Best cash back credit cards
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The simplest credit card reward you can earn is cash back. With a cash-back card, you’re getting money back just for using a credit card. But if you’re not using the credit card with the best cash-back rewards for your spending habits, you’re missing out on free money. Booking flights and hotels with rewards earned from the top travel credit cards can get you trips worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, but don’t overlook cash-back credit cards (even if you’re a die-hard miles and points collector).
Earning the points you need to book airfare and accommodations is easy with the best airline credit cards and the best hotel credit cards. While those expenses are normally the biggest part of a travel budget, you’ll still have more to pay for once you get to your destination. These other expenses can add up quickly – but you won’t have to worry if you’re earning cold, hard cash from the best cash back credit cards. You can redeem cash back for anything, not just travel, to offset these incidental expenses.
The best cash-back credit cards
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for select U.S. streaming services, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Best for spending outside of bonus categories
- Chase Freedom Flex℠: Best for rotating bonus categories
- Citi® Double Cash Card: Best overall cash back card
- Ink Business Cash® Credit Card: Best for no annual fee small business card
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American ExpressAPPLY NOW
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first 6 months.
- Terms Apply | Rates & Fees
- $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95.
WHY WE LIKE IT
- 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000; 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, etc.
- 1% back on other purchases
- Read our review of the Blue Cash Preferred
Chase Freedom Unlimited®APPLY NOW
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
- No annual fee
WHY WE LIKE IT
- Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase
- Earn 3% on dining at restaurants drugstores
- Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
- No minimum to redeem for cash back
- Read our review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited
Citi® Double Cash CardAPPLY NOW
Citi® Double Cash Card
- 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.
WHY WE LIKE IT
- Read our review of the Citi Double Cash Card
Comparing the best cash back credit card offers
|Credit Card||Bonus Offer||Cash back rate|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||$300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first six months of card membership. Terms apply.||6% at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1% cash back)|
6% on select U.S. streaming services
3% at U.S. gas stations and on transit
1% on everything else
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||$200 bonus (20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening||1.5% cash back (1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on purchases|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||No intro bonus||2% back: 1% back on all purchases and an additional 1% back when you pay off the purchases|
|Chase Freedom Flex||$200 bonus (20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening||5% on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in rotating quarterly categories (activation required)|
|Ink Business Cash Credit Card||$750 cash back bonus after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening||5% back (5x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on the first $25,000 you spend in combined purchases at office supply stores and on phone, internet, and cable TV services each account anniversary year|
2% back (2x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
Best for select U.S. streaming services, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations
The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card current offer is a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first six months of card membership.
The card also has some rock-solid bonus categories or 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1% cash back), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit and 1% cash back on everything else.
While this card earns a stunning 6% back on select U.S. streaming services, you’ll want to be aware that sometimes you won’t earn that bonus if the service is paid for as part of a package deal. For example, if a streaming service was bundled with your cable or internet provider you wouldn’t earn the 6% back. Terms Apply.
The Blue Cash Preferred has a $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95. (See rates and fees).
Why it’s worth it
The Amex Blue Cash Preferred is great for stacking up savings on your daily commute. You’ll get unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit. And the transit category is broad: it includes subways, ferries, taxis, ride sharing, tolls and parking.
The 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services is a bonus category almost everyone can easily take advantage of because it includes services like Audible, HBO Now, Hulu, Kindle Unlimited, Netflix, and more!
Just keep in mind that if you pay for one of the subscriptions through a third party or as part of a package deal, you might not earn the bonus cash back. Also, certain superstores, like Target or BJs, won’t qualify for the U.S. supermarket bonus.
Best for spending outside of bonus categories
With the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you can earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.
Benefits and perks
You’ll earn 1.5% cash back (1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on purchases, with no cap on how much cash back you can earn. That makes this card one of the best for everyday, non-bonus spending.
It’s best for folks who like fixed rewards, because there are no bonus categories you’ll have to remember.
If you have the Sapphire Reserve card you can redeem Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents each toward travel booking through the Chase travel portal. That makes it a great card to pair with the Freedom Unlimited because every purchase you make would be earning 2.25% toward travel (1.5x Chase points X 1.5 cents per point).
This card has no annual fee
Why it’s worth it
Just like the Chase Freedom Flex card, when you pair the Chase Freedom Unlimited with an annual-fee Ultimate Rewards card, all the points you earn become transferable to travel partners.
Because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are much more valuable when you can transfer them to travel partners, it makes the Chase Freedom Unlimited a top card for your everyday non-bonused spending and it can even make sense to pay your taxes with the card.
Best overall cash back card
The Citi Double Cash card does not have a welcome bonus offer.
Benefits and perks
The Citi Double cash card earns a straightforward 1% cash back when make a purchase and 1% cash back when you pay for that purchase. To earn the cash back you’ll need to pay at least the minimum amount due on time.
This year Citi added the ability to convert the cash back rewards you earn with the Citi Double Cash card into Citi ThankYou points at a ratio of $1:100 points, so each penny is worth one ThankYou point. If you have either the Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige® Card you can combine your Citi ThankYou points together and then transfer them to any of Citi’s 15 airline partners. That makes the Double Cash card the best way to earn Citi ThankYou points on non-bonus category spending.
This card doesn’t have an annual fee.
Why it’s worth it
Anytime you can earn 2% cash back (1% when you buy, plus 1% when as you pay) on a no-annual-fee card it’s nearly impossible to go wrong. But, having the possibility of being able to take advantage of the Citi ThankYou transfer partners allows you to greatly increase the value of your rewards. For example, you can transfer 15,000 Citi points to Turkish Airlines and book a round-trip United Airlines partner award from the continental U.S. to Hawaii. Normally, 15,000 points would be worth $150 cash back, but even a cheap flight to Hawaii would cost you three times that much.
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Best for rotating bonus categories
With the Chase Freedom Flex card, you can earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.
Benefits and perks
Chase Freedom Flex benefits are top-notch for a no-annual-fee card because you can earn 5% cash back (5x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on up to $1,500 in spending in rotating categories each quarter when you activate the bonus. If you spend the maximum each quarter, you can earn $300 in bonus cash back during the year. You’ll also get 5% back on Lyft rides through March 2022.
Freedom Flex cardmembers are eligible for the same DoorDash perks as Freedom Unlimited cardholders. You can get three months of complimentary DashPass, which normally costs $9.99/month and gets you waived delivery fees on DoorDash orders of $12+ at participating restaurants. You must activate this benefit by Dec. 31, 2021, to qualify and after the first three free months, you can continue the membership at a 50% discount for the next nine months.
If you have either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can use the points you earn with the Freedom Flex toward travel bookings on the Chase travel portal. That means any purchases that earn 5% cash back (5x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) would be earning 7.5% toward travel (5x Chase points X 1.5 cents per point).
This card has no annual fee.
Why it’s worth it
The Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn with the Chase Freedom Flex card are worth one cent each toward cash back or travel. But your Chase points have more value if you have cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
When you have one of these cards, you can combine your points and transfer them to lots of great airline and hotel partners, like Hyatt and Southwest. That’s why being able to transfer your points is so powerful.
Best for no annual fee small business card
You’ll earn a $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months of opening your Ink Business Cash credit card account.
Benefits and perks
The card also has excellent 5x and 2x bonus categories. You’ll earn 5% cash back (5x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on the first $25,000 you spend in combined purchases at office supply stores and on phone, internet, and cable TV services each account anniversary year. And at gas stations and restaurants you’ll get 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year. For all other spending you’ll earn 1% cash back.
As it is with the other Ultimate Rewards points earning cards on this list, if you have the Ink Business Cash AND an annual fee version of the Sapphire cards, you can redeem Ultimate Rewards points toward travel booking through the Chase travel portal. So either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® are good to pair with the Ink Cash because every purchase you make would be earning either 3% or 7.5% toward travel for bonus category spending (2x or 5x Chase points X 1.5 cents per point).
For small business owners, it’s hard to top the welcome bonus you’ll get with the no-annual-fee Chase Ink Business Cash card.
Why it’s worth it
If you spend a lot in the bonus categories, the Chase Ink Business Cash can put literally free money back toward your bottom line.
Like other Chase cards, it’s subject to the 5/24 rule, but because it’s a small business card, it won’t count toward your status when you open it. Even better, you can combine the points you earn with this card with other Ultimate Rewards-earning cards, even personal cards. Considering there’s no annual fee, the $750 welcome offer is extremely generous. To improve your chances of getting this card, check out our Chase Ink Cash approval tips.
How to pick the best cash back credit card
Do a quick search for “what is the best cash-back credit card” and you’ll quickly be overwhelmed with information. You’ll have to wade through details about bonus categories, annual fees, and benefits — and that’s before you start reading the fine print. You could spend hours doing research and still not end up with the best card for you. The good news is, we’ve done all the legwork so you don’t have to.
We’ve looked at everything you need to know including:
- Intro bonus: Banks entice folks to apply for their credit cards with generous bonuses — and a big welcome bonus can be the difference between the “right” or “wrong” card.
- Minimum spending requirements: You generally won’t earn an intro bonus without meeting a minimum spending requirement. This is a big factor in deciding whether or not you should get a card. It’s not a good idea to spend more than you normally would just to meet a minimum spending requirement.
- Cash-back earning rate: How much cash back will you earn per dollar spent? And which, if any, categories of purchases will earn bonus cash?
- Perks, quirks, and fees: Each card has different benefits, such as insurance coverage for everything from rental cars to cell phones. Some cards have an annual fee, although their perks will quite often offset the cost. You’ll want to make sure the benefits of a card outweigh any fees before you make a decision.
Common types of cash back credit cards
Cash back credit cards are those that earn cash back, as opposed to, say, miles or points, for purchases. Cash back cards can be put into three different earnings categories: flat rate, tiered and those with rotating bonus categories.
Flat-rate: With a flat-rate cash back card, you’ll earn the same amount of cash back on every purchase, regardless of what you’re purchasing.
Tiered: Tiered cash back cards offer a higher percentage of cash back on certain spending categories. And a flat rewards rate on all other spending.
Rotating Categories: Cards that offer rotating bonus categories will offer a higher earning rate on specific categories that change every so often. Then a flat rate on other purchases.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred card, click here.
Chase Freedom Flex℠APPLY NOW
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1% 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.
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
14.99 – 23.74% Variable
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)