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If you’re going to spend money, why not get some of it back? A cash back card won’t make you rich, but saving two, three, or five percent here and there will add up over time. If you’re using cash or a debit card instead of a credit card, you could switch over and start earning rewards every time you make a purchase.
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The information related to Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Spark Cash for Business, Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, American Express Cash Magnet® Card, Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, Amazon Business Prime American Express Card, Amazon Business American Express Card, Journey Student Rewards from Capital One, Capital One Spark Classic for Business, American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card, Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business, and U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard® have been collected by Credit Card Insider and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of these products.
The right cash back card for you will easily fit into your spending and shopping habits, without being a hassle to use and pay off. Consider these key features if you’re in the market for a new card.
Bonus categories that fit your spending habits: Look for a high cash back rate for the types of purchases you make most often.
A rewards program that works for you: You should be able to easily understand and redeem your rewards.
Valuable signup bonus: The best cash back rewards cards offer signup bonuses, sometimes up to $500 or more.
Promotional interest rates: Many cash back cards provide introductory 0% APR intro offers on purchases, balance transfers, or both.
Extra perks and benefits: Credit card benefits can come in very useful in some situations, and may provide exclusive services or insurance for eligible purchases and while traveling.
A reasonable annual fee: If you’re going to pay an annual fee for a rewards card, be sure to get your money’s worth.
Is a Cash Back Card Right for You?
When used responsibly, cash back cards are a great way to earn rewards and enjoy extra perks when shopping and traveling. Most people can benefit from carrying at least one cash back card, for a number of reasons:
To save a bit of money: You won’t get rich from credit card rewards, but you could earn enough for a fancy dinner each month or even a fantastic vacation.
Cash back is easy to redeem: Cash back is easy to redeem for statement credits or bank deposits, which work like direct deposit. Other rewards cards may have more complicated redemption systems, especially travel rewards cards like airline and hotel cards.
Many options to choose from: You’ll find cash back cards designed for all kinds of spending. Some provide extra cash back for certain types of purchases (called bonus categories) while others offer the same flat rate for every purchase.
The Double Cash is a fairly simple card, but a strong offer nevertheless. A general-use, flat-rate cash back card like this can be paired with a different rewards card that has bonus categories, like the others on this page. You can use that other card whenever you spend in the bonus categories, and pay with the Double Cash for all other purchases.
The rewards you earn here can be converted to ThankYou points, rather than redeemed as typical cash back. ThankYou points can be converted to airline miles for a better value, though your transfer partners will be limited to JetBlue unless you also have the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier® Card.
20% back for Amazon purchases in the first 6 months, up to $150 back; $100 back for spending $2,000 in the first 6 months (earned as a statement credit)
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Review) is one of your best options for cash back on gas, with a solid rate for no annual fee. If you’re willing to pay an annual fee or don’t mind rotating bonus categories, you’ll find some interesting options in the runners up.
20% back for Amazon purchases in the first 6 months, up to $200 back; $150 back for spending $3,000 in the first 6 months (earned as a statement credit)
Groceries and gas are common expenses for many people, and it’s convenient to have one card you can use for both. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Review) is an excellent choice to fill that need, with the best cash back rate for U.S. supermarkets you’ll find.
The 6% back you can earn at U.S. supermarkets with this card is the best base rate we’ve seen for that category. You can get better than that (10%) with the Discover it® Cash Back, but only for a few months during the first year with the card.
You’ll be limited to $6,000 in spending per year at that 6% rate, but that’s still $360 in cash back, which is not bad at all. To hit that limit in a year you’d need to spend about $115 on groceries per week.
Purchases at U.S. gas stations will get 3% cash back, with no limit. That’s competitive with most other rewards cards, which don’t usually offer any more than that at gas stations.
If you’re always going out to eat or ordering in, how does saving 4% on all that spending sound? Just don’t fight over who gets to pay the bill.
The Savor’s categories cover dining, entertainment, and grocery shopping. That’s quite a nice variety to have on just one card — if dinner and a movie is your kind of thing, this card would fit quite well. And if you don’t have a better card for groceries, like one of the options above, the Savor will let you get a bit more than the standard 1%.
Frequent Amazon shoppers can use this 5% cash back rate to save a tidy sum. A study from Consumer Intelligence Resource Partners reported that the average Prime member is spending $1,400 per year at Amazon in 2018. If you spent that much you’d get $70 in cash back, enough for a nice gift. The gift card offer is a nice bonus too, and you won’t even need to meet a spending threshold to earn it.
If you don’t think you need Prime, you could always start with the regular Amazon Rewards card. Then, if you ever decide to get a Prime membership, you’ll automatically be upgraded to the Amazon Prime Rewards card. And likewise, if you ever cancel your Prime membership, you’ll be downgraded to the regular Amazon Rewards card.
If you have bad credit (a FICO score of 579 or less) you’ll have trouble qualifying for most credit cards, especially those with rewards programs. You will have some options, however.
Secured credit cards are designed for people with poor or limited credit. They require a refundable security deposit when you apply for them, which will fund the credit limit.
You can use a secured card to improve your credit, building up a history of positive activity and on-time payments. When your credit is good enough you can close the card, get your deposit back, and apply for a better unsecured card.
The Bank of America Cash Rewards Secured is one of the best secured cards available, in our estimation. Secured cards usually have no rewards and few benefits, and sometimes come with high fees. But not only does this card have generally favorable terms, it also comes with a solid cash back program — the kind you might expect to find on an unsecured rewards card.
Bank of America will also review your card account and overall credit every now and then. If you’ve been a responsible credit user, always making on-time payments, they may consider returning your security deposit and allowing you to continue using the card. BofA will be checking your overall credit with the credit bureaus, including how you use other credit cards, not just your usage of this card.
This is a great feature to have, and you won’t find it on every secured card. As long as you continue using it responsibly and maintain good credit habits in general, you can expect to probably get your deposit back eventually and later on work your way up to an unsecured rewards card.
It’s pretty simple, but not bad for a flat-rate card — especially one made for fair or average credit. You’ll get the same amount of cash back wherever you shop, with no limit, and with no worrying about bonus categories.
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
$0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn’t expire for the life of the account
Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app
The information related to Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
1.25% cash back on purchases after 6 on-time payments
1.5% cash back on purchases after 12 on-time payments
With limited or no credit it can be hard to get approved for that first credit card, but Petal gives you a way in. Petal will look at your “full financial picture” to determine your creditworthiness, which includes connecting to your bank account to check your transaction activity. If you do have some credit established, Petal will check it and may not need to connect to your bank account.
There’s no limit to the cash back you can earn, making this a good choice for businesses that spend a lot. Consider pairing this card with other business credit cards that do have bonus categories, and which typically come with spending limits; you can use those other cards when spending in their categories, and the Spark Cash for everything else.
Your 5% and 2% cash back categories have some spending limits (except for Lyft), so this card might not be suitable for bigger companies. Or you could always pair the Ink Business Cash with other business cards (like the runners up, or flat-rate cards below) and split up your spending.
It’s made for relocating professionals who don’t yet have an established credit history in the U.S., giving you the leg up you need to start building credit (along with a handy payment option).
You can apply for this card up to 60 days before you arrive in the States, or check to see if you’re prequalified before then. You won’t need a credit history to be approved, and there’s no SSN needed to apply. But you will need to get an SSN and provide it to Jasper within 60 days of card activation.
If you’ve been living here for at least a year, you’ll need to undergo a credit check and provide an SSN when you apply.
This card is available to anyone, not just immigrants to the U.S., and it could be a good option for anyone just getting into the world of credit.
Up to 6% cash back on every eligible purchase (terms apply):
1% cash back to begin
0.5% extra cash back for 12 months per approved referral
An easy way to figure this out is to calculate how much spending it would take to earn enough cash back to offset that annual fee for one year. If you’ll spend at least that much with the card, it may be a good choice for you.
You’ll want to spend more than that to make the card actually profitable, of course, rather than just offset the fee. And you should also make sure that you won’t be able to get more value from a different card with the same level of spending.
For example, consider two hypothetical credit cards:
Card A has an annual fee of $100 and provides 2% cash back for all purchases
Card B has no annual fee and provides 1.5% cash back for all purchases
Which card is more rewarding overall? That would depend on how much you spend.
To offset the $100 fee of Card A, you would need to spend $5,000, earning at the 2% rate. That would give you $100 in rewards, completely offsetting the annual fee, and leaving you at zero profit. That’s because $100 is 2% of $5,000.
If you spent that same $5,000 with Card B, you’d only get $75 in cash back, earning at the 1.5% rate. But that would be all profit, because there’s no annual fee to pay.
This shows how you’ll actually earn more profit overall with Card B if you spend $5,000 per year, even though it offers a lower cash back rate. You’ll need to factor in annual fees like this when considering the value of a card.
If you do the math, you’ll find that you actually need to spend $20,000 per year before you’ll earn an equal amount of cash back with these cards, after subtracting the annual fee. If you spend less than that per year, Card B is the more profitable choice. If you spend more than that, Card A finally becomes more profitable.
Amount Spent Annually
Cash Back Earned (Card A)
Cash Back Earned (Card B)
This is a simple example, and it doesn’t take into account any value you might get from the other card benefits. But some calculations like these will work to compare cards in most cases, including most of the cards on this page.
Want a card with bonus categories that change over time? The Discover it® Cash Back (Review) provides 5% cash back in categories that change every three months, often including groceries, restaurants, rideshares, and Amazon (5% back is limited to $1,500 spent per quarter; category activation required).
Purchases with cash back cards will earn “cash back rewards” — this means that a percentage of the purchase will be added to a special rewards bank in your credit card account.
If you’re getting 5% cash back for a $100 purchase, you’ll get $5 in cash back deposited in your rewards bank. Your cash back rewards can be redeemed in a variety of ways, depending on the card. But the most common method is for statement credits, which simply reduce your account balance.
Many cards have specific bonus categories that let you earn more cash back for certain purchases. Some of the most popular cash back cards have bonus categories for groceries, gas, and dining, for example.
And here’s a fun fact — even if you’re already earning cash back with a credit card, you may be able to boost your rewards with a cash back app like Dosh, which partners with businesses to provide rewards your card wouldn’t ordinarily provide.
Read moreHow Do Cash Back Credit Cards Work? Plus Our 9 Favorites
Are There Credit Cards With 2% Cash Back on Everything?
Finally, the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card (Review) is a powerhouse that doesn’t get enough attention. You can choose two of your own 5% categories each quarter, from rare but handy choices such as TV/internet streaming services, home utilities, cell phone providers, and ground transportation (including Uber and Lyft).
Q1) What should cardholders look for in cash back credit cards?
Answer by: Kershen Huang, Associate Professor of Finance, Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship
High cash back rates and the right categories. What’s “right” depends on the individual—Make sure to only get cash back cards that work with the categories that you actually shop in. Don’t try to make purchases just to get cash back, nor change your spending habits just because you have a certain card.
Answer by: Elaine Luther, D.Sc., Professor, Business Management, Point Park University
They should select cards with offers that match their current purchase patterns, which is why credit cards often have new offers. Some original offers for airline miles have diminished in value over time; mainly because airlines made them harder to redeem, and now fewer people are flying.
Answer by: Mark Scanlan, Professor of Economics, Stephen F. Austin State University
There’s a growing number of cash back cards available today that offer a variety of consumer-friendly features. The key features to investigate when choosing a cash back credit card, other than just selecting the one with the highest cash back rate, include:
1. No annual fee – Most cash back credit cards I recommend don’t charge an annual fee.
2. Low interest rate – I cannot stress enough the importance of paying off cash back credit cards in full every month since the interest rates they carry are often higher than other types of credit cards.
3. Consider company specific cards – It’s always a great idea to check if places you shop already offer a co-branded card. For example, The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card offers 5% cash back on purchases from their website along with a $70 Amazon gift card as a sign up bonus.
4. Reward limits – Cards with generous cash back rates can have quarterly or yearly limits on the amount of cash back you may be able to earn. For those who put a majority of their purchases on credit cards, having a lower cash back rate with a higher, or no, reward limit may be better than having a card with a higher rate but a lower limit.
5. Introductory offers – Many cash back cards offer amazing introductory offers to those signing up for the first time.. The offers can include a year of low interest rates on purchases or balance transfers, higher cash back for the introductory period, statement credits if you reach certain spending levels, or free gift cards for signing up.
Answer by: Rebecca Davis, Assistant Professor of Economics, Stephen F. Austin State University
Cash back credit cards give a small percentage of each purchase back as a reward, helping individuals earn rewards on spending and gain a smaller uptick in purchasing power. There are some features to consider when choosing a specific cash back credit card. First, find one that has no annual fee. That way individuals are not paying for the cash back benefit and defeating the purpose. Second, some have sign-up bonuses where if an individual spends a certain amount within a given time frame, they earn an additional benefit. Last, some have 0% APR for a given period of time, usually at the first issuance of the card, or for balance transfers from another card.
Q2) How can cash back cardholders make the most out of their cards?
Answer by: Kershen Huang
Keep track of the rotation of rewards, and be sure to activate if needed since not all are automatic!
Answer by: Elaine Luther
If cardholders are financially responsible, they could open more than one credit card, and use each one strategically for different categories, allowing them to earn the maximum percentage on two or more categories. For example they could use one for gas, and one for groceries.
Answer by: Mark Scanlan
The great thing about taking the time to find the best cash back card for you is that once you have switched your spending to that card, it should require very little additional effort on your part. Don’t fall into the trap of over-spending just to earn more cash back on the card, especially if it means you’re unable to pay off your balance in full each month. Earning 2% cash back while paying 15% interest on outstanding balances is a bad tradeoff.
Answer by: Rebecca Davis
Cash back credit cards come in all varieties. The best option is to choose the right card based on an individual’s typical purchases. If they travel frequently, then a travel card that pays in points or miles, which translate to free flights or hotel stays, might be the best option. There are other cards that have rotating cash back categories like gas stations, grocery stores, or bulk stores like Sam’s Club or Costco, that might be more suited to a general audience than a travel card. Or, if an individual is an avid Amazon shopper, then utilizing the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card could earn a relatively high return compared to other cards. Next, once an individual chooses a card that best matches their typical purchases, charge all those purchases and pay it off quickly. If an individual has the money in their account, pay using the cash back credit card to earn rewards and immediately pay it off. This, of course, should be done responsibly. Finally, if the chosen cash back credit card has rotating categories, take advantage of them. If it is gas stations this quarter, then charge all the gas purchases to the card to earn rewards and pay it off.
Q3) What should people be aware of when looking at cash back credit cards?
Answer by: Kershen Huang
Only spend within what you’re able to fully pay off; no rewards are ever worth bearing the interest on credit cards.
Answer by: Elaine Luther
The most important thing consumers should be aware of is that any percent discount will be worthless if they can’t pay off any credit card balances each month, as the current credit card interest rates are much higher than any savings earned from purchases.
Answer by: Mark Scanlan
Remember that credit card companies aren’t offering cash back cards out of the kindness of their hearts. They’re attempting to make money through annual fees, interest on balances you carry, late payment fees, or hoping you overspend on the card. This means it’s still important to perform your due diligence when evaluating a card by researching all the rules and restrictions.
Answer by: Rebecca Davis
Most cash back credit cards typically have high APRs. So, if an individual is wanting a credit card for large purchases to pay off over time, then this type of card might not be the best choice. It is best used for regular purchases that individuals plan to pay off quickly. Also, some cards have an earning cap on certain cash back categories, meaning an individual can get up to a certain amount of cash back on purchases for a given type of item. Individuals may even have to “enroll” to activate a new category every quarter with some of the cash back credit cards.
Q4) Do you prefer flat rate cash back or rotating cash back category offers?
Answer by: Kershen Huang
Personally, the flat ones—one less thing to keep track of.
Answer by: Elaine Luther
I prefer a flat rate to a rotating one, because it makes it easier to plan purchases. If there are rotating cash back offers, people may be pressured to make unnecessary purchases in categories even if the timing is bad.
Answer by: Mark Scanlan
I prefer the flat rate card since it requires little day-to-day effort to receive your rewards. If you’re the kind of person who makes, and sticks to, a weekly budget and regularly monitors your finances then a rotating cash back card could work for you. These types of cards can offer much higher cash back rates on purchases within the changing categories. Just remember that these categories change quarterly and may require you to activate them each time before they take effect. Also, realize that while the cash back rates may be higher on these cards the rotation of benefits may land on categories you do not purchase often, lowering the benefit of having this type of card. My favorite of the rotating cash back cards is the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card since it offers a 5% cash back rate while allowing you some control over the bonus categories.
Answer by: Rebecca Davis
Flat rate versus rotating cash back depends on the individual. The benefits of a flat rate cash back credit card are that the individual does not have to keep track of which category is earning the most cash back at the time. The benefits of a rotating cash back category credit card are that the individual can maximize rewards on specific purchases. Also, if the individual has multiple cash back credit cards, they can pair different cards to earn more rewards based on the bonus category.