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Best Cashback Credit Cards of 2021

Take advantage of flexible rewards with a card that fits the way you live.

Our pick for a cashback credit card: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Up to 6%

Cash back

  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Huge cashback on groceries and streaming
  • Intro APR on purchases
Apply now
Terms apply, see rates & fees
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express logo

Best for up to 3% back at US supermarkets, terms apply

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.6/5
Chase Freedom Unlimited® logo

Best for pairing with Chase cards

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.7/5
Chase Freedom Flex℠ logo

Best 5% cashback card

Chase Freedom Flex℠

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.7/5
Citi® Double Cash Card logo

Best for unlimited cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card

★★★★★
Finder rating: 3.8/5

What are the best cashback credit cards?

Best no-annual-fee cashback card for moderate spending on groceries
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express logo
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on American Express's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 3%
Cash back
$100
Welcome offer
For those who don't spend thousands of dollars a month on groceries but still want solid rewards, the Blue Cash Everyday Card is the ideal choice. The combination of no annual fee, a decent rewards rate on groceries, and a welcome offer makes this card perfect for smaller families.
  • Cash back. Earn 3% back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that. Earn 2% back at US gas stations and department stores, and 1% back on everything else.
  • Welcome offer. Earn a $100 bonus after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 6 months following your account opening.
  • Intro APR period on purchases. Get a 0% intro APR period on purchases for 15 months after account opening. After that, your rate reverts to 13.99% to 23.99% variable.
  • Foreign transaction fee. Purchases made abroad or online with foreign merchants cost 2.7% of the amount.
  • No balance transfers. Amex removed balance transfers from their cards in 2020.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer Up to $250: 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months for up to $150 back, plus $100 statement credit after spending $2,000 within the first 6 months
Estimated welcome offer value $200 based on Finder's valuation
Rewards 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1%), 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers.
Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

Best for pairing with Chase cards
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited® logo
Finder Rating: 4.7 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on Chase's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 5%
Cash back
$200
Welcome offer
Of all of Chase's Ultimate Rewards cards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is the must-have card for the Chase Ultimate Rewards enthusiasts. The flat earning rate on all purchases lets you steadily build your points without needing to worry about quarterly categories, and the new accelerated categories bolster those points even further.
  • Cash back. Earn 5% cash back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and on Lyft through March 2022, 5% back at restaurants and drugstores and 1.5% back on all other purchases. The 1.5% cash back is what makes this card a great addition to the Chase Trifecta combo because the other two cards earn only 1% on most categories.
  • Signup bonus. Earn a signup bonus of $200 after you spend $500 within your first 3 months of account opening. You also earn 5% cash back at grocery stores on up to $12,000 in your first year.
  • Intro APR period on purchases. Get 15 months of 0% intro APR period on purchases. After that, your APR reverts to 14.99% to 23.74% variable.
  • Second card needed. You'll need a Chase Sapphire card to transfer points and make the most of your rewards.
  • Foreign transaction fee. Transactions made abroad or online with foreign retailers cost 3% of the amount.
  • No intro APR period on balance transfers. There's no 0% intro APR period to use to consolidate your debt.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
Balance transfer APR 14.99% to 23.74% variable
Welcome offer $200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus 5% cash back at grocery stores (not including Target® or Walmart®) on up to $12,000 in the first yeares) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year
Estimated welcome offer value $800 based on Finder's valuation
Rewards 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 5% on Lyft, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases

Best 5% cashback card
Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠ logo
Finder Rating: 4.7 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on Chase's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 5%
Cash back
$200
Welcome offer
In all of Finder's card comparisons in 2020, few cards have come up on top as often as the Chase Freedom Flex℠. That's because it offers a huge variety of 5% cashback categories, and Chase added several new flat-rate earning categories to the mix, including 5% on select travel and 3% on dining and drug stores. It's tough to go wrong with this card.
  • Cash back. Earn 5% back on travel purchased via the Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5% back on Lyft rides through March 2022 and 5% back on rotating categories on up to $1,500 each quarter. After reaching the cap, you earn 1% back. Purchases made at drugstores and restaurants, including delivery and takeout earn 3% back. Everything else earns 1% back.
  • Signup bonus. Earn $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 in the first 3 months when you open your account.
  • Intro APR period. Get 15 months of 0% intro APR period on purchases. A variable APR of 14.99% to 23.74% applies thereafter.
  • Foreign transaction fees. Purchases made abroad or online with foreign merchants will cost you 3% of the amount.
  • No intro APR period on balance transfers. You don't get to use a 0% intro APR period on balance transfers.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
Balance transfer APR 14.99% to 23.74% variable
Welcome offer $200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus 5% cash back at grocery stores (not including Target® or Walmart®) on up to $12,000 in the first year
Estimated welcome offer value $200 based on Finder's valuation
Rewards 5% cash back on up to $1,500 combined in quarterly categories you activate, 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases

Best cashback card for unlimited cash back and ongoing rewards after a balance transfer
Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card logo
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on Citi's secure site
670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 2%
Cash back
n/a
Welcome offer
Credit cards with a flat cashback rate typically offer 1.5% back on all purchases. But this cards offers 1% back when you make the purchase and another 1% back when you pay it off. That gives you a total of 2% cash back on all purchases. While this has been outclassed by the Chase Freedom cards in recent months, the Citi Double Cash has the longest balance transfer offer of any cashback card, letting it maintain a key spot on our list.
  • Earn cash babck. Earn 1% cash back when you make the purchase and 1% when you pay your balance for a total 2% cash back. The difference between 1.5% and 2% cashback cards is $100 for $20,000 spent in one year.
  • Intro APR on balance transfers. Get 18 months of a 0% intro APR period for balance transfers. After that, a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99% applies. Most cashback cards offer either 12 or 15 months of interest-free period on balance transfers, which makes the Citi offer superior.
  • No annual fee. You get to earn cash back and save money with balance transfers without paying an annual fee.
  • Foreign transaction fee. All purchases made abroad or online with foreign merchants cost 3% of the amount.
  • No welcome offer. Getting a higher cashback rate on your purchases is compensated with a lack of signup bonus. However, the higher rate offers a long-term value.
  • No intro APR period on purchases. This card offers only an interest-free period on balance transfers but not on purchases.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 13.99% to 23.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 18 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Welcome offer N/A
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards Up to 2% cash back on purchases (1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay)

Best for gas
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi logo
Finder Rating: 3.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (740-850)
Apply now
on Citi's secure site
740
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 4%
Cash back
n/a
Welcome offer
Similar cashback cards let you earn either 2% or 3% back on gas purchases. At 4% back, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi is the current leader in gas rewards. Even though this cashback rate is capped at $7,000 annually, after which you earn 1% back, it's still the best choice to earn the most cash back on gas. Plus, you'll enjoy accelerated rewards on travel, dining and Costco purchases as well.
  • Cash back. Earn 4% cash back on gas for the first $7,000 spent annually, 1% after that. Earn 3% cash back on restaurants and travel, 2% back on purchases from Costco and Costco.com, and 1% cash back on everything else.
  • Acts as a membership card. Use your Costco credit card to enter Costco.
  • Costco membership required. You need to have Costco membership to apply for the card.
  • Limited redemption options. You can only redeem your Costco rewards once a year.
  • No intro APR period. This card doesn't have a 0% intro APR period on purchases or balance transfers.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 15.24% variable
Balance transfer APR 15.24% variable
Welcome offer N/A
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards 4% at gas stations on up to $7,000 annually (then 1%), 3% at restaurants and on travel, 2% at Costco and 1% on all other purchases

Best for new to credit
Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card

Petal® 2
Finder Rating: 3.1 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (600-850)
Apply now
on WebBank's secure site
Rates & fees

600
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 10%
Cash back
n/a
Welcome offer
Those who don't have a credit history and want to jump right into cashback cards should look no further. Unlike standard cards where the credit score is determining factor of credit card approval, Petal 2 checks your overall finances, including income, savings and spending. The Petal 2 also features no fees whatsoever, which is highly unusual for a rewards card.
  • No credit history required. To be approved for most rewards credit cards, you need a good or excellent credit score. Petal, on the other hand, analyzes your income and financial records, including your checking accounts and bill payments to determine your eligibility.
  • Cash back. Earn 1% cash back on all purchases. Make six on-time monthly payments and your rewards rate goes up to 1.25%. After 12 on-time monthly payments, your cash back rate will increase again to 1.5%. As of December 2020, Petal awards you with 2% to 10% cash back at select merchants.
  • Potentially high credit limit. You can get a credit limit of between $500 and $10,000. This isn't bad, considering you don't need a credit history to get this card.
  • No signup bonus. Most similar cards come with a signup bonus in one form or another. Unfortunately, you won't get anything extra with the Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card.
  • No intro APR period. There's no 0% intro APR period on purchases or balance transfers.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 12.99% to 26.99% variable
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer N/A
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards 1% cashback, 1.25% after six on-time payments and 1.5% after 12 on-time payments, plus 2% - 10% back from select merchants

Best cashback card for groceries
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express logo
Finder Rating: 4.3 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on American Express's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$95 ongoing
Annual fee
Up to 6%
Cash back
$150
Welcome offer
The Blue Cash Preferred continues to serve as the defacto leader when it comes to grocery rewards in the industry. Those who spend at least $500 on groceries each month would earn $360 cash back annually on this category alone. No other card can match this rewards rate.
  • Cash back. Earn 6% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year. After that, you'll earn 1% back. You also earn 6% back on select US streaming services, 3% back on transit purchases and purchases made at US gas stations, and 1% back on everything else.
  • Welcome offer. Earn $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months of card membership.
  • Intro APR period. Get a 0% intro APR period on purchases for the first 12 months of account opening. After that, a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99% applies.
  • Annual fee. You'll pay a $95 annual fee starting from the second year of card membership.
  • Foreign transaction fee. Every transaction made abroad or online with foreign merchants will cost you 2.7% of the amount.
  • No balance transfers. American Express no longer offers balance transfers on their credit cards.
Annual Fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer Up to $350: 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months for up to $200 back, plus $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards 6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers.
Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

Best cashback card for rotating categories
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 5%
Cash back
$150
Welcome offer
There are a several cards with rotating categories, but what makes this card the best are two things: you can choose your rotating categories and your quarterly cap is $2,000 compared to $1,500 of similar cards. Maxing out the rotating categories means you get to earn an extra $100 back each year.
  • Cash back. Earn 5% cash back on two categories of your choosing on up to $2,000 in combined purchases each quarter you activate, then 1%. Earn unlimited 2% back on one everyday category of your choosing, like gas or groceries. For all other purchases, you earn 1% back.
  • Signup bonus. Earn a $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of card membership.
  • Intro APR period on balance transfers. Get a 0% intro APR period on balance transfers for the first 12 months following your account opening. A variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99% applies thereafter.
  • You must keep enrolling in cash back categories. Each quarter, you must log in to your online account and register the categories you want to earn 5% and 2% cash back. Enrollment starts 45 days before the beginning of or during each quarter. If you don't, you'll earn 1% back on these categories.
  • No intro APR period on purchases. You don't get a 0% intro APR period on purchases, a feature offered by similar cashback cards.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 13.99% to 23.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Welcome offer $150 after spending $500 in the first 90 days
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards 5% on up to $2,000 each activated quarter on two categories combined (1% after), 2% on one everyday category and 1% on all other purchases

Best cashback card for dining and entertainment
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
670
Min. credit score
$95 ongoing
Annual fee
Up to 8%
Cash back
$300
Welcome offer
You won't find another credit card that can match this card's cashback rate on entertainment purchases. Aside from streaming services where you earn 1% back, you earn 4% back on movie tickets, tourist attractions, amusement parks, aquariums, zoos, dance halls, billiard and pool, bowling, sport, theather or concert events.
  • Cash back. Earn 4% back on dining and entertainment, 8% back on Vivid Seats purchases through January 2022, 5% back on Uber Eats through January 2021, and 2% back at grocery stores. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
  • Signup bonus. Earn $300 bonus cash once you spend in your first 3 months of account opening.
  • No foreign transaction fees. This can be an excellent card to use for international travel as it has no foreign transaction fees. Other cashback cards often charge a 3% fee for every transaction made abroad.
  • Annual fee. The card costs $95 annually.
Annual Fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Purchase APR 15.99% or 24.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 15.99% or 24.99% variable
Welcome offer $300 after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards 8% cash back on Vivid Seats until 1/31/2023 5% on Uber Eats, 4% on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

Best for Cashback Match after first year
Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back logo
Finder Rating: 4.8 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 5%
Cash back
Other
Welcome offer
Most no-annual-fee cashback cards offer a signup bonus worth between $50 and $250 when you meet the spend requirements. This card offers something more unique: an unlimited cashback match. Depending on how much you spend during your first year, you could easily make more than the average welcome offer value. Plus you get all of the value offered by a 5% rotating category card.
  • Cashback match. Discover will match the entire cashback you earn during your first year. Maxing out the 5% categories alones means you'll earn an extra $300. Spend another $14,000 with your card and you're looking at a $440 signup bonus at the end of your first year.
  • Cash back. Earn 5% cash back on rotating categories on up to $1,500 each quarter and 1% back after that. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
  • Intro APR period. Get 0% Intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, a variable APR of 11.99% to 22.99% applies.
  • Bonus categories change. Bonus categories change every quarter. Luckily, you know what these are at the start of the year.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 14 months (then 11.99% to 22.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 14 months (then 11.99% to 22.99% variable)
Welcome offer Discover will match cash back earned at the end of your first card year
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards 5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases

What’s changed in 2021

Aside from the two Chase Freedom cards that made an entrance last year with spectacular rewards on select categories, all other cards kept their spots on our best list this year.

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  • Why trust us? Finder’s credit card experts live and breathe credit cards, spending close to 400 hours each week researching and writing on the latest credit card happenings. When it comes to recommending cards, we know what makes a card stand out for a certain kind of consumer. We want to share our expertise and help consumers find a card that best fits into their life. Plus, our editorial guidelines keep our content unbiased and accurate for your benefit.

Summary of best credit cards for cashback

Card nameBest for…Finder ratingRewards
Chase Freedom Unlimited®Best for pairing with Chase cards
★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.7/5
5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 5% on Lyft, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases
Chase Freedom Flex℠Best 5% cashback card
★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.7/5
5% cash back on up to $1,500 combined in quarterly categories you activate, 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases
Citi® Double Cash CardBest cashback card for unlimited cash back and ongoing rewards after a balance transfer
★★★★★
Finder rating: 3.8/5
Up to 2% cash back on purchases (1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay)
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by CitiBest for gas
★★★★★
Finder rating: 3.4/5
4% at gas stations on up to $7,000 annually (then 1%), 3% at restaurants and on travel, 2% at Costco and 1% on all other purchases
Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit CardBest for new to credit
★★★★★
Finder rating: 3.1/5
1% cashback, 1.25% after six on-time payments and 1.5% after 12 on-time payments, plus 2% - 10% back from select merchants
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American ExpressBest cashback card for groceries
★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.3/5
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® CardBest cashback card for rotating categories
★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.4/5
5% on up to $2,000 each activated quarter on two categories combined (1% after), 2% on one everyday category and 1% on all other purchases
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressBest no-annual-fee cashback card for moderate spending on groceries
★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.6/5
3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1%), 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit CardBest cashback card for dining and entertainment
★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.5/5
8% cash back on Vivid Seats until 1/31/2023, 3% on dining and entertainment, 3% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
Discover it® Cash BackBest for Cashback Match after first year
★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.8/5
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit CardBest for welcome offer
★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.4/5
8% cash back on Vivid Seats until 1/31/2023 5% on Uber Eats, 4% on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

Compare cashback cards by credit card network or bank

AMEX logoBank-of-America-LogoCapital-One-Logo
Chase-LogoCiti credit cards logoDiscover provider logo
Wells Fargo Card provider logoMastercard logoVisa logo

Compare cashback credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Up to $350: 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months for up to $200 back, plus $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn up to $350. In your first 6 months, you can earn a $150 statement credit when you spend $3,000, and earn 20% back on Amazon purchases made with your card, up to $200 total. Having 6 months to earn a welcome offer is a rare benefit as most cards give you only 3. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Up to $250: 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months for up to $150 back, plus $100 statement credit after spending $2,000 within the first 6 months
3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1%), 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
$0
Earn up to $250. You'll get 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first six months for up to $150 back, and $100 after you spend $2,000 in the first six months. This is a higher-than-average welcome offer for a card with no annual fee. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
$200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus 5% cash back at grocery stores (not including Target® or Walmart®) on up to $12,000 in the first yeares) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year
5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 5% on Lyft, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases
$0
This solid 1.5% cashback card gets even better with the addition of up to 5% back in categories like travel, drug stores and dining.
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How do cashback cards work?

With a cashback credit card, your card provider pays you back a small portion of what you spend. For example, if it offers 1% cash back, you’ll receive $1 in rewards for every $100 you spend.

Despite the name, you don’t actually receive physical cash back for using this kind of card. Instead, you can redeem your cash back as statement credit, deposits into your bank account or other items such as merchandise and gift cards.

Depending on the issuer, your card provider may redeem cash back for you automatically, applying it to your account as statement credit. Some providers require you to have a minimum amount of cash back before you can redeem — often $25 or more.

There are three types of cashback cards:

1. Flat rate cashback cards

These simple cards earn the same percentage for everything, no matter what type of purchase it is. Look for a card that earns 1.5% or 2% cashback.

2. Tiered cashback cards

Tiered cards earn elevated cashback on set purchases, which are generally everyday spending areas such as gas and groceries. These cards can earn up to 6% cashback on the bonus categories!

3. Rotating category cards

These cards earn up to 5% on categories that change each quarter. You’ll earn 1% on spending outside the bonus categories.

When is a cash back card worth it?

Given the nature of most cashback cards, its rare that adding one to your wallet won’t be worth your time. The main consideration you’ll want to think about before applying for one is what kind of cashback card do you want: a flat rate card, or category card. This will most determine whether a cashback card is worth it.

Which you pick ultimately comes down to your spending habits. Do you want to earn a flat-rate on all purchases? Or do you want to earn a higher rate on specific purchases, albeit on categories that rotate throughout the year? Here’s how your earnings could pan out after one month of spending using the Citi® Double Cash Card and Chase Freedom Flex℠ as examples.

Flat-rate: Citi® Double Cash Card

PurchasesAmount spentCash back earned
Groceries$400$4
Gas$100$1
Travel$300$3
Total$800$8
Double cash perk total$16

Categories: Chase Freedom Flex℠

Unlike the Citi® Double Cash Card, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ can earn up to 5% cash back on eligible purchases. However, the categories eligible to earn 5% on a quarterly basis need to be activated and you can only earn this rate up to a certain spending cap.

Outside of these bonus categories, you earn 5% cash back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and on Lyft through March 2022, 3% back at restaurants and drugstores and 1% back on everything else. As of this writing, the card’s quarterly bonus categories included gas stations, internet, cable and phone services, and select streaming services.

PurchasesAmount spentCash back earned
Groceries$400$20
Gas$100$5
Travel$300$15
Total$800$40

How do I compare cashback cards?

As you compare credit cards, certain features may stand out to you. Here’s what to look for as you find your next cashback card.

Annual fee

Consider a card with no annual fee. If you choose a card with an annual fee, make sure you can earn enough rewards within a year to offset the fee.

How much cash back will you earn?

Think about the areas you spend the most and pick a card that earns more cashback in those areas.

Signup bonus

Cashback cards commonly offer signup bonuses to new cardholders. If a card has a bonus, consider whether you can meet the spending requirement in time.

Earning or spending caps

Some cashback cards cap the amount of rewards you can earn within a certain time period.

Do you travel?

If you travel, a cash back card might not offer the greatest value for your spending needs.

Additional features

Some cashback cards might come with intro APRs or forgo foreign transaction fees.

You asked, we listened: Top 5 common questions

Cash back on purchases sounds straightforward, but there can be a few caveats. Here are the five most common questions we receive on the subject.

  1. Do cashback cards actually give cash? No. Instead, you’ll receive a statement credit on your card account.
  2. What credit score do I need? Generally, many cashback credit cards require good credit or better for qualification.
  3. Do I owe taxes on cash back? No. Cash back is treated as a discount for the purpose of taxes.
  4. Which is better: cash back or reward points? This depends on what you ultimately want to use your rewards points on. While you can potentially get more value out of reward points, cash back is also worth it if you personally find it valuable.
  5. What types of cashback cards are there? Cashback cards fall into three earning categories: flat rate, tiered and rotating categories.
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Cashback cards by credit score

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Bottom line

Cashback cards are typically pretty easy to understand. At the same time, they can offer attractive rewards.

Consider your spending to figure out which kind of card might reward you most. Then, compare your cashback options to find the best product for you.

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Credit card ratings

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

Our team evaluates credit cards to determine their value against similar cards on the market.

We rank card types — travel, cash back, business — on a set of factors that are most relevant to that type of card. We create these rankings to help you narrow down a credit card that best suits your spending and budget.

Learn the details of our methodology and scoring.

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