For many, cash back is king. With the right cash-back credit card, you can earn money back on where you spend the most — whether that be the grocery store, on takeout or gas. The simplicity of these rewards is appealing to many, since you don’t need to worry about learning the ins and outs of a loyalty program or award charts.
Here are the best cash-back credit cards from our partners that you can use to maximize your everyday purchases. As always, check out our best credit cards overall for monthly offers.
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At The Points Guy, our goal is to help you maximize your travel experiences while minimizing spending. Our travel and credit cards experts share their own experiences and give honest analyses to help you make decisions that benefit you the most. While we do receive compensation through our credit card application links, ads, and clearly indicated sponsored content, our editorial content, points valuations and card analysis are entirely our own.
- 6% 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
- 6% 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
- 3% 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
- 3% 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
- 1% 1% Cash Back on other purchases
- 10% Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
- 8% Earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases
- 5% Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
- 3% Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®).
- 1% Earn 1% on all other purchases.
- 5% Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
- 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
- 5% Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
- 2% Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
- 1% Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
- 3% 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%.
- 3% 3% Cash Back on U.S. online retail purchases, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%.
- 3% 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%.
- 1% 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
- 5% Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more;
- 3% 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
- 1.5% 1.5% on all other purchases
- 5% Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
- 2% Earn unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase, everywhere—with no limits or category restrictions
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|Card||Best for||Welcome Offer/Sign Up Bonus||Earning Rate||Annual Fee|
|Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card||Best for simple cash-back||$200 cash rewards||
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||Best for gas and supermarkets||Earn $250||
||$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.|
|Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card||Best for freelancers||$750||
|Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||Best overall||$200||
|Citi Custom Cash℠ Card||Best for flexibility||$200||
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card||Best for flat-rate cash back||$200||
|Ink Business Cash® Credit Card||Best for small business||$750||
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express||Best for beginner cash back||Earn $200||
|Citi® Double Cash Card||Best for balance transfers||N/A||
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||Best for bonus categories||Earn an Additional 1.5% Cash Back||
|Capital One Spark Cash Plus||Best for business card with unlimited cash back||Up to $1,000 cash bonus||
When you charge a purchase to your cash-back credit card, you earn rewards based on the percentage of cash back your card awards in that purchase category. You are then able to cash out your rewards via options such as a statement credit, a check, a deposit in your checking account, etc.
Credit card issuers don’t want their cards to just sit in your wallet and collect dust. They want you to use them frequently so they can make money off of interchange fees charged to the retailers and potential interest fees. Having the card provide you a reward for using it in the form of cash back is a way for the card issuer to encourage you to select that card over the others in your wallet when it comes time to make a purchase.
There isn’t one credit card that gives the most cash back in all areas. Some have rotating or fixed bonus categories that provide as much as 6% cash back, while others give around 2% cash back for all spending categories. The one that will result in the most cash back for you depends on your spending patterns and what other cards you already have in your wallet.
Typically, cash-back rewards do not expire as long as your card remains open and in good standing. However, you should check the terms and conditions of your specific cash-back card to know the circumstances under which your cash-back rewards could expire or otherwise be forfeited. Be sure to utilize or cash out the rewards you’ve accrued before closing your account.
While you should always consult an accountant for specific tax advice, rewards earned from purchases on your credit cards usually are not taxable, as they are considered purchase rebates. That said, if you get cash back from something other than a purchase (such as for referring a friend to the card), that may be considered taxable.
Essentially, yes. No one from the bank is likely to walk up and hand you some crisp bills after using your cash-back credit card, but you will earn cash back in the form of a statement credit, a deposit in your bank account, a check or another method.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for gas and supermarkets
Why we love it: It has bonus categories that match the spending patterns of many busy, modern-day U.S. households. Its rewards are simple to use, as they come in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as statement credit, so you don’t need a lot of experience maximizing rewards to make the most of this solid cash-back card.
Who should use it: Families that spend a fair amount on groceries and streaming services and who want to keep their rewards simple will do great with adding the Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card. For example, if you spend an average of $500 a month on groceries at U.S. supermarkets, you’d earn $360 per year by putting that expense on the Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card, versus just $120 in rewards on a card that earns 2% back in that category.
It should not be used by frequent international travelers while abroad as it does have a 2.7% foreign transaction fee (see rates and fees).
Why it’s in my wallet: “The Blue Cash Preferred Card is the card I recommended to my parents when they were looking for a new cash-back rewards card for their groceries. My parents prefer the simplicity of cash-back rewards and I knew they’d benefit from earning 6% cash back on up to $6,000 per year in purchases at U.S. supermarkets (then 1% after). Compared to the 1.5% cash back they were earning on these purchases, the elevated earnings easily justified adding the Blue Cash Preferred to their wallet.” — Katie Genter, senior writer
Alternative card option: If you want to earn bonus cash back on purchases at U.S. supermarkets and gas stations without an annual fee, you can instead look to The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, which awards bonus cash back in many of the same categories without an annual fee (see rates and fees).
Official application link: Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card: Best rewards rate for a cash rewards card
Why we love it: Sometimes simplicity is key, and keeping things easy is the name of the game for the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, which provides 2% cash rewards on purchases without an annual fee. As a nice value-added bonus, the card also provides up to $600 in cellphone protection against damage or theft (subject to a $25 deductible) if you pay your monthly cellphone bill with your Active Cash card.
Who should use it: The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card is best for those who don’t want to give a second thought to earning rewards and just want to pick up some easy cash back on everyday purchases.
Why it’s in my wallet: “This card offers a generous 15 months of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers (then a variable APR of 19.99%, 24.99%, or 29.99% applies) and 2% cash rewards. When the time came to pay my daughter’s preschool tuition, I got the card. I figured I could split the expense up monthly and pay a service fee to the school, or I could spread it out with the introductory APR and get 2% cash rewards. It was a no brainer for me!” — Eileen Sullivan, senior UX researcher
Alternative card option: If you want the ability to turn your rewards into travel miles or points down the road, consider the Citi Double Cash® Card (see rates & fees), which also has no annual fee and awards 1% back as you charge purchases to the card and another 1% back as you pay off those purchases. However, with the Citi Double Cash, if you add a more premium card, such as the Citi Premier® Card, to your wallet down the line, you can convert those rewards to more valuable Citi ThankYou points.
Related: Wells Fargo Active Cash Card review __________________________________________________________________________
Official application link: Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for flat-rate cash back
Why we love it: The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is a no-fuss card with a 1.5% cash-back rate no matter the purchase type. You won’t have to worry about paying foreign transaction fees or an annual fee with this card, and you’ll get access to many Capital One benefits. This includes access to the Capital One Travel site, which even allows you to get some fare purchase protection on eligible flights if the price drops.
Who should use it: This card is great for those who occasionally travel and want access to some related Uber and travel site perks that come with the card — all while still keeping their rewards strategy very simple.
Why it’s in my wallet: “This is my oldest credit card, but I’ve kept it open for more than just its history to aid my credit score. With no annual fee and a fair earning structure, it’s a good option for purchases that don’t fall into bonus categories on my other credit cards. I’m happy knowing I’ll never earn less than 1.5% back on spending.” — Ryan Smith, credit cards writer
Alternative card option: While there are some perks to having a Capital One-issued card in your wallet, if what you’re after is a higher earning structure on your purchases, you can check out the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card, which awards 2% cash rewards on purchases and still has no annual fee.
Related: Capital One Quicksilver review
Official application link: Capital One Quicksilver
Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for bonus categories
Why we love it: The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of the most popular no-annual-fee cards at TPG because it has a good mix of elevated everyday earning and bonus categories that go as high as 5%. But perhaps even better is that the Chase Freedom Unlimited can be paired with a premium Chase credit card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve, to amp up the value of the rewards when used for travel. In fact, it makes up one-third of what we call the Chase Trifecta.
Who should use it: This card is unique in that it’s a great match for those new to credit card rewards and those looking to squeeze all possible value out of every dollar charged. This makes it a good match for almost anyone, but especially for those who want to one day use some of their rewards for travel.
Why it’s in my wallet: “The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great option, especially for anyone with a card like the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve. It has solid bonus categories but also gives 1.5% back on all other purchases. And, if you have a higher-end Chase card, you can effectively convert these cash-back earnings into fully transferable Ultimate Rewards points.” — Nick Ewen, director of content
Alternative card option: If you like the idea of a no-annual-fee card in the Chase credit card ecosystem but want even more bonus categories, check out the Chase Freedom Flex, which has unique, rotating 5% bonus categories (up to $1,500 in total spending each quarter, activation required).
Related: Chase Freedom Unlimited review
Official application link: Chase Freedom Unlimited
Citi Double Cash Card: Best for balance transfers
Why we love it: One of the simplest and most rewarding cash-back cards out there is the Citi Double Cash Card (see rates & fees). It awards 1% cash back when you buy and then another 1% as you pay off your bill. You can even convert the cash back to ThankYou points via a linked ThankYou card, such as the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier® Card.
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Who should use it: This card is best for two groups of people: those who want to keep rewards lucrative but simple, earning 1% cash back as you buy things and 1% cash back as you pay them off, and those who want to ramp up rewards-earning by converting these rewards to Citi ThankYou points, which TPG values at 1.8 cents each.
Why it’s in my wallet: “I wasn’t the biggest fan of this card previously, thinking it was just average, but I am a big fan now that it earns Citi ThankYou points. Paired with my other Citi cards, it unlocks huge earning potential on everyday spending. The fact it has no annual fee means it’s a long-term keeper for me.” — Ryan Smith, credit cards writer
Alternative card option: If you want an even simpler rewards-earning structure, also with no annual fee, check out the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card, which earns 2% back in cash rewards on purchases.
Related: Citi Double Cash Card review
Official application link: Citi Double Cash Card
Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card: Best for Preferred Rewards members
Why we love it: Offering 1.5% cash back on all purchases, the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards card is a good cash-back credit card — but for certain cardholders who also have deposits in eligible accounts at Bank of America, it can be a great cash-back card.
If you have status in Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program, that 1.5% cash back can turn into 1.875% to 2.625% cash back on all your purchases — one of the best returns you’ll find for a no-annual-fee card.
Who should use it: This card is best for those who utilize Bank of America for deposits and qualify for the higher tiers in the Preferred Rewards program in order to increase the rewards earned by this card by up to 75%.
Why it’s in my wallet: “This was my very first credit card upon graduating from college, and since it has no annual fee, I’m keeping it open to help my credit score (length of credit history is one part of it). However, I do make at least one small purchase every few months so as to not risk it being closed for inactivity.” — Nick Ewen, director of content
Alternative card option: If you don’t qualify for the Preferred Rewards program and would rather have a card with a higher earning structure than the base 1.5% without deposit requirements, look to the Citi Double Cash.
Official application link: Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card
Capital One Spark Cash Plus: Best business card for unlimited cash back
Why we love it: The Capital One Spark Cash Plus is a business card that offers 2% cash-back rewards on all eligible purchases with no limits. It is a charge card, which means the balance must be paid in full each month — but you won’t rack up interest charges for your purchases.
Who should use it: This card is best suited for business owners with thousands of dollars in chargeable expenses since it does have an annual fee of $150. To recoup that cost in rewards, you’ll need to charge at least $7,500 throughout the year on the card.
Why it should be in your wallet: You can earn unlimited cash back on business expenses, which means you’ll never have to worry about juggling different bonus categories to maximize its value.
Alternative card option: If your business wants to earn 2% cash back but doesn’t charge more than $50,000 per year, then the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card is a great option to consider because it does not have an annual fee (see rates and fees), though the rewards-earning power drops to 1% per year after the $50,000 threshold has been passed.
Related: Capital One Spark Cash Plus review
Official application link: Capital One Spark Cash Plus
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Best for beginner cash back
Why we love it: Those newer to credit card rewards will appreciate the Blue Cash Everyday’s no annual fee (see rates and fees) and simple cash-back structure. With popular 3% bonus categories of U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. online retail purchases (on up to $6,000 in annual purchases in each category), you’ll quickly rack up Reward Dollars that can easily be redeemed as a statement credit.
Who should use it: If you want no annual fee and some popular bonus categories, then the Blue Cash Everyday Card may well be the best card for you. Additionally, if you are a fan of the streaming Disney+ service, know that the card comes with a $7 statement credit monthly toward a subscription to the Disney Bundle (subscription must be $12.99 or more).
Why it’s in my wallet: I added this card to my wallet shortly after my first travel card as a way to earn better rewards on gas and groceries. 3% back on both categories was a great way for me to earn higher cash-back on many of my everyday purchases without any added annual fee.” — Jack Markham, senior director
Alternative card option: If you don’t want to think about bonus categories, or don’t spend enough in these particular bonus categories, consider the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card, which awards 2% cash rewards on purchases with no annual fee.
Related: Blue Cash Everyday Card review
Official application link: Blue Cash Everyday Card
Ink Business Cash Credit Card: Best for small businesses
Why we love it: The Ink Business Cash is one of the most rewarding business cash-back cards, as it earns 5% back on the first $25,000 spent each account anniversary year at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services.
If that’s not enough of a reason to grab the no-annual-fee card, it also usually has a very lucrative welcome bonus and earns 2% on the first $25,000 spent each same account anniversary year at gas stations and restaurants, and 1% on all other eligible purchases.
Who should use it: The Ink Business Cash is great for small-business owners who want to dip their toes into the Chase Ultimate Rewards world, since you can turn those cash-back rewards into fully transferable Ultimate Rewards points if you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
Why it’s in my wallet: “I love this card for awarding 5% back on my telecommunication services and office supply purchases, all with no annual fee. But my favorite perk is taking those cash-back rewards and combining them with my earnings from the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This means I’m effectively earning 5 fully-transferable Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar I spend in these categories — which I then can transfer to valuable partners like World of Hyatt and Air Canada Aeroplan.” — Nick Ewen, director of content
Alternative card option: If you want the benefits of being in the Chase Ultimate Rewards ecosystem and aren’t a fan of keeping track of bonus categories, look at the Ink Business Unlimited, which also has no annual fee and awards 1.5% back on all purchases with no limits.
Related: Ink Business Cash review
Official application link: Ink Business Cash
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card: Best cash back for online purchases
Why we love it: Choice is a great thing, and the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards allows cardholders to earn 3% back on the category of your choice, including online shopping (on up to $2,500 spent cumulatively per quarter) — and you can change the category on a monthly basis if you want.
You’ll also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for up to $2,500 in combined quarterly purchases (another purchase category that tends to not get much love). On top of that, you can turn that 3% into as much as 5.25% if you are eligible for Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program.
Who should use it: This card is best for those who have status in Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program or who want control over their bonus categories and will make use of unique options such as online shopping or home improvement/furnishings.
Why it’s in my wallet: “This card is a great multipurpose tool in my wallet because it lets me pick a 3% cashback earning category each month. If I know I have some purchases coming up that don’t line up to a card where I get a solid earning rate, I’ll swap my 3% category and use this card to maximize my rewards. I also appreciate the clear information in the Bank of America app that shows me exactly what types of merchants line up into each spending category, so it’s easy to make my 3% category choice.” – Gabe Travers, senior director of product management
Alternative card option: If you want a higher earning rate across all spending categories, consider the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards card, which awards 1.5% cash back on all purchases and is also eligible for increased earnings via the Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program.
Official application link: Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for entertainment cash back
Why we love it: The Capital One SavorOne is the card to have for going out, eating out and seeing the latest concert — all with no annual fee. To put numbers to it, this card awards 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores, plus 1% on all other eligible purchases.
Who should use it: This card is for those who like to live life to its fullest by being out and about and who will make use of its unique combination of bonus categories — not to mention the card’s occasional must-have concert presale access so you can swiftly lock up that hot ticket.
Why it should be in your wallet: It’s easily the best no-annual-fee credit card for dining, entertainment and streaming. Whether you’re going out for the night or staying in, this card ensures your maximizing rewards.
Alternative card option: If you want a Capital One card with a higher everyday earning rate (but without the category bonuses), look into the Quicksilver from Capital One, which also has no annual fee but awards 1.5% cash back on everyday purchases.
Related: Capital One SavorOne review
Official application link: Capital One SavorOne
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card: Best for flexibility
Why we love it: As the name suggests, the Citi Custom Cash Card (see rates & fees) is meant to be customized to fit your lifestyle — without you having to remember to select a bonus category each month. It earns 5% cash back on up to $500 in purchases each billing cycle on your top spending category (then 1%). The 10 eligible categories include things like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, gyms and home improvement stores.
Who should use it: This card is best for those who have spending patterns that vary and want a card that can keep up. Maybe one month you splurge on concert tickets and the next you are cooking meals at home and leaning into grocery shopping — this card can adjust automatically to reward you where you are spending the most.
Why it should be in your wallet: Customizable rewards means you have more control over your rewards strategy and can build a card that is personalized for your specific needs.
Alternative card option: If you don’t typically have one standout spending category and want a card that earns more cash back across the board, the Citi Double Cash is a great choice, as it awards 1% back as you spend and another 1% back as you pay.
Related: Citi Custom Cash Card review
Official application link: Citi Custom Cash Card
What is a cash-back credit card?
A cash-back credit card awards you cash – or a cash-like reward – for every dollar charged to the card. For example, if the card awarded 2% back on all purchases and you made a $100 purchase on the card, you’d earn $2 cash back.
Some cash-back credit cards offer a fixed amount rewarded back across all purchase categories, such as in the example above, while others award different percentages back in the form of rewards on various types of spending, such as dining or groceries.
Earned cash back is often awarded in the form of a statement credit. However, it may also be available for deposit into your bank account or via a check. In some cases, cash-like rewards can be cashed out for gift cards or other travel and merchandise items at a fixed rate similar to the value you’d get if you opted for a statement credit.
How to choose a cash-back credit card
When choosing a cash-back credit card, the main factors to consider are:
- Annual fee.
- Any available welcome bonuses.
- How much cash back is awarded in the areas that you spend the most in.
- Any limits on how much cash back you can earn.
- Whether you want to redeem the rewards you earn for true cash back or if you might want to use them for travel or other options in the future.
- Any perks or bonuses (such as cellphone coverage, travel discounts, etc.) that may be available to you as a cardholder.
Types of cash-back credit card rewards
The simplest cash-back credit cards are the ones that earn the same percentage of cash back on all purchases. This flat rate is often 1.5% to 2% cash back on all purchases, though that amount occasionally goes higher with some credit cards, especially if you have a qualifying existing relationship with the issuing bank.
Many cash-back credit cards offer different amounts of cash back on various categories or purchases.
For example, a card may award:
- 1% back on everyday spending.
- 2% back at gas stations.
- 3% back on dining and at grocery stores.
This means that tiered cash-back cards often make it so you earn a little less on a broader everyday spending category than you would with some other cards, but you’ll earn a higher amount back in some targeted spending categories.
A few cash-back credit cards award a fixed amount of cash back for everyday spending but also offer as much as 5% cash back for bonus categories that alternate every quarter.
For example, the bonus categories in the first quarter of the year might be restaurants and streaming services before switching to grocery stores and Amazon purchases in the second quarter of the year. In some cases, you have to remember to activate the bonus categories each quarter in order to be eligible for the increased earnings. There is typically a cap on how much you can earn in cash back on those rotating categories per quarter.
Choose your categories
There are some cash-back credit cards that put the cardholder in the driver seat and let them choose the categories that earn bonus cash back. With some of these cards, you make the selections yourself. Others automatically give bonus cash back in the eligible category you spent the most in within a billing cycle.
Membership-only cash-back credit cards
While most cash-back credit cards are available to anyone who meets their approval requirements, a few deem it necessary to have a specific membership in order to be a cardholder. This may include having a membership to a warehouse store, a specific bank or credit union, or another entity.
How to maximize cash-back credit cards
Earn your sign-up bonus
To get the best value from your cash-back credit card, you’ll want to be sure and earn the sign-up or welcome bonus that is available to new cardholders.
For example, a cash-back credit card may offer a $200 cash-back bonus if you spend $2,000 on the card in the first three months. In that case, you’ll want to carefully track when you get approved for the card and how much you’ve charged to it so you don’t miss out on that valuable bonus.
Explore your card’s online shopping portal
Many banks like Chase and Capital One have online shopping sites for their cardholders. These sites link out to hundreds of online retailers, such as Home Depot, Gap, Apple and Target.
If you click to the retailer’s website through your card’s online shopping site, you can usually earn bonus cash back for that specific purchase at the rate displayed on the shopping site. You can commonly earn anywhere from 1% to 5% bonus cash back, though the amount can be even higher in some cases.
Activate your bonus categories
If your cash-back credit card is one that requires you to activate or select your bonus categories, make sure you set a reminder to do that so you don’t leave valuable rewards on the table. This is most common with cards that have rotating bonus categories or the option to select your own bonus categories.
Pay your balance in full each month
It’s entirely possible to come out ahead when using a cash-back credit card for everyday purchases if you avoid accruing interest by paying your balance off in full each month. If you aren’t able to pay your balance off in full, it makes sense to prioritize using a credit card with the lowest interest rate possible, which may not be the one that awards cash back. Should you frequently find yourself paying interest on your rewards credit card purchases, know that you are likely paying more for the rewards and cash back than they are worth.
Cash back vs. travel rewards
Some credit cards reward you with airline miles, hotel points or flexible travel points that can be used in different ways to book that next trip. Sometimes, the points earned by those cards are worth a fixed value (1 cent per point, for example). In other cases, the value of the points may vary based on how you use them.
However, with cash-back credit cards, you are earning a cash equivalent reward. The benefit of this is that you can have more flexibility when it comes to using the rewards. The downside is that you likely won’t get an outsized return for your spending the way you would if you redeemed hotel points or airline miles.
Are cash-back credit cards worth it?
If you can earn 2% cash back on all your purchases made with a no-annual-fee credit card that you otherwise weren’t earning rewards on, then having a cash-back card is certainly worth it … as long as you pay your balance off in full each month to avoid interest charges. Even if you only earn 2% back on $1,000 in monthly charges, that is still $240 in annual rewards you otherwise wouldn’t have had.
Know, though, that whether a cash-back credit card is the absolute best option for you ultimately depends on your spending patterns and the goals you have for your credit card rewards.
Choosing the best cash-back credit card for you can take a lot of research. At TPG, we try to make the research process as simple as possible. We spend hours combing through the credit cards available from our partners and outside our network, comparing them to see which cards offer the best return for readers.
Here are a few of the factors we look at when choosing the credit cards on our best cash-back cards guide:
- Cash-back rates – First and foremost, we look at which cards can help you earn the most cash back in top spending categories such as groceries, gas, and everyday spending.
- Sign-up bonus – What kind of sign-up bonus cards offer is another factor we consider when choosing our cards. While having a bonus isn’t a requirement to make the list, a sign-up bonus can greatly increase the overall value of a card in its first year.
- Annual fee – We make sure we include cards that have no annual fee and some that do come with an annual fee in exchange for higher cash-back rates. Whether your budget can justify paying an annual fee or not, you’ll find a great card for you in our guide.
- 0% APR periods – Many top cash-back cards come with a set period of time when new purchases, balance transfers or both come with 0% APR. For anyone looking to consolidate debt or finance a large purchase, these cards are excellent ways to earn money while saving on interest rates.
- Pairability – We also consider how these cards fit into a larger credit card strategy. Can you convert your cash back to transferable currencies within the card family? Does it complement the spending categories of other cards? These are questions that help determine how well a cash-back card pairs with others.