Best Cashback Credit Cards of 2021

Last updated Jul 22, 2021 | By Team FBZ

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Cashback credit cards are the easiest way to earn rewards for all your purchases. Whether you're buying groceries, gas, or enjoying a meal out, using a cashback card means money back in your bank account. 

There are dozens of cashback cards to choose from. The key is picking one (or two, or three) that align with your spending habits and personal finance goals, then using your cards responsibly. We've narrowed down the choices for you — all of these cards offer competitive cash back, many with generous welcome bonuses and no annual fee. 

In this article

Special Offer

Earn $100 cash back (in the form of a statement credit) after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months; plus, earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months, for up to $150 back

Why We Like It

If you have good to excellent credit and want a rewards credit card that allows you to earn valuable cash back on your most common purchases, the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express may be a good match for you.

You’ll earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 spent per year, 2% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Cash back is received in the form of statement credits. There’s also an easy-to-earn welcome bonus, a nice perk for a card that has no annual fee. (See Rates and Fees.) 

This is also a good card for large purchases. No annual fee. Terms apply.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Special Offer

Earn $150 cash back (in the form of a statement credit) after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months; plus, earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months, for up to $200 back

Why We Like It

If you’re looking for a powerful rewards card, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express allows you to earn up to a whopping 6% cash back in select categories. 

You’ll earn 6% cash back on the first $6,000 you spend annually at U.S. supermarkets and on U.S. streaming services and 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit expenses, including taxi fares, rideshare costs, and train tickets. Cash back is received in the form of statement credits.

The card does have a generous welcome offer, the annual fee is waived in your first year, and this is a great card for large purchases. $95 annual fee (waived first year). Terms apply.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Citi Double Cash Card

Special Offer

Earn cash back twice: 1% when you buy + 1% when you pay

Why We Like It

The Citi Double Cash Card lets you earn cash back twice. Earn 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% when you pay. To earn cash back, just be sure to pay at least the minimum due on time.

In addition to unlimited cash back on all your purchases with no confusing categories, this card also offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months and no annual fee.


Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Special Offer

Earn a $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart; up to $12,000 in the first year)

Why We Like It

With no annual fee, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a powerful rewards credit card. It has an easy-to-earn and potentially lucrative signup bonus for new cardholders.

When spending with this card, you can earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases. Through March 2022, you can earn 5% on Lyft as well.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a great choice if you’re planning on making a major purchase. It has an introductory 0% APR offer for 15 months after account opening on purchases, giving you a lengthy time to pay down your balance without paying interest charges.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Special Offer

Earn $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months, plus earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart; up to $12,000 in the first year)

Why We Like It

With the Chase Freedom Flex, you can earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1% on all other purchases. You'll also be able to activate a different 5% bonus category each quarter. 

With no annual fee, the Chase Freedom Flex is a great option for both regular travel spending and everyday purchases. With the added earning potential of the rotating bonus category, the Flex could be a powerful tool for earning valuable Ultimate Rewards points.

The Chase Freedom Flex offers an introductory 0% APR on purchases for 15 months and also provides purchase protection, extended warranty coverage, and cell phone protection.



Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Special Offer

Earn a $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months

Why We Like It

If you want a rewards credit card and don’t want to worry about rotating spending categories, consider the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards credit card. It’s a simple, easy-to-use card that offers a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make, with no limit on how much you can earn.

The card also has a welcome bonus for new cardmembers, an unexpected perk for a card that has no annual fee.

You’ll pay 0% APR on purchases for 15 months, giving you over a year to pay down your balance or pay for a large purchase without worrying about interest fees.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

Special Offer

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

Why We Like It

For foodies who spend a significant amount of money on dining and entertainment, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards card can be an excellent rewards card option. It has a valuable welcome offer for new cardmembers.

You’ll earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 3% cash back at grocery stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. If you tend to spend lots of money at restaurants and bars, you can quickly rack up valuable rewards.

Gourmands will enjoy access to culinary and dining experiences, including five-star meals, intimate dinners, and chef-curated cuisine.

Credit Needed: Good - Excellent

>> See more cashback cards

Offering money in the form of statement credits or cash has proven to be a popular strategy for credit card issuers to attract and keep customers. As a result, there are an abundance of cashback cards to choose from in the market.

But there is more to choosing a cashback card than just picking one out of a stack of offers from your mailbox. Some credit cards will fit your lifestyle and financial situation better than others, which is why it’s smart to shop around first and check out the options before making any decisions.

How to pick the right cashback card for you

When shopping for a credit card, you should always look to see whether the benefits of a card provide value to you. You can get started learning about a card by reading credit card reviews and comparisons.

For example, if you routinely spend money on takeout and travel purchases, a category card that gives you higher rewards for these specific type of purchases could be a good choice. A card that offers bonus rewards on groceries or gas might not provide as much value if those are lower spending categories for you. There are even a few cards that let you pick your highest rewards rate in the category of your choice.

Some cards will charge an annual fee, while others will not. If you don't think you'll get enough rewards to justify a card's annual cost, then you'll want to pick from the no-annual-fee cards.

In addition to earning cash rewards, some cashback cards also offer a 0% intro APR on purchases or balance transfers for a set time period, usually a number of months or billing cycles. If you're interested in transferring a balance to a new card to save on interest, make sure you review the fine print about balance transfer fees, which typically cost around 3-5% of the amount of each transfer. 

Whether you're planning to do a balance transfer or make a large purchase with your new 0% APR card, ensure you pay off the entire balance of your card before the introductory APR offer ends and the regular variable APR kicks in. Doing so can help you save on costly interest charges.

To evaluate different credit card offers, read through the card details so you can fully understand what benefits the card is offering, what your obligations are, what to expect in terms of rewards rate, how you can use the rewards you can earn, and what interest and fees are associated with the card. Many cards come with foreign transaction fees, cash advance fees, and balance transfer fees. Do your due diligence so you know what to expect.

Note: There are also cashback business credit cards with rewards categories tailored to typical small business expenses.

FAQs

How do cashback credit cards work?

When you use a cashback credit card, the issuer gives you back a percentage of what you spend on qualifying purchases but there are different types of cashback credit cards. For example, if you have a flat-rate cashback card that offers 1.5% back on all purchases and you buy a $10 birthday cake, the card issuer will give you 15 cents back. Certain cashback cards also offer rotating bonus categories, which typically vary from quarter to quarter. One quarter, bonus cashback categories might include eligible purchases while online shopping on Amazon, Target, or Walmart, and the next, you might earn bonus cash at a wholesale club or home improvement store, or on a streaming subscription. As an added bonus, some issuers will even match the cash back you earn at the end of your first year, up to a certain amount.

The rewards structure will vary from card to card, though redemption options may be similar across cards. Cash back is typically offered to you in either statement credits, direct deposits to your checking account, mailed checks, or credits you can use to purchase gift cards. Some issuers even let you donate your cash back to a charity.

What credit card gives the most cash back?

That’s a complicated question, as different people value different things with cashback cards. A card that offers a 5% cashback rewards rate on dining and entertainment won’t be as valuable to a family who doesn’t go out to eat much. However, a card that gives them 3% back at select U.S. grocery stores may greatly appeal to them, even though the percentage is lower.

What’s important is deciding what matters most to you and what your spending habits are, so you can look for cards that offer high cashback rates for the purchases you make most. High percentages are generally anything above 2%, as most cash back cards offer 1% or 1.5% on select purchases.

Why do credit cards offer cash back?

Competition among credit card issuers is fierce and any kind of incentive program, such as rewards or cash back, can make one card more appealing than others. In a way, it’s all about getting your business.

The money you get back typically comes from transaction fees that merchants pay every time they process a charge. The issuer takes a percentage of those fees and passes it on to customers with cashback cards.

Getting a percentage of money back encourages consumers to swipe more, which results in more transaction fees collected from merchants by the issuer. You may also find that cashback cards often have higher interest rates than those without rewards. Because these cards are so popular, issuers can set their APRs higher and still gain new customers.

Is it better to get cash back or rewards?

Whether cash back or miles are better really depends on you and what you value most. Big travel spenders might appreciate rewards that can be traded in for airline tickets, statement credits, and hotel stays may be worth more than cash back. However, some credit cards offer cashback rewards that can save customers a lot of money annually, which may be more important for someone else. In the end, it’s up to you to decide which is better for your situation.

If you'd prefer more flexibility, certain cashback rewards cards also allow you to use your cash back to book travel. This can give you the best of both worlds if you're on the fence about which type of card to choose. For instance, if you have the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you can convert your cashback earnings into travel rewards and use them to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

What credit score do you need to get approved for a cashback credit card?

Every issuer will likely consider your creditworthiness when you apply for a new cashback card, though credit requirements will vary. Some issuers may require excellent credit for approval, while others may approve your application even if you have a lower credit score or a more limited credit history. Approval is at the issuer's discretion. To increase your options when it comes to credit cards, it's a good idea to learn more about how FICO Scores work and how to improve your credit score.


Methodology: How we chose these cards

To select the best cashback credit cards, we looked for cash rewards credit cards from our partners that offer bonus cash back-earning opportunities in popular spending categories, as well as strong welcome offers. We looked at these benefits in relation to each card's annual fee to determine which cards to include on our list. We did not include all cards available.

A Simple Cashback Card for Day-to-Day

Benefits

  • Earn $100 cash back after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months
  • Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months, for up to $150 back
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets
  • No annual fee. Terms apply.
  • See rates and fees