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Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Profile picture of Kathryn Parkman
by Kathryn Parkman ConsumerAffairs Research Team

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
Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Best cash back rewards credit card
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Company nameContact
blue cash preferred card
Recommended Credit:
Good–Excellent
LogoSummary
WELCOME OFFER
  • Get $250 statement credit if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
FEES
  • $95 annual fee
  • 2.7% foreign transaction fee
READ MORE

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.

Best no fee cash back credit card
Chase Freedom

Company nameContact
chase freedom card
Recommended Credit:
Good–Excellent
LogoSummary
SIGN-UP BONUS
  • Get $150 if you spent $500 in the first 3 months
FEES
  • No annual fee
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
READ MORE

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. 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.

Best unlimited cash back credit card
U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

Company nameContact
us bank cash card
Recommended Credit:
Excellent
LogoSummary
SIGN-UP BONUS
  • Get $150 if you spent $500 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months
FEES
  • No annual fee
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
READ MORE

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card review

This card’s unique hybrid cash back offer lets you earn cash back every time you use your card and opt into the categories where you spend the most for extra rewards. Earn 5% cash back on the first $2,000 you spend on eligible purchases in two combined categories of your choice each quarter. Unlike many competitors, you can also select an everyday category, like grocery stores or gas stations, to earn 2% cash back. All other eligible purchases earn at a 1% cash back rate and there’s no limit to the total amount of cash back you can earn with a U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature card.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card benefits

This card provides a lot of flexibility in how you earn cash back, plus you can take advantage of 0% interest on balance transfers (not new purchases) within 60 days of opening a U.S. Bank Cash+ account.

  • Maximize rewards: If you’re strategic about which categories you opt into, and when, you can rack up unlimited cash back comparatively quickly.
  • Flexible redemption: Get your cash back through statement credits, direct deposit into your checking or savings account or through rewards cards. There is no minimum required to redeem cash back.
  • Mobile payments: Sync your card number on your mobile device to make easy and secure payments.

What to know about the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

You don’t have to worry about an annual fee, but you will be charged 3% on purchases made outside the U.S. If you intend to transfer old balances to this card, be aware that there is a 2–3% balance transfer fee per transaction (or $5, whichever is greater). There is also a 3–4% fee charged for cash advances.

Is the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card worth it?

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature’s unique rewards program combines tiered and rotating rewards categories. If you have excellent credit and can get approved for the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card, it should be on your shortlist of cash back credit cards since the total amount of rewards you can earn is unlimited.

Best cash back card for fair credit
ABOC Platinum Rewards Credit Card

Company nameContact
aboc platinum rewards credit card
Recommended Credit:
Fair–Good
LogoSummary
SIGN-UP BONUS
  • Get $150 statement credit when you spend $1,200 in the first 3 months
FEES
  • No annual fee
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
READ MORE

ABOC Platinum Rewards Credit Card review

Even if you have less-than-excellent credit, you can qualify for the ABOC Platinum Rewards Credit Card. Earn 5X cash back rewards on up to $1,500 in combined popular categories like dining, travel and groceries each quarter. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1.

ABOC Platinum Rewards Credit Card benefits

In addition to generous cash back on rotating categories and 1% on everything else, the ABOC Platinum Rewards Credit Card also comes with an introductory APR period and other perks through Mastercard.

  • 0% intro APR: Don’t pay APR for 12 months on new purchases and balance transfers.
  • Mastercard Zero Liability: Cardholders are not held responsible for fraudulent purchases if their card is lost or stolen.
  • Price Protection: Mastercard will reimburse you for the price difference found between eligible items within 60 days of the purchase.

What to know about the ABOC Platinum Rewards Credit Card

You won’t have to pay an annual fee, but there is a 3% fee on balance transfers and foreign transactions. For cash advances, there is a fee of 5% or $10, whichever is greater.  

Is the ABOC Platinum Rewards Credit Card worth it?

Approval for this card is relatively simple, and earning rewards is even easier. There’s no limit to how much you can earn, and cash back never expires. This card has plenty of perks like 0% intro APR and price protection on eligible purchases to make it worth it.

Best no-hassle cash back credit card
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card

Company nameContact
wells fargo cash wise visa
Recommended Credit:
Good–Excellent
LogoSummary
SIGN-UP BONUS
  • Get $150 cash rewards bonus if you spent $500 in the first 3 months
FEES
  • No annual fee
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
READ MORE

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.

Best cash back card for dining and entertainment
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

Company nameContact
capital one savor rewards credit card
Recommended Credit:
Good–Excellent
LogoSummary
SIGN-UP BONUS
  • Get $300 cash back if you spent $3,000 in the first 3 months
FEES
  • $95 annual fee, waived the first year
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
READ MORE

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.

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

CardBest cash back offer
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express6% at supermarkets and streaming services
Chase Freedom5% on rotating categories
U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card5% on rotating categories
ABOC Platinum Rewards Credit CardUp to 5X rewards on rotating categories
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa CardUnlimited 1.5% on all purchases
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards4% cash back on dining and entertainment

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


COMPARE CARDS

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.

Bottom line

Cash back cards are just one type of rewards credit card. Unlike other rewards cards, there are no points to calculate or miles to keep track of — simply get rewarded for spending on purchases that you would make anyway. Cash back programs are a great rewards option because they are so flexible, though some cash back credit card issuers regulate when or how often you can redeem cash back.

Want to compare more cash back credit cards?


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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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Profile picture of Kathryn Parkman
by Kathryn Parkman ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team, Kathryn Parkman believes everyone deserves easy access to accurate and comprehensive information on products and businesses before they make a purchase, which is why she spends hours researching companies and industries for ConsumerAffairs. She believes conscious consumption is everyone's responsibility and that all content deserves integrity.