The 2% cashback credit card is a rare and special breed. Its value lies in the steady and reliable cash back value it earns on all purchases, rather than additional perks or signup bonuses. This is as high a value as most rewards cards will go before introducing spending caps or categories to your cash back. And surprisingly, there are no distinct tradeoffs when picking up a 2% card over a 1.5% card, making them an excellent choice for long-term value.
Compare 2% cashback credit cards
How to choose 2% cashback credit cards
If you’re looking to pick up a 2% cashback credit card, your options are fairly minimal. The fact of the matter is it’s hard to go wrong with nearly any of the 2% cards on the market. But to find the right fit for your financial needs, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have existing debt on other cards? If that’s the case, you may need to make a balance transfer. The Citi® Double Cash Card offers the strongest intro APR period on balance transfers among the 2% credit card options.
- Do you have trouble paying your balance on time? If you think you’ll carry a balance on your credit card, consider looking at cashback cards with lower purchase APRs to avoid accruing interest that could offset your rewards, such as the Apple Card.
- Do you mind joining a credit union? The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card is exclusively for Alliant Credit Union members
- Do you want to see your rewards grow? The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card lets you deposit your cash back in up to five of their eligible accounts. This includes retirement or college savings accounts. If you’re not in a hurry to use your rewards, deposit them in such an account to start building up your rewards.
- Do you spend big? If so, the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card would also be your best bet, earning you the highest rewards rate, up to a $10,000 cap each billing period.
Should I get a 2% cashback credit card?
Yes, if you want a simple, straightforward way to earn cash back on your purchases without having to worry about spending categories. A 2% cash back credit card is a step above the industry standard of 1.5%, though they’re fairly uncommon as far as cash back credit cards go. If you’re looking for a flat-rate cash back credit card and one of the available 2% options fits your financial needs and habits, we wholly recommend them.
There’s a small but important distinction between a cashback credit card and a rewards card. A cashback credit card only earns one form of reward: cash. Most cashback cards simply apply any cash back earned to your account as a statement balance after you decide to “cash out” or otherwise meet the provider’s requirements. Rewards cards on the other hand often earn “points” or other currencies. Points work in much the same way, though you can usually spend them on more redemption options, such as travel, gift cards or merchandise, in addition to cashback statement credits.
Rewards cards tend to require a little more effort on your part to generate the best value, so if spending some time on your card account redeeming points sounds aggravating, a 2% cashback card is likely up your alley.
1.5% cashback credit card vs 2% cashback credit card
Given their similarities, we’ve created a side-by-side breakdown of two high-performing cashback credit cards to give you a better idea of how they stack up. Here’s the American Express Cash Magnet® Card versus the Citi® Double Cash Card.
|American Express Cash Magnet® Card||Citi® Double Cash Card|
|Cashback earned ($1,500 in purchases)||$22.50 (1.5% back)||$30 (1% back on purchase and an additional 1% back on statement balance payment)|
|Annual fee||$0 (Terms apply, see rates & fees)||$0|
|Welcome offer||$150 after spending $1,000 in your first 3 months||None|
|Intro APR||0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months, reverting to 13.99% to 23.99% variable||0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months, reverting to 13.99% to 23.99% variable|
|Foreign transaction fee||2.7%||3%|
|Perks||Purchase protection, road/global assistance, select travel insurance||Citi Entertainment|
In terms of specs, the cards are quite similar. Most notable is the lack of a signup bonus on the Citi® Double Cash Card, while the Amex Cash Magnet earns $150 for meeting the spending requirements. However, you can only earn the Amex Cash Magnet‘s welcome offer once. The Double Cash, on the other hand, will always earn more than the Amex Cash Magnet on all purchases, meaning you’ll more than makeup for the Amex Cash Magnet‘s welcome offer over the long term.
Pairing a 2% cashback credit card
The steady, long-term value produced by a 2% cashback credit card makes it a great card to buddy up with another rewards card that earns accelerated rewards in select categories. For example, you could pick up a Chase Freedom Flex℠ to earn 5% back on that card’s rotating categories each quarter. And for everything that isn’t covered by the Freedom Flex‘s bonus categories, you can use a Citi® Double Cash Card to earn 2% back, which would be greater than the 1.5% you would earn if you had used the Freedom Flex on the same purchases. There are plenty of effective combinations possible, so check out our full card pairing guide to make the right pick.
While there aren’t as many available as 1.5% cashback cards, 2% cashback cards are a terrific value for all types of spending. If you’re not interested in carrying several types of credit cards or chasing the best redemption options, a 2% credit card is worth a spot in your wallet.
If you’re not sure if any of these cards would work for you, consider other cashback credit cards and compare your options until you find the right card.
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