custom bonus categories|
Types of Cash Back Credit Cards
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. For example, Citi® Double Cash Card offers a total of 2% cash back 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. For example, Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express gives 6% cash back on certain categories, 3% on others and 1% on everything else. 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. For example, Chase Freedom FlexSM gives 5% cash back in bonus categories that shift every three months. 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. For example, with Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card, you get to pick your 3% cash back category. 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:
- Welcome bonus
- Earning potential
- Annual fee
- Unlimited vs. capped rewards
- Redemption threshold
- Rewards simplicity
- Additional benefits
The Best Cash Back Credit Cards
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is the best cash back card with rotating bonus categories. It earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter. Plus, new cardmembers get a $200 welcome bonus, which is rare for a card with no annual fee.
The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card is the best cash back card for dining and entertainment spending. It earns 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% back on groceries and 1% back on all other purchases.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is the best cash back card for gas and grocery spending. It earns 6% cash back at supermarkets (on up to $6,000 a year in spending) and on select streaming subscriptions in the United States, 3% back on transit and at U.S. gas stations, and 1% back on all other purchases.
The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Card is the best cash back card for those with fair or average credit. It earns an unlimited, flat rate of 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is the best cash back card to pair with a points-earning one. It gives an unlimited, flat rate of 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and you can convert your cash rewards into valuable points if you have a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
The Citi® Double Cash Card is the best flat-rate cash back card as well as the best cash back card with no annual fee. It earns 1% cash back on all purchases and 1% back when you pay for those purchases.
If you have a card that earns Citi ThankYou® Rewards, you can convert your Citi Double Cash rewards into valuable ThankYou points.
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card is the best cash back card with custom bonus categories. It earns 3% cash back in the category of your choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings), 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% back on all other purchases. BofA Cash Rewards also comes with a $200 welcome bonus, which is generous for a no-annual-fee card.
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.
While we focused on cash back credit cards in this post, you’ll want to choose a card with additional earning potential that matches your spending behavior. Click here for our guide on the best credit cards in other categories or check out these other posts:
Want an easy way to earn rewards with simple redemption options? A cash back credit card could be the way to go. It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s flexible. And most don’t carry high annual fees as well!
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