Compare rewards rates, benefits, sign-up bonuses, and more for the top cash back credit cards available. These eight cards offer the highest earnings and most competitive rewards of this year.

Nobody would say no to a little extra spending money, which is one of the reasons cash back credit cards are so popular.

Offering consumers cash back points or benefits on specific purchases, cash back cards are frequently the first card out of the wallet when the bill comes. These cards are even more appealing because they offer cardholders cash back rewards on the money they are spending anyway. So, you are getting free bonuses every time you swipe.

Too good to be true? In fact there are so many credit cards that offer cash back rewards you can take advantage of.

We’ve done the research for you; here are the top eight cash back credit cards on the market right now, based on metrics like APR, annual fees, credit required, rewards structure, sign up bonus, and more.

8 best cash back credit cards

Best for rotating bonus categories: Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Proceed Card info has been collected by MoneyUnder30 to help consumers better compare cards. The financial institution did not provide or approve card details

In A Nutshell

The Chase Freedom FlexSM offers an enticing $200 sign-up bonus after spending $500 in the first three months.  Plus cash back rewards on travel, dining, drugstore and every day purchases with rewards that never expire. All for no annual fee!

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • Awesome $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

  • Earn 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter, plus earn 1% on all other purchases.

  • 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 19.24% – 27.99%.

  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 19.24% - 27.99%.
  • No annual fee - You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom FlexSM card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health - Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, real-time alerts, and more.
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
19.24% - 27.99% Variable
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months , 15 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months , 15 months

Apply Now >>

Best for flat-rate rewards: Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Best for balance transfers: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Best for no annual fee: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Apply Now On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® opens up with a terrific intro offer; earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back! Tack on a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (standard 19.24% – 27.99% Variable APR) add to that a strong everyday rewards program and it’s a terrific option for anyone looking to save a ton of money on everyday purchases.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back!

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; then a variable APR of 19.24% – 27.99%.

  • Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 19.24% - 27.99%.
  • No annual fee – You won’t have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health, Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, real-time alerts, and more.
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
19.24% - 27.99% Variable
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months , 15 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months , 15 months

Apply Now >>

Best for small businesses: Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

Apply Now On the Chase US Secure Website

In A Nutshell

The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card is an excellent card for any small business.  From a big up front bonus to an all-around excellent rewards program, cardholders can cash in on rewards without the worry of an annual fee.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • $900 cash back bonus after spending $6,000 in the first three months of card ownership

  • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent on office supplies, internet, cable and phone service purchases each account anniversary year

  • 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 17.49% – 23.49%.

  • Best Offer Ever: Earn $900 bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • With Fraud Protection your card transactions will be monitored for possible signs of fraudulent activity using real-time fraud monitoring
  • With Zero Liability you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information
  • No Annual Fee
  • Redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
17.49% - 23.49% Variable
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months , 12 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A , 0 months

Apply Now >>

Best for building credit: Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

If you don’t have the excellent credit needed to score some of the bonuses other Capital One credit cards offer, consider the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. It’s a terrific card for average credit and you can still earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases with a modest $39 annual fee.

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months.

  • No foreign transaction fees and a modest $39 annual fee.

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or limits to how much you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account. It's that simple
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
  • Enjoy up to 6 months of complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • Monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone
  • Check out quickly and securely with a contactless card, without touching a terminal or handing your card to a cashier. Just hover your card over a contactless reader, wait for the confirmation, and you're all set
Annual Fee
$39
Regular APR
29.74% (Variable)
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases N/A , N/A
Intro APR Balance Transfers N/A , N/A

Apply Now >>

Best for dining out & grocery stores: Capital One® SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now On the Secure Website

In A Nutshell

Foodies will love that the Capital One SavorOne offers unlimited 3% cash back on restaurants and grocery stores. Plus, you’ll enjoy that same 3% rate on entertainment and select streaming services. However, you’ll need to look elsewhere if you want a card that offers strong bonus rewards outside of these categories, as the SavorOne only gives 1% back on all other purchases.

 

Read review
Credit Score Requirements: Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for. *Money Under 30 uses a FICO 8 score, which is one of many different types of credit scores. *A creditor may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
  • Good/
  • Excellent
Poor 500-599
Fair 600-699
Good 700-749
Excellent 750-850

What We Like:

  • Easily attainable, one-time $200 cash bonus after spending $500 in the first three months

  • 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services, and grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®) — with no limit to the rewards you earn.

  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees, helping you keep costs as low as possible.

  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1% on all other purchases
  • Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
  • Earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 19.24% - 29.24% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
19.24% - 29.24% (Variable)
Intro APR
Intro APR Purchases 0% , for 15 months
Intro APR Balance Transfers 0% intro on balance transfers , for 15 months

Apply Now >>

Best for cash back match: Discover it® Cash Back

Best for rotating bonus categories: Chase Freedom Flex℠

Proceed Card info has been collected by MoneyUnder30 to help consumers better compare cards. The financial institution did not provide or approve card details

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • 5% cash back on one bonus category per quarter
  • Unlimited 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Unlimited 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on everything else
  • Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months & 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months

Cons

  • Foreign transaction fee is 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
  • Balance transfer fee is $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • $1,500 cap on 5% cash back each quarter

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is our favorite cash back credit card for quarterly bonuses because it has a generous rewards structure, offers great redemption flexibility, and comes with travel and purchase protection including various types of travel insurance and extended warranty.

Each quarter, you’ll choose from a few bonus categories. For example, grocery stores or eBay; Amazon or streaming; and gas stations, car rentals, movie theaters, or live entertainment. You’ll earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter for your chosen category. 

If you don’t mind having to remember to activate offers and think you’ll stay below the spending cap each quarter, this could be the right cash back card for you.

Read our full review.

Best for flat-rate rewards: Wells Fargo Active Cash Card

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Unlimited 2% cash back on everything
  • Earn a $200 cash bonus after you spend $1,000 in the first three months
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers within the first 15 months

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • 3%/5% or $5 balance transfer fee

The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card is a flat-rate rewards credit card that earns 2% cash back on everything. There are no other bonus categories, offers to activate, or stipulations about how you spend. It’s an everyday credit card with no limit on how much you can spend and earn.

This could be the ideal cash back card for people who don’t really want to change their spending habits at all but still want to earn rewards. However, redemption options are somewhat limited and this card does not include as many complimentary benefits and protections as some. 

Read our full review.

Best for balance transfers: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • 5% cash back on your top eligible spend category per statement period
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on everything else
  • Earn a $200 cash bonus after you spend $1,500 in the first six months
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers within the first 15 months

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • 5% or $5 balance transfer fee
  • $500 cap on 5% cash back each statement period 

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is a cash back rewards card that earns 5% cash back on one eligible category each month and 1% on everything else. Eligible bonus categories include restaurants, grocery stores, drugstores, gas stations, and more.

Unlike the Chase Freedom Flex℠, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card chooses your top bonus category for you. It’s ideal for balance transfers because it offers an intro APR of 0% on both purchases and balance transfers in the first 15 months. And as long as you have it, you’ll earn cash back on your regular spending without thinking about it and can redeem your points as a statement credit to help make a dent in your debt. Unfortunately, there is a balance transfer fee.

If you’re looking to transfer your credit card debt to another card while you pay it down, this could be the best choice for you. This card is best for people who know some or all of their spending falls within the eligible 5% categories and don’t need insurance and other benefits.

Read our full review.

Card info has been collected by MoneyUnder30 to help consumers better compare cards. The financial institution did not provide or approve card details.

Best for no annual fee: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Apply Now On the Secure Website

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Unlimited 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Unlimited 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on everything else
  • Earn an additional 1.5% on all purchases (up to $20,000 spent in the first year)
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months & 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months

Cons

  • Foreign transaction fee is 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
  • Balance transfer fee is $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a flat-rate cash back card with a few tricks up its sleeve to set it apart from other no-annual-fee options. It pays between 1.5% and 5% cash back with no caps and cash back rewards can be redeemed for anything from cash to travel. Extra perks include Extended Warranty Protection, Trip Cancellation Insurance, and Travel and Emergency Assistance Services. Also, the bonus offer is comparable to others but easier to unlock.

For the long-term rewards and the freebies, this is one of the best cards you can get without paying an annual fee. But if you think you could earn more with a card with rotating categories or you want more travel benefits (like no foreign transaction fee), you’ll need to keep looking.

Read our full review.

Best for small businesses: Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

Apply Now On the Chase US Secure Website

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • 5% cash back on office supply, internet, cable, and phone service transactions
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on everything else
  • Earn $900 bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.

Cons

  • Foreign transaction fee is 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.
  • Balance transfer fee is $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • $25,000 cap on 5% cash back per year
  • $25,000 cap on 2% cash back per year

The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card is a great choice for business owners who want to save money on common business-related expenses. It offers up to 5% cash back on select bonus categories with a fairly high cap of $25,000 per year. No planning or activation is required to make the most of this cash back. To make your life easier, you can add employee cards with spending limits for free and integrate this card with accounting software.

If you spend a lot each year on inventory and internet for your business, you might be a good candidate for the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card. But it’s not ideal for travel or very large businesses that will quickly exceed $25,000 in spending.

Read our full review.

Best for building credit: Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now On the Secure Website

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on everything
  • Automatic credit line review 

Cons

  • Annual fee of $39
  • 3% balance transfer fee

The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is our top pick for a credit-building cash rewards option. It’s aimed at people with average or fair credit and offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. And although it does have an annual fee, it’s relatively low at $39. This card includes automatic credit line reviews that may increase your borrowing limit in as little as six months. It can also help you save when you travel with no foreign transaction fee.

Overall, this card offers a good deal of value, especially for one you can qualify for with average credit. But it has an extremely high interest rate and lacks the benefits and bonuses of the best cash back cards.

Read our full review.

Best for dining out & grocery stores: Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card

On the Capital One US Secure Website

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • Unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, groceries, and select streaming
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on everything else
  • Earn $200 after you spend $500 in the first three months
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers within the first 15 months

Cons

  • 3% balance transfer fee

The Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card is one of the best credit cards for everyday spending on food and experiences. Specifically, it earns 3% cash back on groceries, dining, entertainment, and streaming. These bonus categories don’t change or require activation and don’t have any caps. It also pays an excellent rate of 5% cash back on travel through Capital One Travel and has no foreign transaction fees, so it’s not a bad card to take on trips.

If you spend a lot on food and going out, you should have no problem earning with this card. But if you don’t, you can do better than 1% cash back on everything. 

Read our full review.

Best for cash back match: Discover it® Cash Back

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • 5% cash back on one bonus category per quarter
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers within the first 15 months
  • Unlimited cash back match at the end of first year

Cons

  • 3%/5% balance transfer fee
  • $1,500 cap on 5% cash back each quarter

The Discover it® Cash Back card is a unique cash back rewards card that earns 5% on one bonus category per quarter and offers an unlimited dollar-for-dollar cash back match. You will not be able to choose a bonus category but will need to activate your 5% offer each quarter to be eligible. At the end of your first year, Discover will match the total cash back you’ve earned across all your spending. This is instead of a traditional cash bonus offer and has no limit.

If you’re looking for a rewarding card with no fees and think you could earn more with a cash back match than a sign-up bonus, this could be a great option. However, this card does not offer as many benefits and protections as others, so keep this in mind if this is important to you.

Read our full review.

Who should get a cash back credit card?

Cash back cards make earning and using rewards easier than many other types of cards. By earning cash instead of points, you have more flexibility with how you apply rewards. Cash rewards can help you save on everyday spending, travel, or even cover business expenses. And many of these cards come with complimentary benefits like insurance, purchase protection, and more to stretch your money even further. 

If you’re looking for a card that gives you plenty of redemption options and perks, you might be a good fit for a cash back credit card.

Who should not get a cash back credit card?

If you worry that you’d forget to make your payments on time or plan to carry a balance, you may not be the right fit for a cash back credit card. Rewards cards tend to have higher interest rates higher than other credit cards. Consider a low-interest rate card if you have these concerns.

You also might not want a cash back card if you travel a lot and would rather earn rewards in the form of airline miles. For this, a dedicated travel rewards card would likely be better.

Read more: Cash back or travel rewards – Which should you choose?

How to choose a cash back credit card

While every credit card comes with some benefit or another, there are things that make some cards more valuable than their competitors. Realistic rewards and a variety of redemption options, for example, can give one card an edge over another.

Here are the most important features to look for in a cash back credit card.

Credit score requirements

This feature might be significant to you depending on your credit score. If you have a reasonable score, then a high credit score requirement won’t phase you. But plenty of people suffer from poor credit scores and will be excluded from offers that demand a higher bracket. 

It’s a good idea to begin your credit card search not with the benefits and rewards you’re looking for but with your credit score. For example, if you have poor credit, you’ll be better off looking for starter cards and credit-building cards than the best cash back cards because you’ll have a much higher chance of approval.

Read more: Best credit cards for young adults and first timers

Annual fees

Annual fees can eat into your earnings potential, which may defeat the purpose of a card that earns cash rewards for you.

Unless you’re looking for high-end perks, stick with a no-annual-fee card to maximize rewards.

APR

Interest rates and APRs are some of the most important factors to consider when comparing credit cards. A high interest rate can quickly make debt more and more difficult to repay if you get into a habit of leaving a balance on your card from one statement period to the next. And ultimately, these interest charges will not only eat into your cash back but have long-term impacts on your credit and finances.

Redemption

Rewards points are only valuable if they’re easy to redeem. If you have to jump through hoops to redeem your points, you may not think a card is worth the trouble.

To help with this part, we always choose cards with relatively straightforward rewards programs. But it’s up to you to determine whether or not a card’s redemption options will be a good fit for you. Consider logistics like how long points remain valid before they expire, where they can be redeemed, how you need to redeem them, and what minimums are required to cash out.

Cash back structure

How you earn points can also help you decide if a card is worth it. Do you need to change when and where you spend to take advantage of the best rewards rates? Are there restrictions such as earning caps that are likely to apply to you? 

For cash back cards, a big question to ask yourself is whether you prefer a card that earns flat-rate cash back or has rotating bonus categories. Flat-rate cards are usually the easiest to use and don’t often cap points. Rotating bonus categories tend to require a little more work and planning, but can be more lucrative for certain people.

Read more: How do cash back credit cards work?

Foreign transaction fees

Foreign transaction fees are sneaky. A lot of people forget about or don’t know about them, and they can quickly derail your travel budget.

Assume you sign up for a credit card on which you are charged a 3% foreign transaction fee for every foreign transaction. Say, for example, you go on a trip to Prague. Every meal you eat, souvenir you purchase, or attraction you pay for with that card will come with that 3% fee. If you’re spending $500 a day in another country, that’s $15 each day. For a two-week vacation, that comes out to $210. 

And it’s not just travel. You can also be charged foreign transaction fees when using your credit card to shop online. If the company you’re purchasing from is based in a different country, you may pay a fee. You may decide to choose a cash back card with no foreign transaction fees or one with a high enough rewards rate to easily cancel out these fees.

Read more: How to avoid foreign transaction fees wherever you go

Additional benefits

What other perks come with this card? Can you get invitations to VIP events, insurance for travel plans, airfare, or purchases, roadside assistance, free nights at hotels, birthday, and anniversary gifts? Using the right credit cards at the right time can result in more free stuff than you might think.

Sign up bonus

Many cash back cards offer juicy sign up bonuses as a way of welcoming their new clients. But while sign-up bonuses can be lucrative, you’re not doing yourself any favors if you use this and this alone to choose credit cards. Make sure that you can comfortably meet the minimum spending requirement for a bonus before applying and that a card will continue to help you save money after you’ve earned and spent that bonus.

Read more: The best credit card sign-up bonus intro offers

How much cash back can you earn?

Talking about rewards rates and bonuses is all fine and good, but it’s probably not as interesting as showing you how much you could actually make with one of these cards.

Here are some examples of what real-life earnings could look like after a year for each of these cards.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Assuming a $2,000 monthly spend while maxing out the rotating bonus categories, here’s what your first year could look like:

  • Total spend over 12 months: $24,000
  • Rotating category cash back earned: $300
  • Cash back earned from application bonus: $200
  • All other cash back earned: $180
  • Total cash back earned in the first year: $680

 

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card

Assuming a $2,000 monthly spend with this card, your earnings would be very straightforward.

  • Total spend over 12 months: $24,000
  • Welcome bonus for spending $1,000 within three months of account opening: $200
  • Cash back earned on unlimited 2%: $480
  • Total cash back earned in the first year: $680

Learn more about the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Assuming a $2,000 monthly spend with a deliberate attempt to spend $500 in a single category each month for max rewards, here’s what your first year could look like:

  • Total spend over 12 months: $24,000
  • Welcome bonus for spending $1,500 within six months of account opening: $200
  • Cash back earned on 5%, top spending categories: $300
  • Cash back earned on unlimited 1%: $180
  • Total cash back earned in the first year: $680

Learn more about the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Assuming a $2,000 monthly spend (including $500 on groceries and $100 on restaurant/dining and drugstore purchases), you’ll meet the spend bonus. Here’s what your first year could look like:

  • Total spend over 12 months: $24,000
  • Cash back earned from spend bonus: $200
  • Cash back earned on groceries: $90
  • Cash back on restaurant/dining and drugstore purchases: $36
  • Cash back earned on all other purchases at 1.5%: $252
  • Total cash back earned in the first year: $563

Learn more about Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

Assuming a $2,000 monthly spend with $1,000 going to the 5% category, $500 going to the 2% category, and $500 going toward all other purchases, here’s what the first year could look like:

  • Total spend over 12 months: $24,000
  • Cash back earned on 5% category: $600
  • Cash back earned on 2% category: $120
  • Cash back earned on all other purchases: $60
  • Total cash back earned in the first year: $780

Learn more about Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Assuming a $2,000 monthly spend with 

  • Total spend over 12 months: $24,000
  • Cash back earned on all purchases: $360
  • Total cash back earned in the first year: $360

Learn more about the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card

Assuming a $2,000 monthly spend with $500 going to dining and entertainment, $500 going to groceries, and the rest going to other purchases, here’s what your first year could look like:

  • Total spend over 12 months: $24,800
  • Sign-up bonus cash back earned: $200
  • Cash back earned on dining & entertainment: $180
  • Cash back earned on groceries: $180
  • Cash back earned on everything else: $120
  • Total cash back earned in the first year: $680

Learn more about the Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card

Discover it® Cash Back

Assuming a $2,000 monthly spend while maxing out the rotating bonus categories, here’s what your first year could look like:

  • Total spend over 12 months: $24,000
  • Rotating category cash back earned: $300
  • All other cashback earned: $180
  • Total cashback earned: $480
  • Discover Cashback Match earned: $480
  • Total cashback earned (after match) in the first year: $960

Learn more about the Discover it® Cash Back

FAQs

How do I earn cash back points?

How you earn rewards depends on the credit card company’s policy. Though, cardholders earn rewards every time they use their cards to make a purchase from one of the specified categories. This can include gas stations, wholesale clubs, grocery stores, restaurants, online partners, hotels, airlines, and more. If no categories are specified, then any purchase will earn you rewards.

How many points can I earn with my cash back rewards card?

How many points you can earn depends on the card. Some cards have no caps, while others will cap you monthly, quarterly, or annually. Often, flat-rate rewards cards do not have point caps while cards with rotating bonus categories do.

How can I redeem my cash back rewards points?

This also depends on your card. But in general, you can redeem cash back points for:

  • Cash (often in the form of a statement credit)
  • Gift cards
  • ACH transfers or direct deposit

Points are easily redeemed in one of two ways (depending on the rewards program you have):

Log onto your credit card account

From your account center, you can view a list of online redemption options for you to choose from. Redemption options include donations, gift cards, Amazon rewards, apply part of the points to your credit card bill’s balance, or deposit the amount directly into your bank account. You can also set up your account so you can automatically transfer points to your savings or checking account as they accrue.

Calling the credit card hotline and requesting cash back

For example, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card lets you make a cash back request anytime you want.

Do cash back rewards expire after a certain amount of time?

Once again, this depends on the credit card in question. All of our leading cash back cards have a no expiration policy, however. This applies for as long as you have an active account with that credit card.

Summary

Cash back rewards cards can be lucrative and exciting, especially when you have the right ones for your wallet. Use our review of the best cash back credit cards to find one that will be easy to fit into your lifestyle to help you save a little when you spend and unlock free benefits and perks. Because if you’re going to be making purchases and paying bills anyway, you should be earning cash back for it.

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About the author

Total Articles: 17
Lauren Graves is a personal finance writer specializing in honest brand and product reviews. She wants to help people feel less stressed when they spend their hard-earned cash and do her part to make money make sense.