My Top 5 Favorite Cash Back Cards

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My Top 5 Favorite Cash Back Cards

Million Mile SecretsMy Top 5 Favorite Cash Back CardsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Million Mile Secrets reader, Travis, emailed:

I’m not sure if you look much into non-travel credit cards, but I’d like you to recommend a credit card for cash back.  I’m really trying to pinch pennies right now and thought that might be a good way to get a little extra cash.  I’ve also got a trip in the books to the Dominican Republic using Southwest and Starwood points!  Hope you have a good day.

Sometimes it makes more sense for folks to earn cash back instead of earning points and miles.  Remember, it’s all about your individual travel goals!

My Top 5 Favorite Personal Cash Back Cards
I Prefer Miles & Points, but Some Folks Love Cash Back!

Cash back cards can give you great flexibility, because you’re not locked-in to redeeming rewards with specific airlines or hotels.

Let’s see which cards are best for cash back!

My Favorite Cash Back Cards

Link:   Hot Deals

Cash back cards are a great place to start if you are new to Big Travel with Small Money and want simplicity.  No award charts to fuss with!

I’m listing the best cash back cards open to everyone.  For those of y’all with a small business, I really like the AMEX SimplyCash and Chase Ink Cash.  You can see other small business cards here.

The best cash back card for you depends on your spending habits.  Here are 5 of my favorites.

1.   Chase Freedom

Link:   Chase Freedom

Link:   My Review of the Chase Freedom

The sign-up bonus on the Chase Freedom is $150 (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $500 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account.

And you’ll earn $25 (2,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) for adding an authorized user who makes a purchase within the same 3-month period.

That’s a fairly easy $175 that Travis can put towards his savings!

Travis can earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 (5% cash back) on up to $1,500 in spending in rotating categories each quarter when he activates the bonus.

If he spends the full $1,500 in bonus categories, he’ll earn another $75 (5X points x $1,500 x 1 cent per point) each quarter in cash back.  That’s $300 per year!

The Chase Freedom card is a flexible option because it earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  If you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold (no longer available) card, you can transfer points from the Chase Freedom to terrific travel partners like United Airlines and Hyatt for Big Travel.

Transferring to travel partners is how I like to get Big Travel.  Because the points are worth more that way.

Or redeem points for paid travel (with no blackout dates) at 1.25 cents per point through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

I’ve kept this card for a long time because there’s no annual fee!

This card charges 3% in foreign transaction fees.  So it’s NOT a good option for Travis to use on his trip to the Dominican Republic.

2.   Citi Double Cash

Link:   Citi Double Cash Card

Link:   My Review of the Citi Double Cash

With the Citi Double Cash card, Travis can earn cash back twice!  He’ll earn 1% when he makes a purchase and another 1% when he pays it off.

This card does NOT have a sign-up bonus, but there’s no annual fee.  So it’s a great card to keep forever and help boost your credit score.

Because there are no limits on rewards or category restrictions, this is a good card to use for almost any purchase.  It’s also an easy option if you don’t want or don’t have the time to track category spending.

My Top 5 Favorite Personal Cash Back Cards
Busy Folks Who Don’t Want to Keep Track of Bonus Categories Might Like the Citi Double Cash – but There’s NO Sign-Up Bonus

Sometimes convenience is worth more than getting the highest rate of return on your spending!

There’s a 3% foreign transaction fee on this card, so this is NOT a good card for Travis to use on his trip to the Dominican Republic.

3.   Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card

Link:   Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card

The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature card offers 2% cash back on all purchases with no limits on rewards.  There is NO sign-up bonus, but there isn’t an annual fee either.

This would be a great card for Travis to use for his everyday spending. But there’s a catch.  You need an eligible Fidelity investment account to earn the full 2% back.

My Top 5 Favorite Personal Cash Back Cards
Want to Invest Your Cash Back? The Fidelity Investment Rewards Visa Might Be a Good Pick!

That said, you’ll earn interest on your deposits, so in the long-term this could make your cash back even more valuable.

If Travis has (or opens) a qualifying Fidelity account, he can set up his card to automatically deposit his 2% cash back into that account.  If he uses his Fidelity Rewards points for anything else like gift cards, statement credits, or travel, he won’t be guaranteed the full 2% back.

This card charges a 1% foreign transaction fee, so it’s NOT best card for Travis to use on his trip to the Dominican Republic.

4.   Discover it

Link:   Discover it

With no annual fee and a $50 bonus after your 1st purchase within the 1st 3 months of opening your account, the Discover it is another good cash back option.

It offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in bonus categories that change each quarter.  And 1% cash back on everything else.

New cardholders (or folks who previously registered) will have their cash back doubled at the end of 12 billing cycles.

This quarter, from January 2016 through March 2016, Travis could earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases at gas stations and on ground transportation.  Don’t forget to activate the bonus!

My Top 5 Favorite Personal Cash Back Cards
Hitting the Road? Earn 5% Cash Back This Quarter With the Discover it at Gas Stations and on Ground Transportation

That’s great news considering many folks spend lots of money on gas or ground transportation!  This means Travis could earn up to $75 in cash back just for driving back and forth to work!

It’s also a card Travis could use in the Dominican Republic because there are NO foreign transaction fees.

5.   Discover it Miles

Link:   Discover it Miles

Link:   My Review of the Discover it Miles

Although not technically a cash back card, the Discover it Miles card would offer Travis some flexibility in how he chooses to use his rewards.

Unlike other cash back cards that have rotating categories, the Discover it Miles card offers 1.5 miles (1.5% back) per $1 you spend on all purchases.  There’s no limit on how much you can earn.

Plus, they’ll double the miles you earned after 12 months.  So you’ll effectively earn 3 miles per $1 (3% back) in your 1st year.

However, there is NO sign-up bonus.

My Top 5 Favorite Personal Cash Back Cards
Redeem Miles for Paid Travel – or Cash Them Out! You Choose With the Discover it Miles Card

Travis could redeem these miles for statement credits towards paid travel.  Or cash them out to boost his savings!

With NO foreign transaction fees, this would be a great card for Travis to use on his upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic.

Bottom Line

Earning cash back on everyday spending is a great goal if you like simplicity.  You can use the extra money for anything from a meal at a nice restaurant to saving towards your next travel adventure!

My favorite is the Chase Freedom card because of the improved sign-up bonus and terrific 5X points (5% cash back) rotating quarterly bonus categories.  And it has NO annual fee.

Some folks might prefer the Citi Double Cash or Fidelity Rewards Visa card if they don’t want to worry about bonus categories.  Or the Discover it and Discover it Miles cards for no foreign transaction fees.

Thanks for your question, Travis.  And enjoy your trip to the Dominican Republic!

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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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@Brandon – Those are good cards, too. Some folks report Wells Fargo won’t approve you for a card if you don’t have a previous relationship with them, though.

@Maggie – True! But you can usually get more value from your Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to airlines and hotels.

@GC – Agreed!

Discover It with the first-year double cash back is very valuable. 10% cash back in bonus categories and 2% on everything else is hard to beat, especially when you combine it with Discover Deals for even higher percentages of cash back for online shopping!

All of the Chase ultimate rewards cards are also good cash back cards if you value the cash more than the points. Plus, they have signup bonuses, so you can cash out $400 or $500 once you earn the bonus.

I’m surprised you didn’t mention the Old Amex Blue Cash. I’m also surprised you didn’t mention the Wells Fargo Cash Back card, which offers 5% on all purchases in the first 6 months, or the BBVA NBA card.