12 Best Cash Back Credit Cards for April 2020

Lyle is a writer specializing in credit cards, travel rewards programs, and banking. His work has also appeared on MSN Money, USA Today, and Yahoo! Finance.

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You can't beat earning cash back on all the money you spend, and that's why cash back credit cards are a favorite among consumers everywhere. This type of rewards card is easy to use, and when you choose the right card, you can collect plenty of money back every year. If you're looking to get a new cash back card, we've got you covered with the very best selections on the market.

Ratings Methodology
Discover it® Cash Back

Apply Now

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Rewards

Earn 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories you activate ($1,500 quarterly spending cap), 1% back on all else

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 14 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, 14 months

Ongoing APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

Double cash back in the first year -- that's worth up to 10% back, FICO score for free

Highlights
  • 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.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Apply Now

Apply Now

On American Express' Secure Website.

Apply Now

On American Express' Secure Website.

Rewards

6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets ($6,000 spending cap per year), 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit, 1% back on all else

Annual Fee

$95

Foreign Transaction Fee

2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 12 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, 12 months

Ongoing APR

12.99%-23.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

$250 statement credit after spending $1,000 within three months, get free 2-day shipping on eligible items at a growing network of 100+ online stores with ShopRunner.

Highlights
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more). 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Don't wait for your Card in the mail. Start earning cash back before your card even arrives, if eligible for Instant Card Number.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 23.99%
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Apply Now

Apply Now

On Citi's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Citi's Secure Website.

Rewards

2% cash back: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: N/A
Balance Transfers: 0%, 18 months

Ongoing APR

13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)

Bonuses & Perks

FICO score for free

Highlights
  • Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
American Express Cash Magnet® Card

Apply Now

Apply Now

On American Express' Secure Website.

Apply Now

On American Express' Secure Website.

Rewards

Unlimited 1.5% cash back

Annual Fee

$0

Foreign Transaction Fee

2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 15 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 months

Ongoing APR

12.99%-23.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

$150 statement credit after spending $1,000 within three months, get free 2-day shipping on eligible items at a growing network of 100+ online stores with ShopRunner

Highlights
  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 23.99%.
  • 0% introductory plan fee on each purchase moved into a plan during the first 15 months from the date of account opening with Plan It®, a feature that lets you split up big purchases into monthly payments with a fixed fee. After that, your plan fee will be up to 1.17% of each purchase moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase.
  • Don't wait for your Card in the mail. Start earning cash back before your Card even arrives, if eligible for Instant Card Number.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Apply Now

Apply Now

On Well Fargo's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Well Fargo's Secure Website.

Rewards

3X points for eating out and ordering in, gas stations, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, and more, 1x points on all else

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 12 months
Balance Transfers: 0%, 12 months on qualifying balance transfers

Ongoing APR

13.99%-25.99% (Variable)

Bonuses & Perks

Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months, mobile phone protection

Highlights
  • Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s a $200 cash redemption value
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign currency conversion fee
  • Earn 3X points on eating out and ordering in
  • Earn 3X points on travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
  • Earn 3X points on gas stations, rideshares and transit
  • Earn 3X points on popular streaming services
  • Earn 1X points on other purchases
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions
Discover it® Student Cash Back

Apply Now

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Rewards

Earn 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories you activate ($1,500 quarterly spending cap), 1% back on all else

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 6 months
Balance Transfers: 10.99%, 6 months

Ongoing APR

12.99% - 21.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

Double cash back in the first year -- that's worth up to 10% back, FICO score for free

Highlights
  • 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.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.
Discover it® Secured

Apply Now

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Apply Now

On Discover's Secure Website.

Rewards

2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter, 1% cash back on all else

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: N/A
Balance Transfers: 10.99%, 6 months

Ongoing APR

22.99% Variable

Bonuses & Perks

Double cash back in the first year, FICO score for free

Highlights
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line with your tax return by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

Great for: Cash back of your choice Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Why Apply

Includes a market-leading bonus in the no-annual fee category and a flexible cash rewards program that enables you to earn premium cash back in a category of your choice. Plus, the long 0% intro APR offer makes this card a standout among its peers. Read Full Review

Rewards

3% cash back on gas or in your choice category, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), 1% on all else.

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR

Purchases: See Terms%, 15 billing cycles
Balance Transfers: See Terms

Ongoing APR

See Terms

Bonuses & Perks

$200 after spending at least $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening, 25% to 75% more rewards for Preferred Rewards members

Highlights
  • No annual fee
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
  • No expiration on rewards
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase

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It's little surprise that cash back cards are some of the best credit cards on the market. Cardholders earn rewards for using their cards to make purchases, and can qualify for new cardholder bonuses that pay out as much as $150 in the first few months after opening an account. Whether you want to earn flat cash back on all of your spending, or find 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, most cash back cards are no annual fee credit cards, making them suitable for people with all levels of spending needs.

How do cash back credit cards work?

Cash back credit cards earn cash for the cardholder on every purchase. If you have a card that earns 2% back, then a $100 purchase would get you $2 back. That cash goes into your cash-back balance until you choose to redeem it.

How you can redeem your cash back depends on the card. Almost every cash back card lets you apply your cash back as a statement credit towards previous purchases. With this option, you could use $100 in cash back to reduce your credit card bill by that amount. Other common ways to redeem cash back include deposits to a bank account or a check in the mail.

Are there different types of cash back credit cards?

Cash back credit cards generally fall under one of three different categories of rewards programs. Which one is best for you depends on 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 flat rate versus bonus category cards is you'll earn rewards on all your spending 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.

Bonus category cards: Some cash back cards offer enhanced rewards rates on certain types of spending. For example, there are gas and groceries cards and credit cards for dining out, each of which earn more back in those specific areas. The best cards for dining out will benefit anyone who goes to restaurants often.

Rotating bonus category cards: These cards offer a high cash-back bonus approximating 5% on certain types of spending, in addition to a flat amount of cash back of around 1% on all other types of spending.

How to pick a cash back credit 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 help you pick the best card for you.

Here are five features the best cash back cards should have:

  1. 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.
  2. New cardholder bonus: Qualifying new cardholders can get a bonus of $150 or more in bonus cash back for opening a credit card 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. No annual fees: Luckily, annual fees are relatively rare in the world of cash back credit cards.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 to make a purchase. 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.
  3. Look for rewards, bonuses, and multipliers. Customers who are Preferred Rewards clients with Bank of America, for example, 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.

Is a cash back credit card right for you?

A cash back credit card will be perfect for you if most or all of the following statements are true:

  • You prefer easy-to-use credit card rewards. Cash back cards make credit card rewards simple, unlike credit cards that earn travel points or store points you sometimes need to learn how to use.
  • You don't have any credit card debt. Since most credit cards carry double-digit interest rates, credit card debt will always cost you more than you can earn in rewards. If you have any credit card debt, it'd be better to look at balance transfer cards to pay that off before focusing on cash back.
  • You always pay your credit card bill in full. To benefit the most from a cash back card, you need to pay your card's entire statement balance every month to avoid any interest charges. Otherwise, that interest will outweigh any value you get from your card's rewards.
  • You don't travel often. Cash back credit cards are ideal for those who don't take many trips and wouldn't benefit much from a travel card. But if you travel at least two to three times per year, you might save more money with the perks and points earned on a travel rewards card.

FAQs

  • The highest cash back cards yield upwards of 5% back in some bonus spending categories such as groceries, online shopping, and restaurants. But you won't earn these rates for all purchases. 1.5% to 2.0% is very competitive for cash back cards that offer unlimited rewards on all purchases.

    The credit card that gives you the most cash back will depend on your spending habits. Since cash-back cards can have all kinds of different bonus categories, you'll get the most value by choosing a card with high cash back rates in the categories where you spend the most. Or, if you don't have any particular areas where you spend more, you could earn the most back from a card that earns one flat cash back rate on all your spending.

  • The key to maximizing your cash-back credit card is to use it as much as possible. Whenever you have a bill or any other expense that you can pay with a credit card, use your cash-back card. That way, you'll earn the most possible cash back.

    It's also important to ensure that you're using the right cash-back card (or cards), because the card you use makes the biggest difference in how much cash back you earn. To do this, you can review the current card offers every three to six months.

    Make sure that you can pay off the card in full every billing cycle and that you don't change your spending habits because you're paying by credit card. If you start paying interest or spending more money than usual, it will cost you far more than you earn in cash back.

  • Cash back isn't better than rewards points, but it is easier to manage. With rewards points, you need to understand your redemption options and spend time figuring out the most valuable way to redeem those points. When you have a cash back card, there's not much you need to learn. You just choose how you want to receive your cash back and process the redemption. Many cash back cards also let you set up automatic redemptions, so there's no time required on your part.

  • Cash back credit cards are a great way to earn money back on all your purchases. If you choose one or more that fit your spending habits, your cash back cards could provide you with hundreds of dollars in value per year.

    Just keep in mind that cash back cards are only worth it if you use them properly. You should always pay off your full statement balance and stick to your normal spending habits. Overspending and getting into debt is the biggest risk of using a credit card. You need to avoid that to ensure that you come out ahead with your cash back cards.

The Ascent's picks for the best cash back credit cards:
Card Cash back rate Great For
Discover it® Cash Back Graphic of Discover it® Cash Back Cash back rate:

Up to 5%

Great For:

Bonus cash back and no annual fee

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Graphic of Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Cash back rate:

Up to 6%

Great For:

U.S. supermarkets and gas

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer Graphic of Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer Cash back rate:

Up to 2%

Great For:

Balance transfers

American Express Cash Magnet® Card Graphic of American Express Cash Magnet® Card Cash back rate:

1.5%

Great For:

Unlimited cash rewards and 0% intro APR offer

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card Graphic of Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card Cash back rate:

up to 3x points

Great For:

Travel and dining

Discover it® Student Cash Back Graphic of Discover it® Student Cash Back Cash back rate:

Up to 5%

Great For:

Students

Discover it® Secured Graphic of Discover it® Secured Cash back rate:

Up to 2% cash back

Great For:

Bad credit

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card Graphic of Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card Cash back rate:

Up to 3%

Great For:

Cash back of your choice

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