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.

Editor's Top Picks: The Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2019

Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. The offers that appear on this site are from companies from which Bankrate.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear within listing categories. Other factors, such as our own proprietary website rules and the likelihood of applicants' credit approval also impact how and where products appear on this site. Bankrate.com does not include the entire universe of available financial or credit offers.

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.

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%.
  • 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 banking relationship bonuses

Bank of America® 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 Bank of America's secure website

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 3% cash back in your choice category (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) Earn 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases
Welcome Offer:
$150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days
Regular APR:
16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Card Details

  • No annual fee
  • $150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • New Offer: Maximize your cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement /furnishings
  • Now earn 3% cash back in your choice category and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
  • You can update your choice category for future purchases once each calendar month using the Mobile banking app or Online banking, or do nothing and it stays the same.
  • No expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can get a 25% - 75% rewards bonus on every purchase
Terms and Restrictions Apply
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® 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 HSBC's secure website

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

Rewards Rate:
10% Anniversary Bonus on all Cash Rewards earned once a year Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on all purchases
Welcome Offer:
$150 Cash Back Intro Bonus for new HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card customers who spend $2,500 or more in new, net card purchases during the first 3 months from credit card account opening.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% Introductory APR on balance transfers for the first 15 months from account opening
Regular APR:
Variable APR of 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% will be applied

Card Details

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on all purchases.
  • Earn a $150 cash rewards intro bonus after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months.
  • 10% Anniversary Bonus on all Cash Rewards earned once a year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers, then a 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable APR.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $0 liability for unauthorized purchases.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
American Express Cash Magnet® 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 American Express's secure website

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

Rewards Rate:
Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.
Welcome Offer:
Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
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 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 15.24% to 26.24%.
  • $0 plan fees for plans set up during your first 15 months of Card Membership with Plan It®, a feature that lets you split up big purchases into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Blue Cash Preferred® 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 Preferred® Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) 3% cash back at US gas stations 1% back on other purchases
Welcome Offer:
$200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
Annual Fee:
$95
Purchase Intro APR:
0% on purchases for 12 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% on balance transfers for 12 months
Regular APR:
15.24%-26.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) - that means spending $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 back per year.
  • 3% Cash Back at US gas stations. 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • 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.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® 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 Amalgamated Bank of Chicago's secure website

ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard®

Rewards Rate:
Earn 5x rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories such as dining, groceries, travel, and automotive Earn Points on Every Purchase! It’s simple: $1 = 1 Point
Welcome Offer:
Earn $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
Regular APR:
15.15% - 25.15% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Card Details

  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months; after that the variable APR will be 15.15% - 25.15%, based on your creditworthiness
  • Earn $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening
  • Earn 5x rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories such as dining, groceries, travel, and automotive
  • No upper limit on the points you can accumulate, and since points never expire, you can save up for a big award!
  • Earn Points on Every Purchase! It’s simple: $1 = 1 Point
  • No Annual Fee
  • Select Your Rewards Your Way
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Discover it® chrome 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® chrome

Rewards Rate:
Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 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 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive Free Social Security number alerts— Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.
SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express Image

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 - 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

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
5% cash back on the first $50,000 spent at wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores 3% cash back on the first $50,000 spent in the category of your choice from a list of eight 1% cash back on other purchases.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% on purchases for 15 months
Regular APR:
14.49% - 21.49% Variable

Card Details

  • Special offer: save on interest with a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; after that your APR will be a variable rate, currently 14.49% - 21.49%
  • No annual fee
  • Reinvest in your business with automatic cash back in the form of a monthly statement credit. Plus take control by choosing the 3% category that best fits your business
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $50,000 spent at wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores.
  • Earn 3% cash back on the first $50,000 spent in the category of your choice from a list of eight and 1% cash back on other purchases
  • With Expanded Buying Power you can spend beyond your credit limit* to make bigger purchases for your business plus earn cash back on those purchases too
  • *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors
  • Terms apply
USAA® Preferred Cash Rewards 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 USAA's secure website

USAA® Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no limits or category restrictions
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
14.15% - 28.15% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no limits or category restrictions
  • Pay no annual fee, no penalty APR and no foreign transaction fees
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members
  • Special Benefits for Military: Deployment/PCS rate: Get 4% APR on all balances for up to 12 months during deployment or PCS.
  • After 12 months, the variable Regular APR, currently between 14.15% to 28.15%, will apply. This rate will vary with the market based on the prime rate.
Terms and Restrictions Apply
USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® 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 USAA's secure website

USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military purchases annually on these categories combined. Earn 2% cash back on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
14.15% - 28.15% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually on these categories combined
  • Earn 2% on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members
  • Special Benefits for Military: Deployment/PCS rate: Get 4% APR on all balances for up to 12 months during deployment or PCS.
  • After 12 months, the variable Regular APR, currently between 14.15% to 28.15% will apply. This rate will vary with the market based on the prime rate.
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: March 18, 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
Citi Rewards+SM Card 92/100 Small everyday purchases
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.

Deeper analysis of cash back credit cards

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: Simplicity reigns with the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Get 1.5% cash back on every purchase (meaning you won’t need to track bonus categories). And when you spend $500 within your first 3 months of card ownership, you’ll receive a $150 sign-up bonus.

What we love:

  • The $150 sign-up bonus is super attainable – simply spend $500 within your first 3 months of card ownership.
  • There’s a sizeable 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfer for 15 months (17.24%–25.99% variable thereafter).

What we wish were different:

  • The balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred ($5 minimum).
  • There aren’t any bonus categories, which could be a con for those looking to cash in on higher rewards rates.

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.

Citi Rewards+SM Card

The basics: Get big rewards from small purchases with the Citi Rewards+ Card. You’ll get 2 points per dollar at supermarkets and gas stations (up to $6,000 per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter) and 1 point per dollar on everything else. With the Round Up feature, Citi will round up the points you earn on each purchase to the nearest 10. Plus, get 10% of your points back for the first 100,000 points you redeem each year.

What we love:

  • Citi rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase, meaning a $2 coffee could earn you 10 points.
  • There’s no annual fee.
  • You’ll receive a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months (15.74% – 25.74% variable thereafter).

What we wish were different:

  • There’s a $6,000 yearly cap on the 2X category earnings, which could stifle the earnings of high spenders.
  • There’s a balance transfer fee of 3% of your transfer amount or $5 (whichever is greater).

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.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® is a great example of a co-branded travel card. You’ll receive 2 AAdvantage® miles for every dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® miles for everything else.

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 a few 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.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited will earn you an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase – no caps, no minimum to redeem. There’s no annual fee, and you can earn a $150 cash bonus when you spend $500 within your first three months of account opening.

This type of flat-rate cash back card is ideal for consumers who don’t want to activate and track rotating bonus categories or simply don’t know if they’ll be able to max out certain categories throughout the year.

With the Freedom Unlimited, it doesn’t matter what you spend your money on. If you spend $500 on your card every month of the year, you’ll earn $180 for those 12 months (taking into consideration TPG’s current Chase Ultimate Rewards valuation). Additionally, you’ll have met the $500 spending requirement to earn a $150 cash bonus, meaning a total of $330 in cash back earned. 

You can redeem your rewards for travel (perhaps your family’s spring break trip), gift cards, cash back or by shopping with points on Amazon.com. Additionally, you may be able to transfer the rewards earned on your Chase Freedom Unlimited to other Chase cards you may own.

Some Chase cards offer a bonus on points redeemed through the Chase travel portal. For example, if you also own the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you could transfer rewards earned on your Freedom Unlimited card to your Sapphire Preferred and get a 25% bonus on travel booked through the portal.

Card Name Discover it® Cash Back Chase Freedom Unlimited
Rewards structure 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories up to the quarterly maximum, after activation; unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
TPG March 2019 point valuation 1.0 2.0
Spending example $1500 * 4 quarters * 5X cash back * $0.01 = $300 $500 * 12 months * 1.5X cash back * $0.02 = $180
Annual fee  $0 $0
Welcome bonus Cashback Match™ – all of the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year will be matched $150 after spending $500 within the first three months of account opening
First-year value $600 (including Cashback Match™) $330 (including first-year bonus)

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.