2022’s Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Contents

Best Pick for: Gas

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is one of your best options for cash back on gas, with a solid rate of no annual fee. If you’re willing to pay an annual fee or don’t mind rotating bonus categories, you’ll find some interesting options in the runners-up.

American Express offers a host of other features along with the gas category, including Amex Offers, where you can earn extra cash back at all sorts of retailers.

Runners-up

  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express 
  • Discover it® Cash Back
  • Chase Freedom Flex℠
  • Sam’s Club® Mastercard®
  • Discover it® Chrome

Best Pick for: Groceries

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Groceries and gas are common expenses for many people, and it’s convenient to have one card you can use for both. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is an excellent choice to fill that need, with the best cash-back rate for U.S. supermarkets you’ll find.

Why we picked it

The 6% back you can earn at U.S. supermarkets with this card is the best base rate we’ve seen for that category. You can get better than that (10%) with the Discover it® Cash Back, but only for a few months during the first year with the card.

You’ll be limited to $6,000 in spending per year at that 6% rate, but that’s still $360 in cash back, which is not bad at all. To hit that limit in a year, you’d need to spend about $115 on groceries per week.

Purchases at U.S. gas stations will get 3% cash back, with no limit. That’s competitive with most other rewards cards, which don’t usually offer any more than that at gas stations.

Runners-up

  • Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express 
  • Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card
  • Discover it® Cash Back
  • Chase Freedom Flex℠

Best Pick for: Dining at Restaurants

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

Going out to eat is a bit more fun when you can hand over a shiny metal credit card. The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card can fit that bill and offers an excellent cash-back rate at restaurants, along with some useful bonus categories that complement the foodie aura this card exudes.

Why we picked it

Whether you regularly dine out or order in, how does saving 4% on all that spending sound? Just don’t fight over who gets to pay the bill.

The Savor’s categories cover dining, entertainment and grocery shopping. That’s quite a nice variety to get with just one card – if dinner and a movie is your kind of thing, this card would fit quite well. And if you don’t have a better card for groceries, like one of the options above, the Savor will let you get a bit more than the standard 1%.

Runners-up

  • Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
  • Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card
  • Sam’s Club® Mastercard®

Best Pick for: Rotating Reward Categories

Discover it® Cash Back

The Discover it® Cash Back is one of the best cash-back credit cards available, thanks in large part to Discover’s unique Cashback Match.

Your 5% cash back rotating reward categories will switch every three months. They often include popular expenses like gas, groceries, rideshares like Uber and Lyft, and Amazon.com.

Runners-up

  • Chase Freedom Flex℠
  • U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

Best Pick for: Choosing Your Own Categories

U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

A fairly unique entry in the U.S. Bank family of credit cards, the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card is one of the few cards that let you choose your own bonus cash back categories. It’s a good deal too, offering quite a bit of cash back and a variety of categories to choose from (some of which are rarely seen on credit cards).

You’ll get two 5% categories and one 2% category, and you can pick each one. You’ll need to sign up for the categories each quarter before you’ll start earning cash back at the 2% or 5% rates.

Runners-up

  • Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card
  • Bank of America® Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best Pick for: Shopping at Amazon.com

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

A lot of people are spending a lot of money at Amazon, and the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card gives you a way to save on every purchase you make from the online superstore.

Why we picked it

Frequent Amazon shoppers can use this 5% cash back rate to save a tidy sum.

A study from Consumer Intelligence Resource Partners reported that the average Prime member spent $1,400 at Amazon in 2018. If you spent that much, you’d get $70 in cash back, enough for a nice gift. The gift card offer is a nice bonus too, and you won’t even need to meet a spending threshold to earn it.

The Prime card is made with metal, an unusual feature to find outside of premium credit cards (there are other metal credit cards with no annual fee, but not many).

To be eligible for this card, you’ll need to have an Amazon Prime membership. If you’re not a Prime member you can apply for the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, which is less rewarding (3% back at Amazon) but there’s no fee involved.

If you don’t think you need Prime, you could always start with the regular Amazon Rewards card. Then, if you ever decide to get a Prime membership, you’ll automatically be upgraded to the Amazon Prime Rewards card. And likewise, if you ever cancel your Prime membership, you’ll be downgraded to the regular Amazon Rewards card.

Runners-up

  • Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card
  • Amazon Prime Store Card
  • Discover it® Cash Back
  • Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card
  • Amazon Business Prime American Express Card
  • Amazon Business American Express Card

Best Pick for: Students

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Student credit cards typically don’t offer the best rewards because they’re designed for people who are new to credit. But the Discover it® Student Cash Back has an excellent 5% cash back rate in rotating categories, just like the regular Discover it® Cash Back.

Why we picked it

Along with that 5% cash back you’ll also get a $20 statement credit award for every year that you get a GPA of 3.0 or higher – a nice little bonus.

Runners-up

  • Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students
  • Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Discover it® Student Chrome
  • Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
  • Deserve® Edu Mastercard
  • Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

Best Pick for: Bad Credit

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Card

Not only can you earn cash back, you’ll actually get to choose your own 3% category. That makes the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Card stand out among secured cards, providing cardholders with a way to build credit and earn rewards at the same time.

Why we picked it

If you have bad credit (a FICO® score of 579 or less), you’ll have trouble qualifying for most credit cards, especially those with rewards programs. You have some options, however. Secured credit cards are designed for people with poor or limited credit. Upon application, they require a refundable security deposit, which will fund the credit limit.

You can use a secured card to improve your credit, building up a history of positive activity and on-time payments. When your credit is good enough, you can close the card, get your deposit back and apply for a better-unsecured card.

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Card is one of the best-secured cards available, in our estimation. Secured cards usually have no rewards and few benefits, and sometimes come with high fees. But not only does this card have generally favorable terms, it also comes with a solid cash back program – the kind you might expect to find on an unsecured rewards card.

Bank of America will also periodically review your card account and overall credit. If you’ve been a responsible credit user, always making on-time payments, they may consider returning your security deposit and allow you to continue using the card. Bank of America will be checking your overall credit with the credit bureaus, including how you use other credit cards, not just your usage of this card.

This is a great feature to have, and you won’t find it on every secured card. As long as you continue using it responsibly and maintain good credit habits in general, it is likely you can eventually get your deposit back and work your way up to an unsecured rewards card.

Runner up

  • Discover it® Secured

Best Pick for: Fair or Average Credit

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

It’s pretty simple, but not bad for a flat-rate card — especially one made for fair or average credit. You’ll get the same amount of cash back wherever you shop, with no limit, and with no worrying about bonus categories.

Why we picked it

If you don’t have good credit, you may not be approved for some of the cards on this page. But the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the few rewards credit cards that are designed specifically for fair or average credit (a FICO credit score from around 580 to 669).

Use this card responsibly, always paying your credit card bills on time. We recommend paying your entire statement balance each billing period, to help your credit utilization. It will also help you stave off credit card debt because you won’t accrue interest charges on purchases with this strategy.

Runners-up

  • Petal® 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa® Card
  • Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
  • Capital One Spark Classic for Business

Best Pick for: Limited or No Credit

Petal® 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa® Card

The Petal® 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa® Card is one of few cards designed for limited credit that also provides some cash back. And it’s not just 1%, either; you can earn up to 1.5% simply by paying on time.

With limited or no credit, it can be hard to get approved for that first credit card. But Petal gives you a way in. Petal looks at your “full financial picture” to determine your creditworthiness, which includes connecting to your bank account to check your transaction activity. If you do have some credit established, Petal checks it and may not need to connect to your bank account.

Runners-up

  • Petal® 1 No Annual Fee Visa® Card
  • Jasper Cash Back Mastercard®

Best Pick for: Business Flat-Rate Cash Back

Capital One Spark Cash Plus

Looking for an easy way to earn some rewards for your business spending? Look no further.

The Capital One Spark Cash Plus offers a simple, flat-reward rate with no worrying about which card to use for which purchases.

There’s no limit to the cash back you can earn, making this a good choice for businesses that spend a lot. Consider pairing this card with other business credit cards that do have bonus categories and typically come with spending limits; you can use those other cards when spending in their categories and the Spark Cash Plus for everything else.

Runners-up

  • American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card
  • Capital One Spark Cash Select
  • Ink Business Unlimited® credit card
  • Bank of America® Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card
  • Discover it® Business Card
  • Capital One Spark Classic for Business

Best Pick for: Business Bonus Categories

Ink Business Cash® credit card

A variety of useful business categories makes the Ink Business Cash® credit card handy for businesses with typical office and local travel expenses.

Business owners have a nice variety of credit cards to choose from, and some – like this one – can be quite valuable.

Your 5%- and 2%-cash back categories have some spending limits (except for Lyft), so this card might not be suitable for bigger companies. Or you could pair the Ink Business Cash® with other business cards (like the runners-up, or flat-rate cards) and split up your spending.

Runners-up

  • Bank of America® Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards credit card
  • Amazon Business Prime American Express Card
  • Amazon Business American Express Card

Best Pick for: Professional Immigrants to the U.S.

Jasper Cash Back Mastercard®

Why we picked it

Moving to the U.S.? The Jasper Cash Back Mastercard® might be designed for you.

It’s made for relocating professionals who don’t yet have an established credit history in the U.S., giving you the leg up you need to start building credit (along with a handy payment option).

You can apply for this card up to 60 days before you arrive in the States, or check to see if you’re pre-qualified before then. You won’t need a credit history to be approved, and no Social Security number (SSN) is needed to apply. But you will need to get an SSN and provide it to Jasper within 60 days of card activation.

If you’ve been living here for at least a year, you’ll need to undergo a credit check and provide an SSN when you apply.

This card is available to anyone, not just immigrants to the U.S., and it could be a good option for anyone just getting into the world of credit.

Runners-up

  • Petal® 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa® Card
  • Petal® 1 No Annual Fee Visa® Card
  • Discover it® Secured

Cash Back Cards With Annual Fees

Some cash back cards have annual fees, but this shouldn’t necessarily stop you from getting one of them. You’ll just need to make sure that you’ll get enough out of the card – from the cash back and other benefits – to justify that fee.

An easy way to figure this out is to calculate how much spending it would take to earn enough cash back to offset that annual fee for one year. If you’ll spend at least that much with the card, it may be a good choice for you.

Of course, you’ll want to spend more than that to make the card actually profitable, rather than just offset the fee. And, you should also make sure that you won’t be able to get more value from a different card with the same level of spending.

For example, consider two hypothetical credit cards:

  • Card A has an annual fee of $100 and provides 2% cash back for all purchases.
  • Card B has no annual fee and provides 1.5% cash back for all purchases.

Which card is more rewarding overall? That would depend on how much you spend.

To offset the $100 fee of Card A, you would need to spend $5,000, earning at the 2% rate. That would give you $100 in rewards, offsetting the annual fee and leaving you at zero profit as $100 is 2% of $5,000.

If you spent that same $5,000 with Card B, you’d only get $75 in cash back, earning at the 1.5% rate. But, all of that would be profit, because there’s no annual fee to pay.

This shows how you’ll actually earn more profit overall with Card B even though it offers a lower cash-back rate. You’ll need to factor in annual fees like this when considering the value of a card.

If you do the math, you’ll find that you actually need to spend $20,000 per year before you’ll earn an equal amount of cash back with these cards, after subtracting the annual fee. If you spend less than that per year, Card B is the more profitable choice. If you spend more than that, Card A finally becomes more profitable.

Amount Spent AnnuallyCash Back Earned (Card A)Cash Back Earned (Card B)
$2,500-$50$37.50
$5,000$0$75
$10,000$100$150
$20,000$300$300
$30,000$500$450

This is a simple example, and it doesn’t take into account any value you might get from the other card benefits. But some calculations like these will work to compare cards in most cases, including most of the cards on this page.

What’s the Best Cash Back Credit Card?

Buying groceries or gas? Try the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which offers 6% back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 spent per year) and 3% back at U.S. gas stations.

Want a card with bonus categories that change over time? The Discover it® Cash Back provides 5% cash back in categories that change every three months, often including groceries, restaurants, rideshares and Amazon (5% back is limited to $1,500 spent per quarter; category activation required).

Or, if you’re dealing with fair or average credit, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is designed for you. It comes with 1.5% back on everything, though it has a small annual fee.

What Are the Highest Cash Back Credit Cards?

The highest cash-back rates currently available include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year) and select U.S. streaming services
  • Discover it® Cash Back: 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 per quarter, then 1%, activation required); double cash back the first year
  • U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card: 5% cash back in your choice of two categories (up to $2,000 per quarter)
  • Ink Business Cash® credit card: 5% cash back on Lyft, office supplies, and internet, cable, and phone services (up to $25,000 per year for certain categories)

Though there are exceptions, you’ll notice that most credit cards with exceptionally high cash-back rates have spending limits in their most rewarding categories.

How Do Cash Back Cards Work?

Cash-back credit cards work like any other credit card. You have to apply to get one, you’ll get a specific credit limit and, if you carry a balance from month to month, you’ll be charged interest (unless you have a 0% APR).

Purchases with cash-back cards will earn “cash back rewards” – this means that a percentage of the purchase will be added to a special rewards bank in your credit card account.

If you’re getting 5% cash back for a $100 purchase, you’ll get $5 in cash back deposited in your rewards bank. Your cash-back rewards can be redeemed in a variety of ways, depending on the card. But the most common redemption method is in statement credits, which simply reduce your account balance.

Many cards have specific bonus categories that let you earn more cash back for certain purchases. Some of the most popular cash back cards have bonus categories for groceries, gas, and dining, for example.

And here’s a fun fact – even if you’re already earning cash back with a credit card, you may be able to boost your rewards with cash back apps, like Dosh, which partners with businesses to provide rewards your card doesn’t.

Are There Credit Cards With 2% Cash Back on Everything?

There are a few cards that can provide 2% cash back or more on every purchase.

The PayPal Cashback Mastercard® is a relative newcomer, with a strong and simple 2% back no matter where you shop.

And then there’s the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card, which can give 2% back but only if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage Member. Otherwise, it provides 1.5% back, and you have to be a PenFed member to apply in the first place.

You can also consider the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card – it provides 3% cash back for the first year, and 2.5% back after that. But it has a relatively high annual fee (the other cards above have no annual fees).

Are There Credit Cards With 5% Cash Back?

The Discover it® Cash Back is a popular starter card, with 5% back in quarterly rotating categories that often include gas, groceries, rideshares and Amazon (limited to $1,500 in spending per quarter; activation required).

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a long-standing favorite, also providing 5% back in a selection of categories that changes every three months.

Finally, the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card is a powerhouse that doesn’t get enough attention. You can choose two of your own 5% categories each quarter, from rare but handy choices, such as TV/internet streaming services, home utilities, cell phone providers and ground transportation (including Uber and Lyft).

Expert Q&A

1) What should cardholders look for in cash back credit cards?

Omid Kamran Disfani, Assistant Professor, Southern Illinois College of Business and Analytics

As the name suggests, the major benefit of these cards is that consumers can get anywhere from 1% to 5% cash back on their purchases depending on the reward program. So, it is a nice way to get a little bit back when you spend, especially when you have to spend the money anyway.

Paul Kurnit, Clinical Professor of Marketing, Pace University, Lubin School of Business

(Cardholders should ask) “What’s the deal?”

  1. What are the cash-back rates? How do they compare to other card incentive programs?
  2. How much cash back will cardholders be receiving based on their anticipated usage of the card?
  3. What are the options for receiving “cash back?” Over what period of time? How will “cash” be rewarded to customers?

Dipra Jha, Assistant Director and Scholarly Associate Professor, School of Hospitality Business Management, Carson College of Business, Washington State University

Cardholders should look for the percentage of cash back offered and if there is an upper limit to how much they can earn in cash back. Also, they should look to see if the cash back is paid as a statement credit, through a gift card, etc.

2) How can cash back cardholders make the most out of their cards?

Omid Kamran Disfani, Assistant Professor

Customers should choose the card that fits their lifestyle. For example, if someone travels a lot, they can get more money back on a travel cash back card. Everyone is different, and every individual has a unique lifestyle, amount of disposable income, and categories of products and services in which they’re willing to spend more. So, to get the most out of their cash-back credit cards, customers should look for a fit between their expenses and the reward program. That is why I always suggest that consumers have some kind of an estimate of spending (how much they spend and how often they spend) in each product category. Many financial institutions and credit card issuers provide information on expenditure by category, which customers can use in choosing the right credit card. 

Paul Kurnit, Clinical Professor of Marketing

The two best ways cardholders will appreciate the benefit are:

  1. Get the cash and save it for a purchase they will appreciate and remember as the reward it is…or,
  2. Apply the cash to reduce bills on the card, especially as savings/discounts for purchases.

Dipra Jha, Assistant Director and Scholarly Associate Professor

Cardholders can make the most out of their cash back cards by combining purchase categories they would frequently use, with the percentage of cash back available. For example, many cards offer cash back on groceries which is something most cardholders would frequently buy and consistently earn cash back on.

3) What should people be aware of when looking at cash-back credit cards?

Omid Kamran Disfani, Assistant Professor

First, any type of fees. Customers should be aware of annual fees and other fees that may apply. I prefer no annual fees, but some cards with annual fees may provide enough cash back to justify the annual or other fees. Second, and this is probably more important, customers should take into account their credit situation. If you have trouble managing the cards you already have, my suggestion is to stop applying for new ones! Just because you can get 3% cash back on a new card is not a good enough reason to apply for it. Unfortunately, some consumers who have credit problems tend to apply for new cards all the time and that is not a good strategy. 

Paul Kurnit, Clinical Professor of Marketing

What’s the “fine print?”

  1.  Is the deal ongoing? Will the benefit remain the same over time?
  2.  Is the cash distribution going to be commensurate with, i.e., better than frequent buyer point values on other cards?

Dipra Jha, Assistant Director and Scholarly Associate Professor

Read the fine print carefully. Do you have to spend X amount of money before the cash back kicks in? Is there an annual fee?

4) Do you prefer flat-rate cash back or rotating cash back category offers?

Omid Kamran Disfani, Assistant Professor

I personally prefer a flat rate, because I don’t need to worry about activating categories every quarter and feeling pressured to spend in certain categories. I think rotating cash back categories may influence consumers’ shopping behavior and they may overspend on categories that offer more cash back. My preference is to always be in the driver’s seat! 

Also, I have a card that gives me the flexibility to choose what category I want to receive more cash back in. So, I can set whatever category I want to receive 3% cash back and I can change the category whenever I want. My credit card company also provides a monthly report on my expenses in different categories, which is super helpful in setting the category in which I like to receive more cash back. 

With more competition among credit cards, consumers can expect such additional services from their credit card company which helps them make the right decisions.

Paul Kurnit, Clinical Professor of Marketing

Keep it simple. Go flat rate at an attractive rate. Let the cardholder know exactly what the deal is, what the cash-back distribution is, and how and when the cash is going to be distributed.

Dipra Jha, Assistant Director and Scholarly Associate Professor

Both are good but rotating cash back category offers allow consumers to switch between categories as their needs or purchasing habits change. Several cards now allow consumers the flexibility to switch back and forth between categories, which is great!

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