Home Business Best Cash-Back Credit Cards for 2023

Best Cash-Back Credit Cards for 2023

If you often use a gas station or grocery store credit card, a cashback credit card can help you earn much extra cash. With a cashback credit card, it’s easy to get different on everyday purchases without cash back having to deal with a complicated rewards system. The cashback you earn is then put towards your monthly bill or straight into your bank account. You don’t have to convert, transfer, or redeem things smartly to maximize your rewards. You get bonus cash when you spend money on things that qualify. That’s all it takes.

You can get much money back with the best cashback credit cards (and some with hidden perks). Depending on the card issuer, the rewards rate, and how much you spend, you can earn anywhere from 2% to 5% on all purchases combined. Sometimes, you can earn even more if you make a certain qualifying purchase. If you spend $15,000 a year on your credit card, you could get between $300 and $600 in rewards each year. And depending on the card, you may be eligible for a sign-up bonus or bonus rewards. There are many options out there, especially if you have good credit. Here are our picks for the best cashback credit cards, starting with the easiest to use and working up to the ones with the most complicated reward systems.

The simplest: No annual fee, flat-rate cards

A best overall cash-back card

credit card chase

  • Reward rates: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and 5% back on travel, 3% back on dining, 3% back on drugstore purchases
  • Annual fee: $0
  • New member bonus: $200
  • Bonus redemption threshold: $500 in the first three months
  • Credit requirement: Good to Excellent
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases (15 months)
  • APR for purchases: 14.99% to 23.74% variable
  • APR for balance transfers: 14.99% to 23.74% variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 5% (minimum of $5)

The best cash-back cards usually have a flat rate and no annual fee. Up until a few months ago, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card gave all of these benefits without putting any limits on how much you could spend and without charging an annual fee. But in September 2020, Chase made that deal better by making it a little more complicated and increasing the reward rates for travel (5%), dining out (3%), and drugstore purchases (3%). Even though it’s not the easiest cash-back card to use anymore, we still recommend it to almost everyone.

Rewards details

Chase Freedom Unlimited has one of the lowest minimums for getting a bonus ($200 after spending $500 in the first three months). Also, new cardholders get 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (up to $12,000) made in the first year. It’s important to remember that you can only get 5% cash back on travel if you book through the company’s Chase Ultimate Rewards service. Even though the Citi Double Cash Card’s standard rate of up to 2% may be higher, we think this card’s flat 1.5% rate and higher rates for certain types of spending make it the better choice for most people.

When to use this card

The Chase Freedom Unlimited will not let you down, whether it’s your only credit card or you use it with another card, like a travel credit card that gives you higher bonus rewards for a certain types of purchases. With the Chase Ultimate Reward program, you can turn your rewards into points. This is a nice perk, especially when you use a card that earns points. Keep in mind that some credit cards, like the Capital One Savor, which has higher rates in some categories (4% at restaurants and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores), may have lower rates in other categories. That’s why it’s so helpful that Freedom Unlimited gives you 1.5% cash back on all purchases, not just those that fit into the bonus categories of your other card.

Redemption details

Chase points can be cashed in for anything from a small discount on your next purchase to a substantial deposit into your bank account. In comparison to cards that only allow redemption after accruing a certain number of points, say 2,500 or $25, the ability to redeem at any point in between is a welcome perk.

Best flat-rate card for higher spenders

  • Reward rates: Unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase
  • Annual fee: $0
  • New member bonus: $0
  • Bonus redemption threshold: None
  • Credit requirement: Good to Excellent
  • Intro APR: 0% on balance transfers (18 months)
  • APR for purchases: 15.49% to 25.49% variable
  • APR for balance transfers: 15.49% to 25.49% variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 3% (minimum of $5)

Rewards details

Unlike Chase Freedom Unlimited, the Citi Double Cash Card doesn’t come with a sign-up bonus but is otherwise straightforward. The cash-back rate is higher than average, but no sign-up bonus exists.

When to use this card

In the same way that Freedom Unlimited can be your only credit card, the Citi Double Cash Card can be your go-to card for all your purchases that aren’t in a bonus category.

It’s important to remember that this card charges a 3% fee for all purchases made abroad. You can get a cash advance, but it will cost you either $10 or 5% of the amount you get.

Redemption details

You can cash in your Citi rewards for a check or a credit to your account starting at just $25. The Citi Double Cash Card is different because you get 2% cash back both when you buy something and when you pay off your monthly Citi card balance. Since I want all bills to be paid in full every month, I don’t put much stock in this list.

Getting strategic: No annual fee ‘category’ cards

Citi rewards can be turned in for cash or a credit to your account starting at $25. The Citi Double Cash Card is different because you get 2% cash back both when you buy something and when you pay off your monthly Citi card balance. Since I want all bills to be paid in full every month, I don’t put much stock on this list.

Best category card/best for online shopping

Reward rates: 3% cash back in choice category (gas, dining, travel, online shopping, drug stores, home improvement/furnishings); 2% back at grocery stores/wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 per quarter in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases);

  • 1% on everything else
  • Annual fee: $0
  • New member welcome bonus: $200
  • Bonus redemption threshold: $1,000 in first 90 days
  • Credit requirement: Good to Excellent
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers (15 billing cycles)APR for purchases: 13.99% to 23.99% variable
  • APR for balance transfers: 13.99% to 23.99% variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 3% (minimum of $10)

Rewards details

With the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card, you can get a 3% bonus in several categories that change throughout the year. Bank of America’s version of the bonus credit card is different because you can choose your category (up to once per calendar month) from a list of six, which includes gas stations, online retailers, restaurants, travel agencies, pharmacies, and home improvement and furniture stores.

When to use this card

Because the rewards program is flexible, I recommend that you use this cash rewards credit card to add to your current spending plan. Let’s say you already have a flat-rate card, a grocery card, and a dining and travel card, but you still spend more than $100 a month shopping online. In that case, you could apply for a Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card, choose “online shopping,” and only use it to buy things online. I put online shopping in the online shopping category because it’s not as common as gas or restaurants. You should choose the category that makes the most sense for how you spend money.

I wouldn’t use this credit card that gives cash-back rewards if you plan to travel abroad a lot. There is a 3% fee on all purchases made outside of the U.S.

Redemption details

Bank of America cash rewards can be turned in at any time for a statement credit or direct deposit to a Bank of America or Merrill account.

Rewards comparison

Chase Freedom and Discover It Cash Back are two other cards with bonus categories. Each of these cards has three or four categories that change throughout the year, making it hard to get the most rewards or combine cards. The Customized Cash Rewards Card from Bank of America stands out because it can be changed and has many rewards.

Tech cards

In recent years, the other members of the FAANG group have worked hard to get payments to go through their systems, but Netflix still hasn’t made its own credit card. Amazon and Apple both have their own credit cards with rewards, and Google Pay is used by a lot of people. Verizon is adding its name to the list of companies that offer credit cards.

Best for Amazon and Whole Foods shoppers

  • Reward rates: 5% on Amazon, Whole Foods; 2% at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores; 1% on everything else
  • Annual fee: $0
  • New member bonus: $100 Amazon Gift Card
  • Bonus redemption threshold: Card approval
  • Credit requirement: Fair
  • Intro APR: None
  • APR for purchases: 14.24% to 22.24% variable
  • APR for balance transfers: 14.24% to 22.24% variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 5% (minimum of $5)

If you shop frequently at Amazon, you need this card. Considering there is no catch and few other cards provide Amazon-specific discounts, I won’t suggest a minimum threshold.

Rewards details

Amazon is a popular online store where you can buy almost anything, so getting 5% back is pretty cool. The card also gives you 1% cash back on all other everyday purchases and 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations, and pharmacies. Even though Amazon has a basic card that doesn’t require you to be a Prime member and gives you 3% back on Amazon purchases, I’m focusing on the Prime rewards card because I assume that if you spend more than $250 at Amazon or Whole Foods each month, you’re probably a Prime member.

When to use this card

If you spend most of your money at restaurants and gas stations and only a small amount at Amazon and Whole Foods, the Amazon Prime Rewards card could be your only cash-back card. Aside from that, I think this card is best used like the others: as a supplement to a flat-rate card to earn cash back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases.

Redemption details

You can use points to pay for anything on Amazon, or you can use Chase to get a statement credit for as little as $20 ($2,000 points). Note that Amazon encourages the Amazon redemption option and doesn’t say anything about cash, but cash can be redeemed at the same rate and there is no fee.

Rewards comparison

The only other card you can use for Amazon purchases is the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card. If you choose that bonus category for that quarter, you can get 3% back on online shopping, including Amazon and many other online stores. The percentage is 2% lower than Amazon’s card, but this could be a better choice if you shop at many different online stores. If more than half of your online shopping is done on sites other than Amazon, you can quickly figure out that the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card gives you the most rewards. To get the most cash back, you could also sign up for both no-fee cards and use the Bank of America one for shopping that isn’t on Amazon.

Best for regular Apple shoppers, instant rewards and privacy

  • Reward rates: 3% on Apple, Uber and Walgreens purchases; 2% on Apple Pay purchases; 1% on everything else
  • Annual fee: $0
  • New member bonus: $0
  • Bonus redemption threshold: None
  • Credit requirement: Fair
  • Intro APR: None
  • APR for purchases: 12.49% to 23.49% variable
  • APR for balance transfers: Not offered
  • Balance transfer fee: Not offered

Rewards details

The Apple Card’s rewards program is one of a kind. You get 3% back on purchases from Apple, Uber, and Walgreens, which is an exciting mix, 2% back on purchases made with Apple Pay, and 1% back on everything else. The 3% group will only stand out a little if you buy many Apple products and use Uber daily. Plus, you have to use Apple Pay to get the 2%, which isn’t as good as the Citi Double Cash Card, which gives you up to 2% cash back on everything, no matter how you pay. But Apple’s card does have a few good points.

Other benefits

The Apple Card’s privacy policy says it will “never share or sell your data to third parties for marketing or advertising,” which is a big deal for people who care about their personal information. The Apple Card’s rewards are also different because the cash back shows up in your account right away and is added to your balance at the end of every day. So, if you can’t wait a month or two to use your points and another four or five days for a statement credit to show up in your account, the Apple Card’s instant rewards could be appealing.

When to use this card

This is a good way to get cash back if you buy a lot of things from the main 3% category (Apple, Uber, and Walgreens). But the 2% for Apple Pay isn’t that great because not all stores accept it. On the other hand, the Citi Double Cash Card always gives you up to 2%. People who are most interested in this card are those who care about privacy and want rewards right away.

Lastly, I should say that Apple has talked a lot about the low APR and the fact that there are no fees for things like late payments. But assuming you pay off your balance on time every month, I don’t think that’s a big deal. Keep in mind that the Apple Card only reports credit activity to one of the three major credit bureaus. If you’re trying to build your credit score, this won’t help as much.

High-yield, annual fee ‘category’ cards

Now, we’ll discuss each cash-back credit card in more depth. Most of the time, you will only have these two cards if you spend most of your money in one area. But in some categories, they can get you an extra 2% to 4%, which makes the annual fee worth it if you spend enough.

Since each card costs $95 a year, you have to be more careful about whether or not to get one. Most of the time, having more cards in your wallet is okay (unless you don’t pay them off every month), and it can even help your credit score by giving you more credit. But with these fee cards, you have to pay $95 every year, no matter how often you use it (unless it’re free the first year). Before you apply, make sure it’s worth it.

I recommend two cards in this category: the Capital One Savor card, which is excellent for eating out and going to the movies, and the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card, which is great for buying groceries. Both cards have good welcome bonuses, but the Blue Cash Preferred is easier to get ($3,000 in spending in the first six months vs. $3,000 in spending in the first three months).

Best for big grocery shoppers

Now, we’re going to discuss each cash-back credit card in more depth. Most of the time, you won’t only have these two cards unless you spend most of your money in one area. But in some categories, they can get you an extra 2% to 4%, which makes the annual fee worth it if you spend enough in those categories.

Since each card costs $95 a year, you have to be a little more careful about whether or not to get one. Most of the time, having more cards in your wallet isn’t bad (unless you don’t pay them off every month), and it can even help your credit score by giving you more credit. But with these fee cards, you have to pay $95 every year, no matter how often you use it (unless it’re free the first year). Before you apply, make sure it’s worth it.

I recommend two cards in this category: the Capital One Savor card, which is great for eating out and going to the movies, and the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card, which is great for buying groceries. Both cards have good welcome bonuses, but the Blue Cash Preferred is easier to get ($3,000 in spending in the first six months vs. $3,000 in spending in the first three months).

Reward rates: 6% cash back on groceries at US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year, then 1%. 6% cash back on some US streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back on public transportation and US gas stations, and 1% cash back on everything else. Cash back comes in the form of Reward Dollars, which can be turned in for a credit on your bill.

Annual fee: $95 (waived for the first year) (see rates and fees)
New member bonus: Up to $350
Bonus redemption threshold: Earn $150 back after you spend $3,000 within the first six months of card membership. Plus, earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases within the first six months of card membership (up to $200 back). Cashback will be received in the form of statement credits.
Credit requirement: Good to Excellent
Intro APR: 0% on purchases (12 months) (see rates and fees)
APR for purchases: 13.99% to 23.99% variable (see rates and fees)
APR for balance transfers: Not offered
Balance transfer fee: Not offered

Rewards details

The highest rate at US supermarkets is 6%, but it goes down to 1% after spending $6,000 a year. 6% will give you $360 a year if you already spend too much. The rewards cap is a little annoying, but if you spend less than $500 a month on groceries, you probably won’t notice it unless you have a family of three or more. The Blue Cash Preferred card gives 6% cash back on some US streaming subscriptions. But since most Americans don’t spend more than $40 to $50 a month on streaming services (and many spend less), this part of the reward is only worth about $35 a year.

Most people can get the $150 statement credit bonus without much trouble if they spend $3,000 in the first six months. Plus, you can count on getting 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first six months, up to $200.

When to use this card

Given the generous 6% cash-back rate, you only need to spend about $140 a month on US supermarket purchases to make up for the annual fee and about $200 a month to get the same rewards as you would with a 2% cash-back card. So, if you spend more than $200 monthly on groceries and streaming services, this card starts to pay for itself. When you spend between $350 and $500 on groceries each month at US supermarkets, you get the most cash back (6% up to $6,000 per year, then 1%).

I should also mention that the Blue Cash card has a version called the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express that doesn’t charge an annual fee. But considering the difference in bonuses ($150 statement credit after spending $3,000 in the first six months plus 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first six months up to $200 for Preferred vs. $100 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first six months plus 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first six months up to $150 back for every day) and the huge difference in cash-back rates (6% at US supermarkets vs. 3%, respectively), I found it hard to decide between the two cards.

Redemption details

You can only use AmEx points as credits on your statement. You can’t use them for travel, gift cards, or money in your checking account. The lowest amount you can get back is $25.

Best for dining and entertainment

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

Reward rates: Unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
New member bonus: $300
Bonus redemption threshold: $3,000 in the first three months
Credit requirement: Good to Excellent
Intro APR: None
APR for purchases: 15.99% to 24.99%, variable
APR for balance transfers: 15.99% to 24.99% variable
Balance transfer fee: None (“3% of the amount of each transferred balance that posts to your account at a promotional APR that we may offer you.”)

Rewards details

The $300 bonus is a good reason to sign up, and for the first three years, it covers the annual fee. But keep in mind that the $3,000 bonus threshold is pretty high, so you might need to use the card for spending outside of the bonus categories in the first few months to ensure you hit it. You’ll lose a few percentage points of rewards from other cards, but it’s worth ensuring you don’t lose $300. Just make sure it makes sense by doing the math.

The headline rate on the Savor card is the 4% you get on dining and entertainment. This includes bars and restaurants for dining and “tickets to a movie, play, concert, sporting event, tourist attraction, theme park, aquarium, zoo, dance club, pool hall or bowling alley” for entertainment. If you’re like most Americans and spend more on food than entertainment, this part of the bonus is important to you.

When to use this card

This card makes sense if you spend more than $300 a month on food and entertainment. If that’s the case, I would only use it for those purchases. There’s no reason to pay the 1% fee on purchases that aren’t for food or entertainment. Use your 1.5% or 2% card for those.

Redemption details

You can get a statement credit or a check for any amount in exchange for your Capital One Savor points (no minimum thresholds or maximum earning caps).

In the table below, we’ve listed the most important parts of each card to help you decide which one is best for you.

best cash-back credit cards compared

Card Best for Reward rates New member bonus
Chase Freedom Unlimited best overall cash-back card Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, 5% back on travel, 3% back on dining; and 3% back on drugstore purchases $200 after spending $500 within the first three months
Citi Double Cash Card best flat-rate card for higher spenders Unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase (1% at purchase, 1% when you pay off the purchase), and 1% back on all other purchases $0
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card best quarterly rewards card / best for online shopping 3% cash back in choice category (gas, dining, travel, online shopping, drug stores, home improvement/furnishings), 2% back at grocery stores/wholesale clubs up to $2,500 per quarter, and 1% back on all other purchases $200 after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card Best for Amazon and Whole Foods shoppers 5% on Amazon and Whole Foods; 2% at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores; and 1% back on all other purchases $100 Amazon gift card upon approval
Apple Card Best for regular Apple shoppers: instant rewards and privacy 3% on Apple, Uber, Uber Eats, Nike, T-Mobile and Walgreens purchases, as well as select gas stations, 2% on Apple Pay purchases, 1% back on all other purchases $0
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card Best for dining and entertainment Unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% back on all other purchases $300 after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months
Blue Cash Preferred from American Express Best for big grocery bills 6% cash back on groceries at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%. 6% cash back on select US streaming subscriptions, 3% on transit and US gas stations, and 1% back on other purchases Up to $350: Earn $150 back after spending $3,000 within the first 6 months of card membership. Plus, earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases within the first 6 months of card membership, up to $200 back

What are the best cash-back credit cards?

The best cash-back card overall is the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which gives 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The Citi Double Cash Card is the best flat-rate card for people who spend a lot.

How do cash-back credit cards work?

Cash-back credit cards give cardholders cash or statement credits based on how much they spend. When you get a statement credit, you owe the credit card company less each month. Remember that rewards are only sometimes available the same month you earn them. Usually, credit card companies add rewards to your balance after one or two billing cycles.

Cash-back credit cards are easy to redeem or do it automatically. Some cards, like the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card, automatically add cash rewards to your monthly statement balance. Others require you to log in and use rewards points to get credits on your statement. Most points stay, but if you close your account before redeeming them, you’ll lose them. Some, like Citi, only end after an account hasn’t been used for a year.

There are four main types of cash-back credit cards: flat-rate, tiered, rotating, and choose your own.

Every purchase with a flat-rate card costs the same amount. These are cards like the Citi Double Cash, which gives 2% cash back on every purchase, and the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which gives 1.5% cash back on every purchase.

With a tiered card, the rate of rewards for each type of spending is different. One example is the Amazon Prime Rewards credit card, which gives you 5% cash back on purchases from Amazon and Whole Foods, 2% cash back at restaurants, drug stores, and gas stations, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Cards with rotating categories offer different rewards every three months, which the card issuer chooses. Choose-your-own-category cards let you choose your rewards category. For example, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card gives you 3% back on the category of your choice, 2% back on groceries, and 1% back on everything else.

Should you get a cash-back credit card?

Everyone should get a credit card with a cash-back feature. There are no downsides to having a cash-back credit card because even the best ones don’t charge an annual fee, most offer a sign-up bonus, and it’s easy to cash in your rewards.

The most significant downsides are paying interest on a statement balance (which we strongly advise against) and spending more because of how rewards work. Studies have shown that when people use credit cards instead of cash, they spend a lot more—sometimes up to 83% more. Because of this, you should pay close attention to how much you spend using a credit card. If you have a credit card for dining out and get 4% cash back, but then spend 50% more on food, you’re not helping yourself.

People who only want one type of rewards card can also choose cash-back credit cards. For example, if you only want one credit card, you could choose a flat-rate card like the Citi Double Cash card or the Chase Freedom Unlimited. On the other hand, if you are okay with having more than one bill and using different cards for different purchases, cash-back cards are an excellent addition to other reward cards. Say, for example, that you have a credit card that gives you 5 points for every dollar you spend on flights. You can use this card to book flights and use your flat-rate cash-back card for everything else.

How to choose a cash-back credit card

To choose the best cash-back credit card for you, you should think about how you spend your money each month. We suggest you make a list of all the money you’ve spent in the last three to six months and divide it into different categories, like food, groceries, and gas. (Sites like Mint and your own bank automatically track this for you.) Once you know where you spend the most money and where you spend it most often, you can use the charts on our list to figure out which card will give you the most money back. Then, after you get a credit card, compare how much you spent during the same time period before and after you got the card. If you notice differences, especially big ones, you might want to use cash or just spend the same amount you used to.

Once you know which card has the best reward rate for your categories, you can look at the other perks and offers, like sign-up bonuses, foreign transaction fees, or rental car coverage, and decide if any of them apply to you and how important they are. Some may seem useful, but they won’t save you money, like a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees if you never go abroad.

The annual percentage rate tells you how much interest you’ll pay on your credit card balance for a year. APRs aren’t as important because we recommend using a credit card with rewards instead of cash and never carrying a balance. Most credit cards have a variable APR ranging from 15% to 25%, depending on the card and your credit score. When compared to reward rates, these numbers are high. Like five to ten times the average rate of rewards. You’ll lose those rewards and more if you keep a balance on your credit card statement. Because of this, we suggest you pay off your balance in full every month.

On the other hand, 55% of Americans do not pay off their credit card balance every month. If you’re having trouble paying your monthly credit card bill, that should be your top priority. You shouldn’t even consider getting a rewards card until you’re out of debt and no longer have to pay interest fees.

Which credit card you choose may also depend on your credit score. Most of the cards we recommend require good or excellent credit, usually a credit score of 650 or higher. You can still get a credit card even if you don’t have enough credit. People who are trying to get their credit back on track can use secured credit cards.

How to maximize cash-back rewards

You might be surprised to learn that the most important thing you can do to get the most out of cash-back rewards is not spend too much. Once you start getting points, bonuses, and other rewards for spending, you may be tempted to try to rack up your rewards, but that will take you farther away from your financial goals, not closer to them. Cash-back rewards are a great way to get a little bit of money back on current spending, but if you spend more than you normally would to get rewards, the net value will go down. One way not to spend too much is to use a budgeting app that keeps you honest, like You Need A Budget.

Second, you should always pay on time. If you have to pay a late payment fee or interest on what you still owe, you will quickly lose more than you gain. To be safe, you should pay off your credit card bill twice a month or set up automatic payments.

Lastly, you might want to get two or three different credit cards if you want the most cash-back rewards. Cards usually only work in one or two categories, so you might need to use more than one to get the most out of your spending. You should also consider how much time and work you put into getting credit card rewards. At some point, even the best plan may take too long and cause too much stress.

There are different types of credit cards to consider

Most people like cash-back credit cards, but there are other reward credit cards to think about. For example, travel rewards credit cards are great for people who travel a lot or who want to improve their trips with perks like access to airline lounges or upgrades. Credit cards for travel give cardholders points or miles that can be used to buy travel, like Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points or American Express’s Membership Rewards points.

Secured and student credit cards are the best choices for people who need to build or fix their credit scores. Many cash-back and travel rewards cards require good to excellent credit, but these other cards can help people with lower scores build their credit over time. Secured credit cards require you to put down a deposit equal to the credit line. This means you’re giving the bank a loan in exchange for credit history. Student cards are made to help young people who don’t have a credit history start building credit. Both have a low credit limit and a higher chance of being approved.

People who are members of a credit union, brokerage, or another type of membership club can also get “club” credit cards. There are cards like the Alliant CU Visa from credit unions, the Costco credit card, the Target RedCard, the Sam’s Club Mastercard from stores, and the Fidelity cash-back credit cards for people with Fidelity accounts.

Lastly, business cards like the Chase Ink Business line or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express are for small businesses, contractors, and freelancers and are used to track business expenses. Most business credit cards offer rewards for things like internet and phone bills, office supplies, and other purchases related to the business.

How we picked the best cash-back credit cards

To find the best cash-back credit cards, we looked at 18 of the most popular cards and found the ones that give the most money back overall. This means we looked at the net overall value of each rewards credit card instead of giving more weight to perks or offers that lose their value quickly after you sign up. In the end, the best credit card won’t always be the one with the biggest sign-up bonus.

We gave more weight to cash-back credit cards that reward broad types of spending where Americans tend to spend a lot of money, like eating out, traveling, and grocery shopping, rather than narrow types of spending, like streaming services or “home improvement.” Then, we compared the rewards offered with the possible returns based on made-up budgets. The Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is the main source for these hypothetical budgets.

In the end, we picked eight good choices from the many on the market. Some don’t charge an annual fee and earn the same amount on all purchases. For some, you have to make a certain purchase before you can start getting cash-back rewards. Some offer both cash back and a bonus for signing up. Some cards can only be used for certain purchases (like groceries, gas, restaurants, public transportation, or travel) but have a higher reward rate. Others charge an annual fee. Then, we wrote down important information about each card, like whether it has a transfer fee, how much you have to spend to get a bonus, and the introductory APR. We also listed the general credit requirements for getting approved (if you can’t get a cash-back card, try a student credit card first).

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Disclaimer: The information in this article, such as program features, program fees, and credit card rewards that can be used to pay for such programs, is subject to change and is given “as is.” Check the credit card provider’s website and read its terms and conditions to find the most up-to-date information and offers. The author’s views are the only ones expressed here, not those of any bank, credit card company, hotel, airline, or other business. None of the organizations mentioned in the post have reviewed, approved, or backed this content.

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