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A lot of what we talk about here at MMS is how to earn and redeem rewards from the top travel credit cards for free travel. But if you’re looking for a rewards currency that’s easier to manage, you should consider one of the top cash-back credit cards.
The easiest reward you can earn is cash back. With a cash-back card, you’ll get money back just for using your credit card. And depending on your monthly spending, this could translate into hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars per year.
Types of cash-back redemptions
One of the simplest ways to redeem the cash back you earn is in the form of a statement credit. That way, you don’t have to hassle with depositing a check from the credit card issuer. You just spend on your card and the rewards you earn offset what you owe.
Check or bank deposit
Some cash-back cards allow you to redeem your rewards as a check or bank deposit. For me, I see it as six of one, half a dozen of the other — as long as I’m getting my rewards I don’t really bother with whether they’re in the form of a statement credit, check or bank deposit.
While you may not consider a cash-back card to be a “travel” card, lots of people use cash-back cards to help save for travel or redeem the cash back they earn in the form of a statement credit to directly offset the costs of travel purchases. Again, the beauty of a cash-back card is that you can use the rewards you earn any way you’d like.
Pay with points
This option allows you to apply the rewards you’ve earned to certain purchases via online retailers like Amazon and Apple. This option isn’t available at all retailers, so be sure to check the specifics of your card before redeeming rewards this way. Sometimes, the value you’ll get from using your rewards in this fashion is less than using them another way.
With some issuers, it’s also possible to redeem the cash back you’ve earned for gift cards. While this might sound like an odd thing to do, redeeming your rewards this way could be a decent choice because often, redeeming your cash back for gift cards can increase the value of your rewards.
For example, I’ve seen banks offer a $5 bonus for redeeming cash back for gift cards. As always, it’s best to do the math to see if it makes sense to redeem your rewards this way — and you’ll want to make sure you can actually use the gift card.
It’s also possible to redeem your cash back for merchandise like TVs, iPads or headphones. Like redeeming your cash back for gift cards, it’s sometimes possible to get extra value from your rewards this way, but it sometimes represents a poorer value for your rewards, so evaluate your options before deciding which way to go.
Redeeming cash back from every major issuer
The way in which you can redeem your cash back will depend on which card you chose. Here’s a look at the cash-back cards offered by each major issuer along with their current welcome bonuses:
- Chase Freedom® – $150 bonus (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account
- Chase Freedom Unlimited® – $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months from account opening.
- Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card – $500 bonus (50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account
- Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card – $500 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
The information for the Ink Business Cash, Ink Business Unlimited, and Chase Freedom has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
- Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card – 20,000 bonus points (worth $200) after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of card opening
The information for the Wells Fargo Propel 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 – $300 bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
- Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card – $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
The information for the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards card and Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit 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.
How often should you redeem your cash back?
Deciding when to redeem your cash back is mostly a personal choice, though some issuers do have set minimum redemption amounts. It’s also possible with some issuers to set up reccuring redemptions; that way you know you’re putting the cash back you earn to good use. Sometimes, though, it may make sense to let your cash back balance grow and use it as a kind of savings account.
What’s the best cash-back credit card?
When it comes to determining which if the best cash-back credit cards is right for you, you’ll have to consider your spending habits. The best overall cash-back credit card is the Citi® Double Cash Card, which earns 2% cash back (1% when you buy, plus 1% when as you pay) with no annual fee.
But that particular card doesn’t come with a welcome bonus. So if you’re looking to earn a welcome offer right off the bat, you’d be better off choosing a card like the Wells Fargo Propel card or Chase Freedom. With those cards, you’ll earn an intro bonus after meeting minimum spending requirements and have the opportunity to earn bonus rewards on purchases in applicable bonus categories, too.
For a list of the top cash-back credit cards, check out our detailed rundown of the best cash-back cards available right now.
If you don’t want to hassle with award charts, available award seats and award nights, blackout dates, and all of the other rules associated with earning miles and points, earning cash back may be the way to go.
Even if it’s not the best way to maximize the value of the rewards you earn on your purchases, earning something is better than nothing — and the simplicity of earning cash back is a draw for many.
There are a variety of ways to redeem the cash back you earn, depending on which cash-back credit card you decide to go with and which bank issues the card. For example, some users may prefer a statement credit, while others might like the idea of using it as a kind of savings account to put toward travel by redeeming your rewards for credits. Again, the method in which you redeem your rewards is up to you.
What’s your favorite cash-back card and how do you prefer to redeem the cash back you earn? Share your thoughts in the comments below!