Best Cash Back Credit Cards
We’ve put together an in-depth guide to the best cash back credit cards and how to pick the right cash rewards program for your needs. Whether you are looking for the best cash back credit card offer for a sign-up bonus, groceries, and/or gas, we’ve got you covered. Learn more about how cash back credit cards work, and which picks make the most sense for your goals.
Best for: Bonus cash back and no annual fee Discover it® Cash Back
- Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
- Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
- INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
- Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
- Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
- Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
- No annual fee.
Best for: Gas and groceries Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer
- No annual fee
- NEW OFFER: $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
- Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
- No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
- 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases AND for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 14.99% - 24.99% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers
- Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account
- If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
- Easily add your Mastercard® credit card to any digital wallet for a simple, secure, and convenient way to pay online, in-app, and in-store
Best for: Unlimited cash rewards and 0% intro APR offer Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months
- One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
- No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
- 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 14.74%-24.74% variable APR after that
- 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 14.74%-24.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
- Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Best for: Restaurants and groceries Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
- Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
- No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
- 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 14.74% - 24.74% variable APR after that
- 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 14.74% - 24.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
- No foreign transaction fee
- No annual fee
Best for: Big cash sign-up bonus Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
- Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
- Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Android Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
- No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
- Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
- 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 14.74%-26.74% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
- $0 Annual Fee
- Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions
Best for: Bonus cash rewards program Chase Freedom®
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
- Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
- Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
- Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
- No annual fee
Best for: U.S. supermarkets Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Credit Rating Requirement:
- $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
- 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
- 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
- Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.74% to 25.74%.
- Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
- Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
- No annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
Get our latest tips and uncover more of our top picks to help you conquer your money goals
It’s little surprise that cash-back cards are some of the most popular credit cards on the market today. Cardholders earn rewards for using their cards to make purchases, and can qualify for new cardholder bonuses that pay out as much as $200 in the first few months after account opening. Whether you want flat cash back on all of your spending, or a card that doles out bonuses for spending on gas, groceries, restaurants, and other categories, there’s a credit card out there that’s perfect for you. Best of all, very few cash-back cards carry an annual fee, making them suitable for people with all levels of spending needs.
- Jump to
- Why you can trust us
- How we picked the winners
- How can you get cash back from a credit card?
- How do cash back credit cards work?
- Is a cash back credit card right for you?
- Picking a good cash back card
- Bonus vs. flat percentage cash back
- Maximize rewards with multiple cards
- How to make the most of a cash back card
Why you can trust us
As personal finance nerds and credit card rewards enthusiasts, we don’t just recommend credit cards, we use them, too! Together, we’ve read through hundreds of card offers, picked apart every detail of the fine print, and looked for cards that offer something truly unique to stand out from the pack.
Perhaps most importantly, we’ve collected thousands of dollars in cash back, free travel, and other perks without paying a dime in interest by using credit cards to pay for purchases we’d make anyway.
How we picked the winners
Our best cash-back credit card picks are mainly chosen by reviewing three broad factors:
- Sign-up bonus and ongoing rewards -- A card needs to rank well either for the size of its sign-up bonus or high cash-back rate.
- Fees -- Annual fees are justifiable for some high-quality offers (don’t worry, we’ll tell you when!), but the majority of the cash-back cards we covert include $0 annual fees. Balance-transfer fees should also either match or beat the competition.
- APRs -- Including a 0% intro APR for purchases and/or balance transfers has become table stakes in this category and it’s a requirement for inclusion.
How can you get cash back from a credit card?
Card issuers earn fees from merchants every time you use your card to make a purchase, which helps them afford to pay rewards to cardholders who use a particular type of card.
A cash-back credit card gives cardholders cash back when they make a purchase with the card. Cash back is usually accrued as a percentage of the amount a cardholder spends on purchases, typically ranging from 1% to as high as 10% on select purchases.
A 2% cash-back credit card would reward you with $0.02 per $1 spent. A 3% cash-back credit card would reward you with $0.03 in rewards per $1, and so on.
How do cash back credit cards work?
Cash-back credit cards generally fall under three different categories of rewards programs. Which one is best for you depends what you spend, where you spend, and how much effort you want to put into collecting cash back on every swipe of your card.
Flat cash-back credit cards -- These are the simplest cash-back cards, because they offer flat cash back rewards every time you make a purchase. These cards usually offer unlimited cash back equal to 1% to 2% of your purchases. The key advantage of these cards is that all spending earns rewards at the same rate, making them a great pick for a “one-card” wallet. Rewards are typically unlimited, so you earn the same cash back rate whether you spend $10 or $10 million. The Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months and Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card are both leading flat cash-back cards.
Bonus category cards -- Some cash-back cards offer enhanced rewards rates on certain types of spending. For example, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card offers 3% cash back on gas, 2% cash back on grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back on everything else, with bonus rewards earned on the first $2,500 of total spending in bonus categories each quarter. Bonus category cards are best for people who spend a disproportionate amount in a particular category (groceries or gas, for example). The Capital One SavorOneSM Cash Rewards Credit Card is another bonus category card earning 3% cash back on dining and entertainment and 2% cash back for groceries.
Rotating bonus category cards -- These cards offer a high cash back bonus on certain types of spending, in addition to a flat amount of cash back on all other types of spend. Chase Freedom® and Discover it® Cash Back are popular rotating bonus category cards, since they offer 5% cash back in rotating categories you activate, and 1% cash back on all other spending. For these particular cards, bonuses are only paid on the first $1,500 of spending in quarterly categories ($6,000 per year).
After you have accumulated a sufficient amount of cash back, you can typically redeem your rewards for a statement credit (which reduces your balance), request a transfer into your checking or savings account, spend the cash back at certain online retailers, or cash in your rewards for gift cards at popular stores or restaurants.
Is a cash back credit card right for you?
Our handy checklist can help you decide if a cash-back credit card is right for you. If most or all of these statements apply to you, you’re probably a good candidate for a cash-back credit card.
You have good credit --Cash-back credit cards typically require a better credit score than credit cards that do not have rewards programs, but you don’t need perfect credit to qualify. Fair credit (scores above 650) are generally good enough for most cash back offers.
You don’t travel much -- Cash-back credit cards are an excellent alternative to travel credit cards because they offer rewards that can be redeemed for cash, which can be spent however you’d prefer. That said, travel cards can offer more financial value for travelers, and tend to carry features (such as no foreign transaction fees) that cash-back rewards cards don’t always offer.
You won’t carry a balance -- As a rule of thumb, a single month of interest is roughly equal to the amount of rewards earned by a 1.5% cash back card. For this reason, it doesn’t make sense to spend heavily to accrue rewards if it means carrying a balance at a double-digit interest rate. Carrying balances is a losing strategy.You can maximize bonus categories -- Bonus categories are the real killer feature of cash-back rewards cards. Many cards offer bonus cash back for spending on gas, groceries, restaurants, Amazon.com purchases, and more. These bonuses can be very lucrative considering some pay out as high as 5% to 10% on purchases.
Picking a good cash back card
There are five basic features that tend to separate the best cash-back cards from the worst. These details are often lost in the fine print, but we’re here to shine light on the things that can guide you toward picking the best card for you.
Here are five features you want your cash back card to have:
- A low minimum redemption threshold -- Cash back rewards don’t have any value unless you can cash them in. Some cards require you to earn as much as $50 in rewards before they can be redeemed, whereas other cards have no minimum redemption requirement. People who have lower spending needs may be smart to prioritize a card that offers a no minimum redemption feature, even if it offers a lower cash back rate per $1 of spending.
- New cardholder bonus -- Qualifying cardholders can get a new cardholder bonus that offers as much as $150 in bonus cash back for opening an account and meeting a minimum spend requirement. For example, many of our favorite cash-back cards offer $150 in bonus cash back after spending $500 in the first 90 days after account opening.
- 0% intro APRs -- Some cash-back credit cards offer up to 12 months of 0% intro APRs on purchases and balance transfers. This is a valuable perk that can save you hundreds of dollars in interest compared to carrying a balance at a typical APR of 18%. (This isn’t a “must-have” feature if you don’t carry a balance.)
- Free FICO® scores -- It’s becoming more common for credit cards to offer free access to your real FICO® credit score. This is a useful feature for people who value being able to watch their credit score rise or fall over time.
- No annual fees -- Luckily, annual fees are relatively rare in the world of cash-back credit cards.
Bonus vs. flat percentage cash back
High rewards rates offered by bonus category cards are particularly compelling for cardholders who have large spending needs in certain categories. The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card offers a lucrative 3-2-1 rewards program that pays 3% on gas, 2% on groceries and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back on all other types of spending.
Whether it is a good card for you, however, depends on your spending needs. Let’s use an example where you spend $100 per month on gas, $400 on groceries and wholesale clubs, and $1,000 on other purchases to see how the card’s rewards program compares to 1.5% cash back offered by Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months.
|Card/Rewards||Capital One® Quicksilver® Card||Bank of America® Cash Rewards|
|$100 on gas||$1.50||$3.00|
|$400 on groceries||$6.00||$8.00|
|$1,000 on other purchases||$15.00||$10.00|
In this example, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Card actually offers higher rewards through its flat 1.5% cash back program than Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card because so much of the spending is outside the bonus categories.
Of course, if the example were changed so that the majority of the spending were in bonus categories, then Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card would offer more value. There is no best card for everyone, since no two people spend exactly the same way.
Maximize rewards with multiple cards
Continuing with the above example, a cardholder who uses Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months and Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card in tandem can maximize their rewards by using them for different types of spending. Purchases that earn bonus rewards could be put on the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, while Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months can be used to maximize rewards on all other types of spending.
We’ll use the same budget of $1,500 per month, which was broken down into $100 of gas, $400 of groceries, and $1,000 on all other purchases. If you optimized your spending, you could earn $26 of monthly rewards by using two different credit cards.
|Card/Rewards||Capital One® Quicksilver® Card||Bank of America® Cash Rewards||Total rewards|
|$100 on gas||$0.00||$3.00||$3.00|
|$400 on groceries||$0.00||$8.00||$8.00|
|$1,000 on other purchases||$15.00||$0.00||$15.00|
Of course, carrying multiple cash-back credit cards isn’t for everyone, and the examples above illustrate why that is. Using two cash-back credit cards to maximize rewards results in $26.00 in cash back rewards per month. That’s just $3.50 more than you would earn by using Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months by itself.
You might reasonably conclude that juggling multiple cards and payment due dates isn’t worth the hassle of earning a slightly higher rewards yield on your spending. Besides, since many credit cards have a minimum redemption threshold, dividing your spend across several different cards may mean waiting a very long time before you are able to cash them out. We recommend most people stick to just one card, maybe two, to maximize their rewards without making their financial lives overly complicated.
How to make the most of a cash back card
Following some best practices can help ensure that you earn the highest possible rewards from a cash-back credit card without paying fees or interest to do so. Here’s a quick guide to using a cash-back credit card responsibly:
- Don’t carry a balance -- If you plan to carry a balance, a 0% intro APR credit card is a better solution than a cash-back credit card. The cash back you earn on purchases typically amounts to just one month of interest charges, so carrying a balance is almost always a losing strategy.
- Enroll in bonus categories -- If your card offers bonus categories, make sure you enroll. Most cards that have rotating bonus categories require you to enroll every three months by logging into your account and clicking a link. Set up reminders so you can be sure to maximize your rewards.
- Get a new cardholder bonus -- Sign-up bonuses add a lot of upfront value to cash-back credit cards, as many offer as much as $150 in bonus rewards for spending as little as $500 within 90 days of account opening. To put that in perspective, you’d have to spend $10,000 at a flat 1.5% cash back rate to earn $150 in ordinary rewards.
- Use an issuer’s shopping portal -- Many card issuers have an online portal that pays bonus rewards when cardholders use it to navigate to an online retailer. These bonus rewards can add up fast, as many offer 3% to 10% cash back on purchases you’d make anyway. Before you shop online, see if your card issuer has a relevant bonus offer.
- Look for rewards bonuses and multipliers -- One of our top picks, Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, offers a 10% bonus when cash back is redeemed into a Bank of America® checking or savings account. Customers who are Preferred Rewards clients can score an even larger bonus of 25% to 75% on their rewards. Depending on your status with the card issuer, these bonuses can substantially increase the effective rewards yield of a cash-back credit card. This is just one example of how having a banking relationship across multiple products (not just credit cards) can increase the value of a cash back card.
To recap, here are the best cash back credit cards
|Discover it® Cash Back||
Bonus cash back and no annual fee
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer||
Gas and groceries
|Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months||
Unlimited cash rewards and 0% intro APR offer
|Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card||
Restaurants and groceries
|Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card||
Big cash sign-up bonus
Bonus cash rewards program
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express||