These 3% Cashback Credit Cards Will Make Your Wallet 3% Thicker

What if you could earn money back on all your purchases? You could be leaving hundreds of dollars on the table each year right now.
Last updated Aug. 18, 2022 | By Miranda Marquit
3% Cashback Credit Cards

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When making a purchase, there’s a good chance you’re using cash. In fact, according to a recent FinanceBuzz survey on how Americans pay for purchases, millennials are likely to have paid for something with cash in the last month. Additionally, millennials and Gen Xers are more likely to use a debit card than a credit card when paying for purchases.

But what if those spending habits mean you’re leaving money on the table? You might be surprised to discover how much you could be earning each time you swipe — when you responsibly use the right cashback credit card.

Imagine that you could earn at least 3% cash back just by using a credit card. Here’s how to do it and the best 3% cashback credit cards we can recommend.

In this article

How cashback rewards work

When you use a cashback rewards card, you get some of your purchase amount back. If you have a card that gives you 3% cashback rewards on gas and you spend $200 on gas this month, you’ll receive $6 back. That might not seem like a lot, but think about all the other purchases you make.

For example, the average consumer spent $17,684 on food and transportation in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’d earned 3% cash back on all of those purchases, that'd be $530.52 extra in your bank account. Sounds good, right?

As long as you pay off your balance each month so you aren’t paying interest, cashback rewards provide you with a way to get a little extra money. And many people like the idea (and the simplicity) of getting cold, hard cash back instead of earning miles or points with one of the best travel credit cards.

While not every credit card offers a high rate of cash back, good cashback cards do exist. In this article, we’ll take a look at the best cashback credit cards offering at least 3% — and how to maximize their use.

The best cards for getting (at least) 3% cash back

Card name Best for Welcome bonus Rewards rate Annual fee
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Groceries Earn a $350 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1X) and on U.S. streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% on other purchases $95 (See rates and fees) (Terms apply)
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Flexible categories Earn $200 cash back after spending $750 on purchases in the first 3 months 5% cash back in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, and then 1% cash back after that), plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases $0
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Rotating categories Earn $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months 5% on rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and drugstores; and 1% on all other purchases $0
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Dining and entertainment Earn a $200 one-time cash bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment and Vivid Seats purchases; 5% on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 3% on dining, entertainment, streaming services, and grocery stores (excluding superstores such as Walmart® and Target®); and 1% on all other purchases $0
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Bonus offer Earn an extra 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases, on up to $20,000, in the first year 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases $0

Best for groceries: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

One of the most generous cashback cards out there, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1X) and on U.S. streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% on other purchases. 

Plus, this welcome offer: Earn a $350 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months. That’s a fairly generous offer that only enhances the value of this card.

Even though there’s a $95 annual fee for this card, the expense can be well worth it. In fact, if you spend $6,000 on purchases at U.S. supermarkets during the year, you’ll be eligible for $360 in cash back in the form of statement credits — more than enough to offset the annual fee. Additional spending in other categories can make that cashback amount even bigger, making it one of the best credit cards for groceries.

If you don’t like the annual fee, though, you still have the option of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, which comes with a $0 (See rates and fees) annual fee and allows you to earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. online retail purchases (up to $6,000 per year in each category), 2% cash back at select U.S. department stores, and 1% cash back on other purchases.

Read our full American Express Blue Cash Preferred review

#1 Cash Back at Supermarkets

Intro Offer

Earn a $350 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1X) and on U.S. streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% on other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn a $350 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months
  • 6% cash back on U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, after that 1X) and select U.S. streaming services
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and eligible transit
  • Introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • Has foreign transaction fee
Card Details
  • Earn a $350 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1X) and on U.S. streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% on other purchases
  • Intro purchase 0% APR offer: 0% for 12 months then 16.24% to 27.24% (variable)
  • Intro balance transfer 0% APR offer: 0% for 12 months then 16.24% - 27.24% (variable)
  • Terms apply

Best for flexible categories: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

With the Citi Custom Cash Card, you can automatically earn generous cash back in the category of your choice. It offers 5% cash back in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, and then 1% cash back after that), plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. 

Spending categories include restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, qualifying travel and streaming subscriptions, drugstores, home improvement stores, and fitness centers. With this card, you reap the benefits of bonus cash back in your highest spending category — it's simple and flexible.

This card has a $0 annual fee, and cardmembers can earn $200 cash back after spending $750 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Read our full Citi Custom Cash Card review

Automatically Earn the Most on What You Spend the Most

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Intro Offer

Earn $200 cash back after spending $750 on purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

5% cash back in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, and then 1% cash back after that), plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • $200 cash back welcome bonus
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases
  • 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent)
  • 1% cash back on everything else
  • No annual fee

Drawbacks

  • Has foreign transaction fee
Card Details
  • Earn $200 cash back after spending $750 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5% cash back in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, and then 1% cash back after that), plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Intro purchase 0% APR offer: 0% for 15 months then 16.24% to 26.24% (variable)
  • Intro balance transfer 0% APR offer: 0% for 15 months then 16.24% to 26.24% (variable)

Best for rotating categories: Chase Freedom Flex℠

With the Chase Freedom Flex, you can earn 5% on rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and drugstores; and 1% on all other purchases. 

Each quarter, the Chase Freedom Flex offers different spending categories. You’ll want to check the calendar each quarter to see which purchases provide a higher earnings rate. For example, one quarter might result in bonus cash back at gas stations and home improvement stores, while another might earn extra cash back at wholesale clubs and on select streaming services. Just be aware of the quarterly maximum. 

This card also comes with a $0 annual fee, and a welcome bonus: Earn $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Read our full Chase Freedom Flex review

Seriously Powerful Cashback Card

Intro Offer

Earn $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

5% on rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and drugstores; and 1% on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • $200 sign-up bonus
  • Up to 5% cash back on spending
  • Perks from Lyft, HelloFresh, and more

Drawbacks

  • Has foreign transaction fee
Card Details
  • Earn $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5% on rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and drugstores; and 1% on all other purchases
  • Intro purchase 0% APR offer: 0% for 15 months then 16.49% to 25.24% (variable)
  • Intro balance transfer 0% APR offer: 0% for 15 months then 16.49% to 25.24% (variable)

Best for dining and entertainment: Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

If you do a lot of your spending on dining and entertainment, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Card might be the right choice for you. Cardholders get 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment and Vivid Seats purchases; 5% on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 3% on dining, entertainment, streaming services, and grocery stores (excluding superstores such as Walmart® and Target®); and 1% on all other purchases. On top of that, you can earn a $200 one-time cash bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months of account opening.

If you don’t mind paying an annual fee of $95, you can get the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card instead, which offers 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment and Vivid Seats purchases; 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and select streaming services; 3% at grocery stores (excluding superstores such as Walmart® and Target®), and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, you can earn a $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

Read our full Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Card review

Top Cash Back

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Intro Offer

Earn a $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment and Vivid Seats purchases; 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and select streaming services; 3% at grocery stores (excluding superstores such as Walmart® and Target®), and 1% cash back on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • $300 cash bonus welcome offer
  • 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and select streaming services
  • No foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • Minimal travel benefits
  • Has annual fee
Card Details
  • Earn a $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment and Vivid Seats purchases; 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and select streaming services; 3% at grocery stores (excluding superstores such as Walmart® and Target®), and 1% cash back on all other purchases

Best bonus offer: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers generous cash back in several popular spending categories, but its easy-to-earn welcome bonus is what makes it really stand out: Earn an extra 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases, on up to $20,000, in the first year. This could be valuable if you want to earn big cash back on your everyday purchases.

In addition to its welcome bonus, this card also offers 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases. 

The Freedom Unlimited comes with a $0 annual fee and has the benefit of a 0% introductory APR (annual percentage rate) offer for 15 months (then 16.49% to 25.24% (variable)) on new purchases. If you want to earn a sweet sign-up bonus and cashback rewards while paying off a large purchase, this card might not be a bad choice.

Read our full Chase Freedom Unlimited review

Unlimited Cash Back

Intro Offer

Earn an extra 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases, on up to $20,000, in the first year

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn an extra 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases, on up to $20,000, in the first year
  • Bonus rewards on travel, dining, and drugstores
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers

Drawbacks

  • Has foreign transaction fee
Card Details
  • Earn an extra 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases, on up to $20,000, in the first year
  • 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases
  • Intro purchase 0% APR offer: 0% for 15 months then 16.49% to 25.24% (variable)
  • Intro balance transfer 0% APR offer: 0% for 15 months then 16.49% to 25.24% (variable)

Multiple cashback cards could get you 3% cash back more often

If you really want to make the most of your cashback cards, it makes sense to create a strategy where you use multiple credit cards based on when you’re most likely to get maximum rewards.

To make this work, you need to have an idea of your spending and look ahead to see when rotating categories are scheduled. For example, you might get the American Express Blue Cash Preferred and plan to spend the maximum $6,000 at U.S. supermarkets. 

However, you know you’ll probably spend more than $6,000 in groceries for the entire year, so maybe you check to see which quarter your Chase Freedom Flex Card is offering a 5% cashback category that includes online stores where you could buy groceries. For that quarter, you use the Chase card, and the rest of the time, you use the Amex Blue Cash Preferred.

Once you reach the $6,000 limit for the Amex Blue Cash Preferred and the relevant quarter has passed with Chase, you can use another card to keep getting 2% on groceries.

How to choose a cashback credit card

There’s no one right card or way to get at least 3% cash back with a credit card. In fact, the best cashback credit card (or cards) you use depends on your priorities and expectations.

Before choosing a new card, make sure you review your own spending habits in addition to card details. What categories are you most likely to spend in? Where does your money go each month? Could you make the most cash back on groceries? Or a different spending category? When you understand how you use your money, you’re more likely to make a decision that makes sense for you. 

Keep in mind that your credit history will play a role in the card you're able to get, too. Many of the best cashback credit cards require a good to excellent credit score, including several of the cards we've mentioned above. If you're working toward improving your creditworthiness, check out the best credit cards for fair credit

It’s also important to be honest with yourself regarding how likely you are to be organized about your credit card spending. For example, while getting 5% in rotating categories might be nice, you might not want the hassle of remembering to log in each quarter to register for the higher earnings. You may be better off getting a couple of different cards that offer higher year-round tiers in your most-used categories or opting for a flat-rate cashback card instead.

On the other hand, for some consumers, creating a list of when they can get the best cashback rewards is a fun hobby and worth a little extra time. There’s nothing wrong with either approach. Just know who you are and what works best for you.

The bottom line

If you get involved in cashback rewards, it’s vital you only spend what you plan to. Don’t make extra purchases just to get the cash back. If you end up carrying a balance, there’s a good chance the interest charges you pay will end up offsetting any rewards you earn. Create a spending plan and then make sure you only use your credit cards to buy what you planned — and pay off the balance each month.

Once you get into the habit of maximizing your cashback rewards, you’ll be surprised at the benefits.

#1 Cash Back at Supermarkets

Intro Offer

Earn a $350 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1X) and on U.S. streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% on other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

  • Earn a $350 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months
  • 6% cash back on U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, after that 1X) and select U.S. streaming services
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and eligible transit
  • Introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • Has foreign transaction fee
Card Details
  • Earn a $350 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1X) and on U.S. streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% on other purchases
  • Intro purchase 0% APR offer: 0% for 12 months then 16.24% to 27.24% (variable)
  • Intro balance transfer 0% APR offer: 0% for 12 months then 16.24% - 27.24% (variable)
  • Terms apply

Author Details

Miranda Marquit Miranda Marquit has been covering money for more than a decade and is a nationally-recognized financial expert and journalist, appearing on CNBC, NPR, Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, FOX Business, and numerous other outlets.