Skip to content

The best cash-back credit cards for each bonus category

Aug. 25, 2022
11 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new card details and information.

Cash-back credit cards are great for earning simple cash-back rewards on everyday purchases like dining, groceries, gas and even travel. However, not all cash-back cards are created equal, as some prioritize certain spend categories over others.

If you’re in the market for a card that’s going to give you the greatest value for your spending habits, you’ve come to the right place. Today, I’ll discuss some of the best cash-back cards for several of the most popular spending categories.

Get the latest points, miles and travel news by signing up for TPG’s free daily newsletter.

Best cash-back cards for each spending category

The information for the Capital One Savor 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.

Comparison of the best cards for each cash-back rewards category

CardCategoryAnnual fee
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit CardDining and entertainment (4%).$95.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American ExpressGroceries from U.S. supermarkets (6% on up to $6,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1%). Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.$0 intro annual fee for first year, then $95 (see rates & fees).
Costco Anywhere Visa Card by CitiEligible gas and EV charging purchases (4% for the first $7,000 per year, then 1%).None, but requires Costco membership ($60 a year for Gold).
Citi Double Cash CardNon-bonus spending (2% return — 1% cash back when you buy and 1% when you pay).None.
Chase Freedom FlexRotating categories (5% return on up to $1,500 each quarter you activate).None.
Citi Custom Cash CardFlexible categories (5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter).None.

The above table shows my favorite cash-back rewards cards for several popular spending categories. But for some categories, multiple cards perform well. So, depending on your particular spending patterns and lifestyle, a different card may be better for you.

As such, for each spending category I’ll present the cards you should consider if you spend a significant amount in that spending category.

Related: Best ways to use the cash back from your credit card

Best cash-back card for dining and entertainment

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

JOHN GRIBBEN/THE POINTS GUY

Earning rates:

Sign up for our daily newsletter
  • 4% cash back on dining, entertainment and popular streaming services.
  • 3% cash back at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target).
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Current bonus: Earn $300 after you make $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account.

Benefits: You’ll pay no foreign transaction fees on purchases outside the U.S. and you’ll receive protective benefits such as an extended warranty provision.

Annual fee: $95.

Related:

Official application link: Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card


Best cash-back card for groceries

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

THE POINTS GUY

Earning rates:

  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% cash back on transit, including parking, tolls, rideshare and trains.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations.
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Current bonus: Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months.

Benefits: This card is eligible for Amex Offers. You’ll also get return protection for recent purchases and car rental loss and damage insurance when you use your card to rent a car.

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.

Annual fee: $0 intro annual fee for first year, then $95 (see rates and fees).

Related:

Official application link: Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express


Best cash-back card for gas

Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
JOHN GRIBBEN/THE POINTS GUY

Earning rates:

  • 4% cash back on eligible gas, and EV charging purchases* for the first $7,000 per year, then 1% (available worldwide, not just at Costco gas stations).
  • 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases.
  • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco (in-store and online).
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

*The 4% bonus rate doesn’t apply to gas purchased at superstores, supermarkets, convenience stores and warehouse clubs other than Costco, or for fuel used for non-automobile purposes.

Current bonus: None.

Benefits: There are no foreign transaction fees. You must be a Costco member to be eligible for this card. And, although this is a cash-back card, you can’t earn statement credits or redeem your rewards at any time. Instead, you’ll receive a reward coupon annually, redeemable for cash or merchandise at U.S. Costco warehouses.

Annual fee: $0 with your paid Costco membership ($60 for Gold Star and business members and $120 for Gold Star Executive members).

Related:

Official application link: Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi


Best cash-back card for non-bonus spending

Citi Double Cash Card

Earning rates: Up to 2% cash back on all purchases, provided as 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay.

Current bonus: None.

Benefits: The Citi Double Cash earns an industry-high 2% back across all purchases for a no-annual-fee credit card. And for those who know they'll be traveling, this card is pairable with Citi ThankYou cards such as the Citi Premier® Card and Citi Prestige® Card. After all, you can convert your Double Cash rewards into fully transferable ThankYou Points if you have one of these cards. Don’t use this card outside of the U.S. though, since it charges a 3% foreign transaction fee.

The 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.

Annual fee: None.

Related:

Official application link: Citi Double Cash Card


Best cash-back card for rotating bonus categories

Chase Freedom Flex

JOHN GRIBBEN/THE POINTS GUY

Earning rates:

  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 on combined purchases at merchants in the card’s quarterly bonus categories each quarter you activate.
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • 3% cash back at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases.
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Current bonus: Earn $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases during your first three months after account opening.

Benefits: You’ll have access to purchase protection and extended warranty protection when you pay for an eligible item with your card. Plus, you’ll get cell phone protection when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your card.

Annual fee: None.

Related:

Official application link: Chase Freedom Flex


Best cash-back card for flexibility

Citi Custom Cash Card

JOHN GRIBBEN/THE POINTS GUY

Earning rates:

  • 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter).
  • Eligible categories: Restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs and live entertainment.
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Current bonus: Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

Benefits: Enjoy 0% introductory annual percentage rate (APR) for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases. After that, the variable APR will be 17.74% – 27.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Intro APR applies to the date of first transfer for balance transfers completed within the first four months of account opening.

Annual fee: None.

Related:

Official application link: Citi Custom Cash Card


Bottom line

Whether you enjoy earning travel rewards or cash back, it’s important to choose the best card for your spending habits.

A simple way to start is to consider the categories in which you spend the most money. Then, make sure you have a card that earns bonus rewards in these categories.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred Card, please click here.

Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Madison Blancaflor and Ashley Onadele.

Featured image by (Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers