Best Cash Back Credit Cards of September 2021

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The right cash back credit card can save you hundreds of dollars per year on average. Some cards can save you upwards of $600 in their first year alone, according to NextAdvisor’s analysis.

With numbers like that, cash back credit cards are great tools for saving money on the regular items already in your monthly budget. Some earn a flat rate every time you swipe your card, while others earn more when you shop specific categories or operate within a rotating schedule of bonus categories.

Before you Start

With great rewards comes great responsibility. At NextAdvisor, we believe eliminating high-interest debt balances and building healthy credit habits are essential prerequisites to enjoying the perks of a rewards credit card.

Even the best cash back rewards won’t outweigh the cost of revolving debt on a card earning double-digit interest. What’s more, you may risk rejection from issuers, who often reserve approval for applicants with the best credit scores, especially in today’s economic environment. Before seeking the best cash back rewards for your wallet, make sure you’re prepared to use your new card responsibly. Establish a great credit score alongside healthy credit habits like timely payments, paying balances in full, and low credit utilization.

The Best Cash Back Cards

NextAdvisor’s Pick
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site
Good for Overall Value
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99% – 23.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®. Earn 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores. Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Flexible, hybrid rewards structure made up of tiered categories and flat cash back
  • No annual fee
  • Easily obtainable cash bonus
  • Competitive intro APR period can be useful for paying off large purchases over time
Cons
  • No balance transfer introductory offer
  • Not a great choice for international travelers — you’ll incur a 3% foreign transaction fee
The Bottom Line
Chase Freedom Unlimited is NextAdvisor’s pick for the best cash back credit card for its impressive rewards and flexibility for everyday spenders. But the card’s value goes beyond its primary rewards structure. A standout first-year bonus, introductory interest offer, and boosted redemption options make this card one of the best available on the market today.

Additional Card Details

  • 0% introductory interest offer on purchases for the first 15 months after account opening, variable 14.99% – 23.74% interest thereafter
  • 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022
  • Complimentary 3-month subscription to Doordash’s DashPass, followed by 50% off DashPass for 9 months (activate by 12/31/21)
  • Travel protections
  • Purchase protections
Citi® Double Cash Card Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site
Good for Earning Over Time
Citi® Double Cash Card
Editor’s Score: (4.4/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Flat cash back on every purchase
  • 18-month 0% intro APR for balance transfers
  • No annual fee
Cons
  • No welcome bonus
  • 3% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum)
  • Delayed cash back rewards if you carry a balance
The Bottom Line
The Citi Double Cash Card has a straightforward rewards structure that gets you up to 2% back on everything — which is great if you’re looking to maximize savings on every purchase you make. It also shines as a debt management tool, with an 18-month 0% intro rate for balance transfers (13.99% – 23.99% variable APR thereafter).

Additional Card Details

  • Extra incentive to pay down your balance in full: You’ll earn only 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and the other 1% when you pay it off
  • 18-month 0% intro period on balance transfers, 13.99% to 23.99% variable APR thereafter
  • Redeem cash back for statement credits, direct deposit, check, or convert cash back value to Citi ThankYou points
  • $25 minimum cash back redemption
  • Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening, and a 3% ($5 minimum) fee applies
Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus™ World Mastercard® Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site
Good for Simplicity
Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus™ World Mastercard®
Editor’s Score: (3.8/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    15.99%, 19.99%, or 23.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    740-850 (Excellent)
Rewards rate:

1.8% cash back on everything you buy, with no limit on how much you can earn.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Unlimited flat cash back on all purchases
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 billing cycles
  • No annual fee
Cons
  • Relatively high APR
  • Lower flat cash back rate than some other options
The Bottom Line
Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus™ World Mastercard® is one of our favorites for flat cash back rewards. Along with earning 1.8% cash back on everything you buy, you also get a few added benefits, all for no annual fee.

Additional Card Details

  • 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for the first 15 billing cycles, APR between 15.99% to 23.99% variable thereafter
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • World Mastercard benefits, including extended warranty and cellphone protection
  • Travel protections
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site
Good for Dining and Entertainment
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99% – 24.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023. Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®). Earn 1% on all other purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Tiered cash back structure
  • No annual fee
  • Introductory 0% purchase APR for 15 months
Cons
  • High APR
  • Limited redemption options
  • Can earn higher rewards rate on same categories with Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card*
The Bottom Line
With great cash back rewards for dining, entertainment, and groceries — all for no annual fee — the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card* is a solid option for anyone who enjoys a night out. But its broad rewards categories can help you save on nights at home and travel experiences, too.

Additional Card Details

  • Introductory 0% APR on purchases for 15 months, variable APR between 15.49% and 25.49% thereafter
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Travel protections
  • Purchase protections
  • Access to the Capital One Shopping portal for online shopping discounts
  • Access to Capital One culinary, music, and sports experiences
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply.
Good for Groceries and Gas
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    Up to $350
  • Annual fee:
    $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Regular APR:
    13.99%-23.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more. 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations. 1% Cash Back on other purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Great rewards in everyday spending categories
  • 0% introductory interest offer for new purchases
  • Competitive welcome bonus
Cons
  • $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95
  • No intro offer for balance transfers
  • U.S. supermarket 6% rewards capped after $6,000 annual spend
The Bottom Line
The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is one of the only cash back cards we think is worth an annual fee, especially for modern families. This card’s excellent rewards on everyday purchases can help you maximize all of your most frequent spending — from dining in to at-home entertainment to the expenses that come with your daily commute.

Additional Card Details

  • 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 months, then 13.99% – 23.99% variable APR
  • Early event ticket access and seating through American Express Experiences
  • Eligible for Amex Pay It, Plan It
  • Travel protections
  • Purchase protections
  • Minimum $25 rewards redemption
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site
Good for Flexibility
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
Editor’s Score: (4.3/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    13.99% – 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases). Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases). Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Tiered cash back rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus
  • No annual fee
Cons
  • Limited rewards potential if you consistently exceed rewards caps in choice categories
  • 3% balance transfer fee ($10 minimum)
The Bottom Line
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card* comes with some serious — and customizable — perks: a tiered cash back system, introductory 0% APR offer for 15 billing cycles on purchases and for balance transfers made in the first 60 days (13.99% to 23.99% variable APR thereafter, a 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers), and a cash bonus welcome offer. Use this customizable cash back card to get rewards on your most frequent purchases.

Additional Card Details

  • Introductory 0% APR for first 15 billing cycles after account opening for purchases and for any balance transfers made within the first 60 days, after which you will receive a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99%. A 3% fee (minimum $10) applies to all balance transfers.
  • You can change your selection for the 3% category every calendar month, among: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings
  • Earn 25%-75% boosted rewards if you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member
Discover it® Cash Back
Good for Revolving Rewards
Discover it® Cash Back
Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    Cashback Match™
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    11.99% – 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Rewards rate:

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • 5% back in popular categories like grocery stores, gas stations, or Amazon.com purchases throughout the year
  • No annual fee and no late fee on your first late payment
  • 14-month intro APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Cashback Match at the end of your first 12 months
Cons
  • High ongoing variable APR
  • Limited redemption options for rewards
  • Must keep track of rotating bonus categories to maximize rewards
The Bottom Line
The Discover it Cash Back stands out — and earns a spot among our best cash back credit card picks — due to its generous revolving rewards structure, which gives cardholders the chance to earn 5% cash back upon activation (up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1%) in categories that change throughout the year. There’s no annual fee, and you can save money on interest with an introductory APR for a limited time.

Additional Card Details

  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months, followed by a variable APR of 11.99% to 22.99%
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • All quarterly rotating categories for the upcoming year announced in advance
  • 5% category earn only applies after you activate rewards each quarter (bonus rewards do not apply retroactively if you wait to activate mid-quarter)

Best Cash Back Cards of September 2021

Chase Freedom Unlimited 

Best for: Overall value

The Chase Freedom Unlimited can’t be beat for valuable ongoing rewards with a simple structure. You’ll have access to premium Chase benefits and the opportunity to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, ensuring you’ll have the most access to valuable redemption opportunities. 

  • First-year rewards value: $607.00
  • Subsequent annual rewards value: $250.76

Citi Double Cash Card

Best for: Earning over time

Not only does the Citi Double Cash Card* offer straightforward flat cash back, it can also incentivize you to pay your credit card bill on time. You’ll earn 2% back on every purchase — 1% when you swipe your card, and 1% when you pay it off.

  • First-year rewards value: $265.16
  • Subsequent annual rewards value: $265.16

Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World Mastercard

Best for: Simplicity 

There’s nothing to keep track of except the money going back into your wallet with the Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World Mastercard — 1.8% on every purchase. 

  • First-year rewards value: $238.64
  • Subsequent annual rewards value: $238.64

Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card

Best for: Dining and entertainment

If you find yourself frequently swiping your card on dining, entertainment, and groceries, then the SavorOne can save you some serious cash back, with no annual fee. You’ll get 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target), and 1% on everything else.

  • First-year rewards value: $555.56
  • Subsequent annual rewards value: $355.56

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Best for: Groceries and gas

The Blue Cash Preferred Card offers one of the highest cash back percentages for groceries of any rewards card. You’ll get 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1% after that). 

  • First-year rewards value: $547.96
  • Subsequent annual rewards value: $302.96

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our pick for: Flexibility 

It’s all about your choice with the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card. You’ll earn 3% cash back on a category of your choosing, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases, then 1%), and 1% on all other purchases. 

  • First-year rewards value: $446.40
  • Subsequent annual rewards value: $246.40

Discover it Cash Back

Best for: Revolving rewards

The Discover it Cash Back Card offers revolving rewards categories so you’re not locked into earning the most in just one category. You’ll earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different retailers each quarter upon activation, like Amazon.com or grocery stores (on up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1%). Outside of that category, you’ll earn 1% on all other purchases. 

  • First-year rewards value: $465.78
  • Subsequent annual rewards value: $232.89

Best Cash Back Credit Cards Summary

Card What It’s Good ForFirst-Year
Rewards Value
Subsequent Annual Rewards Value
Chase Freedom UnlimitedGood for Overall Value$607.00$250.76
Citi Double Cash CardGood for Earning Over Time$265.16$265.16
Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World MastercardGood for Simplicity$238.64$238.64
Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit CardGood for Dining and Entertainment$555.56$355.56
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American ExpressGood for Groceries and Gas$547.96$302.96
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit cardGood for Flexibility$446.40$246.40
Discover it Cash BackGood for Revolving Rewards$465.78$232.89

What are Cash Back Credit Cards?

Cash back credit cards can be a good way to maximize your purchases without having to strategize too much or figure out complicated points values. These cards allow cardholders to earn back a percentage of each purchase, usually in a form of cash that may be redeemed for a statement credit, check, or bank deposit.

There are a few different types of cash back cards, so it’s important to align your cash back rewards with the categories in which you spend most.  

How to Compare Cash Back Credit Cards

The best cash back credit card for you is the one that best matches your spending habits and credit needs. Here are a few details to consider when you’re comparing cash back cards:

  • Approval Odds: Because cash back cards are rewards cards, they generally require a good-to-excellent credit rating for approval. Develop healthy credit habits and establish a solid credit history before you apply.
  • Type of Cash Back: Determine whether you prefer a card with flat cash back on every purchase, tiered bonus cash rewards in the categories you spend most, or cash back in rotating quarterly categories.
  • Rewards Rate: After deciding on the type of cash back you prefer, find a card with a rewards rate that best suits your spending. Flat cash back cards typically earn 1%-2% on every purchase, tiered cash back cards often range between 2%-4% or higher, and rotating cash back categories earn 5%.
  • Annual Fee: Many cash back cards charge no annual fee, which means all the cash you earn goes straight back into your wallet — as long as you don’t accrue interest. But some cash back cards with an annual fee may offer higher rewards. Calculate your spending and estimated rewards to determine if an annual fee card makes sense for you.
  • Welcome Bonus: Many cash back credit cards offer introductory cash bonuses when you spend a certain amount of money within a given timeframe after approval. These bonuses are only a short-term benefit, but can boost your first-year value, especially if you can meet the spending threshold with your regular spending.
  • Other Benefits: In addition to cash rewards, look for other benefits from your card, like travel protections, annual statement credits, discounts from partners, and more.

Types of Cash Back Credit Cards

We can generally divide cash back credit cards into three categories: flat, tiered, and rotating cash back rewards. Each of these may suit different types of spenders. If you’re comfortable juggling multiple cards without taking on debt, you can even combine them to further maximize each purchase.

Flat Cash Back

Flat cash back rewards cards offer a simple value proposition: There are no bonus tiers or categories to track. Instead, you’ll earn a fixed cash back return on every eligible purchase you make with the card. For many people, flat cash back can offer the most value on everyday spending since you’ll earn on every purchase regardless of category.

Examples:

Tiered Cash Back

Cash back credit cards which offer tiered rewards in standard bonus categories may be the most common cash back card type across issuers. While these cards don’t provide the same simplicity of flat cash back, they can be highly valuable for the average spender. Bonus categories typically range between 2-4% cash back and may or may not cap bonus earn after a certain amount each year. Before applying for a tiered category card, look into your own regular spending and past bank statements to determine the categories that will best maximize your spending.

Examples:

Rotating Cash Back

Rotating category cards won’t win any points for simplicity — you must keep track of each quarterly category change to make the most out of them —  but if your spending aligns with the available categories, they can offer among the highest rewards rates. Categories can vary, but the cash back rate across these types of cards is generally 5%. Issuers typically reveal upcoming categories in advance, and to earn the bonus cash back on your spending, you must activate the rewards in your account each quarter.

Examples:

Common Cash Back Bonus Categories

With dozens of cash back credit cards to choose from, you can easily tailor your card choice to your own spending, whether you’re a frequent traveler, love to dine out, or always hailing a rideshare service.

Most commonly, bonus categories for cash back cards include some combination of dining, groceries, and travel. But in response to the pandemic and a push for customer retention, more issuers are further highlighting everyday spending. You’ll find many cash back cards today with increased rewards on streaming services, utilities, department or home improvement stores, gas stations, and more.

Here are a few common spending categories in which many cash back cards offer bonus rewards:

  • Groceries
  • Dining at restaurants (including takeout and delivery)
  • Gas stations
  • Streaming services or subscriptions
  • Drugstores
  • Wholesale clubs 
  • Specific retailers (Target, Walmart, department stores, etc.)

Cash Back vs. Travel Credit Cards

Cash back cards and travel cards are both types of rewards credit cards, but they can serve very different purposes in your wallet.

Cash back credit cards offer low-cost, straightforward rewards focused on everyday spending, which can be a great option for someone looking to keep things simple. Travel credit cards, on the other hand, often have more complex rewards structures and high annual fees. But they can also be more lucrative long-term, with higher rewards, valuable benefits, and more flexible redemptions.

Earn Rewards

Cash back and travel cards often offer similar rewards categories on everyday purchases, such as groceries, dining, and gas. But travel cards often also earn bonus rewards on travel-related purchases like flights, hotels, auto rentals, and more. However, you won’t find the same flat bonus rewards or rotating categories that some cash back cards offer.

Redeem Rewards

Cash back cards earn percentages of cash back on your spending which you can typically redeem for cash or statement credits. But travel credit cards earn points or miles, and offer more redemption options. You can redeem your points and miles for cash back and statement credits, but you’ll usually get the most value by booking travel, transferring to travel partners, or other travel-related redemption options. 

General travel rewards cards usually offer redemptions through an issuer rewards program — such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou Rewards — while co-branded travel rewards are tied to an airline or hotel loyalty program — like Delta SkyMiles or Hilton Honors. 

Pair Cash Back and Travel Cards

Cash back and travel cards can work great paired together to maximize your rewards. 
For example, you may get great value from a travel card like the American Express® Gold Card if you spend a lot on dining and travel and enjoy Amex Membership Rewards redemptions. But you can further maximize every purchase by pairing the Gold Card with a flat cash back card like Citi Double Cash, and earn rewards on purchases outside bonus categories. This strategy can be especially lucrative if you choose to pair cash back and travel cards from the same card issuer.

Additional Cash Back Cards We Recommend

We eliminated membership cards — those which may require additional steps to join or annual membership fees separate from the card itself — from our primary list of best cash back credit cards. But there are a few which we believe are worth considering for their high value on everyday purchases.

These cards can be especially beneficial if you’re already a member, because you’ll take on no extra cost. But they also offer competitive rewards that can increase overall value, and may make it worth any added commitment.

Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card

Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card* offers the highest flat cash back rate of any card on our list, at 2.5% cash back (on up to $10,000 each billing cycle). It does charge a $99 annual fee (waived the first year), so this card is best for bigger spenders. To make up the difference between 2.5% cash back with a $99 annual fee compared to a no-annual-fee card that earns a flat 2% (like Citi Double Cash), you’ll need to spend at least $20,000 total annually. 

You can gain Alliant membership if you are a current or retired employee of a business partnered with Alliant, if you live or work in a qualifying community in the Chicago area, if you’re a member of a qualifying organization, or if you become a member of Alliant’s partner charity Foster Care to Success.

Value

Using the same averages we used to calculate other card values on this list, this card’s annual value for a member after accounting for the annual fee is $232.45. If you’re able to meet that $20,000 annual minimum to outweigh the fee compared to other flat rate rewards cards, though, your annual rewards value becomes $401.

Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature

The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature* earns an unlimited 2% back on every purchase you make for no annual fee. However, to open this card you must own an eligible Fidelity account. And while you can redeem your rewards for cash, you’ll only get the full 2% by redeeming via deposit into your eligible Fidelity account, such as a brokerage account, retirement account, 529 Plan, or other investment vehicle.

Value

Using the same averages we used to calculate other card values on this list, Fidelity Rewards Visa’s annual value for a member who deposits rewards into their Fidelity account is $265.16. And over time, adding this amount to your investments annually will pay off even more through compounding interest.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature* offers one of the highest ongoing rewards rates that can potentially apply for nearly all of your everyday spending needs. If you’re an Amazon Prime member ($119 annually), you can earn 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market; 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores; and 1% on everything else.

While this card can have a great payout for loyal Amazon shoppers, you may find cards with more general categories work best for you if most of your spending is done outside of Amazon or Whole Foods.

Value

Using the same averages we used to calculate other card values on this list (and assuming all annual grocery shopping is completed at Whole Foods or through Amazon), this card’s annual value after the membership price is $215.80, but that can vary greatly depending on how much shopping you complete on Amazon outside of these categories.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

The Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi* is a valuable choice for any Costco loyalist. You’ll earn 4% cash back on your first $7,000 (then 1%) in eligible gas purchases annually, including at Costco, plus 3% cash back on restaurant and eligible travel purchases worldwide, 2% on all other purchases at Costco and Costco.com, and 1% on everything else.

There’s no annual fee, but you must be a Costco member to apply, which costs $60 annually for the club’s Gold Star base tier. Instead of redeeming cash back as you go, you’ll receive an annual reward certificate each February billing cycle, which you may bring to a Costco store to redeem for cash or use toward a purchase.

Value

Using the same averages we used to calculate other card values on this list (and assuming all annual grocery shopping is completed at Costco), this card’s annual value for a member paying the Gold Star member fee is $249.67.

Is a Cash Back Card Right for You?

If you’re already carrying a debt balance on a credit card, you shouldn’t add another credit card to the mix, no matter how good the rewards might be. Focus on paying down your high-interest debts and securing a healthy credit score before opening a cash back card.

A cash back credit card may be a great fit for you, though, if you stick to your budget, have no high-interest debts, and you’re looking to add value to your purchases. If you already have another type of rewards card, adding a cash back card to your wallet can help you further maximize each purchase, as long as you pay off your balances in full each month before accruing interest.

Pros and Cons of Using a Cash Back Card

Pros

  • Simplicity: Earn straightforward rewards on every purchase

  • Flexible redemption options and rewards categories

  • Many charge no annual fee and offer cash welcome bonuses

  • Some cash back cards have great balance transfer and 0% interest offers

Cons

  • Cash back cards may have lower potential redemption value than rewards cards that earn points or miles

  • Rewards earnings may have annual or quarterly caps

  • Carrying a balance can result in sky-high interest, with APRs upwards of 20%

  • Potential costs of fees and penalties

How to Maximize Cash Back Rewards

Strategize how you use your cash back credit card to get the best value on each purchase you make. Here are some things to consider:

  • Choose the Right Card: Make sure you choose a cash back card that can help you maximize value on your most frequent purchases. If your monthly budget is largely dedicated to groceries or gas, open a cash back card that matches. You can even pair a higher-earning tiered or rotating cash back card with a second card that earns flat cash back rewards for spending that doesn’t fit into a common category.
  • Qualify for the Welcome Bonus: Many cash back cards come with a one-time intro or sign-up bonus after you meet a certain spending threshold (earn $150 in cash rewards after spending $500 within three months of account opening, for example). Plan your spending so you can snag this bonus and maximize your first-year rewards.
  • Start Swiping: Use your cash back card each time you spend in a qualifying rewards category or, in the case of flat cash back cards, for every purchase you make. Even for purchases that don’t earn bonus rewards, you’ll typically get a blanket 1% back, no matter where you spend.
  • Don’t Carry a Balance: Pay your purchases off in full and on time each month to avoid high interest charges that can wipe out any cash back rewards earned.

Our Methodology

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

To determine our picks for best cash back credit cards, NextAdvisor’s editorial team developed a framework to evaluate potential cash back earnings based on national average consumer spending data in broadly representative categories — dining, groceries, gas, and entertainment. We applied this framework to each card currently open for applications by every major credit card network and issuer, and divided each into subcategories for more accurate comparison. After potential rewards earnings, we also evaluated each card’s annual fee, first-year vs. ongoing value, bonus offers, and redemption flexibility.

*All information about the Citi® Double Cash Card, Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus™ World Mastercard®, Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, Discover it® Cash Back, Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card, Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature, Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature, and Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi has been collected independently by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, click here.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express, click here.

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