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Best Cash Back Credit Cards Of November 2023

Editor
editor

Fact Checked

Updated: Nov 1, 2023, 3:05pm

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.

Travel rewards credit cards can earn sizable returns if you’re willing to track point values and optimum redemption options. But sometimes, you just want to earn rewards in a way you can easily understand—dollars and cents. These cash-back credit cards keep things simple while still providing something extra: you’ll find options with low introductory APRs, no annual fee and other perks and benefits for added value.

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Our editors are committed to bringing you unbiased ratings and information. Our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers. We use data-driven methodologies to evaluate financial products and companies, so all are measured equally. You can read more about our editorial guidelines and the credit card methodology for the ratings below.

  • 31 types of cash-back categories evaluated
  • 210 credit cards rated
  • 53 years of industry experience
  • 130 credit cards owned

Read more
Show Summary

Best Cash Back Credit Cards Of 2023


Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Everyday Spending

Best Rotating Category Cash Back

Chase Freedom Flex℠ *

Chase Freedom Flex℠
5.0
Forbes Advisor created additional star ratings so that you can see the best card for specific needs. This card shines for this use, but overall the star ratings may differ when compared to other cards.

Up to 5% Reward Rate

Earn 5% cash back in categories that rotate quarterly on up to $1,500 when enrolled, 5% on travel purchased throughRead More

Welcome Bonus

$200 bonus + 5% on Gas and Grocery (excluding Target and Walmart)

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

20.49% - 29.24% Variable

Credit Score

Excellent, Good (700 - 749)

Why We Picked It

This card has the brawn to handle just about all of your credit card spending needs without an over-inflated price tag. The card has an annual fee of $0, yet comes with a pumped-up earnings structure that covers a wide swath of expenses including travel, drugstores and dining plus rotating quarterly bonus categories in areas many households are likely to find appealing.

Pros & Cons
  • No annual fee
  • Rotating quarterly categories earn 5% rewards when activated, up to a combined quarterly $1,500 maximum
  • Travel rewards rate rivals some of the best premium travel cards
  • Generous rewards rate in several other categories
  • Travel bookings must be made through Chase Ultimate Rewards® to earn 5% cash back
Card Details
  • Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, earn 5% cash back on combined gas station and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year
  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in categories that rotate quarterly (requires activation), 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1% on all other purchases
  • No annual fee
Earn a $200 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening, plus earn 5% cash back on combined gas station and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year
Credit Score ranges are based on FICO® credit scoring. This is just one scoring method and a credit card issuer may use another method when considering your application. These are provided as guidelines only and approval is not guaranteed.

Best Cash Back for Travel

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Apply Now
On Chase Bank USA, NA's Website
4.9
Forbes Advisor created additional star ratings so that you can see the best card for specific needs. This card shines for this use, but overall the star ratings may differ when compared to other cards.
Apply Now
On Chase Bank USA, NA's Website

Up to 5X Reward Rate

Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all otherRead More

Welcome Bonus

Matched Cash Back

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

20.49% - 29.24% Variable

Credit Score

Excellent, Good (700 - 749)

Why We Picked It

A good overall spending card that allows you to hold a balance on new purchases with a low introductory APR, pay no annual fee, and still earn at least 1.5% cashback on all purchases

Pros & Cons
  • Generous welcome offer for a no-annual-fee card
  • Unlimited 1.5% minimum earn rate for cash back rewards
  • No minimum redemption amount
  • Foreign transaction fee
  • Ongoing balance transfer fee is high
  • Requires a companion card to transfer points to travel partners
Card Details
  • SPECIAL OFFER: Unlimited Matched Cash Back. Use your card for all your purchases and at the end of your first year, Chase will automatically match all the cash back you earned! There is no limit to how much you can earn. Every dollar in cash back rewards you earn is a dollar Chase will match.
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back is just the beginning of what you can earn. You’ll enjoy 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services, 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; and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% – 29.24%.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • Member FDIC
SPECIAL OFFER: Unlimited Matched Cash Back. Chase will automatically match all the cash back you earned at the end of your first year! There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn.
Credit Score ranges are based on FICO® credit scoring. This is just one scoring method and a credit card issuer may use another method when considering your application. These are provided as guidelines only and approval is not guaranteed.

Best Cash-Back Card for Intro Purchase APR

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now
On Capital One's Website
4.5
Forbes Advisor created additional star ratings so that you can see the best card for specific needs. This card shines for this use, but overall the star ratings may differ when compared to other cards.
Apply Now
On Capital One's Website

Up to 8% Cash Back

Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® andRead More

Welcome Bonus

$200

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

19.99% - 29.99% (Variable)

Credit Score

Excellent, Good (700 - 749)

Why We Picked It

The Capital One SavorOne card is a perfect cash back credit card for those who spend a lot at restaurants, grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®) and on entertainment. With its 3% cash back rate in those categories, it's a win for socialites that don't want to pay for an annual fee.

Pros & Cons
  • No annual fee
  • Increased cash back on dining and entertainment
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Easy-to-redeem cash back rewards
  • Introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • High standard rate APR
  • Limited cash back reward categories
Card Details
  • 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; 19.99% – 29.99% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
Credit Score ranges are based on FICO® credit scoring. This is just one scoring method and a credit card issuer may use another method when considering your application. These are provided as guidelines only and approval is not guaranteed.

Best Flat-Rate Cash-Back Card

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Apply Now
On Wells Fargo's Website
4.4
Forbes Advisor created additional star ratings so that you can see the best card for specific needs. This card shines for this use, but overall the star ratings may differ when compared to other cards.
Apply Now
On Wells Fargo's Website

Unlimited 2% Rewards Rate

Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

Welcome Bonus

$200 Cash Rewards

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable APR thereafter

Credit Score

Excellent, Good (700 - 749)

Why We Picked It

The Wells Fargo Active Cash offers an unlimited 2% cash rewards rate on purchases and charges no annual fee. This puts it in competition with the best flat-rate cash back cards on the market.

Pros & Cons
  • Unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
  • $0 annual fee
  • Cell phone protection benefit
  • There’s a balance transfer fee
  • There’s a foreign transaction fee
  • No travel transfer partners
Card Details
  • Select “Apply Now” to take advantage of this specific offer and learn more about product features, terms and conditions.
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases.
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, then a 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% variable APR therafter; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee of 3% then a BT fee of up to 5%, min: $5.
  • $0 annual fee.
  • No categories to track or remember and cash rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open.
  • Enjoy a premium collection of benefits at a selection of the world’s most intriguing and prestigious hotel properties with Visa Signature Concierge.
  • Get up to $600 of cell phone protection against damage or theft when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your eligible Wells Fargo card (subject to a $25 deductible).
Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months
Credit Score ranges are based on FICO® credit scoring. This is just one scoring method and a credit card issuer may use another method when considering your application. These are provided as guidelines only and approval is not guaranteed.

Best Cash-Back Card for Rotating Categories

Discover it® Cash Back

Apply Now
On Discover's Website
4.4
Forbes Advisor created additional star ratings so that you can see the best card for specific needs. This card shines for this use, but overall the star ratings may differ when compared to other cards.
Apply Now
On Discover's Website

Up to 5% Reward Rate

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and moreRead More

Welcome Bonus

Cashback Match™

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

17.24% - 28.24% Variable APR

Credit Score

Excellent/Good

Why We Picked It

For moderate spenders who are willing to activate the 5% rotating categories and track the quarterly spending cap, this no-annual-fee card can deliver tidy rewards outside of its ongoing 1% earning rate.

Pros & Cons
  • 5% cash back on quarterly rotating spending categories throughout the year (activation required)
  • Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year
  • No minimum cashback redemption
  • 5% bonus cashback rate is limited to $1,500 per quarter in spending
  • Bonus categories must be activated quarterly
  • Low 1% base reward rate on everything else
Card Details
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.
  • Discover could help you reduce exposure of your personal information online by helping you remove it from select people-search sites that could sell your data. It’s free, activate with the mobile app.
  • Every $1 you earn in cash back is $1 you can redeem
  • Get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 17.24% to 28.24% Standard Variable Purchase APR applies, based on credit worthiness.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms and conditions apply.
Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match™ - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
Credit Score ranges are based on FICO® credit scoring. This is just one scoring method and a credit card issuer may use another method when considering your application. These are provided as guidelines only and approval is not guaranteed.

Best Cash-Back Card for Balance Transfers

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Apply Now
On Discover's Website
4.1
Forbes Advisor created additional star ratings so that you can see the best card for specific needs. This card shines for this use, but overall the star ratings may differ when compared to other cards.
Apply Now
On Discover's Website

Up to 5% Reward Rate

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more,Read More

Welcome Bonus

Cashback Match™

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

17.24% - 28.24% Variable APR

Credit Score

Good/Excellent (700 - 749)

Why We Picked It

With an extended intro APR runway on balance transfers, this card is a solid choice if you need to pay down a higher-interest card.

Pros & Cons
  • Intro APR rate on both purchases and balance transfers
  • Earns rewards, which many balance transfer cards don’t offer
  • Cashback match for first year’s earnings
  • Discover isn’t as widely accepted internationally as other cards
  • Other cards may offer a longer balance transfer repayment period
Card Details
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.
  • Discover could help you reduce exposure of your personal information online by helping you remove it from select people-search sites that could sell your data. It’s free, activate with the mobile app.
  • Every $1 you earn in cash back is $1 you can redeem
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms and conditions apply.
Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match™ - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
Credit Score ranges are based on FICO® credit scoring. This is just one scoring method and a credit card issuer may use another method when considering your application. These are provided as guidelines only and approval is not guaranteed.

Best Cash-Back Card For Gas and Groceries

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Apply Now
On American Express's Website
4.0
Forbes Advisor created additional star ratings so that you can see the best card for specific needs. This card shines for this use, but overall the star ratings may differ when compared to other cards.
Apply Now
On American Express's Website

Up to 6% Reward Rate

Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%); Earn 6% cashRead More

Welcome Bonus

Earn $250

Annual Fee

$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95

Regular APR

19.24%-29.99% Variable

Credit Score

Excellent/Good (700 - 749)

Why We Picked It

Big spenders at US supermarkets and road warriors who frequently spend at US gas stations or transit like taxis, rideshares or transit can rack up impressive cash back rewards.

Pros & Cons
  • High cash-back rewards in several categories of spending
  • No enrollment is required, cash back is automatic
  • Comes with several travel benefits and protections
  • Charges an annual fee
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets is capped at $6,000 in annual spending (then 1%)
Card Details
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later: Enjoy $0 intro plan fees when you use Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 intro plan fees on plans created during the first 12 months from the date of account opening. Plans created after that will have a monthly plan fee up to 1.33% of each eligible purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.
  • Low Intro APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months from the date of account opening. After that, your APR will be a variable APR of 19.24% – 29.99%. Variable APRs will not exceed 29.99%.
  • 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 at U.S. gas stations.
  • 3% Cash Back on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • Get up to $120 in statement credits annually when you pay for an auto-renewing subscription to Equinox+ at equinoxplus.com with your Blue Cash Preferred® Card. That’s $10 in statement credits each month. Enrollment required.
  • Thinking about getting the Disney Bundle which can include Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+? Your decision made easy with $7/month back in the form of a statement credit after you spend $9.99 or more each month on an eligible subscription (subject to auto renewal) with your Blue Cash Preferred® Card. Enrollment required.
  • Terms Apply.
Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
Credit Score ranges are based on FICO® credit scoring. This is just one scoring method and a credit card issuer may use another method when considering your application. These are provided as guidelines only and approval is not guaranteed.

Here's a summary of the Best Cash-Back Credit Cards

Credit Card
Best For
Credit Score
Annual Fee
Welcome Bonus
Best Rotating Category Cash Back
Excellent, Good
$0
$200 bonus + 5% on Gas and Grocery (excluding Target and Walmart)
Best Cash Back for Travel
Excellent, Good
$0
Matched Cash Back
Best Cash-Back Card for Intro Purchase APR
Excellent, Good
$0
$200
Best Flat-Rate Cash-Back Card
Excellent, Good
$0
$200 Cash Rewards
Best Cash-Back Card for Rotating Categories
Excellent/Good
$0
Cashback Match™
Best Cash-Back Card for Balance Transfers
Good/Excellent
$0
Cashback Match™
Best Cash-Back Card For Gas and Groceries
Excellent/Good
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
Earn $250

More About the Best Credit Cards for Cash Back

Chase Freedom Flex℠ *
[ jump to details ]

The Chase Freedom Flex℠* charges no annual fee and features valuable bonus categories, which makes it a good choice for almost anyone looking to earn cash back.

Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in categories that rotate quarterly (requires activation), 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on dining and drugstores and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Welcome Offer: Earn $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, earn 5% cash back on combined gas station and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Annual Fee: $0

Other Benefits and Drawbacks: In addition to the useful bonus categories, the Chase Freedom Flex℠* offers purchase protection, extended warranty protection, select travel protections and cell phone protection when making eligible charges.

This card is a winner already, but it can be even better when paired with a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. That’s because you can transfer the points earned on your Freedom Flex to one of these premium cards where they can be redeemed for 25% to 50% more value through Chase Ultimate Rewards® or Pay Yourself Back. Points can also be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to Chase’s airline and hotel partners including United MileagePlus and World of Hyatt.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
[ jump to details ]

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is another great no-annual-fee cash-back option. It offers slightly simpler rewards-earning categories compared to the Freedom Flex, though we think most people will earn a bit more with the Freedom Flex.

Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on eligible dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases.

Welcome Offer: Earn unlimited matched cash back at the end of your first year.

Annual Fee: $0

Other Benefits and Drawbacks: Like the Freedom Flex, the Freedom Unlimited offers purchase protection and extended warranty protection. It also offers some travel benefits including trip cancellation and interruption insurance, travel and emergency assistance services and secondary auto rental collision damage coverage.

It too, can be paired with a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card to amp up the value of eligible redemptions.

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
[ jump to details ]

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card (terms apply, see rates & fees) is worth consideration for those looking for a cash-back card with an introductory purchase APR. It’s also one of only a few cards offering cash back for entertainment spending.

Rewards: Earn 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases, and 1% on all other purchases.

Welcome Offer: $200 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Annual Fee: $0

Other Benefits and Drawbacks: This card offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 19.99% - 29.99% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months. The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards credit card does not charge foreign transaction fees. It also offers extended warranty, 24-hour travel assistance services and a complimentary concierge service.

If you seek more benefits than the Capital One SavorOne card offers, consider the $95-annual fee Savor Rewards Credit Card*.

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
[ jump to details ]

The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card is a Forbes Advisor top pick for a flat-rate cash-back card, earning 2% cash rewards on purchases.

Rewards: Earn 2% cash rewards on purchases.

Welcome Offer: Earn $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months.

Annual Fee: $0

Other Benefits and Drawbacks: In addition to solid flat-rate rewards, the Wells Fargo Active Cash offers a cell phone protection benefit of up to $600 twice per year, subject to a $25 deductible and a 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, then a 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% variable APR applies. Balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee of 3% then a fee of up to 5%, with a minimum of $5 applies. This card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee so it is not a good choice for purchases made abroad.

Discover it® Cash Back
[ jump to details ]

The Discover it® Cash Back card will automatically match all of the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, with no limits. Depending on your spending, this match can easily exceed the bonuses you can earn from other cards. Even after the first year, it offers solid rewards.

Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter up to a quarterly maximum of $1,500 in spending when activated. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Welcome Offer: Discover will automatically match all the cash back earned at the end of the first year as a cardmember. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards.

Annual Fee: $0

Other Benefits and Drawbacks: Discover’s bonus categories have typically been high-value spending areas such as groceries, gas stations and restaurants. The biggest downside to the Discover it® Cash Back is the need to remember to activate the bonus category each quarter or you won’t earn the higher cash-back rate. You can opt-in for Discover to remind you when the bonus category changes.

This card also comes with a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and eligible balance transfers. Then, a standard rate of 17.24% - 28.24% variable applies. A balance transfer fee of up to 5% of the amount transferred applies, making it a cost-saving option if you have a big purchase coming up or want to consolidate high-interest debt. Keep in mind Discover has a more limited reach outside the U.S. than other card networks.

Discover it® Balance Transfer
[ jump to details ]

The Discover it® Balance Transfer is nearly identical to the Discover it® Cash Back, except for the intro APR offer of 0% intro APR for 6 months on purchases and 18 months on eligible balance transfers. Then, a standard rate of 17.24% - 28.24% variable APR applies. A balance transfer fee of up to 5% of the amount transferred applies (Forbes Advisor’s offer may be different from the publicly available offer).

Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum once activated and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Welcome Offer: Discover will automatically match all the cash back earned at the end of the first year as a cardmember. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards.

Annual Fee: $0

Other Benefits and Drawbacks: Like the Discover it® Cash Back, the biggest downside to the Discover it® Balance Transfer is that you have to remember to activate the bonus categories each quarter or you won’t earn the higher cash-back rate. You can opt-in for Discover to remind you when the bonus categories are changing.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
[ jump to details ]

We all need food to survive, and if you prefer to buy your groceries at the store rather than dine out, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Terms apply. See rates & fees) is one you may want to consider. Even with a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 annual fee, the high rewards on U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations can help offset the expense for many families.

Rewards: Earn 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 at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more) and 1% cash back on other eligible purchases. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

Welcome Offer: Earn $250 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first 6 months.

Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95

Other Benefits and Drawbacks: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express also offers return protection¹, secondary car rental loss and damage coverage² and an up to $120 annual statement credit for Equinox+ when you pay for an auto-renewing subscription at equinoxplus.com with your card ($10 in statement credits each month). To receive this benefit, cardholders must enroll in their Amex card account.

If you would rather avoid an annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and online retail purchases in the U.S. (on up to $6,000 in each category per year in purchases, then 1%), and 1% cash back on other purchases. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits with no annual fee (Terms apply. See rates & fees).


Methodology

Forbes Advisor combed through the profiles of dozens of cash-back credit cards. We focused on major banks and standout credit cards at lesser known banks with online accessibility. We looked for credit cards outperforming other cards in terms of cash-back rates and categories, fees, welcome bonus and other rewards and features.

Our data scoring system accounts for many factors, including a comprehensive weighting of card information relevant to our readers including:

  • Cash-back earnings
  • Welcome bonus
  • Introductory APR
  • Fees
  • Consumer benefits
  • Travel benefits

Cards are then compared against other similar cards, in this case, other cards offering cash-back rewards.

To learn more about our rating and review methodology and editorial process, check out our guide on How Forbes Advisor Rates Credit Cards.


What Is Cash Back on a Credit Card?

A cash-back credit card allows cardholders to earn a percentage back on eligible credit card spending. Typically, a cardholder can redeem rewards for money, issued as a statement credit, a check sent via mail or deposited directly into a qualifying bank account.

Many types of cards offer cash-back rewards, including ones earning the same flat rate on everything you buy, ones offering tiered rewards where certain areas of spending earn higher rewards than other categories and cards offering elevated rewards in specific categories that change quarterly.

Read More: How To Choose a Cash-Back Credit Card

How Do Cash-Back Credit Cards Work?

When you make an eligible purchase with a cash-back card, you’ll earn a percentage back on your spending. The exact amount depends on your particular card’s terms. Depending on your card, those earnings may accumulate in your card’s rewards account until you redeem them according to your issuer’s requirements. Some cards allow you to redeem your cash earnings in any amount at any time while others require a minimum balance to cash out.

The exact way you’ll receive your cash back also varies by card. Many cards provide cash-back earnings as a statement credit against your balance. Others may also offer cash back as a direct deposit or check.

Why Do Credit Cards Give Cash Back?

Card issuers offer cash-back rewards to incentivize use of a card. Though benefits including fraud protection, convenience and the ability to easily build and maintain good credit history are all a standard part of credit cards, earning cash back allows a consumer to take a cut of the transaction fees charged to vendors.

Transaction fees generate upward of $83 billion in revenue for banks, card issuers and card networks. These fees, though only typically 2% to 4% of a transaction amount, are split among the banks, card issuers, fintech companies and card networks involved in facilitating the purchase. With cash back, the customer is effectively cut in on the transaction fee.

If a transaction fee is, for example, 3%, issuers may provide 1.5% cash back to the consumer as an incentive to apply for and use the card. Typically, rewards cards are used to attract more qualified customers—those with better credit and higher income. Though the issuer and its associates earn less on each transaction, it also assumes less risk by attracting a customer less likely to default on any debt. The issuer and its associates may also earn more overall because the higher-income customer is incentivized to spend more using the card in order to earn more rewards.

How To Get Cash Back From a Credit Card

Typically, you’ll need to make a request to redeem cash back from your credit card after you’ve earned it by logging into your issuer’s app or website.

Once you’re in your card rewards account, select the amount of cash back you’d like to redeem. You may also have the option to select how to get your cash back. Typical options include as a statement credit, online deposit to a linked bank account or a check mailed to your address.

Some cards may redeem cash back automatically by applying it as a statement credit on your account.

Related:  How To Get Cash Back On A Credit Card

Types of Cash Back Credit Cards

Generally, three kinds of cash-back credit cards rule the market: flat-rate, tiered-rate and rotating category credit cards.

Flat-Rate Credit Cards

Flat-rate cash-back credit cards earn the same percentage back on your eligible spending, typically anywhere from 1% to 2%, without any spending caps or category restrictions.

Related: Best 2% Cash-Back Credit Cards

Tiered-Rate Credit Cards

Tiered-rewards cash-back cards earn different amounts back in different areas of spending. For example, some cards offer elevated rewards on dining or travel and a lower rate on other areas of spending.

Rotating Category Credit Cards

With rotating bonus category cards, you will earn higher-than-average rewards, typically about 5%, on specific areas of spending up to a quarterly maximum. After that, the rewards rate will drop to 1%. All other purchases on the card typically earn 1% cash back. Bonus categories typically change every three months.

Related: Best 5% Cash Back Credit Cards

How Much Cash Back Can You Get?

For the most part, the amount of cash back you can earn depends on how much you spend on your card and the rewards rate offered by the card. If you spend $5,000 per year on a card that earns 2% cash back on every purchase, you’ll earn $100 in cash back. Someone spending $25,000 on the same card would earn $500.

You can earn more cash back by using credit cards that offer higher earning rates on select categories. For example, if you spend $5,000 on groceries on a card that offers 6% on that category, you’ll earn $300 in cash back—a much larger reward for the same spending.

Keep an eye on the terms of your card to help determine how much cash back you can earn. Many credit cards offer unlimited cash back. Others may cap the amount you can earn in certain categories and lower the return rate once you max out that type of purchase.


Common Cash-Back Bonus Categories

Many cash-back bonus categories focus on rewarding everyday spending in areas such as dining, groceries and gas. Some cards allow you to choose your own category or reward the category in which you spend the most. Others focus on more obscure categories. Common categories of cash back credit cards include:

  • Dining
  • Groceries
  • Gas
  • Travel (including flights, hotels and car rentals)
  • Home improvement or home furnishings
  • Utilities

Expert Tip
You can maximize your cash-back rewards by choosing a card with bonus categories that closely match your personal spending categories. You may be able to earn at a higher rate in purchases including groceries, gas, travel or restaurants. Be honest with yourself, though. If you’re not willing to keep track of bonus categories, you might be better off with a card that earns a higher flat-rate on all purchases.

How To Compare Cash Back Credit Cards

The best cash-back credit card is the one that best fits your lifestyle and spending habits. The right cash-back credit card for someone else may not be the right cash-back card for you.

Forbes Advisor aims to help you by identifying what each cash-back card is best for, but you should always do the math yourself and consider not only how much cash back you could earn but also how you might use the other card benefits.

After you’ve identified how much you spend in different areas and what other card features could benefit you, you’re ready to compare credit cards and shop for the best one for you. As you compare cards and credit card issuers, there are some things that you should incorporate into your evaluations.

Fees

Is there an annual fee? How much would you have to spend on the card to earn enough cash back to at least cover the annual fee? How does that compare to a similar card that doesn’t charge an annual fee? What other fees might you have to worry about?

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

Credit card interest rates are typically higher than other types of loans. If you don’t think you’ll be able to pay off your credit card in full each month, a credit card may not be the right fit for you. If you want a credit card but don’t think you’ll be able to pay it off, you should pay close attention to how much interest you might incur on purchases and balance transfers. If this sounds like you, you should consider a card with an introductory 0% APR offer or a card that’s good for balance transfers.

Cash-Back Rate

Cash-back rates vary from card to card. Consider the areas of your life that you spend the most money in and choose a card that will reward you accordingly.

Bonus Categories

Will you be able to take advantage of the bonus categories? If the card offers 3% on gas and groceries, but you take the train and prefer to dine out then that’s not the cash-back card for you.

Redemption and Rewards

Can you use the cash back the way you want to? Many cash-back credit cards offer various ways to redeem what you earn, such as statement credit, a check, a deposit into a savings or investment account, discounted travel packages and so on. Some cards are more restrictive than others. Make sure you know how you will be able to redeem your hard-earned rewards.


Pros and Cons of Cash Back Credit Cards

Cash-back credit cards are an excellent way to earn rewards with every qualifying purchase on your credit card. There’s generally no learning curve required and you can claim your rewards with a few clicks in your online account—sometimes they’re even provided as a statement credit automatically. You can also easily calculate your earnings so you know precisely what to expect. But compared to the alternatives, it’s easy to see why some opt for cards with complex points and miles systems.

Pros Cons
Redemptions are straightforward: You earn cash Redemptions don’t provide much flexibility—other systems provide many options for redemption
Earning is easy to calculate—multiply your net purchases by the reward rate No opportunity to redeem rewards at a higher rate than they were earned
You know what you’re getting: Rewards are generally more transparent Fewer built-in benefits; Cards tend to focus on rewards instead of travel benefits, credits or access

Finding the Best Cash Back Credit Card for You

There are many great cash back cards on the market, but the card that will earn you the greatest rewards depends on your spending habits. Before committing to a card, take a look at your budget and see where you spend most frequently. Then choose the card that best fits your lifestyle.


How To Make the Most of Your Cash-Back Credit Card

Leveraging multiple cash-back credit cards can mean earning elevated rewards across multiple bonus categories. For instance, you could earn a card rewarding gas purchases at 3% cash back and another earning 4% cash back on groceries and yet another earning 2% cash back on all other purchases. Where the first two cards likely only reward non-bonus category spending with 1% cash back, you can pair multiple cards to reward the major spending you do across all categories.

Beware: Managing multiple credit card accounts means more responsibility, including more monthly statements, more minimum payments, more fees and more risk of accrued interest. Be careful not to shoulder too much.

Expert Tip
Don’t bite off more plastic than your wallet can chew. While the desire to maximize your rewards in every single category feels exciting, keep an eye out for annual fees, monthly maintenance fees or other costs that can drive your total reward amount down. Consider too the value of your time—at what point is an extra percent reward in a category you’ll only spend $100 each year worth the time it takes to manage yet another credit card account?
Also consider the value of benefits—a card offering an extended warranty benefit on a dishwasher you buy could save you more money in the long run even if its rewards rate is slightly lower than a different card.

Read More: How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?

Alternatives to Cash-Back Credit Cards

Depending on your preferred redemptions, other types of credit card rewards might be more valuable to you.

Cash Back vs. Travel Rewards

Travel rewards, such as airline miles or hotel points, can be strategically redeemed to get outsized value. Every travel program has sweet spots where a single point or mile could be worth five or ten cents each when redeemed strategically. However, this assumes you’re well-versed on the program’s strengths—and have the flexibility to take advantage of them.

Cash back, on the other hand, offers stable value. You don’t have to hunt for the most valuable redemptions and don’t have to worry about getting below-average value. It’s also much simpler and doesn’t require a time investment in order to redeem rewards.

Read More: Best Travel Credit Cards of 2023

Cash Back vs. Flexible Bank Points

Many card issuers offer proprietary points instead of traditional cash back. These programs, like Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou points, build in flexibility. When you earn credit card points, you can redeem them as cash back (often, but not always, equivalent to 1%) or you can redeem them for other rewards through the program. A common redemption option is to book travel through the points portal to get 25% more value with every point. You may also be able to transfer points to partnering travel loyalty programs, effectively earning travel rewards.

Once again, cash back is the easiest and most straightforward option. However, credit card points usually have one or more alternate redemption options that are still relatively simple yet provide a greater return. The flexibility of points is their greatest attribute.


Cash Back Is Consistently Preferred Over Other Reward Options

You can’t dispute that cash-back rewards are easier to understand and more flexible than travel rewards. That makes them the most preferred form of credit card rewards, according to an October 2023 survey conducted by OnePoll for Forbes Advisor—and a result we’ve seen consistently across polls all year long. Currently, 73% of respondents prefer cash-back rewards.

If you’re committed to earning cash back—and we don’t blame you—you’ll still be spoiled for options. Flat-rate cards, like credit cards earning 2% cash back on every purchase, make it easy to earn a great rate without having to keep track of earning categories or spending limits. However, 5% cash back cards can increase your earning rate, as long as you’re willing to pay attention to details and restrictions.

If you think cash back is the right fit for you but want to keep your options open, cards that earn flexible points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou points are a great alternative. The brilliance of these points is that they can be redeemed for travel (often at a higher redemption return) or cashed in for a statement credit, letting you choose when you’re ready to decide rather than when you first apply for a card.

Bottom Line

Cash-back cards generally fall into one of three categories:

  • Flat-rate rewards, such as 2% cash back on every purchase.
  • Rotating-category rewards, such as 5% cash back on a selection of purchase categories that update every quarter, then 1% cash back on remaining purchases.
  • Fixed-category rewards, such as 6% cash back on groceries, 3% cash back on gas or 2% cash back on restaurant purchases, then 1% cash back on remaining purchases.

The best type of cash-back card will vary depending on your purchase habits. If you have a large amount of purchases in a specific category such as groceries or gas, it makes sense to find a card that offers bonus cash for your frequent purchases. But if you want a “set it and forget it” card, a flat-rate cash-back card will likely make more sense for you. If you want to maximize your cash-back earnings, consider pairing a flat-rate card with one that offers a bump for where you shop most often.

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.
To view rates and fees for Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express please visit this page.
To view rates and fees for Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express please visit this page.
To view rates and fees for Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card please visit this page.
¹Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.
²Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.

The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults who own at least one credit card was conducted online over Feb. 8-20, 2023, and has a margin of error of +/-3.1 points.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Where can I get cash back on my credit card?

Every card presents cash-back rewards in different ways. Many of them allow you to take your earnings in the form of a statement credit, which reduces the monthly balance you need to pay on your bill. Other cards may instead offer cash back as an electronic deposit to your banking account or a check in the mail.

What’s the best cash-back credit card?

There’s no one best cash-back credit card for everyone. Your spending habits and preferences determine which card will hold the most reward potential for you. Though many cards may net you more value with bonus categories, welcome bonuses and other benefits, the highest flat-rate cash back can be achieved with the the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card*, which earns up to 2.5% cash back with no categories to track on up to $10,000 in purchases each billing cycle with qualifying accounts. All other purchases earn 1.5%, charges no annual fee and requires cardholders meet certain requirements before earning cash back, including membership with the credit union.

How can I maximize the cash back I earn from my credit cards?

Maximizing the cash back you’ll earn from a credit card typically involves ensuring you’re using the best card or cards for your spending. If you spend $500 on gas every month but put it on a card that only earns 1% on gas purchases, you might be missing out on extra rewards. Finding the right card for your spending is the first step to maximizing your reward potential.

Is cash back from a credit card taxable?

In general, the IRS treats cash-back rewards on a credit card as a discount and not earnings, especially if you take your cash-back rewards as a statement credit on your credit card. This means that your cash-back rewards are not taxable.

There is a caveat: If you use your cash-back rewards to pay for a business expense, you can’t deduct the cost of that purchase from your taxes since you used your rewards to purchase the item. In addition, some welcome bonuses are considered taxable income. Be sure to check with your bank or financial institution and a tax advisor to be certain.

Which credit card gives the most cash back?

There’s no one best cash-back credit card that will earn the most rewards for everyone. The highest-paying cash-back card available today depends on how you spend money and how many cards you want to have.

For example, a card might earn 6% cash back up to the first $6,000 in spending at U.S. supermarkets and after that 1%. But if you rarely shop for groceries, you might get more utility out of a card that earns an unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% on groceries and 1% on all other spending.

If you’re looking for the highest paying flat rate cash-back credit card, the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card* is hard to top. It earns up to 2.5% cash back with no categories to track on up to $10,000 in purchases each billing cycle with qualifying accounts. All other purchases earn 1.5% and carries a $0 annual fee. You’re required to join Alliant’s credit union to apply for the card.

If joining a credit union is unpalatable to you, you routinely spend more than $10,000 a month on your card or you don’t want to pay an annual fee, another option is the Citi® Double Cash Card which earns 2% cash back on all purchases—1% when purchases are made and another 1% when they’re paid off.

Does cash back expire?

The expiration date, if there is one, on any cash-back rewards you’ve earned from your card depends on your credit card’s policies. Some cash-back rewards never expire and others may require card activity to keep your rewards from expiring. Check your card’s terms and conditions to make sure you don’t accidentally lose any earnings. In addition, be sure to cash out your rewards before you close a credit card account.

Do cash-back cards actually give you cash?

While many credit card cash-back reward programs redeem cash back as a statement credit to your account, some also allow you to redeem your cash-back rewards as a check or deposit to your bank account. If you’re looking for a program to literally mail you a stack of benjis, you’re probably out of luck.


Next Up In Credit Cards

*The information for the following card(s) has been collected independently by Forbes Advisor: Chase Freedom Flex℠, Savor Rewards Credit Card, Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Information provided on Forbes Advisor is for educational purposes only. Your financial situation is unique and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We do not offer financial advice, advisory or brokerage services, nor do we recommend or advise individuals or to buy or sell particular stocks or securities. Performance information may have changed since the time of publication. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Forbes Advisor adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. To the best of our knowledge, all content is accurate as of the date posted, though offers contained herein may no longer be available. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone and have not been provided, approved, or otherwise endorsed by our partners.
Credit Score ranges are based on FICO® credit scoring. This is just one scoring method and a credit card issuer may use another method when considering your application. These are provided as guidelines only and approval is not guaranteed.
Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months
Earn a $200 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening, plus earn 5% cash back on combined gas station and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year
SPECIAL OFFER: Unlimited Matched Cash Back. Chase will automatically match all the cash back you earned at the end of your first year! There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn.
Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months
Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match™ - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match™ - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
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