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Compare 3% cashback credit cards
Earn $3 per $100 on up to a set amount in each purchase category.
In the pantheon of credit cards, 3% cashback credit cards are for consumers who want to earn higher-than-average cash back in the areas they spend in most. These cards offer 3% back on select categories such as groceries or gas, usually up to a certain spending cap each year, making them an ideal choice if you want to turn your common purchases into higher rewards than you’d find with a 1.5% or 2% card. Given how many types of spending categories out there, it can pay to have more than just one 3% cashback credit card in your wallet.
Consider these 3% cashback credit cards
These cards earn 3% cash back in one or more categories. Some offer higher than 3% back on select purchases, so note which areas you spend the most in to find the card that will help you earn the most money back.
How to choose 3% cashback credit cards
Generally, a 3% cashback credit card will earn 3% back on a few specific categories up to a limit, and 1% back on everything else. In addition to looking out for benefits like signup bonuses and intro APRs, here are the main factors you’ll want to look at when comparing 3% cashback credit cards:
- Look at the areas you spend in most. Unless you’re spending on the card’s accelerated category, a 3% cashback credit card will generally lose out in value over a flat-rate 1.5% or 2% credit card. To maximize the value you get out of a 3% card, you need to review your spending needs and identify the areas you spend in most. Your largest spending categories will have one of the biggest impacts on which 3% cashback credit card you choose.
- Look at the value of the welcome offer. Many 3% cashback credit cards come with a welcome offer. These can vary pretty widely depending on the card and often change throughout the year on a card-by-card basis.
- Determine whether you need an intro APR. If you have existing debt you want to transfer over and pay interest-free, or if you need to make some larger purchases and pay it off over time without interest, a 3% cashback credit card with the appropriate introductory APR is worth considering. The money you save on interest alone could be worth a potentially lower signup bonus or fewer perks in exchange for the offer.
- Review your credit score. Many 3% cashback credit cards require at least a good credit score to obtain, and the best among them require an excellent score. If your credit score isn’t up to snuff, you may need to look at 1.5% cashback card options or cards without rewards.
3% cashback credit card comparisons
Unlike many flat-rate credit cards, 3% cashback credit cards are highly varied in terms of features. Here’s a quick example showing three of these cards side-by-side. We’ve listed some features of each card, as well as how much cash back you can expect to earn in a month assuming a certain amount of spending.
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express||Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card||Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card|
|Supermarkets ($600 in spending)||$18 (3%)||$6 (1%)||$12 (2%)|
|Gas ($200 in spending)||$4 (2%)||$6 (3%)||Up to $6 (3%)|
|Travel ($600 in spending)||$6 (1%)||$18 (3%)||Up to $18 (3%)|
|Spending cap?||Yes. $6,000 at US supermarkets annually, reverting to 1% back||No||Yes. $2,500 in combined spending of grocery stores and your chosen 3% category each quarter, reverting to 1% back|
|Welcome offer||$200 cash back after you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months||20,000 points ($300) after you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months||$200 cash back after you spend $1,000 in your first 90 days|
|Best suited for…||Smaller families looking for straightforward cash back on groceries and gas||Cardholders who spend a lot of time traveling and dining out||Cardholders who spend mostly on groceries and want to choose their other highest spending category|
As shown in our comparison table, 3% cashback credit cards are far less uniform in how they work compared to 1.5% flat rate cards. They have varying welcome offers as well as differing caps on their 3% categories, and the Propel doesn’t have a cap at all. The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card card even lets you choose the 3% category of your choice from a list, sharing the quarterly spending cap with groceries, its next highest category.
Given the potential differences between 3% cards, it pays to study your own financial needs and spending habits prior to applying – the right card can pull double, or even triple, duty for your wallet by helping you accomplish several financial tasks.
3% cashback credit card pairings
Pairing a 3% cashback credit card with another type of rewards card, such as a 1.5% or 5% card, is a common and popular strategy for maximizing the rewards you earn on your credit card purchases. The concept behind pairing these cards is simple:
- The 3% cashback credit card lets you earn accelerated rewards on the category you spend on most each month.
- The 1.5% cashback credit card let’s you earn more rewards on everything else.
While you could simply use your 3% card for all of your spending, you’ll be earning just 1% cash back on purchases in most cases, which is less than what you’d get with a 1.5% flat-rate card. There are plenty of 1.5% cards to compare, so find the one that best suits your needs to start earning.
3% cashback credit cards and 5% credit cards
You may be tempted to pair your 3% cashback credit card with a 5% cashback card — after all, the goal is to maximize your spending reward rates. However, we generally recommend doing so only if you also already have a 1.5% cashback card. This is because both 3% and 5% cards earn just 1% cash back on purchases not covered by their accelerated categories. Since you’re generally at the mercy of spending caps and quarterly categories between these two cards, you’re leaving a lot of value on the table if you’re not using a 1.5% or 2% card on non-accelerated categories.
Having a 3% cashback credit card can help you earn accelerated rewards either on one or two categories. These often include groceries, gas, dining, travel and entertainment. In addition to cash back, most of these cards come with a signup bonus and an intro APR period on balance transfers and purchases.
However, you can always check out other credit cards to compare your options until you find the right card for your needs.
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