If you aren’t using a cashback rewards card for all of your purchases, you’re basically leaving free money on the table. There are literally hundreds of cashback cards on the market that allow you to earn money back on every transaction you make. Many of these cards don’t even have an annual fee, so they’re free to use and have little downside.
But with so many credit cards out there, it can be hard to choose the right one for you. Below, you’ll learn which credit cards have the highest cashback rates and how to find the best card for your spending habits.
- What is considered a high cashback rate?
The credit cards with the highest cashback offers
- Best for groceries: Blue Cash Preferred from American Express
- Best for rotating spending categories: Discover it Cash Back
- Best for shopping at Amazon and Whole Foods: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
- Best flat-rate card: Citi Double Cash Card
- Best for high spenders: Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card
- Best for dining and entertainment: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Best for choosing your own category: Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Special mention: Lowe’s Advantage Card
- How to pick the best cashback credit card for you
- The bottom line
What is considered a high cashback rate?
When you’re looking for a cashback rewards card, the rewards you can earn will be dependent on the card’s structure.
For example, flat-rate rewards cards offer one cashback rate on all purchases. With these cards, there are no spending categories to remember, they often have no limit on how much you can earn in rewards, and they don’t require you to manually activate categories before you can earn rewards. An average flat-rate rewards credit card typically offers around 1.5% cash back on every purchase, so anything higher than that would be considered a high cashback rate.
Your other option is a card with spending categories. These cards offer higher levels of cash back — such as 3% to 5% — on certain purchases, like groceries or gas. They also usually have spending limits, so you’ll only earn the higher rate on some of your spending. For example, you may be able to get 3% back on groceries but only on up to $2,500 in purchases per quarter. Additionally, many cards with spending categories require you to manually activate the category before you can earn a higher rate of return. So these cards in general take a bit more attention.
To help you find the right cashback card for your needs, we waded through the best credit cards on the market today to select the ones offering the highest levels of cash back: 2% cash back for flat-rate cards and 5% (or higher) for cards with spending categories. As you read on and compare the rewards offered by the best cashback credit cards, keep your own spending habits and organizational skills in mind.
The credit cards with the highest cashback offers
|Card name||Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express||Discover it Cash Back||Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card||Citi Double Cash Card||Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card||Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card||Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card|
|Our pick for||Groceries||Rotating categories||Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market purchases||Easy-to-use flat-rate card||High spenders||Dining and entertainment||Choosing your own category|
|Welcome bonus||Earn a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months||Automatically get an unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of any cash back you've earned at the end of your first year||Earn a $50 Amazon gift card upon approval of credit card application||N/A||N/A||Earn $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months||Get $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days|
|Reward rate||6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year) and on U.S. streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% on other purchases||5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories (including gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and Amazon.com), up to quarterly maximum; 1% cash back on all other purchases||3% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market; 2% at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores; and 1% on all other purchases||up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay||2.5% cash back on all purchases, on up to $10,000 in spending per billing cycle||8% cash back on tickets purchased through Vivid Seats (through January 2022), 4% unlimited cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores (excludes superstores like Walmart and Target), and 1% cash back on all other purchases||3% cash back on the category of your choice; 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on the first $2,500 spent each quarter in the 2% and 3% categories combined); and 1% cash back on all other purchases|
|Annual fee||$95 (waived first year)||$0||$0||$0||$99 (waived first year)||$95||$0|
Best for groceries: Blue Cash Preferred from American Express
If you spend a lot of money on groceries, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express can help you earn significant rewards. It has a $95 (waived first year) annual fee, but you’ll earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year) and on U.S. streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% on other purchases.
To put that in perspective, let’s say you spend $6,000 per year at U.S. supermarkets. In one year, you’d earn $360 in cashback rewards.
Best for rotating spending categories: Discover it Cash Back
The Discover it Cash Back allows cardmembers to earn 5% cash back in rotating spending categories, up to $1,500 per quarter. Available categories have included rotating categories (up to quarterly maximum). You do have to manually activate the categories to earn the 5% cash back. Otherwise, your purchases would only earn the standard 1% cash back.
If you spent the maximum $1,500 each quarter and qualified for the 5% cash back rate, you’d earn $300 in cash back rewards in a year.
As an added bonus, Discover will match all of the cash back you earn during your first year. That means if you earn $300 in rewards over the course of your first year as a cardholder, Discover will double it to $600 at the end of that year.
Best for shopping at Amazon and Whole Foods Market: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card is an excellent option if you shop online at Amazon.com or like to do your grocery shopping at Whole Foods Market. It has no annual fee, and you’ll earn 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market and 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores. You’ll also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Best flat-rate card: Citi Double Cash Card
If you don’t want to worry about spending categories, the Citi Double Cash Card can be a solid choice. It has no annual fee, but you can up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay.
That’s an above-average offer for a flat-rate card with no annual fee, so this could be a strong addition to your wallet. In addition, Citi recently announced that you can convert those cashback rewards to Citi ThankYou Points. So if you’re looking for a card that can earn you cash or travel rewards, this may be a good pick for you.
Best for high spenders: Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card
If you have good-to-excellent credit and spend a lot of money with your credit cards, the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card may be a great choice for you.
It comes with an annual fee of $99 (waived first year). But with that fee, you’ll get a higher-than-average cashback rate. You’ll get 2.5% cash back on all purchases, on up to $10,000 in spending per billing cycle. That’s much higher than the usual 1.5% cash back you can expect from most flat-rate rewards cards.
If you spent $40,000 in your first year as a cardmember, that means you’d earn $1,200 in cashback rewards.
Best for dining and entertainment: Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
With the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card, you’ll earn 8% cash back on tickets purchased through Vivid Seats (through January 2022), 4% unlimited cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores (excludes superstores like Walmart and Target), and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
What makes this card really stand out is that there’s no spending cap on how much cash back you can earn in each category. With other cards, you’d only earn the higher rate of return on the first $1,500 or $2,500 spent per quarter. The Savor card doesn’t have a limit, so if you spend a significant amount of money dining out or on entertainment, you can earn a large amount of rewards.
Best for choosing your own category: Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card is unique because it lets you choose your own spending category. You can earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (dining, drug stores, gas, home improvement/furnishings, online shopping, or travel).
You’ll also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
You can score that 3% and 2% cash back on up to $2,500 in purchases each quarter, then you’ll earn 1% after that.
Special mention: Lowe’s Advantage Card
Store cards rarely offer outstanding rewards, but the Lowe’s credit card is an exception. You’ll get 5% off every eligible purchase you make with your card, making it a great option if you’re renovating your home or enjoy do-it-yourself projects.
How to pick the best cashback credit card for you
To choose the best cashback credit card for you, review your bank and current credit card statements to get an idea of your spending habits. Identify the categories where you spend the most money. That will help you find the credit card that will allow you to earn the most rewards in those areas. You might discover that cash back on grocery spending is the best for you or that you could get some decent cash back on your gas expenses.
To maximize your rewards, you’ll likely need to carry more than one credit card. For example, you could use the American Express Blue Cash Preferred for all of your groceries, then switch to the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature when you shop at Amazon.com.
If you’re using cards with rotating spending categories that require manual activation, make sure you set up reminders for yourself on your phone or calendar to activate the categories. Otherwise, you’ll lose out on valuable cashback rewards.
If that all sounds overwhelming, consider sticking with one flat-rate card for all your spending. You could earn 2% to 3% cash back with a card like the Alliant Cashback Visa or Citi Double Cash Card, which is a fairly high rate of return without any extra effort on your part.
The bottom line
With a solid cashback rewards card, you can earn valuable rewards just with your normal spending. If you pay off your balance in full each month, you’ll avoid costly interest fees, so it’s basically like getting free money back.
If you do plan on juggling multiple credit cards, make sure you’re organized. Use the right cards to earn the highest rate of cash back, and be sure to manually activate spending categories ahead of time.
Lastly, have a plan for your cashback rewards! You can use them to pay off your balance, or save the money that accrued to pay for a trip or even your holiday shopping. Using a cashback rewards card can help you earn hundreds of dollars each year.