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Best cash back credit cards of 2019 (many have no annual fees)

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Best cash back credit cards of 2019 (many have no annual fees)

Jason StaufferBest cash back credit cards of 2019 (many have no annual fees)Million Mile Secrets Team

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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 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.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards

The information for the Blue Cash Everyday and Wells Fargo Propel Amex card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Read our review of the Capital One Savor Card

Bonus

When you open a new Capital One Savor card, you’ll earn $300 cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Benefits

It’s the perfect card to use when you’ve got a night out on the town planned because it earns 4% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases. You’ll also earn:

  • 2% cash back at grocery stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

And there is no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn. Also, through December 2019 you can get your Postmates Unlimited plan fee ($9.99/month) reimbursed (as a statement credit) when you pay with your Capital One Savor card. With a Postmates Unlimited plan you get free delivery on all orders of $15 or more.

Annual Fee

The card has a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year.

Our Take

The Capital One Savor is one of the best credit cards for restaurants, so if you eat out a lot it’s a great choice. Also, because the annual fee is waived for the first year, all of the $300 intro bonus is yours to keep.

Read our review of the Amex Blue Cash Preferred

Bonus

The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card is an excellent card for earning cash back in popular everyday spending categories.

With this card, you can earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Benefits

The card also has some rock solid bonus categories:

  • 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
  • 1% cash back on everything else
  • Terms Apply

Annual Fee

The Blue Cash Preferred has a $95 annual fee (see rates and fees).

Our Take

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:

  • Amazon Music
  • Apple Music
  • Audible
  • CBS All Access
  • Direct TV Now
  • ESPN+
  • Fubo TV
  • HBO Now
  • Hulu
  • iHeartRadio
  • Kindle Unlimited
  • MLB.TV
  • NBA League Pass
  • Netflix
  • NHL.TV
  • Pandora
  • Prime Video Unlimited
  • Showtime
  • Sling TV
  • SiriusXM Streaming and Satellite
  • Spotify
  • YouTube Music Premium
  • YouTube Premium
  • YouTube TV

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.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Bonus

With the Bank of America Cash Rewards card, you can earn a $200 bonus after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Benefits

That’s on top of the cash back you’ll earn on your purchases:

  • 3% cash back on your choice of one of these six categories — gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings and 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (bonus cash back is earned on up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases, then 1%)
  • Unlimited 1% back on all other purchases

Annual Fee

This card has no annual fee.

Our Take

If you make the most of the 3% cash back category, you can earn an extra $75 per quarter or $300 per year. That’s not too shabby for a no annual fee credit card.

When you open the card the default 3% cash back category is gas, but you can change your bonus category once per month. Being able to change the 3% category every month should give you the flexibility to easily maximize your cash back every quarter. This is especially helpful for travel and home improvements, because those are generally times for bigger purchases, but you might not want either of them as a bonus category for an entire quarter.

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Read our comparison of the Capital One SavorOne vs. Capital One Savor

Bonus

The Capital One SavorOne card has a $150 cash bonus offer, which you’ll earn after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. That’s a really small minimum spending requirement, and the cash bonus is like getting 30% back on your minimum spending.

Benefits

The card also earns:

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

You can earn an unlimited amount of cash back with the card, so it’s a great choice if you’re looking to save on a night out and don’t want to bother with paying an annual fee. Plus, the Capital One SavorOne card has no foreign transaction fees, so you won’t be penalized for using it on your next trip overseas.

Annual Fee

This card has no annual fee.

Our Take

While the cash-back bonus categories and intro bonus are bigger with the Capital One Savor card, it can make sense for some people to open the Capital One SavorOne card instead. Because the card has no annual fee, it makes sense to hold onto it long term, as doing this will increase the age of the accounts on your credit report, which is one way to keep your credit score healthy.

Chase Freedom

Read our review of the Chase Freedom

Bonus

You can earn a $150 bonus (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) with the Chase Freedom card after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Benefits

You’ll also earn 5% cash back (5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on the no annual fee Chase Freedom card’s rotating quarterly categories. After you activate the bonus, you can earn it on up to $1,500 in spending each quarter ($75 back) combined across all bonus categories. The bonus categories are typically useful, like gas stations, grocery stores and mobile wallet or Paypal payments.

When PayPal was included as a bonus category, I took advantage of the Chase Freedom card’s 5% cash back by paying my taxes through PayPal with my card. The category bonus made it a profitable move, even with the extra fees for making the payment with a card.

Annual Fee

This card has no annual fee.

Our Take

The Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn with the Chase Freedom card are worth 1 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. For example, you could redeem 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for $300 cash back (30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points X 1 cent each). Or, you could transfer those points to Hyatt and book a $900 hotel room. Those same points could get you to Hawaii and back on British Airways or Singapore Airlines. That’s why being able to transfer your points is so powerful.

Chase has one of the more restrictive application rules – the 5/24 rule. Chase will not approve you for most of their cards if you’ve opened five or more cards from any bank (NOT counting Chase business cards and certain other business cards) in the past 24 months. The Chase Freedom card is affected by this rule. So if you’re new to the rewards credit card hobby, it makes sense to apply for the best Chase credit cards you want first, then get other cards later on.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Read our review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited

Bonus

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you can earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Benefits

After the promotional rate expires, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back (1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on all 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.

Annual Fee

This card has no annual fee

Our Take

Just like the Chase Freedom 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.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Read our review of the Amex Blue Cash Everyday

Bonus

With this card, you can earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Benefits

If you’re looking to take the sting out rising fuel prices and expensive grocery bills, the Amex Blue Cash Everyday card should be in your wallet.

The card has some exceptional bonus categories:

  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1% cash back)
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
  • 1% cash back on everything else
  • Terms Apply

The card also comes with other perks like:

  • Free ShopRunner Membership – Free two-day shipping from hundreds of online stores, a value of $79 per year
  • Rental car loss and damage insurance – This insurance will cover authorized drivers for damage due to theft or collision of most rental cars. The coverage applies when you pay for the entire rental with your eligible card. This benefit is secondary to other insurance.
  • Extended warranty – You can get up to an additional two years on the original manufacturer’s warranty, depending on the length of the original warranty
  • Return protection – If a qualifying U.S. purchase cannot be returned to the original merchant, you can be reimbursed up to $300 per item ($1,000 per calendar year). The coverage is limited to purchases made in the past 90 days

Annual Fee

The Amex Blue Cash Everyday also has no annual fee.

Our Take

Amex doesn’t count superstores or warehouse clubs as supermarkets. So purchases made at Walmart, Target, Amazon, or Costco do NOT qualify for 3% cash back. Generally, fuel purchases from gas stations that are part of supermarkets or warehouse clubs also will NOT qualify for the 2% cash back bonus at U.S. gas stations. So be sure to review the terms before you make any big bonus-category purchases.

If you want to take the sting out of your streaming service subscriptions and U.S. supermarket purchases, but don’t want to deal with an annual fee, then this is the card for you.

For more details on which streaming services earn 3% back read our Amex Blue Cash Everyday review

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Read our review of the Wells Fargo Propel American Express

Bonus

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express card comes with 30,000 bonus points (worth $300 in cash back, travel, gift cards or other rewards) after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card opening.

Benefits

You’ll also get:

  • 3 points per $1 spent on travel purchases (flights, hotels, homestays, and car rentals)
  • 3 points per $1 spent on eating out and ordering in
  • 3 points per $1 spent on gas stations, rideshares, and transit
  • 3 points per $1 spent on eligible streaming services
  • 1 point per $1 for all other purchases
  • Cell phone insurance (up to $600 per claim with a $25 deductible)
  • No foreign transaction fees

Annual Fee

This card doesn’t have an annual fee.

Our Take

Your points are worth 1 cent apiece for rewards like cash back, travel or gift cards. If you spend a lot in these categories, earning 3% back in rewards is a good deal, especially for a card with no annual fee.

Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Read our review of the Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Bonus

You’ll earn a $500 cash back bonus (50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening your account.

Benefits

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
  • 2% cash 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
  • 1% cash back (1x Chase Ultimate Rewards point per $1) on all other purchases

Annual Fee

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.

Our Take

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 $500 welcome offer is extremely generous.

To improve your chances of getting this card, check out our Chase Ink Cash Approval tips.

Summary of the Best Cash Back Credit Cards

  BonusBenefitsAnnual Fee
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card$300 cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening- 4% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases
- 2% cash back at grocery stores
$95 (waived the first year)
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express$250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening- 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
- 1% cash back on everything else
- Terms Apply
$95 annual fee
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card$200 bonus after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening- 3% cash back on your choice of one of these six categories — gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings
- 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (bonus cash back is earned on up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases, then 1%)
- 1% back on all other purchases
$0
Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card$150 cash bonus offer, which you’ll earn after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening- 3% cash back on dining and entertainment
- 2% cash back at grocery stores
$0
Chase Freedom$150 bonus (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of account openingEarn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in rotating quarterly categories (activation required)$0
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express$150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening- 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1% cash back)
- 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
- 1% cash back on everything else
- Terms Apply
$0
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card30,000 bonus points (worth $300 in cash back, travel, gift cards or other rewards) after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card opening- 3 points per $1 spent on travel purchases (flights, hotels, homestays, and car rentals)
- 3 points per $1 spent on eating out and ordering in
- 3 points per $1 spent on gas stations, rideshares, and transit
- 3 points per $1 spent on eligible streaming services
- 1 point per $1 for all other purchases
- Cell phone insurance (up to $600 per claim with a $25 deductible)
- No foreign transaction fees
$0
Ink Business Cash Credit Card500 cash back bonus (50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening your account- 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
- 2% cash 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
$0

How We Selected the Best Credit Cards for Cash Back

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’ll cover 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 $1 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.

If you’re just starting out with rewards credit cards, you’ll want to know your credit score before applying. You can check it for free at a number of different sites, including myBankrate. To have the highest odds of approval for most of the best cash-back credit cards, you’ll need a credit score of 700+, but even if you have less than perfect credit, you have options.

Banks do look at more than just your credit score when reviewing your application, and having a pristine credit report does not guarantee an approval.

You’ll also want to read our post about the 11 credit card myths that could be holding you back. For example, it’s a common myth that applying for credit cards will hurt your credit score. While it is true that applying for a credit card will result in a hard inquiry, which will temporarily lower your credit score by a small amount, over the long haul it’s easy to maintain an excellent credit score and have lots of rewards credit cards.

Many of us on the Million Mile Secrets team have 12+ credit cards while maintaining credit scores over 800.

Of course, if you don’t pay your balance off in full and on time every month, your credit score can take a hit and you’ll end up paying hefty interest and fees. So if you’re not in a position to pay off all your credit card balances each and every month, then you’ll want to wait to apply. No credit card rewards are worth sacrificing your credit score or finances.

Bottom Line

To recap, we believe the best credit cards for cash back are:

Two additional cash back credit cards to consider for their low spending requirements:

Do you have a favorite cash-back card that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments!

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

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

Featured image by Dean Drobot/Shutterstock.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
  • Receive a monthly statement credit for a Postmates Unlimited monthly membership through Dec. 2019 with the Capital One Savor Card
  • 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
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that

More Info

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! :)

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I got the BoA spend $500 get $150. Going for the no fee Savor next.

Very nice, congrats on the approval!

The article doesn’t mention the Citi Double Cash Back card, which is a no annual fee card and has Citi Rewind. In my opinion, it is the best free card since you can use it to pay your federal taxes and still earn a tax-free margin of .13%.

Carrie @ Season It Already!

I’m curious about the following on the Propel card:

Cell phone insurance (up to $600 per claim with a $25 deductible)

My question: Does the phone need to be purchased with the credit card or does just having the card offer the insurance?

If you want to skip the noise and not have 7 cards for 7 types of spend, just get the Citibank 2% cash back card. No gimmicks. 2% back on all spend. I still use other cards to maximize return on spend, but you can’t beat Citi Double Cash Back card for simplicity sake.

Two chances to get the Wells Fargo card. Slim and none.

Agreed – I have excellent credit and 5+ cards with no balance carried. WF said they couldn’t verify my identity. Sitting in their office with a passport, DL and handfull of cards wasn’t good enough. Later they called and said I had past due invoices -not for 25+ years (if ever!) They were not interested in my business at all.

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