The best cash-back credit cards for each bonus category

Feb 20, 2022

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Cash-back credit cards are great for earning simple cash-back rewards on everyday purchases like dining, groceries, gas and even travel. But 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.

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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.

In This Post

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

Card Category Annual fee
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card Dining and entertainment (4%). $95.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express Groceries 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. $95 (see rates & fees).
Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi Eligible gas (4% for the first $7,000 per year, then 1%). None, but requires Costco membership ($60 a year for Gold).
Citi Double Cash Card Non-bonus spending (2% return — 1% cash back when you buy and 1% as you pay). None.
Chase Freedom Flex Rotating categories (5% return on up to $1,500 each quarter you activate). None.
Citi Custom Cash Card Flexible 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

Top cash-back card for dining and entertainment: Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
(Photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy)

Earning rates:

  • 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through Jan 31, 2023
  • 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 a one-time $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

American Express Blue Cash Preferred
(Photo by 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, ride-hailing and subway
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Current bonus: Earn a $350 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: $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)
(Photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy)

Earning rates:

  • 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year, then 1%
    • Available worldwide, not just at Costco gas stations
    • 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
  • 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

Current bonus: None

Benefits: There are no foreign transaction fees. But 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 you’ll be traveling eventually, 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 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

(Photo by John Gribben for 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
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022
  • 3% cash back at restaurants
  • 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

(Photo by John Gribben for 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 spending $750 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Benefits: Enjoy 0% introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases. After that, the variable APR will be 15.49% – 25.49%, 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 Madison Blancaflor and Ashley Onadele.

Featured image by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy. 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.