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Insider’s experts choose the best products and services to help make smart decisions with your money (here’s how). In some cases, we receive a commission from our our partners, however, our opinions are our own. Terms apply to offers listed on this page.

Cash back credit cards are some of the most flexible rewards cards you can get, returning anywhere from 1% to 6% cash back on all kinds of purchases — and often without an annual fee. For people who are just getting into credit card rewards, or who want to keep things simple, cash back credit cards can be a good choice.

The best credit cards for earning cash back

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Best card for everyday spending

Earn 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Best card for dining, groceries, and entertainment with no annual fee

Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Best card for balance transfers

Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

Best card for rotating cash-back categories

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases automatically.

Best card for rotating categories and flexible redemptions

5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Best card for automatically customizing rewards

Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Best card for choosing your own cash back categories

5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter on two categories you choose 5% cash back on prepaid air, hotel and car reservations booked directly in the Rewards Travel Center 2% cash back on one everyday category, like Gas Stations/EV Charging Stations, Grocery Stores or Restaurants 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases

Best card for fair or average credit

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchase

Best card for lower credit scores

Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases

Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

See Insider’s picks for the top cash back credit cards for families, dining, intro APRs, and building credit below. 

Compare the best cash back credit cards

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card


Intro offer

$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Rewards

Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases.

Wells Fargo Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card


Intro offer

$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Rewards

Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases.


Rewards

Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases.


Intro offer

$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

17.99%, 22.99%, or 27.99% Variable


Intro APR

0% intro APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 15 months from account opening

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Chase Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®


Intro offer

1.5% cash back in addition to regular earning on everything you buy up to $20,000 spent in the first year (worth up to $300 cash back)


Rewards

Earn 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Chase Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®


Intro offer

1.5% cash back in addition to regular earning on everything you buy up to $20,000 spent in the first year (worth up to $300 cash back)


Rewards

Earn 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.


Rewards

Earn 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.


Intro offer

1.5% cash back in addition to regular earning on everything you buy up to $20,000 spent in the first year (worth up to $300 cash back)


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

17.24% – 25.99% Variable


Intro APR

0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months

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Chase Chase Freedom Flex℠


Intro offer

$200 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening


Rewards

5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Chase Chase Freedom Flex℠


Intro offer

$200 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening


Rewards

5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.


Rewards

5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.


Intro offer

$200 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

17.24% – 25.99% Variable


Intro APR

0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months

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Discover Discover it® Cash Back


Intro offer

Unlimited Cashback Match – Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year


Rewards

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases automatically.

Discover Discover it® Cash Back


Intro offer

Unlimited Cashback Match – Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year


Rewards

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases automatically.


Rewards

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases automatically.


Intro offer

Unlimited Cashback Match – Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent

Recommended credit score. Note that credit card lenders may use many different variations of credit score models when considering your application.

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Regular APR

14.99% – 25.99% Variable


Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

Editor’s Rating

4.42/5

Our editor’s ratings analyze fees, bonuses, rewards, and benefits to highlight the simplest and most valuable credit cards available.

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American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express


Intro offer

$350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months from account opening


Rewards

Earn 6% cash back on purchases at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%). Earn 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. Earn 3% cash back on transit (including taxis, rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses, and more). Earn 3% cash back on gas at U.S. gas stations. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express


Intro offer

$350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months from account opening


Rewards

Earn 6% cash back on purchases at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%). Earn 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. Earn 3% cash back on transit (including taxis, rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses, and more). Earn 3% cash back on gas at U.S. gas stations. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

On American Express’s website


Rewards

Earn 6% cash back on purchases at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%). Earn 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. Earn 3% cash back on transit (including taxis, rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses, and more). Earn 3% cash back on gas at U.S. gas stations. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.


Intro offer

$350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months from account opening


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

16.99% – 27.99% Variable


Intro APR

0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening

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Capital One Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card


Intro offer

Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months


Rewards

Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and popular streaming services. Earn 3% at grocery stores. Earn 1% on all other purchases.

Capital One Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card


Intro offer

Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months


Rewards

Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and popular streaming services. Earn 3% at grocery stores. Earn 1% on all other purchases.


Rewards

Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and popular streaming services. Earn 3% at grocery stores. Earn 1% on all other purchases.


Intro offer

Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months


Recommended Credit

Excellent


Regular APR

17.49% – 25.49% Variable

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Citi Citi Custom Cash℠ Card


Intro offer

$200 cash back, fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening


Rewards

Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Citi Citi Custom Cash℠ Card


Intro offer

$200 cash back, fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening


Rewards

Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.


Rewards

Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.


Intro offer

$200 cash back, fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

16.99% – 26.99% Variable


Intro APR

0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months

Editor’s Rating

4.7/5

Our editor’s ratings analyze fees, bonuses, rewards, and benefits to highlight the simplest and most valuable credit cards available.

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U.S. Bank U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card


Intro offer

$200 bonus after spending $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening


Rewards

5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter on two categories you choose 5% cash back on prepaid air, hotel and car reservations booked directly in the Rewards Travel Center 2% cash back on one everyday category, like Gas Stations/EV Charging Stations, Grocery Stores or Restaurants 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases

U.S. Bank U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card


Intro offer

$200 bonus after spending $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening


Rewards

5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter on two categories you choose 5% cash back on prepaid air, hotel and car reservations booked directly in the Rewards Travel Center 2% cash back on one everyday category, like Gas Stations/EV Charging Stations, Grocery Stores or Restaurants 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases


Rewards

5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter on two categories you choose 5% cash back on prepaid air, hotel and car reservations booked directly in the Rewards Travel Center 2% cash back on one everyday category, like Gas Stations/EV Charging Stations, Grocery Stores or Restaurants 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases


Intro offer

$200 bonus after spending $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

17.49% – 27.49% (Variable)


Intro APR

0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 billing cycles

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Citi Citi® Double Cash Card


Intro offer

$200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening


Rewards

Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

Citi Citi® Double Cash Card


Intro offer

$200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening


Rewards

Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.


Rewards

Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.


Intro offer

$200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent

Recommended credit score. Note that credit card lenders may use many different variations of credit score models when considering your application.

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Regular APR

16.99% – 26.99% Variable


Intro APR

0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months

Editor’s Rating

5/5

Our editor’s ratings analyze fees, bonuses, rewards, and benefits to highlight the simplest and most valuable credit cards available.

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Capital One Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card


Rewards

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchase

Capital One Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card


Rewards

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchase


Rewards

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchase


Recommended Credit

Average, Fair and Limited


Regular APR

28.49% Variable

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Discover Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Discover it® Secured Credit Card


Intro offer

Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year


Rewards

Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases

Discover Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Discover it® Secured Credit Card


Intro offer

Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year


Rewards

Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases


Rewards

Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases


Intro offer

Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year


Recommended Credit

New/Rebuilding

Recommended credit score. Note that credit card lenders may use many different variations of credit score models when considering your application.

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Regular APR

25.99% Variable

Editor’s Rating

5/5

Our editor’s ratings analyze fees, bonuses, rewards, and benefits to highlight the simplest and most valuable credit cards available.

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Capital One Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card


Intro offer

$100 cash bonus once you spend $100 on purchases within 3 months of account opening


Rewards

Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Capital One Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card


Intro offer

$100 cash bonus once you spend $100 on purchases within 3 months of account opening


Rewards

Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.


Rewards

Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.


Intro offer

$100 cash bonus once you spend $100 on purchases within 3 months of account opening


Recommended Credit

Average, Fair, Limited


Regular APR

17.99% – 27.99% Variable

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Bank of America Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card


Intro offer

$200 online cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening


Rewards

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Bank of America Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card


Intro offer

$200 online cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening


Rewards

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

On Bank of America’s website


Rewards

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.


Intro offer

$200 online cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular APR

16.24% – 26.24% Variable


Intro APR

0% intro APR for your first 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made within the first 60 days of opening your account

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Insider’s Best Cash Back Credit Card Reviews

The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card is our top pick if you prefer a card that earns a flat rewards rate on everything. There are no bonus categories to keep track of, and you’ll earn 2% cash rewards on purchases.

It offers a substantial welcome bonus for a no-annual-fee card: $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. In addition, new cardholders get a 0% intro APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 15 months from account opening (followed by a 17.99%, 22.99%, or 27.99% Variable APR), which is super useful if you have large expenses you want to pay off over time.

The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card comes with a good array of benefits, which include cell phone protection, roadside dispatch, travel emergency assistance, and access to the Visa Signature Concierge. However, it does charge foreign transaction fees, so if you’re traveling outside the US, you’ll want to pack a different card.

Review: Wells Fargo Active Cash card review

If you’re looking for a card that combines strong bonus categories with a decent flat-rate earn rate on non-bonus spending, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® could fit the bill. It offers 5% cash back (5x points) on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back (3x points) on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% cash back (1.5x points) on everything else. 

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® has no annual fee and offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months. After that, there’s a 17.24% – 25.99% Variable. If you have a major purchase ahead of you, that introductory offer can be useful.

If you also have an annual-fee Chase Ultimate Rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, you can pool your points from the two cards. Then, you’ll be able to transfer the whole body of points to Chase’s airline and hotel partners or use them to book travel through Chase with a bonus.

Plus, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has a substantial welcome offer: 1.5% cash back in addition to regular earning on everything you buy up to $20,000 spent in the first year (worth up to $300 cash back). 

Review: Chase Freedom Unlimited card review

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ replaced the Chase Freedom in Chase’s lineup of cash back cards, and the good news is that it’s even better than the original. Unlike the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, it earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in combined purchases (then 1%) within certain bonus categories each quarter of the year (activation is required). From October 1, 2022, to December 31, 2022, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ bonus categories are Walmart and PayPal. That’s perfect for holiday shopping this quarter.

Sometimes there’s just one major category per quarter, while other times there can be a few different ones. Past categories have included gas stations, local commuter transportation, department stores, grocery stores, drug stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and even Amazon. 

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ also earns 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining and drugstores, and 1% back on everything else. These other bonus categories are exactly what you’ll find on the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Right now, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers a welcome bonus of $0. There’s no annual fee.

It also has a generous list of benefits for a no-annual-fee card, such as cell phone protection, purchase protection, auto rental collision damage waiver, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, as well as travel and emergency assistance services.

Review: Chase Freedom Flex card review

If you prefer a card that earns straight cash back, not points, and like the idea of rotating bonus categories, the Discover it® Cash Back could be a great fit. You can earn 5% cash back in popular rotating quarterly bonus categories when you activate, on up to $1,500 in combined spending (then 1%). You’ll also earn 1% back everywhere else (from October 1 to December 31, 2022, you can earn 5% cash back at Amazon.com and on digital wallets on up to $1,500 in purchases after enrollment, then 1%).

Instead of a regular welcome bonus, Discover rewards new cardholders in a different way. After the first 12 months, it will match all of the rewards you earn from the card through the Discover Cashback Match program. That means you can effectively earn up to 10% back in your first year — and if you’re a big spender, this can pay off handsomely.

Review: Discover it Cash Back card review

If you’re looking for an American Express cash back card, especially if you have a large family that spends a lot on groceries, streaming, and commuting, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is an excellent option. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers a 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening, before switching to a 16.99% – 27.99% Variable APR.

Currently, the card offers a welcome bonus of $350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months from account opening. It also comes with a handful of travel and purchase protections, including car rental insurance, purchase protection, return protection, and extended warranty. 

Keep in mind there’s an annual fee of $95, so you’ll want to be sure you spend enough to justify paying it. If you prefer a no-annual-fee Amex cash-back card, check out the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express instead.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers the highest rewards rate available for grocery spending, although there is a $6,000 annual spending cap on that 6% rate. After that, you earn 1% (cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as statement credits). Otherwise, the card earns 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit, and 1% back on all other purchases.

Review: Amex Blue Cash Preferred card review

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card seems almost custom-made for folks who like to get out and experience life to the fullest. If you’re a foodie, love attending concerts and sporting events, or even enjoy entertaining at home, this no-annual-fee card can help you earn a lot of rewards for your spending.

Cardholders earn 3% cash back on dining, at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target), entertainment, and popular streaming services, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card recently began offering 5% cash back on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel and 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases, and there’s a promotion to earn 8% cash back on Vivid Seats purchases through January 2023.

The welcome bonus is generous, too: Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. And if you’ve got big purchases coming up, a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months) (followed by a 17.99% – 27.99% Variable APR) can make it easier to spread out your payments.

This card offers a handful of good benefits, including extended warranty, travel accident insurance***, and travel emergency assistance services. As with all other Capital One cards, you won’t pay foreign transaction fees on international purchases, so it’s great to use when you’re out globetrotting.

Review: Capital One SavorOne card review

For a more hands-off approach to maximizing your rewards, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card offers 5% cash back on up to $500 in purchases in the eligible category you spend the most in each billing cycle (then 1%), and 1% on all other purchases. It also comes with a decent welcome offer for a no-annual-fee card: $200 cash back, fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening.

If your spending habits tend to change from time to time, this card is worth a look — especially because the list of eligible categories includes lots of common expenses. 

While the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is advertised as a cash-back credit card, it actually earns Citi ThankYou points. You can redeem your points for cash back, travel booked through Citi, gift cards, merchandise, and more at a rate of 1 cent per point.

However, you could potentially get more value from your rewards if you also have the Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige® Card
(no longer available to new applicants). That’s because you can pool your points in either of these card accounts and then transfer them to airline and hotel partners, including JetBlue, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Wyndham Rewards.

Review: Citi Custom Cash card review

One of the newer types of cards offers the ability to choose your own bonus categories, and they’re a great way to maximize your cash back by earning the highest rewards on the purchases you make the most. The U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card leads the way in this regard, because it offers 5% cash back on two eligible categories of your choice (from the list below), on up to $2,000 in combined purchases each quarter (then 1% back):

  • Prepaid air travel
  • Hotel stays
  • Car reservations booked through the Rewards Travel Center
  • Fast food
  • Home utilities
  • TV, internet, and streaming services
  • Department and electronic stores
  • Cell phone providers
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Furniture Stores
  • Movie theaters
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Ground transportation
  • Select clothing stores

Cardholders also get to choose a 2% cash back “everyday” category from gas and EV charging stations, restaurants, or grocery stores, and earn 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.

New cardholders can earn a $200 bonus after spending $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening, which is a solid offer for a no-annual-fee card. After opening your account, you’ll also qualify for a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 billing cycles (then a 17.49% – 27.49% (Variable) APR). 

As a Visa Signature card, it comes with additional perks including Visa Signature concierge and Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection access, travel and emergency assistance, and roadside dispatch.

Review: US Bank Cash Plus card review

The Citi® Double Cash Card was once our overall favorite flat-rate cash back card, but it’s since been overshadowed by the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, which offers a welcome bonus, more benefits, and the same effective cash rewards rate on purchases.

That said, for a limited time, the Citi® Double Cash Card has a welcome bonus offer of $200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. It’s a good opportunity to apply right now, because this card almost never offers an intro bonus.

The Citi® Double Cash Card also has an advantage if you’re looking for a long intro 0% APR on balance transfers. New cardholders get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months (then a 16.99% – 26.99% Variable APR).

This no-annual-fee card earns 1 point per dollar as you spend, and 1 point per dollar when you pay your bill (worth a total of 2% cash back). 

The Citi® Double Cash Card doesn’t offer a whole lot of other benefits, so it makes the most sense if you’re specifically after a generous balance transfer offer (or want a card that earns Citi ThankYou points to boost your stash — yes, you can combine the points from this card with other ThankYou points-earning cards like the Citi Premier® Card).

Review: Citi Double Cash card review

If you’re new to credit or working on building (or rebuilding) your credit score, it’s quite possible you’ll fall into the “fair” credit range. Fair or average credit is defined as any FICO score between 580 to 669 on a 300 to 850 scale, and unfortunately, there aren’t as many good options for earning credit card rewards if that’s where your score lands.

That said, a handful of credit cards for fair or average credit do come with decent earning rates, albeit without a welcome bonus. The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is among the best of the bunch, offering 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases (with the exception of hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, which earn 5% cash back), with no caps.

As with many cards geared to those with lower credit scores, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card charges an annual fee ($39). But, like other Capital One cards, it doesn’t add any foreign transaction fees to international purchases, so it’s a safe bet to use abroad.

Review: Capital One QuicksilverOne card review

If you have a bad credit score or a limited credit history, you may not be approved for some of the other cash back credit card options outlined in this article. In that case, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card could make the most sense. 

Since it’s a secured credit card (meaning you put down money as a refundable deposit to “secure” your account), it’s easier to get approved for this card. With the Discover it® Secured Credit Card, automatic reviews start at seven months to see if Discover can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.

Review: Discover it Secured card review

Applying for a credit card when you’re still in college can be a little tricky because most students don’t have a long credit history or high credit score. Student credit cards are more accessible because they typically only require fair or average credit to get approved.

The Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great choice if your spending habits are typical of many college students. It earns 3% cash back on dining (including restaurants, bars, cafes, and lounges), at grocery stores (except superstores like Walmart and Target), entertainment (such as movies, professional sporting events, and amusement parks), and popular streaming services (like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+).

It also earns 5% cash back on car rentals and hotels booked through Capital One Travel, 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases, and 8% cash back on Vivid Seats purchases (through January 2023). All other purchases earn 1% back.

This card comes with built-in travel and purchase coverage you don’t often find on student credit cards, including price protection***, extended warranty***, car rental insurance***, roadside dispatch***, and travel accident insurance***. There are no foreign transaction fees to worry about, so if you’re heading out on a study-abroad program or plan to travel during your summer breaks, using your card won’t result in extra charges.

Review: Capital One SavorOne Student card review

On the surface, the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card
doesn’t particularly stand out. It earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases and comes with a welcome bonus of $200 online cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening — a decent return, to be sure, but not more compelling than similar cards.

But the card has one feature that can make it a lot more appealing if you’re already a Bank of America customer. Bank of America Preferred Rewards members can earn 25% to 75% more cash back with this card, depending on their rewards tier. Effectively, Preferred Rewards members at the highest level can earn 2.625% cash back on all purchases, which is hard to beat for a no-annual-fee card.

The Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card can also be a good choice if you’re looking for an intro APR offer. New cardholders receive a 0% intro APR for your first 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made within the first 60 days of opening your account, followed by a 16.24% – 26.24% Variable APR.

Review: Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards review

Popular cash back credit cards that did not make our list

We evaluated dozens of cash back credit cards and chose 13 of the very best in the most broadly useful categories for our list. Several other cards were on our shortlist, and they’re all very good in their own right, but for various reasons, they didn’t quite cut it. 

Here are some of the cards that didn’t make it, and why:

  • Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
    — While it offers a bigger welcome bonus and slightly stronger rewards rate than its sibling, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, it also charges a $95 annual fee. You’d have put a lot of spending on the card to justify the extra cost, so for most folks, the no-annual-fee version is a better deal. Here’s our Capital One Savor card review.
  • Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card
    — This card is good for choosing your own bonus categories, but you’ll only earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, versus two 5% cash-back categories of your choice on the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card. That said, if you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, this card could be a lot more lucrative. Read our Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards review to find out more.
  • Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card— This card is a decent choice if you’re looking for a card that earns 1.5% cash back on most purchases, but other cards, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, offer opportunities to earn more rewards and benefits. You can find side-by-side comparisons in our Capital One Quicksilver review.
  • Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express — This is a decent option if you want a card with no annual fee that earns bonus rewards on groceries, gas station purchases, and online retail purchases, but the 3% cash back it earns at US supermarkets only applies to the first $6,000 spent each calendar year (then 1% back). To compare, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card earns an unlimited 3% on groceries worldwide, plus on dining, entertainment, and eligible streaming. Here’s our Amex Blue Cash Everyday card review if you want to learn more.
  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
    — If you’re an Amazon Prime member, earning 5% cash back at Amazon and Whole Foods with this card is hard to beat (and 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores is nothing to sniff at, either). But if you’re not a Prime member or don’t spend a lot at Amazon, other cards are probably a better pick. Check out our Amazon Prime Rewards card review for a closer look.

About cash back credit cards

Cash back credit cards can be an easy way to break into the world of credit card rewards. They come in a few different types:

If you’re willing to juggle multiple credit card accounts, there’s value in having both cash back and points-earning cards. If you prefer a single-card strategy, evaluate your goals and consider how much you’re willing to pay in annual fees to make the best decision for your situation.

If you’re trying to put money back in your wallet, our top recommendations are to transfer your cash back to a bank account or use it to reduce the amount owed on your credit card statement.

On the other hand, if you’re hoping to earn rewards that you can redeem for travel, a card that earns points is more up your alley. Our picks for best points-earning rewards cards earn either Amex Membership Rewards points, Chase Ultimate Rewards points, Citi ThankYou Rewards points, or Capital One miles. You can transfer all of these currencies to travel partners and redeem them for things like free flights. (Note that while Capital One calls its rewards currency “miles,” they aren’t miles with a given airline program.)

The best cash back card is different for everyone. To find the best one for you, you’ll want to look for a few things:

  • The cash back rate for your common spending categories. Extra cash back for gas isn’t much use if you don’t drive. Consider how you intend to use this card, and look at the rate for those spending categories.
  • How you redeem your cash back. Make sure you’re clear on what you’re earning. Is it statement credit? Cash? Points? If points, can they be combined with or transferred to other cards you have, or brands you like?
  • The annual fee. An annual fee may make or break your choice. Are you willing to pay one? And more importantly, can you afford it comfortably — or will it be effectively wiped out by the cash back you’ll earn in a year?

We don’t mention the APR because the rate only applies if you’re carrying a balance on your credit card. We recommend applying for a cash back credit card intending to pay off the balance in full each month. For other categories of credit cards, like balance transfer cards, the APR might be a more important consideration.

If this all sounds too complicated, you can’t go wrong by using the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, which has no annual fee and a flat earning rate of 2% cash rewards on purchases.

Cash back credit cards are often best used in combination with cards that earn points to create a complete credit card portfolio that takes advantage of multiple types of rewards. If you’re trying to decide whether to open a cash back credit card, whether as your first card or one of many, bear these pros and cons in mind:

Pros of cash back credit cards:

  • They rarely carry annual fees
  • There are no restrictions on how you can redeem and spend the cash
  • You can earn airline and hotel status by booking with cash (but not points)

Cons of cash back credit cards:

If you have a cash back credit card or are considering opening one, you’ll want to make the most of it. Keep the following steps in mind to get the most value from your card:

Always pay the balance in full. Credit card cash back or points aren’t useful if you’re carrying a balance and paying interest charges each month. To make the most of rewards, use your card responsibly: Spend only the money you have and pay your bill in full each month.

Read up on rewards rates for different spending areas. Some cash back cards offer elevated rewards rates on specific spending areas, like restaurants, gas stations, or supermarkets. Some of these cards even change those areas from quarter to quarter, meaning you’ll want to stay on top of where your card earns the most and when. If you’re using this card for every purchase, you don’t need to be as diligent, but if you’re using your card as one of many you’ll want to be sure you know how to maximize rewards.

Make sure to redeem your cash back. It might be tempting to let your cash back pile up just to watch the total tick up, but it’s more useful if you redeem it. You can generally apply the cash to your card balance or get it deposited in your checking account, and either one is a fine option. 

Consider opening a “sister” card. As mentioned above, in some cases, you can transfer cash back to a points-earning card on which your rewards are worth more. Chase cards are an example of this: If you hold a cash back card like the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and a points-earning card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can transfer cash back earned on the Freedom Flex (which is technically earned in Chase Ultimate Rewards Points) to the Sapphire Preferred, and unlock more redemption options. This strategy isn’t required to make the most of your cash back card, but it can help take rewards to the next level.

Insider’s methodology for picking the best cash back credit cards

In terms of flexibility, cash back is the king of credit card rewards. Many cash back credit cards give you the option to redeem your accrual as either cash, a statement credit, or a transfer to your bank account.

Remember that a credit card — cash back or otherwise — won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

Cash back cards vary greatly in their return rates — you can earn anywhere from 1% to 6% back. Even better, many cash back cards have no annual fee, so you don’t have to pay for the privilege of earning rewards.

If you’re new to rewards credit cards and aren’t interested in earning travel points or miles, a cash back card is the best option for you. With cash back cards, 1% back will always be 1 cent back, no matter what, and you can use your cash back to lower your monthly bill or transfer it to your checking account, among other options.

The best cash back credit card for you depends on your spending habits and if you prefer a flat rate of cash back on all spending or earning bonus cash back on specific types of purchases. Flat-rate cash back cards are best for those who don’t want to keep track of multiple bonus categories and just want a simple earning structure.

But if you really want to maximize your rewards earning, choosing a card that earns bonus cash back in categories where you spend a lot — like groceries, dining, or gas — can make a huge difference in your rate of return.

We narrowed down the dozens of cash back credit cards currently available to new applicants by looking at a few factors:

  • Ease of use — Are there any hoops to jump through, like needing to be a member of a specific bank?
  • Cash-back earning potential — How much cash back can you earn with this card, and how broad are the bonus categories?
  • Annual fee — Many cash back cards waive an annual fee, but for the few that do charge a fee, is it justified based on the card’s rewards?
  • Options for various types of consumers — We wanted our top cash back card picks to reflect different types of users, from families looking to maximize grocery spending to those looking to rebuild their credit score.

Cash back credit cards frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Cash-back credit cards earn you a percentage of cash back — usually at least 1%— on every dollar you spend (or more with cards that have bonus cash back categories). You can transfer the cash back you earn from these cards to a bank account, use them to wipe charges from your credit card statement, or redeem them for gifts and merchandise.

Cash-back credit cards do give cash, but that’s not to say you’ll necessarily see the physical cash. You’re typically awarded cash back as a credit that you can use to cancel out purchases from your credit card statement, or to redeem for gift cards or merchandise online.

The different types of cash back cards are those with a flat rate, those with select bonus categories, those with rotating bonus categories, and those with pick-your-own bonus categories — a relatively new and somewhat limited option.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns 6% back on the first $6,000 you spend each calendar year at US supermarkets (then 1% back), and 6% back on select US streaming services, for example, and the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card is the most rewarding pick for dining out with 4% back. Different cards earn the most cash back in different categories, so you’ll want to factor in your spending habits and preferences when deciding which cash-back card makes the most sense for you. 

A cash back card could be better than a travel or rewards card, depending on what you want to do with your rewards. If you primarily want to put money back in your bank account rather than earn rewards you can redeem for travel, a cash back credit card is ideal — and you usually won’t have to pay a very high annual fee, if you have to pay one at all. 

A good cash back card is one with generous bonus categories, since the goal is to earn as much cash back as possible on your spending. The more bonus categories, the better, and the higher the cash back rate, the better. The best card for you depends on the cash back rate for your common spending categories, how you want to redeem your cash back, and what you’re willing to pay as an annual fee.

The pros of a cash back card include that they rarely carry annual fees, there are no restrictions on how you redeem and spend the cash, and you can earn airline and hotel status by booking with cash (but not points). The cons of a cash back card include that they rarely offer large sign-up or welcome bonuses, and that cash back is generally less valuable, dollar for dollar, than points.

To make the most of a cash back credit card, always pay the balance in full each month. Also, read up on rewards rates for different spending areas (some cards offer elevated rates in areas like restaurants, gas stations, or supermarkets). Make sure to actually redeem your cash back instead of letting it pile up, and consider opening a “sister” card from the same issuer to transfer points and miles to where they’re worth the most.



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