How to Earn 5% Cash Back on Nearly Every Purchase

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KEY POINTS

  • By selecting the right set of cash back credit cards, you can earn 5% on nearly every purchase.
  • The Citi Custom Cash® Card earns 5% (up to $500 spent) on your top eligible spending category, while the Chase Freedom Flex® and Discover it® Cash Back earn 5% on quarterly rotating categories that you activate (up to $1,500 spent).
  • The Prime Visa is a good "catch-all," as it earns unlimited 5% back on all Amazon and Whole Foods purchases.

Not too long ago, earning 5% cash back on nearly every credit card purchase would have sounded preposterous and might have produced a healthy fit of chortles from credit card enthusiasts.

These days, if you equip yourself with the right credit cards, you can earn a minimum 5% back on things you're already buying, like groceries and gas. While you might have to settle for less on some purchases, these four cash back credit cards will help you earn at least 5% back for most of them.

1. Citi Custom Cash® Card

  • How it earns 5% back: On your top eligible spending category each billing cycle.
  • Earnings cap on the 5%: $500 spent on your top spending category, or $25 in cash back. The earnings cap resets every billing cycle.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 20,000 ThankYou® Points worth $200 after you spend $1,500 within 6 months of opening an account.

If you're building an arsenal of 5% cash back cards from scratch, the Citi Custom Cash® Card is an excellent place to kick things off.

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5.00/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Credit Score: Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Recommended Credit Score required for this offer is: Fair to Excellent (580-850)
Credit Score Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Fair to Excellent (580-850)

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 15 months

Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 months

Regular APR

19.24% - 29.24% (Variable)

Rewards Circle with letter I in it. 5% cash back in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent), 1% cash back on other purchases. Earn an additional 4% cash back on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on Citi Travel℠ portal through 6/30/2025.

1% - 5% cash back

Annual Fee

$0

Welcome Offer Circle with letter I in it. Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1500 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.

20,000 ThankYou® Points

  • We love this card’s easy-to-use yet lucrative cash back program. Each billing cycle, cardholders earn 5% cash back in their top spend category (up to $500 spent in eligible categories). Eligible categories include grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select travel and more. The card automatically adjusts to your spending habits, which makes it easy to maximize your rewards.

    • Cash back rewards
    • Sign-up bonus
    • No annual fee
    • 0% intro APR offer
    • Bonus cash back limits
    • Foreign transaction fee
    • 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.
    • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 19.24% - 29.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
    • 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. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

      Special Travel Offer: Earn an additional 4% cash back on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on Citi Travel℠ portal through 6/30/2025.
    • No rotating bonus categories to sign up for – as your spending changes each billing cycle, your earn adjusts automatically when you spend in any of the eligible categories.
    • No Annual Fee
    • Citi will only issue one Citi Custom Cash® Card account per person.

The card's 5% earn rate is one of the most flexible and gives you control over which spending category will earn the most cash back. Other cash back cards have fixed or rotating categories that give you little choice but to earn 5% on whatever the credit card company says. This card lets you fill in the gaps, earning 5% where other cards earn less.

For instance, if Discover it® Cash Back earns 5% on dining out and streaming services for the quarter, you can use Citi Custom Cash® Card to earn 5% on groceries.

The 10 categories that qualify include:

  1. Drugstores
  2. Gas stations
  3. Grocery stores
  4. Fitness clubs
  5. Home improvement stores
  6. Live entertainment
  7. Restaurants
  8. Select streaming services
  9. Select transit
  10. Select travel

2. Chase Freedom Flex®

  • How it earns 5% back: On combined spending in quarterly bonus categories.
  • Earnings cap on the 5%: $1,500 spent, or up to $75 in cash back each quarter.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Welcome bonus: Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 within your card's first 3 months.

The Chase Freedom Flex® offers you 5% quarterly bonus categories, plus unlimited 5% back on all travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

This card, along with Discover it® Cash Back discussed below, will give you fresh ways to earn 5% each quarter. In the past, the card has earned 5% at Target, fitness clubs, grocery stores, gas stations, and home improvement stores, among others. 

3. Discover it® Cash Back

  • How it earns 5% back: On rotating quarterly categories. Note: To earn the full 5%, you must activate the category before the quarter begins.
  • Earnings cap on the 5%: $1,500 spent on the bonus category within the quarter, or $75 in cash back.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Welcome bonus: Discover will match all cash back earned within your first year of using the card.

Like Chase Freedom Flex®, Discover it® Cash Back (see rates and fees) earns 5% on rotating quarterly categories you activate (up to a preset spending limit), such as gas stations and Target, among others. If you already have the Citi Custom Cash® Card and Chase Freedom Flex, this cash back card can give you yet another place to earn 5% back.

In addition to the quarterly categories, Discover will occasionally send out special offers via email that let you earn an extra 5% back. These offers are usually capped at $1,000 spent (or $50 in total cash back) and often last two months. In the past, they've included Amazon, PayPal, and grocery stores.

4. Prime Visa

  • How it earns 5% back: At Amazon and Whole Foods.
  • Earnings cap on the 5%: No earnings cap.
  • Annual fee: No annual fee, but you need an Amazon Prime membership ($139).
  • Welcome bonus: Get a $200 Amazon Gift Card when your application is approved.

The Prime Visa is an excellent "catch-all" card that can earn 5% on purchases that don't fit neatly into spending categories.

For instance, you can use the Prime card to buy books, electronics, furniture, pet food, apparel, games, toys, and other purchases that would earn less than 5% on other cards. The card also earns unlimited 5% at Whole Foods, which gives you an option to earn more at a grocery store.

How to start earning 5% back on nearly every purchase

These four cash back cards can help you earn 5% back on everyday spending. If your wallet is missing all four, the Citi Custom Cash® Card is a good card to start, as it gives you more flexibility over how you earn your 5%. Then, you might want to add a card with a rotating quarterly category, like the Chase Freedom Flex®. Another option for this is the Discover it® Cash Back.

Be careful not to apply for too many cards at once, however, as this can hurt your credit score and might also jeopardize your chance at getting approved for a new card. Credit card companies might wonder why you need so much credit at once and reject an application, even if your credit score is high. In general, it's best to wait three to six months after getting a new credit card before applying for another.

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