Cash back credit cards can offer either a flat rate of 1 – 5% on purchases or have rotating categories where you’ll earn between 2 – 6% back on different types of purchases from gas to groceries. Many cards give a one-time bonus amount of cash, statement credits or miles if you sign up and spend a certain amount within the first few months which can be worth it even if you end up paying an annual fee. You should also consider how much time and effort is involved in getting cash back vs points since most cards with rotating categories make it harder to maximize rewards. Finally, try to pick a card that makes sense as an addition to your current credit cards as opposed to one that replaces them since there’s usually no point in having too many cards.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
This is one of the top cash back credit cards in the US, offering 6% back at supermarkets on up to $6,000 combined each year (then 1%), 3% at gas stations and select department stores, and 1% elsewhere. What makes this card special is that you get an annual $150 statement credit after you make $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months. You also get access to events like advance screenings, offers on shopping days like Black Friday, plus 10% back as a statement credit on your choice of several major streaming services including Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime; unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime Video; or unlimited access to millions of songs with Amazon Music.
There are no foreign transaction fees for this card, something that is very attractive to international travelers, especially since you can use the extra cash earned on this card at Costco without paying an annual membership fee. There’s also a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months (then 15.49% – 26.99%*). The annual fee is $95, but it’s well worth it if you spend over $332 per week at US supermarkets because the 6% reward rate more than offsets this fee.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
This would rank higher except that its 1.5% back isn’t quite as good as other cards with top cash back rates. However, with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you’ll get 3% on your first $20,000 spent in combined purchases that earn Rotating Rewards in bonus categories each quarter you activate. With 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in combined purchases at online shopping portals like Amazon.com and 2% back at wholesale clubs (like Sam’s Club® or BJ’s Wholesale Club), earning cash back is simple because there are no rotating rewards to keep track of.
You can pair this card with a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to transfer the points you accrue over time for even more redemption options. You’ll also get 1% unlimited cash back when you’re not enjoying one of its quarterly 5% cash back categories. The annual fee is $0 so it’s a good card to have in your wallet if you plan on using it for everyday purchases.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
The only catch with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is that you can’t use its 6% cash back at Costco without paying an annual fee, but the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has 3% back at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 each year), 2% unlimited cash back at US gas stations and select department stores and 1% everywhere else. This would rank higher except that you can only earn a maximum of $75 per quarter, making it less rewarding than cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.
The annual fee is $0, but there’s no introductory offer. This makes it a less attractive card to new users than the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which gives you 1.5% cash back on all of your purchases for your first year with it and $150 bonus cash back if you make $500 or more in purchases within 3 months of opening your account (you can earn up to $25 each calendar quarter). There are better options out there for getting rewards, so this one ranks lower despite its high potential cash back amount at US supermarkets.
Discover Cashback Match™
As long as you’re willing to open this card and redeem your earnings before the end of your first year (otherwise you’ll get your cash back matched by Discover and be out of the running for some juicy double cash back earnings), you can earn bonus rewards of 5% on up to $1,500 in quarterly spending at restaurants (or cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services) that quarter plus 2% on all other purchases made with the Discover it® Cashback Match™.
What makes this card great is that there’s no limit to how much you can get in bonus rewards each year if you redeem before the end of your first 12 months. You also get access to free Social Security number alerts along with ID theft monitoring. Keep in mind that this card has an annual fee after the first year so weigh any benefits against whether or not you think you can meet the spending requirement (if any) to get your bonus cash rewards.
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card has 1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases with no rotating categories or quarterly sign ups making it simple to use and easy to maximize the amount of cash back you earn while staying on budget. It’s also great for its convenience because there are no foreign transaction fees when traveling outside the United States, which is rare among cards that have this high of a cashback rate without an annual fee. The only catch is that you won’t be able to redeem your earnings until you’ve accumulated $25 in rewards, which shouldn’t take long considering how much cash back it can earn at its high rate and no limit on the amount you can get.
Citi Double Cash Card
The Citi Double Cash Card gives you 2% unlimited cash back on all purchases when you pay them off, which is a great way to build your credit score since only 30% of your payment will count towards your credit usage each month if you use this card to make at least 20 purchases. Its convenience comes from not having any spending categories that come with quarterly maximums or rotating rewards. There’s also an introductory APR offer for balance transfers if one of the many other cards in your wallet has a 0% intro APR promotional offer but a higher ongoing APR or transfer fee, the Citi Double Cash will be a better option because it has neither.
You can also cash in on this card’s benefits when traveling abroad by using Citi’s exclusive tool that shows you where you’ll get the most for your money when spending or withdrawing cash in other countries. This card is great if you’ve already got a good credit score and don’t need to transfer balances from other cards, but otherwise might not make much of a difference compared to many travel cards with annual fees and higher APRs (since it only has an APR range of 15.74% – 25.74%)
Discover it® Miles
The Discover it® Miles gives 3% back at airlines,% back at gas stations and department stores (up to $1,500 in combined spending on these categories per quarter), 1% at all other purchases with no limit to the amount of cash back you can get each year. Like its cousin, Discover it®, this card earns the same bonus rewards at the end of your first year (otherwise your cash back is matched and you lose out on any potential earnings above that amount).
Discover it® Miles doesn’t have foreign transaction fees so you won’t pay an extra 3% when using it abroad which gives this card a leg up compared to many 0% intro APR credit cards for balance transfers even though there’s no promotional offer or transfer fee. The only catch besides having no annual fee is that if you already have another Discover card you won’t be eligible for this card’s intro bonus cash back.
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
Assuming you have a Costco membership, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi can get you 4% cash back on all eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% after that while every other purchase earns an unlimited 2%. Although you don’t get any added benefits like travel insurance or roadside assistance its simplicity makes it easy to use which is great if you tend to do most of your shopping at Costco while traveling abroad. You also won’t pay an annual fee as long as you’re a Costco member and only end up paying interest if you carry a balance (and even then it’ll be charged at a low APR of 17.24% – 26.24%).
Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card
The Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card is only good for purchases made on Amazon and gives you 3% back, but since Amazon sells basically everything it would almost be wasteful not to use this card, especially if you’re already a Prime member (which also comes with its own range of benefits like free two-day shipping). Your cashback can then be used for future Amazon purchases or redeemed as an Amazon gift card which makes getting 3% back easier than using any other credit card that earns at the same rate. Even though there’s no intro APR and foreign transaction fees, this card still makes sense if you buy from Amazon at least once per month.
American Express Blue Cash Card Preferred
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is the best cash back credit card if you spend over $100 per year at US supermarkets since it pays 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in spending before falling to 1%. Its 3% cashback on gas and department stores (up to $6000 combined per year & then 1%) is also better than most other cards that offer these same rewards (with the exception of the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi mentioned above). If you’re not a big spender at supermarkets or don’t spend enough on gas for this to be worth it, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is a more sensible choice that still gives you 3% cashback on US supermarkets as long as your yearly spending stays below $6,000.
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