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 goals, then using your cards responsibly. We've narrowed down the choices for you — all of these cards offer competitive cash back, many with no annual fee and welcome bonuses.
Citi Double Cash Card
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.
Earn a $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
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 over a year to pay down your balance without paying interest charges.
Earn $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months
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. New cardmembers also earn 5% back on grocery store purchases (up to $12K) for the first year.
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.
Earn a $150 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.
Earn a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months
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 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.
The card does have a generous welcome offer, and you’ll get 0% APR for 12 months on purchases. That offer gives you a full year to finance a major purchase without paying interest charges, helping you save money. Terms apply.
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. For example, if you routinely spend money on dining and entertainment, a tiered rewards card that gives you higher rewards for these 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.
In addition to earning cash rewards, some cashback cards also offer 0% introductory purchase or balance transfer offers for a set time period. 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. And whether you're planning to transfer a balance 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 a card, 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.
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 eligible charges. 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 from popular retailers like 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.
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.