Cash-back credit cards are popular because they provide tangible, easy-to-understand benefits. Who doesn’t like getting a credit on their monthly credit card statement – or, better yet, actual cash deposited into the account of their choice? Cash-back credit cards can be even more popular than our top-rated gas credit cards and travel rewards cards.
But not all cash-back credit cards are created equally.
Some offer the same cash-back rate on all purchases. Others offer higher cash-back rates on certain spending categories, such as groceries or gas, and lower rates on everything else. Others offer bonus cash back on spending categories that rotate every quarter. A few accrue cash back on purchases and monthly payments. And some cash back cards even hew to hybrid models, with cash back on certain spending categories and different types of rewards (such as airline miles) on others.
You’ll find each type of card on this list of the best cash-back cards available to U.S. consumers today. Keep in mind that most cash-back credit cards require applicants to have good to excellent credit – usually indicated by a credit score above 700, and sometimes even higher. If you don’t meet that threshold, work on building your credit before applying.
Best Cash-Back Credit Cards
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
6% Cash Back at U.S. Supermarkets and Select Digital Media Services; 3% at U.S. Gas Stations and Transit Operators (Including Rideshare); 1% Everywhere Else
If you love the supermarket, you’ll love the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express. You get 6% cash back on all U.S. supermarket transactions, up to a $6,000 annual spending limit. Once you hit $6,000, you get 1% back on U.S. supermarket purchases, with no upper limit.
You’ll also get unlimited 6% cash back on eligible purchases with digital media and streaming providers such as Netflix and HBO.
There’s no spending limit on the U.S. gas station and transit operator categories – you get 3% cash back on every $1 spent in those places, period. American Express treats rideshare operators such as Lyft and Uber as transit operators, which is great news for those who frequently use those services. And you get 1% cash back on all other purchases, with no limits. Cash back comes by statement credit.
Another smaller drawback of the Blue Cash Preferred card is American Express’s restrictive definition of “supermarket.” Superstores like Walmart, wholesale clubs like Costco, and alcohol retailers aren’t considered as supermarkets for this card’s purposes. The annual fee does cut into your earning potential somewhat – but since the 6% supermarket cash back doubles what most competing cards offer, you’re still likely to come out ahead if you take full advantage of this category.
If you’re struggling to meet your $6,000 annual supermarket spending limit with food and dry goods purchases alone, make up the difference by purchasing other merchants’ gift cards at the supermarket checkout counter. It’s like getting an immediate 6% discount at your favorite restaurants, retailers, and e-commerce websites.
- Welcome Offer: If you make $1,000 in qualifying purchases within three months of signing up, you get a $250 statement credit.
- Cash-Back Rate: Earn unlimited 6% cash back on select digital media and streaming services like Netflix and HBO. Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 in spending per year. After that, you receive 1% cash back at supermarkets. This card offers unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and transit operators, including rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft. Finally, earn 1% cash back on everything else.
- Redemption: The minimum redemption is $25. You can redeem in $25 increments ($25, $50, $75, and so on) for statement credits, and in variable amounts for gift cards and general merchandise.
- Introductory APR: 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. Following the end of the introductory period, the regular APR is12.99% – 23.99% variable, depending on prevailing rates and your personal creditworthiness.
- Key Fees: There’s a $95 annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 2.7%.
- Other Perks: If you attempt to return a purchased item within 90 days and the merchant refuses to accept it, Amex’s Return Protection policy refunds the item’s entire purchase price, up to $300 per item and $1,000 per calendar year.
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on all Purchases; $150 Sign-Up Bonus
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa is one of a growing cohort of “1.5% cards” – cash-back credit cards that earn a flat, unlimited 1.5% return on spending. It comes with a nice sign-up bonus, too – a $150 cash bonus that requires just $500 in spending within the first three months, to be exact.
Once you clear the $20 cash-back threshold, you can reap your rewards at Wells Fargo ATMs nationwide. When you hit $25, additional doors open – you can then redeem for paper checks, statement credits, or deposits into your Wells Fargo bank account. If you’re already a Wells Fargo deposit account holder, this card comes with low-cost overdraft protection transfer capabilities too. Just remember to opt in after signing up.
- Sign-Up Bonus: When you make $500 in qualifying purchases within three months of sign-up, you get a $150 cash bonus.
- Cash-Back Rate: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, including Apple Pay and Android Pay purchases made after the 12-month introductory period.
- Redemption: The minimum redemption is $20 to $25, depending on how you choose to redeem. ATM redemptions allow the lower threshold.
- Introductory APR: 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. After that, regular APR applies, currently 13.99% to 25.99% variable (depending on creditworthiness and prevailing rates).
- Key Fees: There’s no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. During the first year, balance transfers cost either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. After that, they cost the greater of $5 or 5%.
- Other Perks: The cell phone protection plan covers certain communications devices up to $600 per incident and $1,200 per year. Travel inconvenience coverage reimburses travelers for lost or damaged baggage. Overdraft protection transfers (opt-in) cost $12.50 to $20, depending on transfer size.
Citi® Double Cash Card
1% Cash Back When You Spend + 1% Cash Back When You Pay Your Balance; 0% APR on Balance Transfers for 18 Months
Citi Double Cash’s two-tiered cash-back program rewards cardholders who pay their balances in full each month.
As long as you’re a cardholder in good standing, you’re guaranteed to earn 1% cash back on all eligible purchases that post to your Double Cash account. But you’ll only achieve the card’s effective 2% cash-back rate when you pay off your balance in full – as you should, under normal circumstances.
Two percent cash back isn’t the only Double Cash benefit worth touting. The card’s 18-month 0% APR balance transfer promotion is among the best in the category, and the value-added perks are unusually generous for a no-annual-fee card.
- Sign-Up Bonus: There’s presently no sign-up bonus on the Citi Double Cash Card. Check back for updates.
- Cash-Back Rate: Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases when they post to your account, then another 1% cash back on all balance payments, for a total effective cash-back rate of 2% when you pay your balance in full. You must make at least the minimum payment to qualify for the 1% cash-back rate on balance payments during that statement cycle. Cash back expires after 12 months of account dormancy (no purchases or redemptions).
- Redemption: The minimum redemption is $25.
- Introductory APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months. Then regular APR applies (currently 13.99% to 23.99% variable, depending on creditworthiness and prevailing rates).
- Key Fees: There’s no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount.