A cash back credit card is a special type of credit card that reimburses a percentage of what you spend on that card. As you compare cash back cards, be sure to pay attention to the annual fees, and consider if you will realistically meet the threshold to earn welcome bonus offers. The best cash back credit cards offer higher percentages of cash back rewards and have flexible ways to redeem those credits.
Our picks for
Good Cash Back Credit Cards
- Good cash back rewards credit card: Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
- Good cash back credit card no annual fee: Chase Freedom
- Good flat-rate cash back credit card: Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Good unlimited cash back credit card: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards
- Good cash back credit card for fair credit: Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards
- Good cash back credit cards for dining and restaurants: Capital One Savor Cash Rewards
- Good no-hassle cash back credit card: Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card
Good cash back rewards credit card
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express review
Families can get a lot out of this card since the highest rewards category is U.S. supermarkets and streaming subscriptions. Blue Cash Preferred from American Express’s tiered program earns 6% cash back on U.S. streaming subscriptions like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify, and cardholders also earn 6% cash back at supermarkets on the first $6,000 spent in that category per year (purchases at supermarkets earn a flat 1% cash back after). Plus, American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card earns 3% back on ground transportation (trains, busses, rideshares, etc.) and at gas stations. Everywhere else earns 1% cash back. Terms apply.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express benefits
If you’re worried that not enough merchants and retailers accept American Express card, you’ll be pleased to know that 1.6 million more places have started taking American Express cards since 2018. Other notable benefits of the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express include:
- Flexible redemption: Cash in your rewards dollars for statement credits, gift cards and merchandise.
- 0% intro APR: Enjoy a year-long 0% introductory annual percentage rate.
- Free ShopRunner: Enjoy free ShopRunner membership after enrollment. ShopRunner is a partnership that provides members with free two-day shipping from eligible online retailers.
What to know about the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
A balance transfer fee of 3% (minimum $5) will be charged on outstanding debts that you transfer to the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, and a 2.7% foreign transaction fee will be charged on purchases after conversion of U.S. dollars.
Is the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express worth it?
Anyone with kids knows it’s easy to spend $60 per week at supermarkets — spending $60 per week at the supermarket earns $180 back over a year — and 3% back at the pump is pretty good too. The rewards and benefits on this card easily make the annual fee worth it.
Good no fee cash back credit card
Chase Freedom review
This is a smart cash back card for those who don’t mind putting in a little effort to keep up with rotating bonus categories. Chase Freedom is a tier rewards card that earns 5% cash back on the first $1,500 you spend on eligible purchases each quarter, so you’ll need to keep an eye on how those change every few months. Cardholders receive a complimentary DashPash from DoorDash for the first three months, followed by a 50 percent discount price at the current rate for nine months. All other purchases earn unlimited and automatic 1% cash back regardless of category.
Chase Freedom benefits
In addition to the cash back rewards benefits, Chase Freedom’s welcome bonus rewards you with $150 if you spend just $500 on any new purchases within three months of opening your account.
- 0% intro APR: You won’t have to pay interest on new purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. Then, a variable APR kicks in.
- Free credit score: Keep track of your credit score with free weekly updates from Credit Journey.
- Contactless payments: Tap-to-pay feature lets you use the Chase Freedom credit card quickly and securely via short-range proximity technology.
What to know about the Chase Freedom card
There’s no annual fee, but keep in mind that Chase Freedom balance transfer fees are 3% on amounts transferred during the first 60 days, then 5% after that. A foreign transaction fee of 3% will be charged if you use Chase Freedom to make purchases outside of the United States.
Is the Chase Freedom card worth it?
For a card without an annual fee, the spending bonus threshold is easy to hit. Plus, cash back rewards won’t expire as long as your account is open and there’s no minimum to redeem cash back rewards. Earning substantial cash back from this card is easy with a little effort.
Good flat-rate cash back credit card
Chase Freedom Unlimited
Chase Freedom Unlimited review
Chase Freedom Unlimited is similar to Chase Freedom, except Freedom Unlimited cardholders earn flat-rate cash back rewards. You’ll earn 1.5% back on all purchases with no rotating categories. Plus, earn a $150 bonus when you spend $500 within three months of opening an account. Cardholders also get a complimentary DashPash from DoorDash for the first three months, followed by a 50 percent discount price at the current rate for nine months.
Chase Freedom Unlimited benefits
Chase Freedom Unlimited has the same benefits as Chase Freedom cards, including zero liability protection, purchase protection and extended warranty.
- Intro APR: Chase Freedom Unlimited cardholders enjoy a 15-month introductory 0% APR period on new purchases and balance transfers.
- Free credit monitoring: Get unlimited access to your credit score through Credit Journey.
- No rotating categories: Never worry about signing up for rotating categories to get the most cash back.
What to know about the Chase Freedom Unlimited card
There's no annual fee, but keep in mind the 3% foreign transaction fee if you frequently make purchases outside the United States. Be aware of the 3% ($5 minimum) fee applied to each balance transferred if you plan to take advantage of the 0% APR period.
Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited card worth it?
Chase Freedom Unlimited is an excellent option for those who want to earn rewards on every purchase without worrying about rotating categories. Cardholders get the most out of this card if they pair it with another Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning card and spend strategically to maximize rewards.
Good unlimited cash back credit card
Capital One Quicksilver
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card review
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards credit card is ideal for those who don’t want to worry about rotating categories to get the most out of their card. Other cash back rewards credit cards might earn more in the long term, but Capital One Quicksilver rewards are effortless. Cardholders simply earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
Capital One Quicksilver benefits
Capital One Quicksilver doesn't come with as many benefits as cards with annual fees, but cardholders enjoy the easy-flat rate rewards and introductory APR period.
- Intro 0% APR: Cardholders don’t have to pay interest on new purchases or balance transfers for 15 months.
- Flat-rate rewards: All purchases earn 1.5% cash back. Cash back doesn’t expire as long as the account is in good standing, and there’s no limit to how much cash back rewards you can earn.
What to know about the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card
Capital One Quicksilver cardholders don’t have to pay annual or foreign transaction fees. If you intend to complete a balance transfer within the 15-month 0% APR period, keep in mind that there is a 3% fee on the amount of each transaction. Also, penalty fees for late-payments can be up to $39.
Is the Capital One Quicksilver card worth it?
The Capital One Quicksilver card is worth for the low-maintenance cash back rewards. The $150 sign-up bonus is relatively easy to hit, and other Capital One Quicksilver perks include an introductory 0% APR period and few fees.
Good cash back credit card for average credit
Capital One QuicksilverOne
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review
Even if you have less-than-excellent credit, you can qualify for the Capital One QuicksilverOne cash back rewards credit card. There's no sign-up bonus, but cardholders earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. They also get access to higher credit lines after just 5 months of timely payments.
Capital One QuicksilverOne benefits
In addition to flat-rate cash back rewards on all purchases, the Capital One QuicksilverOne also comes with the monitoring and fraud protection.
- Credit monitoring: Get access to the CreditWise app to track how your credit improved over time.
- Fraud protection: Get customized alerts through the Capital One mobile app to spot suspicious transactions early. Plus, cardholders aren’t held responsible for purchases made while their card is lost or stolen.
What to know about the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards card
Capital One QuickSilverOne cardholders must pay a $39 annual fee, but don’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees. Keep in mind that penalty fees for late-payments can be up to $39.
Is the Capital One QuicksilverOne card worth it?
Capital One QuicksilverOne doesn't come with the benefits available to those with excellent credit, but it could allow you to earn rewards while improving your credit score.
Good cash back card for dining and entertainment
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card review
For those who would rather collect experiences than merchandise, Capital One Savor Cash Rewards earns unlimited cash back every time you swipe but gets the most back on dining and entertainment categories. Purchases made on dining and entertainment earn 4% cash back, and tickets booked through Vivid Seats earn 8% cash back. Capital One cardholders also enjoy access to exclusive dining and entertainment offers.
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card benefits
In addition to high return on dining and entertainment purchases, earn 2% back at grocery stores and 1% back everywhere else.
- Monthly statement credit: Get a statement credit each month for a Postmates Unlimited membership.
- No rotating categories: Simple and straightforward, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card doesn’t require you to opt into rotating categories several times per year.
- Flexible rewards: Cash back can be redeemed at any amount. Cashback rewards never expire, and there’s no limit to how much you can earn.
What to know about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
The annual fee is waived for the first year but will cost $95 each year after that. There’s no foreign transaction fee. If you intend to transfer other debts to this card, be aware that there isn’t a 0% introductory APR period, though balances can be transferred without a fee.
Is the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card worth it?
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards cardholders get the best return on dining and entertainment categories, but earn cash back every time they swipe. The annual fee for this card is less than some competitors, and is worth it if you maximize the dining and entertainment rewards.
Good no-hassle cash back credit card
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card review
Perfect for those who are searching for simplicity and flexibility in a cash back credit card, Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, all the time. You won’t have to remember to sign up for specific categories several times a year, and cash rewards won’t expire as long as your account is open. Rewards can be redeemed for cash from an ATM, statement credits, gift cards and more. Plus, earn even more bonus rewards when you shop through Wells Fargo’s Earn More Mall.
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card benefits
In addition to the sign-up bonus, earn 1.8% cash rewards on eligible mobile wallet purchases, like Google Pay or Apple Pay, for the first year after opening your account. Other benefits that come with this card include a 0% introductory APR period and cell phone protection.
- Simple rewards: All purchases earn 1.5–1.8% cash back. No rotating categories or sign-ups required to get the biggest bang for your buck. Rewards won’t expire as long as your account is open.
- 0% intro APR: Enjoy 0% APR for the first 15 months on new purchases and balance transfers. Terms apply.
- Cell phone protection: Get up to $600 protection for your cell phone against theft or damage when you pay your phone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card. Cell phone protection is subject to a $25 deductible.
What to know about the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card
There’s no annual fee for the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card, but a fee of 3% will be charged per balance transfer (or $5, whichever is greater). For transactions that must be converted to U.S. dollars, a 3% foreign transaction fee will apply. Cash advances carry a 5% fee (or $10, whichever is greater).
Is the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card worth it?
With no annual fee and no rotating categories, Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card’s flat rate cash back program makes it easy to earn cash back rewards. There’s a lot of flexibility for how and when you can redeem cash rewards with this card, and it has an above average cash back rate for a rewards credit card without an annual fee.
What is the best cash back credit card?
With so many cash back credit card offers out there, it can be difficult to know which one is best for you. Before you start applying, you should evaluate your spending habits because different cash back cards were created with different types of consumers in mind. For example, if the bulk of your purchases fall into a particular category, like travel, then it makes sense for you to get a tier rewards cash back card with a high return on airfare and hotel expenses. If you simply want to earn a little back on everything you buy, you should consider applying for a flat rate percentage cash back credit card.
Compare cash back credit cards
|Card||Best cash back offer|
|Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express||6% at supermarkets and streaming services|
|Chase Freedom||5% on rotating categories|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||Unlimited 1.5% cash back|
|Capital One Quicksilver||Unlimited 1.5% cash back|
|Capital One QuicksilverOne||Unlimited 1.5% cash back|
|Capital One Savor Cash Rewards||4% cash back on dining and entertainment|
|Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card||Unlimited 1.5% cash back|
What is a cash back credit card?
Getting cash back from a credit card on purchases that you make anyway might sound too good to be true, but a cash back credit card is a popular and relatively straightforward way for credit card issuers to incentivize prospective cardholders. Cash back rewards cards earn funds via paper check, direct deposit or statement credits instead of frequent flier miles or merchandise. Both personal credit cards and business credit cards can earn cash back rewards.
Earn up to
5% cash back
and get your 1st year cash rewards matched
How do cash back credit cards work?
When you make a purchase with a cash back credit card, your card issuer essentially provides a small rebate on that purchase. Depending on your cashback rate, you could essentially get a 1–5% discount on your purchases. Card issuers are able to do this because of the interchange fee that merchants and retailers must pay on each credit card transaction. For example, if you make a $500 purchase with 2% cash back, you will receive a net rebate of $10 while the merchant pays about $15 in transaction fees. Cash back rewards can also be offered through a card issuer and specific merchant partners.
Cash back credit card issuers have different limits for how much cash back you can earn in a given amount of time, and some regulate when you can redeem your cash back. Some issuers will let you collect cash back immediately and automatically, but others might require a minimum amount before they pay out. Many issuers will keep paying out without limit, though some place a cap at how much cash back you can earn. Likewise, some cards let you use your points as long as your account is in good standing, but others impose deadlines for redeeming cash back. Once you rack up rewards, you can usually redeem them for statement credits, receive a paper check or have the bonus funds deposited into your bank account.
The worst thing you can do with a cash back credit card is spend what you ought to be saving just to get cash back rewards or bonuses. If you aren’t careful, a cash back card can end up costing you more than it earns.
What are the different types of cash back credit cards?
There are three types of cash back credit cards, flat percentage, tiered rewards and bonus category.
- Flat percentage cash back credit cards: The most simple cash back cards offer a flat percentage rate back on every purchase made with the card. Flat percentage cash back credit cards typically earn 1–3% back across the board and are best for people who don’t want to keep track of rotating spending categories.
- Tiered rewards cash back credit cards: Similar to bonus category cash back cards, tiered rewards cash back cards earn different percentages for different categories. With a tiered rewards system, also sometimes called rotating categories, you might earn 4% back on gas stations and restaurants, 3% back on travel expense and 1% back on everything else.
- Bonus category cash back credit cards: Bonus category cash back credit cards earn rewards exclusively on purchases that fall into specific or rotating categories. Merchants and retailers have four-digit codes that inform the credit card company what type of business they are (restaurant, gas station, etc.). For example, a cash back rewards card might earn 5% back when you spend on travel. The return is higher if you spend on eligible purchases, but you have to keep up with which bonus categories get more rewards per quarter if they are rotating. Different card issuers provide different levels of flexibility for selecting bonus categories.
Are cash back cards worth it?
The right cash back credit card can enable you to build credit and cover expenses while also growing your savings account if used responsibly. It’s important to pay off your balance each month, or else the amount of interest you pay will be more than the cash back you earn.
The most apparent benefits of cash back credit cards are free money and better interest rates. Almost all cash back cards have better interest rates than even the best savings accounts. Plus, cash back rewards aren’t taxable—the IRS considers them a discount instead of income. If you redeem cash back rewards through your account and spend them again, you can earn rewards on your rewards. Many cash back credit card issuers also offer generous sign-up bonuses to further entice future cardholders.
Whether or not a cash back credit card is worth it to you will be determined by your credit history and spending habits. Some cash back credit cards will reward you with a flat percentage rate for what you spend across the board, while others will reward you with higher percentages cash back when you spend in a particular category. Also, be sure that you will be able to redeem how cash back in a way that’s convenient for you. Some card issuers will regulate when and how you can redeem cash back earnings. Other issuers will let you redeem cash back without earning a minimum amount.
How to use cash back credit cards
Generally, the better credit that you’ve been able to establish, the better cash back credit card you can get approved for. Here are some tips for getting the most of a cash back credit card, no matter who the issuer is.
- Pay off the balance each month: Cardholders with predictable spending habits who can pay off their balances each month will get the most out of cash back credit card programs. It’s important not to make purchases you can’t afford just to earn a few percentages back — if you don’t pay off your balance each month, then your cash back will only go toward paying off interest.
- Don’t forget about the welcome offer deadline: Many cash back card issuers will give you a bonus cash back reward if you spend a certain amount within the first few months of opening your account. The spending requirements and payout for sign-up or welcome bonuses on cash back cards vary by issuer. Typically, a cash back card issuer requires meeting a spending threshold of $1,000 (or less) within the first three months of opening the account, and their payout can be up to several hundred dollars.
- Consider 0% introductory APR: Many cash back credit cards include an introductory period—usually about a year—when you can make balance transfers and make new purchases without paying interest.
- Be aware of affiliate partnerships: Some credit card issuers work with particular stores, restaurants or gas stations to further incentivize spending with their cards at those places. Take advantage of online credit card malls if they’re available through an issuer—spending there could earn as much as 10 times cash back.
- Invest your cash back: Lots of mobile apps, like Acorns and Digit, make it easy to use your cash back rewards for investments.
- Set up autopay: You can use a cash back credit card to pay regularly recurring bills like gas, electric or internet.
- Keep track of rotating categories: If you are enrolled in a rotating category rewards program, set a reminder to keep track of new rewards and temporary promotions—you may have to opt into those online within a restricted period of time. It’s also possible to maximize rewards with more than one tiered rewards cash back credit card if you are diligent about which card you use for different purchase categories. Strategically combining different rewards cards can maximize rewards in the long term. You can also strategically make purchases at merchants who fall into a particular category. For example, if you’re getting 6% cash back at supermarkets and 1% cash back everywhere else, then purchasing gift cards at a supermarket rather than directly from the retailer will earn you the higher cash back rate.
- Pay attention to spending limits or exclusions: A lot of cash back credit cards have a cap for how much you can earn on a particular category over a set amount of time. If you find yourself regularly going over the limit, think about getting a better card without caps.
ConsumerAffairs has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. ConsumerAffairs and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
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