Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2019

With the right cash back card, you can rake in some serious cash in 2019. Take a look at some of the best cash back cards right now from Bankrate's partners to start maximizing what you spend. There are cash back cards for people with all types of budgets and credit goals; find yours today to start earning cash back on all purchases, from gas and groceries to dining and travel.

Our Experts' Favorites: 2019's Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Best for your first cash back credit card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Welcome Offer:
$150 after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% intro on purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months
Regular APR:
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 16.24%-26.24% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 16.24%-26.24% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for 1.5% cash back on everything

Chase Freedom Unlimited® Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Chase's secure website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Rewards Rate:
Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases after initial $20,000 spend in your first year.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Regular APR:
17.24% - 25.99% Variable

Card Details

  • New Offer! Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for cash back bonus

Discover it® Cash Back Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Discover's secure website

Discover it® Cash Back

Rewards Rate:
Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Welcome Offer:
Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Regular APR:
14.24% - 25.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Intro Offer: Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive Free Social Security number alerts—Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.

Best for dining and entertainment

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment Earn 2% at grocery stores Earn 1% on all other purchases
Welcome Offer:
$500 after you spend $3000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
16.74% - 25.74% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
  • Receive a monthly statement credit for a Postmates Unlimited monthly membership through Dec. 2019 with the Capital One Savor Card
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for flat-rate cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Citi's secure website

Citi® Double Cash Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
Annual Fee:
$0*
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% 18 months on Balance Transfers*
Regular APR:
15.74% - 25.74%* (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.74% - 25.74% based on your creditworthiness*
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for rotating cash back categories

Chase Freedom® Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Chase's secure website

Chase Freedom®

Rewards Rate:
Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
Welcome Offer:
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Regular APR:
17.24% - 25.99% Variable

Card Details

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for gas and groceries

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On American Express's secure website

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores 1% back on other purchases
Welcome Offer:
$150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% on Purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Regular APR:
15.24%-26.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 15.24% to 26.24%.
  • You spoke, we listened. Over 1.6 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Best for small everyday purchases

Citi Rewards+℠ Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Citi's secure website

Citi Rewards+℠ Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% intro for 12 months on Purchases
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% intro for 12 months on Balance Transfers
Regular APR:
15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Introducing the New Citi Rewards+℠ Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap
  • Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 12 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.74% - 25.74%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases.
  • Get 10% Points Back for the first 100,000 ThankYou® Points you redeem per year
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for personalized cash back rewards

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On U.S. Bank's secure website

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Rewards Rate:
5% cash back on your first $2,000 in eligible net purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose. 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores. 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
Welcome Offer:
$150 after you spend $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
Annual Fee:
$0*
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0%* intro on BTs for 12 billing cycles
Regular APR:
16.24% - 25.74%* (Variable)

Card Details

  • New Cardmember bonus: $150 after you spend $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in eligible net purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose.
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores.
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
  • No limit on total cash back earned.
  • 0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 16.24% - 25.74%
  • No annual fee*
  • Great Offer from U.S. Bank, a 2019 World's Most Ethical Company® - Ethisphere Institute, February 2019

Best for additional cash back rewards on mobile wallet purchases

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Wells Fargo's secure website

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

Rewards Rate:
Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
Welcome Offer:
Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 12 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 12 months
Regular APR:
16.24%-28.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 16.24%-28.24% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.


Author: Claire Dickey | Last Updated: April 9, 2019

Questions? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.


What you need to know about cash back credit cards

Looking to earn cash back on your spending? We can help you do so. Before you make your decision, take a look at what you need to know about cash back credit cards.


How we review cards

When researching cash back card offers, we take everything into account – from the rewards rate and sign-up bonus to extra fees and general benefits. Our Bankrate Score takes all this into account while weighing specific factors more heavily based on the card.

Review Criteria

  • Cash back rate: Cash back rates are one of the most important factors when choosing a cash back card. Expect to earn 1% or more on purchases that don’t fall within a bonus category and even more within those categories. When we review cards, we examine cash back rates in the context of spending categories, redemption systems and more.
  • Sign-up bonus: Most cash back cards offer sign-up bonuses to draw in new cardholders. Sign-up bonuses usually start at $150 and require a minimum purchase threshold before receiving the bonus. Our experts evaluate these bonuses in conjunction with the purchase threshold and overall rewards rate in order to fully judge their value.
  • Annual fee: We evaluate the annual fees of cash back cards to give you an idea of what you need to spend to overcome the yearly charge.

Bankrate’s picks for the best cash back credit cards of 2019

Card Name Bankrate Score Best For
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card 93/100 Your first cash back credit card
Chase Freedom Unlimited® 92/100 1.5% cash back on everything
Discover it® Cash Back 93/100 Cash back bonus
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card 97/100 Dining and entertainment
Citi® Double Cash Card 94/100 Flat-rate cash back
Chase Freedom® 90/100 Rotating cash back categories
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express 89/100 Gas and groceries
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card 92/100 Personalized cash back rewards
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card 90/100  Additional cash back rewards on mobile wallet purchases
Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card  91/100 No annual fee

What is a cash back credit card?

Simply put, a cash back credit card rewards you for your spending with cash rewards. They’re often more simple than rewards cards, which boast complicated points redemption structures.

Cash back cards come in a variety of forms. Flat-rate cash back cards, for example, give you the same rewards rate on every purchase. Cards with rotating categories or tiered cash back cards have categories that offer more cash back within certain spending groups (such as restaurants and gas stations).

Cards like the Discover it® Cash Back have rotating bonus categories that take a bit of effort to navigate in part because of the required quarterly sign-up. But with these cards, you’ll have the chance to earn a high level of rewards in a variety of categories throughout the year. On the other hand, cards like the Citi Double Cash card have flat-rate bonus categories that allow you to swipe your card everywhere you want and forget about it. With tiered rewards, you earn a set amount year-round for specific categories, such as 6% at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 annually, then 1%) with the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express.

Pick a card that’s aligned with how you spend money. Some cards give you 2% cash back on all purchases while others may provide 5% cash back in rotating categories (like restaurants or travel) and 1% on everything else. Find the card that will give you the maximum benefit based on which categories you tend to spend the most amount of money in each month.

— Priya Malani, Founding Partner Stash Wealth

Pros of owning a cash back card:

  • Most cash back cards offer an unlimited 1% cash back on purchases outside of bonus categories.
  • Many offer cash back bonuses for hitting certain spending requirements within a time period.
  • You can normally redeem your cash back for things like merchandise, airfare, hotel stays, statement credits and more.

Cons of owning a cash back card:

  • Some cards require enrollment to receive a high level of cash back each quarter.
  • It’s not unusual for issuers to put a cap on how much you can earn within higher rewards categories.
  • You may have trouble maxing your bonus categories if they aren’t relevant to your lifestyle.

10 Best Cash Back Credit Cards: Reviews and Comparisons

  • Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

    The basics: Looking to earn rewards for everyday spending? The Capital One Quicksilver makes it easy with 1.5% cash back on every purchase. You won’t have to activate or track bonus categories, and there’s no limit on the cash back you can earn.  

    What we love:

    • The $150 Cash Bonus (when you spend $500 in purchases within the first 3 months) is a fairly standard welcome offer.
    • No annual fee.
    • The 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfer for 15 months (16.24% – 26.24% variable thereafter) offers a great opportunity to pay off debt.

    What we wish were different:

    • There are similar cards with better rewards rates.
    • Like most of its competitors, this card charges a 3% balance transfer fee for funds transferred within the first 15 months.
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited® 

    The basics: You can really maximize your first-year cash back earning potential with the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s new offer — earn 3% cash back on the first $20,000 spent your first year. After, you’ll earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every single purchase. 

    What we love:

    • The 3% cash back you can earn your first year is worth up to $600. 
    • No annual fee.
    • The 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfer for 15 months (17.24% – 25.99% variable thereafter) offers a great opportunity to pay off debt.

    What we wish were different:

    • After the first year, the rewards drop back to 1.5% cash back. There are other cards with better flat-rate rewards. 
    • Like most of its competitors, this card charges a 3% balance transfer fee.
  • Discover it® Cash Back

    The basics: You’ll earn 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories throughout the year (up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter) after activation and an unlimited 1% back on everything else. One of the biggest perks of the Discover it Cash Back is the Cashback Match™ feature. Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year of card ownership.

    What we love:

    • The high rewards rate is made even better by the unlimited 1% cash back on purchases made outside of the bonus categories.
    • In lieu of a welcome offer, the rewards you’ve earned are doubled at the end of your first year.

    What we wish were different:

    • There’s a 3% fee on balance transfers.
    • Enrollment is required in bonus categories in order to receive a higher rewards rate. This could be a roadblock for forgetful cardholders.
    • The cap at $1,500 per quarter could be a little low for big spenders.
  • Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

    The basics: The Capital One Savor will help you earn an unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% back on everything else. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year, and there’s a $500 cash bonus when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

    What we love:

    • A $500 cash bonus after qualifying spend is a decent welcome bonus, considering all of the other great benefits offered.
    • The unlimited rewards structure in each category is an incredible perk for those with the means to spend, spend, spend.
    • Unlike similar cash back cards, you won’t be charged a balance transfer fee when shifting debt from card to card at the regular APR.

    What we wish were different:

    • You can’t redeem cash back for merchandise or airfare, which may come as a disadvantage to frequent travelers.
  • Citi Double Cash Card

    The basics: If you’re in the market for a great cash back card with no annual fee, look no further than the Citi Double Cash. You’ll get an unlimited 1% on every purchase, then an additional 1% when you pay off the purchase. There’s also an introductory offer for balance transfers, making it a good option for those looking to dwindle down their debt.

    What we love:

    • You’ll receive an extra 1% cash back (for 2% total) when you pay off your purchases, a feature unique to this card.
    • On top of the card’s unlimited rewards structure, you won’t be charged an annual fee.

    What we wish were different:

    • There’s no welcome bonus.
    • Despite the introductory offer on balance transfers, you’ll be charged a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount transferred.
  • Chase Freedom

    The basics: With the Chase Freedom, you’ll earn 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 each quarter) and an unlimited 1% back on all other purchases. There’s no annual fee, and you’ll get a $150 bonus when you spend $500 within the first 3 months of account opening.

    What we love:

    • There’s no annual fee.
    • After spending a $500 within your first 3 months of account opening, you’ll receive a $150 bonus.
    • There’s a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (17.24%–25.99% variable thereafter).

    What we wish were different:

    • There’s a balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount you transfer ($5 minimum), no matter the introductory offer.
    • You must activate the bonus categories in order to receive 5% cash back. Failing to do so means you’ll receive 1% in that category for the quarter.
    • You can only earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter.
  • Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

    The basics: With the Blue Cash Everyday Card, you’ll get 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 a year in purchases, then 1%. You’ll also get an unlimited 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% back on everything else. The best part? You won’t have to enroll to receive cash back in these categories.

    What we love:

    • There’s no annual fee.
    • You’ll earn a $150 introductory bonus when you spend $1,000 in your first three months. 

    What we wish were different:

    • There’s a $6,000 yearly cap on the 3%  category earnings, which could stifle the earnings of high spenders.
    • Wholesale clubs and specialty grocers most likely won’t count toward the 3% category.
    • There’s a 2.7% foreign transaction fee for purchases made abroad.
  • U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

    The basics: Personalization is a major advantage of the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card. You can customize your cash back rewards structure by choosing 2 categories from a list of 11 to assign 5% cash back (on up to $2,000 in purchases each quarter. Plus, you’ll get to choose which category earns 2% cash back: gas stations, restaurants or grocery stores. With no annual fee and Visa Signature benefits, you can get a lot of value out of this card.

    What we love:

    • You can choose 2 out of 11 5% cash back categories to earn from each quarter, making the earning process more personalized.
    • There’s no annual fee.

    What we wish were different:

    • There’s a $2,000 cap per quarter in bonus categories. If you spend more than $8,000 annually, this may not be the card for you.
  • Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

    The basics: No rotating bonus categories, no problem. Earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases with the Wells Fargo Cash Wise card. There’s a $200 cash rewards bonus when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of card ownership and you won’t be charged an annual fee. Perhaps the coolest aspect of the card is that you’ll earn 1.8% back on purchases made using a qualified mobile wallet (within the first 12 months of account opening).

    What we love:

    • You won’t be charged an annual fee.
    • 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months (16.24% to 28.24% variable thereafter)
    • You’ll get an increased rewards potential of 1.8% cash back when you make purchases with a qualifying mobile wallet during your first 12 months.
    • You’ll receive a fairly large cash bonus of $200 when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of card ownership.

    What we wish were different:

    • There’s a 3% balance transfer fee for the first 120 days, then 5% for transfers made after 120 days ($5 minimum).
  • Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card

    The basics: If you like the Capital One Savor but don’t want to pay an annual fee, say hello to the SavorOne. The rewards rate is a bit lower than the Savor card, but it’s a small price to pay in exchange for no annual fee. Get an unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% back at grocery stores and 1% on everything else, along with a $150 cash bonus after spending $500 within the first 3 months of account opening.

    What we love:

    • There’s no annual fee for card membership.
    • You’ll get a decent cash bonus for a small spending requirement, compared to most cards.
    • There’s an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (16.24% – 26.24% variable thereafter).

    What we wish were different:

    • You’ll be charged a 3% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred within your first 15 months.

How a cash back card can save you money

Credit card rewards come in all shapes and sizes, from airline miles to points to cash back. With a cash back card, the amount you accrue is simple and easy to follow – it’s essentially a rebate on everything you spend.

Interest rates

One thing to keep in mind with a cash back card is interest rates. The APR offered by a card for purchases and balance transfers can potentially cancel out any rewards you’ve earned throughout the year if you aren’t careful.

As long as you consistently pay off your balance each month, you can completely avoid paying a dime in interest. But if you tend to carry a balance, your top priority when researching cash back cards should be looking for cards with lower interest rates, like the Discover it® Cash Back’s 14.24% – 25.24% variable APR, and a pass on your first late payment, also offered by the Discover it® Cash Back.

0% offers are a good way to handle a large purchase or balance transfer. For example, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers a 15 month-long 0% introductory period on purchases and balance transfers (15.24% – 26.24% Variable APR thereafter).

Sign-up bonuses and more

Lastly, take sign-up bonuses into consideration. It’s important to avoid blindly signing up for a card just for the welcome offer. By doing so, you may overspend to receive the offer and end up carrying a balance. The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card, for example, has a great sign-up bonus of $200 when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of account opening. This offer was boosted from $150 and is among the best sign-up offers for cards of its caliber.

There are other ways cash back cards can earn you money outside of sign-up bonus. For example, the Discover it® Cash Back will match all of the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. Further, Citi® Double Cash Card doesn’t even offer a sign-up bonus, but does offer a great rewards rate of 1% cash back, then an additional 1% when you pay off your purchase.

Your takeaway

Above all, remember to redeem your cash back. If you don’t, there’s no use in getting a cash back card in the first place. Take a look at how frequently cardholders redeem their cash back.

How often cash back is redeemed 2016 2017
Once a month or more 15% 24%
A few times a year 30% 32%
Once a year or less 20% 25%
Infrequently or never 35% 19%

Based on 2017 Consumer Payment Study by TSYS U.S.

Typical rewards rates: bonus vs. flat-rate cash back

When deciding which type of cash back card is best for you, it’s important to know all of the options available to you.

Flat-rate bonus categories

Flat-rate cash back cards offer the same rewards rate for each and every purchase. These cards are great for those who aren’t keen on activating and tracking bonus categories each quarter. The Citi® Double Cash Card is a great example of a flat-rate cash back card, as it offers 1% cash back for every purchase and an additional 1% for paying of that purchase.

Tiered bonus categories

Tiered cash back cards earn you more cash back the more you spend or the more money you have available in your associated account. For example, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card offers higher rewards rates based on your Bank of America checking, savings or investment account value. If your account is worth $20,000-$49,999, you’ll get 2.5X points back on travel and dining and 1.875X on everything else, compared to the normal 2X on travel and dining and 1.5X on everything else. And it only goes up from there – you’ll earn 3.5X on travel and dining and 2.625X on everything else with an account value of $100,000 or more.

Rotating bonus categories

Determine if you’re willing to keep up with rotating bonus categories that some cards offer. With rotating categories, you’ll often get higher rewards rates, but a majority of these cards require enrollment in order to receive cash back in the category. This can be a problem for forgetful cardholders. Normally, if you forget to enroll, the issuer defaults your earnings in that category to 1% cash back.

Take category caps into consideration. Cards with rotating bonus categories tend to set caps on how much you can earn in high rewards categories. For example, the Discover it® Cash Back offers 5% cash back on select categories when you activate and enroll, but it caps at $1,500 in purchases per quarter. After that, you’ll earn an unlimited 1%.

Determine what’s best for you

Review your spending for the past few months to see which categories you purchased the most in, and make sure to have your credit score handy to know which cards you have a chance at being approved for.

A busy family of four would most likely benefit more from a card that offers greater rewards on gas and groceries, such as the 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 annually, then 1%) and 3% at U.S. gas stations offered by the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, than a cash back card focused on travel. Frequent warehouse shoppers may find that a co-branded card, such as the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, would give them the most bang for the buck. If you can’t pinpoint an area where you spend the most in, go with a general-purpose cash back card that will get you rewards every time you swipe the card.

Cash back vs. travel rewards

Cash back cards are the most basic version of a rewards card. Although the cash back rewards structure can vary greatly from card to card, they all ultimately give the same type of reward back: cash. But with travel rewards cards, there are a few ways to use the rewards you earn.

Some travel rewards cards give you the option to redeem points or miles for travel or cash back. With travel-specific cards, you’ll usually get the most value out of your rewards when redeeming for travel, such as booking flights for a spring break trip with your family.

Co-branded travel cards

There are a few types of travel rewards cards to know. Co-branded travel cards, for example, occur when a specific credit card issuer partners with an airline or hotel brand. These cards offer the most value to loyalists of the partnered airline or hotel brand, seeing as you’ll earn the most rewards by making purchases with said brand. For instance, an airline co-branded card will often earn higher rates of miles on purchases made with the airline, and most often offer travel perks like free checked bags or seat upgrades.

General travel cards

General travel cards help you earn no matter the brand of hotel or airline. For example, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card will earn you 10X miles at thousands of hotels (you can see which of the many brands apply at hotels.com/venture) and 1.25X miles on everything else.

Determine what’s best for you

It’s important to compare cards based on aspects like fees. Annual fees, for example, can easily eat into the overall value of your card if you don’t fully utilize your rewards structure.

Your takeaway

Just like cash back cards, the best travel rewards card for you depends on your lifestyle and spending habits. If you travel a handful of times a year, you’ll get less value out of a high annual fee travel rewards card than a jet-setting world traveler will. Check out how cash back and travel rewards are favored among cardholders:

Which type of rewards are most favored?

  • 78%
  • Cash back
  • 29%
  • Travel

Based on 2017 Consumer Payment Study by TSYS U.S.

I have always chosen cash back credit cards over travel rewards cards for the one reason of simplicity. It is so much easier to know that for every $1,000 I spend I am getting $20 cash back (2%) rather than accumulating miles that have to be used to purchase a flight based on credit card companies’ conversion factors. If I want to travel, I can spend my cash back rewards on flight purchases, it’s so much simpler this way.

— Phillip Christenson, CFA, Portfolio Manager & Financial Advisor at Phillip James Financial

How to maximize cash back cards

Let’s break down how you can maximize your cash back card using an examples:

Discover it® Cash Back

With the Discover it Cash Back, upon enrollment you’ll earn 5% cash back in quarterly, rotating bonus categories on up to $1,500 in purchases and an unlimited 1% cash back on everything else.

In order to get the most out of this card, try and max out the 5% bonus category. Be aware that it may be difficult to do so each quarter if Discover chooses a category you don’t typically spend in.

For 2019, you’ll have the chance to earn at grocery stores, gas stations, Uber and Lyft, restaurants and Amazon.com. Additionally, you’ll double what you’ve earned in rewards at the end of your first year of card ownership with the Cashback Match™ feature. Thankfully, you won’t be charged an annual fee, so you won’t have to factor in how much cash back you’ll need to make up for the yearly charge.

By maxing out all four of the Discover it Cash Back bonus categories throughout the year (capped at $1,500 in spending each quarter), you’ll earn $300 in cash back – not including spending you’d do in the 1% cash back category. Say you spend an additional $500 each quarter on non-category spending; that’s an extra $20 in cash back for the year.

Finally, with the Cashback Match™ feature, Discover will double the $320 worth of cash back that you’ve earned at the end of your first year, meaning you’ll earn $640 for the year.

Make sure you understand what the terms are for receiving cash back, like which purchases are eligible and if you’re going to be paying an annual fee for the card. Don’t let attractive offers lead you into opening a credit card unnecessarily. It’s not worth damaging your credit simply to chase down rewards. Find what works best for you, be disciplined and stick with it.

— Douglas A. Boneparth, CFP®, President of Bone Fide Wealth, LLC

Additional reviews and research

For more information on the best cash back credit cards for Spring 2019, read our expert reviews for individual cards.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.