Best cash-back credit cards for April 2021

For some, cash back is king. Now is a great time to take advantage of some of the great benefits cash-back cards offer — from money back on grocery store shopping to takeout to gas. So many options. So today, I want to go over the top cash-back credit cards you can use to maximize your everyday purchases. Here are the best cash-back credit cards from our partners.

Best for gas, supermarkets, and select streaming in the U.S.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4/5
Apply now
at American Express's secure site
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Rewards

1 - 6% cash-back
more info

Intro Bonus

$300
details

Annual Fee

$0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95.

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
more info
Why we chose it

The Blue Cash Preferred Card is one of the best cash-back credit cards on the market. You’ll get a great return across a wide range of bonus categories, a solid welcome bonus and a low annual fee that’s waived the first year.

Pros

  • This card has one of the best earning structures out for among cash-back credit cards.
  • You’ll only pay a $95 annual fee, and it’s waived in the first year.
  • The card comes with access to Amex Offers, which can save you even more money on specific purchases.

Cons

  • There is a $6,000 spending cap on the supermarket bonus category, which may not work for those with large grocery budgets.
  • You’ll have to pay a foreign transaction fee on international purchases, so it’s not a great choice when you’re traveling abroad.
  • Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for gas, supermarkets, and select streaming in the U.S.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
4/5

Rewards Rate

  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases

Intro Bonus
tooltip

$300

Annual Fee

$0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95.

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent, Good
Why we chose it

The Blue Cash Preferred Card is one of the best cash-back credit cards on the market. You’ll get a great return across a wide range of bonus categories, a solid welcome bonus and a low annual fee that’s waived the first year.

Pros

  • This card has one of the best earning structures out for among cash-back credit cards.
  • You’ll only pay a $95 annual fee, and it’s waived in the first year.
  • The card comes with access to Amex Offers, which can save you even more money on specific purchases.

Cons

  • There is a $6,000 spending cap on the supermarket bonus category, which may not work for those with large grocery budgets.
  • You’ll have to pay a foreign transaction fee on international purchases, so it’s not a great choice when you’re traveling abroad.
  • Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

3/5
Apply now
at American Express's secure site
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Rewards

1 - 3% cash-back
more info

Intro Bonus

$200
details

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
more info
Why we chose it

The Blue Cash Everyday card is a good option for people who want a simple cash-back structure with no annual fee. You’ll earn bonus cash-back rewards on popular bonus categories, including U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.

Pros

  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets.
  • No annual fee.
  • Unlimited 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores.
  • Amex Offers, which earn you statement credits or extra points on purchases with a wide variety of merchants.

Cons

  • There is a $6,000 spending cap on the supermarket bonus category, which may not work for those with larger annual grocery spend.
  • You’ll have to pay a foreign transaction fee on purchases abroad, so it’s not a great choice to take with you when traveling outside of the U.S.
  • Earn $200 back 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% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for beginners

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
3/5

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% Cash Back on other purchases

Intro Bonus
tooltip

$200

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent, Good
Why we chose it

The Blue Cash Everyday card is a good option for people who want a simple cash-back structure with no annual fee. You’ll earn bonus cash-back rewards on popular bonus categories, including U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.

Pros

  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets.
  • No annual fee.
  • Unlimited 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores.
  • Amex Offers, which earn you statement credits or extra points on purchases with a wide variety of merchants.

Cons

  • There is a $6,000 spending cap on the supermarket bonus category, which may not work for those with larger annual grocery spend.
  • You’ll have to pay a foreign transaction fee on purchases abroad, so it’s not a great choice to take with you when traveling outside of the U.S.
  • Earn $200 back 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% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for intro APR

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4/5
Apply now
at Chase's secure site
at Chase's secure site

Rewards

1.5 - 5% cash-back
more info

Intro Bonus

$200
details

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
Why we chose it

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a surprisingly powerful card that earns at least 1.5% back on everything. However, it becomes a standout card if you pair it with a card that earns transferable Ultimate Rewards points, doubling their potential value.

Pros

  • At least 1.5% back on every purchase, with up to 3% back on select categories.
  • There is no annual fee - Perfect for everyday, non-bonused spending - incredible value when paired with a premium Chase card.

Cons

  • There is a foreign transaction fee so the card shouldn't be used abroad.
  • Limited card perks and benefits.
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
Best for intro APR

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

TPG Editor's Rating

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4/5

Rewards Rate

  • 5% Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase.
  • 3% Earn 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores
  • 1.5% Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

$200

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
Why we chose it

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a surprisingly powerful card that earns at least 1.5% back on everything. However, it becomes a standout card if you pair it with a card that earns transferable Ultimate Rewards points, doubling their potential value.

Pros

  • At least 1.5% back on every purchase, with up to 3% back on select categories.
  • There is no annual fee - Perfect for everyday, non-bonused spending - incredible value when paired with a premium Chase card.

Cons

  • There is a foreign transaction fee so the card shouldn't be used abroad.
  • Limited card perks and benefits.
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
Best for entertainment spending

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

3.5/5
Apply now
at Capital One's secure site
at Capital One's secure site

Rewards

1 - 3% cash-back
more info

Intro Bonus

$200
details

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
more info
Why we chose it

The Capital One SavorOne is a great cash-back credit card for beginners looking for a solid rewards structure and no annual fee. Dining, entertainment and groceries are high-value bonus categories, and it’s rare for a card to hit all three.

Pros

  • Earning 3% back on dining and entertainment is a great return for a no-annual-fee credit card, and you’ll also get 2% back on dining.
  • This card is better for beginners since it’s easier to be approved for than the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card.
  • The 0% APR offer that comes with this card makes it a solid choice for those looking to finance a large purchase.

Cons

  • If you spend a lot on dining and entertainment each year, the Savor is the better value since it earns higher rewards.
  • The sign-up bonus isn’t anything to write home about (though it is easy to earn).
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • 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; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
Best for entertainment spending

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

TPG Editor's Rating

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3.5/5

Rewards Rate

  • 3% Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment
  • 2% Earn 2% at grocery stores
  • 1% Earn 1% on all other purchases

Intro Bonus
tooltip

$200

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent, Good
Why we chose it

The Capital One SavorOne is a great cash-back credit card for beginners looking for a solid rewards structure and no annual fee. Dining, entertainment and groceries are high-value bonus categories, and it’s rare for a card to hit all three.

Pros

  • Earning 3% back on dining and entertainment is a great return for a no-annual-fee credit card, and you’ll also get 2% back on dining.
  • This card is better for beginners since it’s easier to be approved for than the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card.
  • The 0% APR offer that comes with this card makes it a solid choice for those looking to finance a large purchase.

Cons

  • If you spend a lot on dining and entertainment each year, the Savor is the better value since it earns higher rewards.
  • The sign-up bonus isn’t anything to write home about (though it is easy to earn).
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • 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; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
American Express Cash Magnet®  Card
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

3/5
Apply now
at American Express's secure site
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Rewards

1.5
more info

Intro Bonus

$150
details

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
Why we chose it

The American Express Cash Magnet® Card offers a decent welcome offer and a flat-rate 1.5% cash back on all purchases. It’s worthy of consideration if you value a straightforward rewards earning structure in a credit card.

Pros

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • No annual fee.

Cons

  • The card tacks on a foreign transaction fee on purchases abroad, so it’s not great choice to take with you when traveling outside of the U.S.
  • You can only redeem cash back as a statement credit with a minimum redemption of $25.
  • There are other cards that deliver higher cash-back earnings on all purchases.
  • 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.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • Amex Offers rewards you at places you like to shop, dine, travel, and more. You can add as many Offers as you’d like to your Card, then just use that Card to pay, and enjoy rewards directly on your statement.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for low APR

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
3/5

Rewards Rate

  • 1.5% Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

$150

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
Why we chose it

The American Express Cash Magnet® Card offers a decent welcome offer and a flat-rate 1.5% cash back on all purchases. It’s worthy of consideration if you value a straightforward rewards earning structure in a credit card.

Pros

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • No annual fee.

Cons

  • The card tacks on a foreign transaction fee on purchases abroad, so it’s not great choice to take with you when traveling outside of the U.S.
  • You can only redeem cash back as a statement credit with a minimum redemption of $25.
  • There are other cards that deliver higher cash-back earnings on all purchases.
  • 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.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • Amex Offers rewards you at places you like to shop, dine, travel, and more. You can add as many Offers as you’d like to your Card, then just use that Card to pay, and enjoy rewards directly on your statement.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Best for business cash back

Capital One Spark Cash for Business

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

3.5/5
Apply now
at Capital One's secure site
at Capital One's secure site

Rewards

2% cash-back
more info

Intro Bonus

$500
details

Annual Fee

$0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
more info
Why we chose it

The Spark Cash for Business offers a simple, unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase and is ideal for business owners who spend across a wide variety of categories.

Pros

  • You’ll earn 2x on every purchase, which means you don’t have to juggle different bonus categories.
  • Employee cards are free and also earn 2x on all spending.
  • It’s an affordable card that only charges $95 in annual fees, and that fee is waived the first year.

Cons

  • Other cards have category bonuses up to 5x - $95 annual fee, although the first year is waived.
  • Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • Purchase above your credit limit with no hassle and no over-limit fees
  • $0 annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases
  • $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • No foreign transaction fees
Best for business cash back

Capital One Spark Cash for Business

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
3.5/5

Rewards Rate

  • 2% Earn unlimited 2% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

$500

Annual Fee

$0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent, Good
Why we chose it

The Spark Cash for Business offers a simple, unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase and is ideal for business owners who spend across a wide variety of categories.

Pros

  • You’ll earn 2x on every purchase, which means you don’t have to juggle different bonus categories.
  • Employee cards are free and also earn 2x on all spending.
  • It’s an affordable card that only charges $95 in annual fees, and that fee is waived the first year.

Cons

  • Other cards have category bonuses up to 5x - $95 annual fee, although the first year is waived.
  • Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • Purchase above your credit limit with no hassle and no over-limit fees
  • $0 annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases
  • $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • No foreign transaction fees
Best for small business spending

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

4/5
Apply now
at Chase's secure site
at Chase's secure site

Rewards

1 - 5% cash-back
more info

Intro Bonus

$750
details

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, Excellent
more info
Why we chose it

The Chase Ink Business Cash is an excellent no annual fee card for small business owners. Cardholders can earn 5% cash back on office supplies and select utilities, as well as 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations.

Pros

  • The current sign-up bonus on this card is an impressive $750. TPG values it at $1,500, not including any points you may earn from the valuable bonus categories.
  • There is no annual fee which is perfect for small business owners.
  • You’ll earn 5% at office supply stores and on common monthly bills such as internet, cable and phone services. Plus, you’ll earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.

Cons

  • 5% cash back earned on certain categories is capped at the first $25,000 you make in combined purchases each account anniversary year.
  • Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • No Annual Fee
  • Redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
Best for small business spending

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
4/5

Rewards Rate

  • 5% Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • 2% Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • 1% Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn

Intro Bonus
tooltip

$750

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Good, Excellent
Why we chose it

The Chase Ink Business Cash is an excellent no annual fee card for small business owners. Cardholders can earn 5% cash back on office supplies and select utilities, as well as 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations.

Pros

  • The current sign-up bonus on this card is an impressive $750. TPG values it at $1,500, not including any points you may earn from the valuable bonus categories.
  • There is no annual fee which is perfect for small business owners.
  • You’ll earn 5% at office supply stores and on common monthly bills such as internet, cable and phone services. Plus, you’ll earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.

Cons

  • 5% cash back earned on certain categories is capped at the first $25,000 you make in combined purchases each account anniversary year.
  • Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • No Annual Fee
  • Redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

3.5/5
Apply now
at Bank of America's secure site
at Bank of America's secure site

Rewards

1 - 3% cash-back
more info

Intro Bonus

$200
details

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
more info
Why we chose it

The Bank of America Cash Rewards is a solid cash-back card with the potential to offer lucrative rewards for smaller budgets. If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25 to 75% more cash back on every purchase.

Pros

  • Flexible earning structure (3% cash back in the category of your choice and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.
  • No annual fee or expiration on rewards.
  • $200 online cash-rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Cons

  • Maximum $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then 1%.
  • 3% foreign transaction fee.
  • No annual fee
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, automatic 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
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers
  • No expiration on rewards
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap
Best for online shopping

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
3.5/5

Rewards Rate

  • 3% Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
  • 2% Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
  • 1% Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

$200

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent/Good
Why we chose it

The Bank of America Cash Rewards is a solid cash-back card with the potential to offer lucrative rewards for smaller budgets. If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25 to 75% more cash back on every purchase.

Pros

  • Flexible earning structure (3% cash back in the category of your choice and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.
  • No annual fee or expiration on rewards.
  • $200 online cash-rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Cons

  • Maximum $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then 1%.
  • 3% foreign transaction fee.
  • No annual fee
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, automatic 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
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers
  • No expiration on rewards
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap
Best for balance transfers

Citi® Double Cash Card

TPG Editor's Rating
tooltip

3.5/5
Apply now
at Citi's secure site
at Citi's secure site

Rewards

2% cash-back
more info

Intro Bonus

N/A
details

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
more info
Why we chose it

When it comes to everyday spending, it’s hard to beat the Citi Double Cash Card. You’ll earn up to 2% back on every purchase, and you can now redeem as cash back or by converting rewards to ThankYou points with an eligible card.

Pros

  • Earning 2% back on every purchase is an industry-leading return on everyday spending for a no-annual-fee credit card.
  • Now that you have the ability to convert rewards to ThankYou points with an eligible card, your redemption options are even more flexible.
  • It’s great for those looking to consolidate debt since it offers 18 months of 0% APR on balance transfers.

Cons

  • There is no welcome bonus available on this card.
  • Those looking to make a balance transfer will have to pay a balance transfer fee.
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
Best for balance transfers

Citi® Double Cash Card

TPG Editor's Rating

tooltip
3.5/5

Rewards Rate

  • 2% Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

Intro Bonus
tooltip

N/A

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit
tooltip

670-850
Excellent, Good
Why we chose it

When it comes to everyday spending, it’s hard to beat the Citi Double Cash Card. You’ll earn up to 2% back on every purchase, and you can now redeem as cash back or by converting rewards to ThankYou points with an eligible card.

Pros

  • Earning 2% back on every purchase is an industry-leading return on everyday spending for a no-annual-fee credit card.
  • Now that you have the ability to convert rewards to ThankYou points with an eligible card, your redemption options are even more flexible.
  • It’s great for those looking to consolidate debt since it offers 18 months of 0% APR on balance transfers.

Cons

  • There is no welcome bonus available on this card.
  • Those looking to make a balance transfer will have to pay a balance transfer fee.
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

More on the best cash-back credit cards of 2021

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Card Best for Welcome Offer/Sign Up Bonus Earning Rate Annual Fee
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Best for gas, supermarkets, and select streaming in the U.S. $300
  • Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
  • Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
  • Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
  • Cash Back on other purchases
$0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Best for beginners $200
  • Cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • Cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores.
  • Cash Back on other purchases
$0
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Best for intro APR $200
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase.
  • Earn 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
$0
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Best for entertainment spending $200
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment
  • Earn 2% at grocery stores
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases
$0
American Express Cash Magnet® Card Best for low APR $150
  • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.
$0
Capital One Spark Cash for Business Best for business cash back $500
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions.
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card Best for small business spending $750
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
$0
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card Best for online shopping $200
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
  • Earn automatic 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.
$0
Citi® Double Cash Card Best for balance transfers N/A
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
$0

Best cash-back card offers

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express: Best for gas, supermarkets, and select streaming in the U.S.

Welcome offer: $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.

Cash back rate: Earn 6% cash back on purchases at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1%) and on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit and 1% cash back everywhere else. Terms apply.

Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95 (see rates and fees)

Why we chose it: Another rewards credit card with some intriguing bonus categories is the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express. This is a great all-around cash-back card because it earns solid cash back on categories that don’t always get a lot of love from other cards. When Amex added streaming services and transit to this card’s bonus categories, it got a major bump in value in my mind. Just remember that it charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee (see rates and fees), so while it’s a great option for use in the U.S., you shouldn’t use it when you’re traveling abroad.

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express review

Apply here: Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

 

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Best for beginners

Welcome offer: $200 cash back (visa statement credit) after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening

Cash back rate: Earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per calendar year; then 1%), 2% on U.S. gas stations and  select U.S. department stores and 1% on everything else

Annual fee: $0 (see rates and fees)

Why we chose it: Beginners to the rewards game will appreciate the Blue Cash Everyday’s no annual fee and simple cash-back structure. You’ll also get 0% intro APR (see rates and fees) on purchases for 15 months from the date of account opening, then a variable APR, 13.99% to 23.99%; see rates and fees). While it’s certainly not as lucrative from an earning perspective as the Blue Cash Preferred, it is a great option for those just jumping into the cash-back game for the first time.

Blue Cash Everyday Card review

Apply here: Blue Cash Everyday Card

 

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for intro APR

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 bonus after spending $500 in their first three months

Cash back rate: Earn 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5% cash back on Lyft through March 2021, 3% cash back on dining and drugstores, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $0

Why we chose it: In addition to a great bonus and earning structure, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a 0% APR introductory period for 15 months on new purchases (14.99%–23.74% variable APR applies after). This way, you can earn cash back while financing large purchases — just make sure you’re paying off your balance before the end of the intro APR period to avoid paying interest.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is also a great card to pair with your existing Chase credit cards to earn cash back on non-bonus spending — in fact, it makes up one-third of the Chase Trifecta. If you have an Ultimate Rewards credit card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can combine rewards and take advantage of 25% to 50% Chase travel portal redemption bonuses and transfer partners. Since TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, you’ll get a 3% return on all non-bonus spending when you pair the Freedom Unlimited with a Chase Ultimate Rewards card.

Chase Freedom Unlimited review

Apply here: Chase Freedom Unlimited 

 

Amex Cash Magnet Card: Best for low APR

Welcome offer: $150 cash bonus (via statement credit) once you spend $1,000 in the first three months of account opening.

Cash back rate: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases

Annual fee: $0 (see rates and fees)

Why we chose it: The Amex Cash Magnet is a straightforward cash-back credit card that is great for beginners or those looking to earn cash back on non-bonus spending. The unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases is standard for similar no-annual-fee credit cards. Another draw to the card is the potential for a low annual fee. You’ll get 15 months of 0% intro APR on purchases (see rates and fees), and a 13.99% to 23.99% variable APR applies after (see rates and fees).

Learn more: Amex Cash Magnet Card review 

Apply hereAmerican Express Cash Magnet

 

Capital One Spark Cash for Business: Best for business cash-back

Sign-up bonus: $500 bonus after spending $4,500 in the first three months from account opening.

Cash back rate: 2% cash back on all purchases

Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

Why we chose it: The value in the simplicity of cash-back business cards can’t be overstated. While transferable points can be more valuable, it can be incredibly time-consuming to extract that extra value. Also, when it comes to travel credit cards, the cash back can often only be used for travel — and you might not be doing a lot of that right now. Sometimes your business might need that extra cash for other expenses.

What makes this card even better is it earns an unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase. You don’t need to juggle multiple cards as you try to maximize specific bonus categories. Simply swipe the Spark Cash and enjoy a straightforward return on every purchase.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business review

Apply hereCapital One Spark Cash for Business

 

Ink Business Cash Card: Best for small business spending

Sign-up bonus: $750 cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Cash back rate: 5% back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year. You’ll also earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year and you’ll get an unlimited 1% cash back on everything else.

Annual fee: $0

Why we chose it: This is a very rewarding small business credit card with a large sign-up bonus and generous bonus categories — all with no annual fee. If you max out your bonus spending in both 5% and 2% categories, that ends up being $1,750 in cash back earned each year. For a no-annual-fee credit card, that’s great potential for earnings. Of course, if you’re pairing this card with a Chase Ultimate Rewards card (including all other Chase Ink Business cards), your rewards could be more valuable when used for travel as that $1,750 turns into $3,500 in potential travel cash-back value.

Ink Business Cash review 

Apply hereInk Business Cash

 

Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card: Best for online shopping

Sign-up bonus: $200 cash-back bonus after you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.

Cash back rate: 3% cash back in the category of your choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement and furnishings) and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 in combined bonus category purchases each quarter (then 1%). You can change your 3% category once a month.

Annual fee: $0

Why we chose it: Having the option to get a 3% bonus on online shopping across a wide variety of retailers is terrific. Plus, depending on your banking relationship with Bank of America, that 3% return can go as high as 5.25% back if you qualify for the Preferred Rewards program‘s top tier — Platinum Pro. If your spending habits change throughout the year, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card should definitely be on your radar.

Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card review

Apply hereBank of America Cash Rewards

 

Citi Double Cash Card: Best for balance transfers

Sign-up bonus: N/A

Cash back rate: Earn 2% cash back — 1% when you buy and another 1% as you pay your bill each month.

Annual fee: $0

Why we chose it: One of the simplest and most rewarding cash-back cards out there is the Citi Double Cash Card. This card gives you 1% cash back when you buy and then another 1% as you pay. You only need to make the minimum payment each month to earn the second reward, but remember that paying your balance in full is always strongly recommended. Cardholders can now convert the cash back they earn to ThankYou Points via a linked ThankYou card such as the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi Premier® CardThe information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

This converts into an effective 2x ThankYou Point earning rate on all purchases. TPG values ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, meaning this card would effectively get at 3.4% return on all purchases. Unfortunately, you won’t earn a sign-up bonus with this card, but the long-term value it offers still makes the card worth it in my eyes.

Citi Double Cash Card review

Apply hereCiti Double Cash

 

Wells Fargo Propel: Best for commuters

Welcome offer: Earn 20,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Cash-back rate: Earn 3x on dining (eating out and ordering in), gas stations, transit, travel and select streaming services; 1x on everything else.

Annual fee: $0

Why we chose it: Though the Wells Fargo Propel technically earns points, not cash back, these points are redeemed at a fixed-value, making the card similar to others on this list. It’s a great card for beginners. You don’t pay an annual fee, plus you earn 3x on several common spending categories.

While points and miles gurus might get frustrated with points that are only worth 1 cent each, beginners won’t have to memorize award charts or research transfer partners to maximize a redemption.

Wells Fargo Propel review 

Apply forWells Fargo Propel American Express

 

Cash-back credit cards that require a membership

Some credit cards have specific membership requirements. The following cards can be good options, but I’ve left them off the main “best cash-back cards” list due to their membership requirements:

  • Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi: 4% on eligible gas (on up to $7,000 per year; then 1% thereafter), 3% on restaurants and eligible travel purchases and 2% at Costco. The card has no annual fee if you have a paid Costco membership.
  • Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card: 2% on all purchases with no annual fee (must have a specific Fidelity account).
  • Sam’s Club Mastercard: 5% on gas (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% thereafter) and 3% on dining and travel. The card has no annual fee. You must have a Sam’s Club membership and visit Sam’s Club location to redeem. Cash back is capped at $5,000 annually).
  • USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card: 5% on the first $3,000 on combined gas and U.S. military base purchases annually. Earn 2% on the first $3,000 on grocery purchases annually with no annual fee (must be a USAA member).
  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature: 5% return on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% back on restaurants, gas stations and drug stores (must be an Amazon Prime member).

The information for the Fidelity Rewards Visa, Sam’s Club Mastercard, USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card and Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Research methodology: How we choose the best cash-back credit card

Choosing the best cash-back credit card for you can take a lot of research and become really overwhelming. At TPG, we try to make the research process as simple as possible. We spend hours combing through the credit cards available from our partners and from outside our network, comparing them to see which cards offer the best return for readers. Here are a few of the factors we look at when choosing the credit cards on our best cash-back cards guide:

  • Cash-back rates – First and foremost, we look at which cards can help you earn the most cash back in top spending categories such as groceriesgas, and everyday spending.
  • Sign-up bonus – What kind of sign-up bonus cards offer is another factor we consider when choosing our cards. While having a bonus isn’t a requirement to make the list (hello, Citi Double Cash Card), a sign-up bonus can greatly increase the overall value of a card in its first year.
  • Annual fee – We make sure we include cards that have no annual fee and some that do come with an annual fee in exchange for higher cash-back rates. Whether your budget can justify paying an annual fee or not, you’ll find a great card for you in our guide.
  • 0% APR periods – Many top cash-back cards come with a set period of time when new purchases, balance transfers or both come with a 0% APR intro period. For anyone looking to consolidate debt or finance a large purchase, these cards are excellent ways to earn money while saving on interest rates.
  • Pairability – We also consider how these cards fit into a larger credit card strategy. Can you convert your cash back to transferable currencies within the card family? Does it compliment the spending categories of other cards? These are questions that help determine how “pairable” a card is with others.

How do cash-back credit cards work

Cash-back cards reward you a percentage (usually somewhere between 1% and 5%) of each purchase. Those earnings are pooled into an account as cash back, which you can then use as a statement credit or deposit into your bank account. Cash back offers a more straightforward way of earning and redeeming cash back compared to points and miles.

Rather than having to keep up with point valuations and transfer partners, you always know what you’re getting with cash back in terms of value and redemption options. However, this can also mean that cash back is more limited. Points and miles can often be redeemed at a far greater value than just 1 cent per point. But if you’re looking for an easy way to accrue earnings that can be used for anything, cash can be the best option.

Common types of cash-back credit cards

With so many cash-back card options, it can be hard to narrow down which card might be right for you. To start, I would take a look at which type of cash-back card you want. Here are a few common types and the advantages of each:

Flat-rate: These are cards that earn the same cash-back rate across all spending. An example is the Citi Double Cash because you’re earning the same 2% across all categories (1% when you make purchases, 1% as you pay your bill). A flat-rate card is great for everyday spending because you don’t have to juggle specific bonus categories. Still, it does limit your earning potential in popular categories such as dining or travel.

Tiered: Similar to most travel credit cards, these cash-back cards offer higher bonus earnings for specific, static categories. For example, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred offers 6% cash back on one set of categories, 3% on others and 1% on non-bonus spending. While these cards are excellent for maximizing cash back for categories you spend a lot on each month, you won’t necessarily earn bonus cash back on every purchase. These are best to pair with a flat-rate or complementary tiered card.

Rotating categories: Rotating category cards typically offer 5% cash back on certain categories that shift every quarter. The Chase Freedom Flex and Discover It Cash Back are both examples. While 5% is an excellent bonus rate, keep in mind that these cards typically limit your bonus earning to $1,500 each quarter you enroll and you have to activate new categories each quarter.

Choose-your-categories: A newer cash-back category that has sprung up in recent years is the choose-your-categories cash-back card. These cards allow you to choose the category (or categories) that you earn your bonus rewards each month. I personally love these cash-back cards because they allow you to customize your cash-back structure in a way other cards do not. This type of card is great if your spending habits change throughout the year. The Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card is one example of such a card.

The information for the Discover it Cash Back card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

How to choose a cash-back credit card

What things should you look for when you’re comparing credit cards that offer cash back? Here are some factors to consider:

  • Earning rates: How much cash back will you earn? Is it consistent across all purchases, or does the card restrict the best rates to specific types of purchases? Since cash back, by definition, provides you with money to go back in your wallet, there isn’t any way to truly “maximize” the points or miles you earn. Instead, be sure to evaluate the exact earning rates compared to your typical spending patterns.
  • Ease of redemption: Not all cash-back cards are created equally when it comes to actually getting the cash in your hands or bank account. Some post earnings automatically to your statement, while others earn you points/miles that can then be redeemed for cash back or for statement credits to offset specific purchases. Be sure to carefully read the terms and conditions of the issuer program, so you know how (and when) you’ll actually get the funds.
  • Additional perks: A third factor involves the additional card perks and features. Does it incur foreign transaction fees? What about coverage and added protection for your purchases or trips? These benefits can add significant value to a card.
  • Annual fee: A final aspect to consider is any possible annual fee. Some cash-back cards don’t charge an annual fee, but others do. It’s critical to crunch the numbers to see if the card’s earning rates offset the annual fee.

What credit card gives the most cash back?

While there is no single cash-back credit card that gives you the most cash back everywhere you spend your money, there are credit cards that can help you maximize cash back in various spend categories. Here are a few examples:

How to maximize cash-back credit cards

1. Maximize your spending categories

One of the simplest ways to get the most out of your cash-back credit card is by maximizing your bonus categories. If you have a Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, then you should make sure that it is at the front of your wallet on every trip to the grocery store for a hefty 6% cash back at the register. And if you only have a credit card that earns flat-rate cash back like the Citi Double Cash Card, then you can’t go wrong using your card on all everyday expenses for a sizable 2% cash back (1% when you buy, plus 1% as you pay) on your transactions across the board. And if your card earns bonus cash back on categories that rotate throughout the year, then be sure to check the latest calendar for your quarterly savings.

2. Pay your card in full and avoid fees

This is a given regardless of what type of credit card you have. But if you want to make the most out of your cash-back credit card and ensure you’re maximizing your savings, then keeping a balance on your card is never a good idea. As always, use your card only insomuch as you have the money to pay it off every month on or before the due date.

3. Bonus cash-back offers

Issuers may offer additional cash back for spending on select purchases. Amex Offers and Chase Offers likely come to mind as eligible cardholders are able to opt into earnings not typically offered for that particular card. These offers could range from an additional few percentage points of cash back at your local Starbucks to extra savings on your Amazon spend just in time for the holidays. Offers are targeted to your specific account and there is no limit to the number of offers you can add to your card at one time.

4. Opt for a no-annual-fee card if you’re a low spender

While getting a credit card with an annual fee can seem daunting, the higher cash-back rates do offset the annual fee in most cases. But if you aren’t going to be putting much on your card in a given calendar year anyway, then you won’t be able to maximize your cash back with a card that has an annual fee. If you currently have a credit card with an annual fee that you aren’t able to maximize anymore given changes in your spending habits, then you can always call your issuer and ask if there is an option to downgrade to a no-annual-fee alternative.

Are cash-back credit cards worth it?

In short, yes. Cash-back credit cards can be a valuable addition to your wallet. While we tout points as the most valuable currency out there most of the time, it’s never a bad idea to have a cash-back credit card in your collection that earn in your most frequent spend categories.

At the end of the day, cash-back credit cards are only worth it if you spend more than the cost of holding the card itself. If the cost of the card is $0 and you pay off your statements in time every month, then you’ll always end up in the green with your savings. If the card does have an annual fee, then tracking the amount you save vs. the cost of holding the card every year will help you determine if that specific cash-back card is worth it for you.

How much cash back you could earn with top cards

To put it into perspective, let’s look at how much cash back you could earn in the course of a year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. household spent $4,643 on groceries, $3,526 on dining, $2,094 on gas and $3,050 on entertainment in 2019. Using those figures, let’s take a look at how much you’d earn in the first year with three of our top cards in these categories (not including sign-up bonuses):

 

 

Bottom line

The credit card game isn’t all or nothing when earning miles or cash back. You can have a card for each or even a card that does a little bit of both.

Cash-back cards have played an integral role in my overall credit card strategy, helping me offset the cost of travel expenses that points and miles don’t cover. Plus, there’s no doubt that earning cash back can be simpler and easier to quantify — something casual travelers and beginners can both appreciate.

Additional reporting by Hayley Coyle.

Featured image by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Cash Magnet, please click here.

Madison covers all things credit cards for TPG. A self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, her travel bucket list includes swimming with sharks off the coast of South Africa, skydiving in Thailand and cliff jumping in Greece.
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