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Cash-back credit cards are popular because they provide tangible, easy-to-understand benefits. Who doesn’t like getting a credit on their monthly credit card statement – or, better yet, actual cash deposited into the account of their choice? Cash-back credit cards can be even more popular than our top-rated gas credit cards and travel rewards cards.
But not all cash-back credit cards are created equally.
Some offer the same cash-back rate on all purchases. Others offer higher cash-back rates on certain spending categories, such as groceries or gas, and lower rates on everything else. Others offer bonus cash back on spending categories that rotate every quarter. A few accrue cash back on purchases and monthly payments. And some cash back cards even hew to hybrid models, with cash back on certain spending categories and different types of rewards (such as airline miles) on others.
You’ll find each type of card on this list of the best cash-back cards available to U.S. consumers today. Keep in mind that most cash-back credit cards require applicants to have good to excellent credit – usually indicated by a credit score above 700, and sometimes even higher. If you don’t meet that threshold, work on building your credit before applying.
Best Cash-Back Credit Cards
6% Cash Back at U.S. Supermarkets and Select Digital Media Services; 3% at U.S. Gas Stations and Transit Operators (Including Rideshare); 1% Everywhere Else
If you love the supermarket, you’ll love the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express. You get 6% cash back on all U.S. supermarket transactions, up to a $6,000 annual spending limit. Once you hit $6,000, you get 1% back on U.S. supermarket purchases, with no upper limit.
You’ll also get unlimited 6% cash back on eligible purchases with digital media and streaming providers such as Netflix and HBO.
There’s no spending limit on the U.S. gas station and transit operator categories – you get 3% cash back on every $1 spent in those places, period. American Express treats rideshare operators such as Lyft and Uber as transit operators, which is great news for those who frequently use those services. And you get 1% cash back on all other purchases, with no limits. Cash back comes by statement credit.
Another smaller drawback of the Blue Cash Preferred card is American Express’s restrictive definition of “supermarket.” Superstores like Walmart, wholesale clubs like Costco, and alcohol retailers aren’t considered as supermarkets for this card’s purposes. The annual fee does cut into your earning potential somewhat – but since the 6% supermarket cash back doubles what most competing cards offer, you’re still likely to come out ahead if you take full advantage of this category.
If you’re struggling to meet your $6,000 annual supermarket spending limit with food and dry goods purchases alone, make up the difference by purchasing other merchants’ gift cards at the supermarket checkout counter. It’s like getting an immediate 6% discount at your favorite restaurants, retailers, and e-commerce websites.
- Welcome Offer: If you make $1,000 in qualifying purchases within three months of signing up, you get a $250 statement credit.
- Cash-Back Rate: Earn 6% cash back on select digital media and streaming services like Netflix and HBO. Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 in spending per year. After that, you receive 1% cash back at supermarkets. This card offers unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and transit operators, including rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft. Finally, earn 1% cash back on everything else.
- Redemption: The minimum redemption is $25. You can redeem in $25 increments ($25, $50, $75, and so on) for statement credits, and in variable amounts for gift cards and general merchandise.
- Introductory APR: 0% APR on purchases for 12 months. Following the end of the introductory period, the regular APR is variable, depending on prevailing rates and your personal creditworthiness.
- Key Fees: There’s a $95 annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 2.7%.
- Other Perks: If you attempt to return a purchased item within 90 days and the merchant refuses to accept it, Amex’s Return Protection policy refunds the item’s entire purchase price, up to $300 per item and $1,000 per calendar year.
1% Cash Back When You Spend + 1% Cash Back When You Pay Your Balance; 0% APR on Balance Transfers for 18 Months
As long as you’re a cardholder in good standing, you’re guaranteed to earn 1% cash back on all eligible purchases that post to your Double Cash account. But you’ll only achieve the card’s effective 2% cash-back rate when you pay off your balance in full – as you should, under normal circumstances.
Two percent cash back isn’t the only Double Cash benefit worth touting. The card’s 18-month 0% APR balance transfer promotion is among the best in the category, and the value-added perks are unusually generous for a no-annual-fee card.
- Sign-Up Bonus: There’s presently no sign-up bonus on the Citi Double Cash Card. Check back for updates.
- Cash-Back Rate: Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases when they post to your account, then another 1% cash back on all balance payments, for a total effective cash-back rate of 2% when you pay your balance in full. You must make at least the minimum payment to qualify for the 1% cash-back rate on balance payments during that statement cycle. Cash back expires after 12 months of account dormancy (no purchases or redemptions).
- Redemption: The minimum redemption is $25.
- Introductory APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months. Then regular APR applies (currently 13.99% to 23.99% variable, depending on creditworthiness and prevailing rates).
- Key Fees: There’s no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount.
$200 Sign-Up Bonus When You Spend $500 in Purchases in the First 3 Months; 5% Cash Back on Grocery Store Purchases (Not Including Target and Walmart) on Up to $12,000 Spent in the First Year
Chase Freedom Unlimited is similar to the flagship Chase Freedom Card, but with an important distinction. Instead of a flat 1% cash back and rotating 5% cash-back categories with quarterly spending caps, it simply earns an unlimited 1.5% on most purchases, with some exceptions:
- Through March 2022, qualifying Lyft purchases earn 5% cash-back
- Grocery store purchases, excluding Target and Walmart purchases, earn 5% cash-back on up to $12,000 spent in the first year
- Travel purchases made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal earn 5% cash-back
- Drugstore and dining purchases (including takeout and eligible delivery services) earn 3% cash-back
You can redeem for virtually anything, in any amount, at the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal – including cash equivalents, merchandise, and travel.
Chase Freedom Unlimited has a great (and sometimes overlooked) perk for loyal Chase credit card customers. If you also have the Chase Ink Business Preferred ($95 annual fee) business card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee) travel rewards card, you can transfer points earned through Freedom Unlimited to those accounts. You can then transfer those points at a 1-to-1 ratio to a number of different frequent traveler programs, or redeem them for travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal and receive a 25% bonus (for instance, boosting the value of a 50,000-point redemption to $625).
However, keep in mind that you need to obtain either Ink Preferred or Sapphire Preferred/Reserve – and remember, having Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t necessarily qualify you for those cards.
- Sign-Up Bonus: Earn $200 bonus cash when you spend at least $500 in eligible purchases during the first three months your account is open. Plus, earn 5% cash-back on grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart), up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
- Cash-Back Rate: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on most purchases. Travel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards travel earn 5% cash-back, drugstore and dining purchases (including takeout and eligible delivery) purchases earn 3% cash-back, and through March 2022, Lyft purchases earn 5% cash-back.
- Redemption: You can redeem your accumulated cash-back rewards in any amount. Redemption methods include statement credits, bank account deposits, gift cards, general merchandise purchases made through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal and direct with third-party retailers such as Amazon, and travel purchases made through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal.
- Introductory APR: 0% introductory purchase APR for 15 months after account opening. Thereafter, variable regular APR applies.
- Regular APR: Once the introductory promotion ends, variable regular APR applies, currently 14.99% to 23.74% APR.
- Key Fees: There’s no annual fee. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%, and foreign transactions cost 3% of the total transaction amount.
- Other Perks: Additional benefits include purchase protection (up to $500 per item for 120 days after purchase), a free credit score (updated weekly) with Chase Credit Journey, and a free DoorDash DashPass subscription for three months from account opening (then 50% off for the next nine months). Activation is required to earn the DoorDash benefit.
Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on All Purchases; Welcome Offer Worth Up to $150
American Express Cash Magnet is a great general spending card for consumers who tend not to favor specific purchase categories. Like Chase Freedom Unlimited and Capital One Quicksilver, it earns 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases. And, as a relatively new addition to Amex’s stable, it comes with a generous limited-time welcome offer: up to $150 in bonus cash.
Other perks include a 15-month 0% APR promotion for purchases and a nice lineup of value-added perks, including discount opportunities. One big drawback is the $25 minimum redemption threshold, which could be an issue for lighter spenders.
- Welcome Offer: For a limited time, earn $150 cash back when you make at least $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months.
- Cash-Back Rate: Earn 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases.
- Redemption: Redeem for statement credits in any amount over $25. American Express may also offer gift card and merchandise redemptions as well, but these are subject to change and may not always be available.
- Introductory APR: 0% purchase APR for 15 months. Then, regular APR applies, depending on creditworthiness and prevailing rates.
- Key Fees: There’s no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 2.7%. Balance transfers and cash advances cost the greater of 3% or $5.
- Other Perks: Amex’s Plan It feature lets you set up flexible monthly payment plans for large purchases. Instead of interest charges, you’ll pay a fixed fee on your plan payments. Other benefits include Amex Offers (a discount suite), complimentary rental car coverage for loss and damage, travel accident insurance, extended warranties on certain covered items, cell phone protection, and other benefits for travelers and shoppers.
5% Cash Back on the First $1,500 Spent in Rotating Categories Every Quarter; 5% Cash Back on Eligible Travel Purchases Made Through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3% Cash Back on Dining and Drugstore Purchases; 1% Cash Back on Everything Else
All purchases made with Chase Freedom Flex earn 1% cash back, with no caps or restrictions. But there’s much more to the story. Freedom Flex has several opportunities to earn bonus cash on a routine basis:
- 5% cash back on eligible purchases up to $1,500 in quarterly rotating categories
- 5% cash back on qualifying Lyft purchases made through March 2022
- 5% cash back on travel purchases made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
- 3% cash back on drugstore and dining purchases at restaurants, including takeout and delivery
Chase Freedom Flex leverages Chase Ultimate Rewards points, a versatile spending currency that is worth $0.01 per point or more depending on redemption. Spending in the 1% cash-back category earns 1 point per dollar, while spending in the 5% categories earns 5 points per dollar. You can redeem for cash back (with each point being worth $0.01), deliverable as a statement credit, bank account deposit, gift card, and direct purchases at select retailers (such as Amazon). There’s no minimum to redeem. You can also redeem for a wide variety of purchases, including travel and general merchandise, through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal.
One small drawback of Chase Freedom Flex: You have to manually activate your 5% rotating categories each quarter. If you don’t do so by the middle of the last month of that quarter, you forfeit the 5% cash-back opportunity.
- Sign-Up Bonus: When you make $500 in qualifying purchases within three months of opening your account, you get $200. Plus, earn 5% cash back for the first 12 months on eligible grocery store purchases, not including Target and Walmart, on the first $12,000 spent.
- Cash-Back Rate: Earn 5% cash back on purchases in quarterly rotating categories, up to $1,500 combined spending across all categories. Through March 2022, qualifying Lyft purchases earn unlimited 5% cash back as well. Eligible Chase Ultimate Rewards travel purchases earn 5% cash back too, and drugstore and dining purchases (including takeout and delivery) earn 3% cash back. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on quarterly category purchases above the $1,500 limit and on all other purchases.
- Redemption: You can redeem for statement credits, bank account deposits, and gift cards at a 1 point to $0.01 ratio. You can also redeem for travel, general merchandise, and other purchases at the Ultimate Rewards portal. Your cash-back rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing, and there’s no minimum redemption threshold for cash back.
- Introductory APR: 0% APR on purchases for 15 months. Thereafter, variable regular APR applies.
- Regular APR: Once the introductory promotion ends, variable regular APR applies, currently 14.99% to 23.74% APR.
- Key Fees: There’s no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is a flat 3%.
- Other Perks: You’ll get a free credit score, updated weekly, with Chase Credit Journey. Plus, enjoy a complimentary subscription to DoorDash’s DashPass service for three months from account opening, then 50% off for the next nine months.
6. Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on all Purchases; $150 Sign-Up Bonus
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa is one of a growing cohort of “1.5% cards” – cash-back credit cards that earn a flat, unlimited 1.5% return on spending. It comes with a nice sign-up bonus, too – a $150 cash bonus that requires just $500 in spending within the first three months, to be exact.
Once you clear the $20 cash-back threshold, you can reap your rewards at Wells Fargo ATMs nationwide. When you hit $25, additional doors open – you can then redeem for paper checks, statement credits, or deposits into your Wells Fargo bank account. If you’re already a Wells Fargo deposit account holder, this card comes with low-cost overdraft protection transfer capabilities too. Just remember to opt in after signing up.
- Sign-Up Bonus: When you make $500 in qualifying purchases within three months of sign-up, you get a $150 cash bonus.
- Cash-Back Rate: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, including Apple Pay and Android Pay purchases made after the 12-month introductory period.
- Redemption: The minimum redemption is $20 to $25, depending on how you choose to redeem. ATM redemptions allow the lower threshold.
- Introductory APR: 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. After that, regular APR applies, currently 13.99% to 25.99% variable (depending on creditworthiness and prevailing rates).
- Key Fees: There’s no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. During the first year, balance transfers cost either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. After that, they cost the greater of $5 or 5%.
- Other Perks: The cell phone protection plan covers certain communications devices up to $600 per incident and $1,200 per year. Travel inconvenience coverage reimburses travelers for lost or damaged baggage. Overdraft protection transfers (opt-in) cost $12.50 to $20, depending on transfer size.
Up to $550 Bonus Cash in the First Year; 5% Cash Back in 2 Categories of Your Choice
New U.S. Bank Cash+ cardholders can earn up to $550 in first-year bonus cash when they clear the sign-up bonus spending threshold and max out spending in their chosen 5% cash-back bonus categories for four straight quarters. That’s a better deal than just about any other no-annual-fee cash-back card – and it doesn’t even account for regular cash-back earnings, which are theoretically unlimited.
New cardholders can also take advantage of a 12-month 0% APR balance transfer promotion, making Cash+ a strong choice for folks looking to trim high-interest debt.
- Sign-Up Bonus: When you make at least $500 in qualifying purchases within three months of opening your account, you’ll get a $150 new cardmember bonus.
- Cash-Back Rate: Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in two categories of your choosing, up to $2,000 in purchases each quarter and $8,000 in cumulative category purchases each year. Earn unlimited 2% cash back in one additional category of your choosing and 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases, including 5% category purchases above the quarterly spending cap.
- Redemption: Redeem for statement credits or deposits to qualifying bank accounts in any amount. Gift card redemptions are subject to minimums.
- Introductory APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months, then regular APR applies (currently 13.99% to 23.99% variable, depending on creditworthiness and prevailing rates). There’s no corresponding promotion for purchases – the variable regular APR of 13.99% to 23.99% applies from day one.
- Key Fees: There’s no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3%.
- Other Perks: U.S. Bank deposit account holders can use their Cash+ cards for overdraft protection, subject to restrictions and possible fees.
8. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
3% Cash Back at U.S. Supermarkets; 2% at U.S. Gas Stations and Select U.S. Department Stores; 1% Elsewhere; $150 Welcome Offer
The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express gives you ample cash back on everyday, hard-to-avoid purchases: food, staples, fuel, clothing, and home goods. You get 3% cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases, up to the $6,000 annual limit. After you hit the limit, you get 1% cash back on supermarket purchases, with no spending cap.
Meanwhile, this card’s 2% cash back rate at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores is unlimited, as is 1% cash back everywhere else. Your cash back comes as a statement credit. Note that big-box superstores such as Target, wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club, and alcohol retailers don’t count as “supermarkets,” according to American Express.
- Welcome Offer: If you make $1,000 in qualifying purchases within three months, you get a $150 statement credit.
- Cash Back Rate: 3% cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases, up to $6,000 in annual spending (so $180 max annual cash back in this category). The card offers unlimited 1% cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases above the annual limit. Enjoy unlimited 2% cash back on U.S. gas station and select U.S. department store spending, and unlimited 1% cash back everywhere else.
- Redemption: The minimum redemption is $25. Once you reach this threshold, you can redeem in $25 increments for statement credits. You can also redeem for gift cards and general merchandise in variable amounts.
- Introductory APR: 0% APR on purchases for 15 months. Following the introductory period’s end, regular APR applies.
- Key Fees: There’s no annual fee, compared to the $95 fee for the Blue Cash Preferred Card which offers higher cash back rates. The foreign transaction fee is 2.7%. Balance transfers cost either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
- Other Perks: Also includes Return Protection, as described as a benefit of the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express.
4% Cash Back on Gas Purchases at Costco Locations and Qualifying Gas Stations; 3% Cash Back on Restaurant and Eligible Travel Purchases; 2% Cash Back at Costco; 1% Cash Back Everywhere Else
The Costco Anywhere Card is a premium cash-back product exclusive to Costco members. If you’re already spending $60 per year (or $120, if you’re springing for the Executive membership) on a Costco membership, and you’re able to meet Citi’s stringent underwriting requirements, this card is a no-brainer.
Why? For folks with long commutes, healthy travel and dining-out budgets, and long Costco shopping lists, the four-tiered cash-back program is among the most generous around. Yes, the redemption framework is a little wonky – you have to redeem in person at Costco, and you have just one annual shot to do so. But most Costco members shop often enough that this isn’t a massive inconvenience.
- Sign-Up Bonus: This card currently has no sign-up bonus. Check back for updates.
- Cash-Back Rate: Earn 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases at Costco and qualifying gas stations, up to the first $7,000 in eligible purchases per year. Earn unlimited 3% back on eligible restaurant and travel purchases. Earn unlimited 2% cash back on eligible Costco purchases. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases, including gas purchases above the $7,000 annual spending cap.
- Redemption: At the close of your February billing statement, you’ll receive a redemption voucher for the full value of rewards earned during the previous year. You must redeem this voucher in a single in-person transaction at Costco, either as a credit against purchases or for cash at the register (or both). The voucher remains valid until December 31 of the year issued.
- Introductory APR: None.
- Key Fees: $0 with a paid Costco membership ($60 for a regular household membership and $120 for an Executive membership). There is no foreign transaction fee. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%.
- Other Perks: Fringe benefits include purchase protection for 90 to 120 on losses caused by damage or theft, complimentary rental car insurance, and extended warranties on select purchases.
5X Points on the First $1,500 in Quarterly Rotating Category Purchases; 1X Points on Everything Else
Like Chase Freedom, ABOC Platinum Rewards has a two-tiered rewards program that pays out 5 points per $1 spent in select quarterly rotating categories, up to $1,500 in combined category spending each quarter. Unlike Freedom, you don’t have to activate your categories every quarter – a one-time activation soon after you open your account suffices.
ABOC Platinum Rewards has a nice welcome offer, too: a $150 statement credit when you spend at least $1,200 on eligible purchases during the first 90 days your account is open. Don’t sleep on the 12-month 0% APR introductory period, either. It’s a great help for new cardholders looking to finance major purchases.
You can redeem your accumulated rewards for cash back (via statement credit), travel, merchandise, and gift cards. Minimum redemption thresholds vary but are generally reasonable.
- Welcome Offer: If you spend at least $1,200 on eligible purchases during the first 90 days after your account opening date, you’ll receive a $150 statement credit.
- Cash-Back Rate. Earn 5 points per $1 spent on the first $1,500 combined spend per quarter in popular categories like groceries, dining, travel, and home improvement. You’ll automatically qualify for the bonus categories each quarter after completing a one-time registration at ABOCRewards.com. Review ABOC’s rewards calendar to plan ahead. All other eligible purchases, including favored category purchases above the $1,500 quarterly cap, earn 1 point per $1 spent.
- Redemption: Redeem accumulated rewards for statement credits, travel, merchandise, and gift cards. Redemption values and minimums may vary.
- Introductory APR: Enjoy 0% APR on purchases for 12 months from your account opening date. Once the promotional period ends, regular variable APR applies (currently 12.90% to 22.90% variable, depending on prevailing interest rates and your creditworthiness). There is no corresponding balance transfer promotion; the balance transfer APR is 12.90% to 22.90 variable from the day you open your account.
- Key Fees: There is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. The balance transfer fee is $5 or 3% of the transferred amount, whichever is greater. The cash advance fee is the greater of $10 or 5%.
- Other Perks: Points don’t expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing.
Find out how you can apply for this card here.
Even the most generous cash-back credit cards rarely offer more than 5% cash back on any purchases. Cards that offer more than 2% or 3% cash back typically require holders to keep track of specific spending categories or respect purchase limits.
By contrast, cash-back credit card APRs usually range from somewhere north of 10% to more than 20% in some cases. At those rates, carrying a balance for even a single month can seriously eat into your cash back earnings. Habitually carrying a balance from month to month more than negates your cash back earnings, adding to the actual cost of your purchases.
In other words, don’t let the promise of cash back lull you into letting your card balances grow over time. It’s almost never worth it. If you need to carry a credit card balance from month to month, opt for a low-APR credit card instead. And if you worry about your ability to keep your credit card spending to a level that allows for in-full payments each month, choose a credit card with a low spending limit, or a secured credit card that requires you to make an upfront cash deposit.
What’s your favorite cash-back credit card? Why?
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.