Cash-back credit cards are a valuable financial tool because they provide rebates on typical everyday purchases. The market's best cash-back cards offer higher-than-average rebate rates, relatively low annual fees, and easy redemption options.
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Although this card's 1.5 percent cash back isn't the biggest of the bunch, Capital One's innovative Purchase Eraser tool gives Quicksilver cardholders one of the fastest redemption paths available across all rewards credit cards. Rewards earnings get credited for use within days of most purchases, enabling you to request a statement credit against any of your qualifying purchases. In many cases, you can eliminate the cost of a small purchase within the same statement cycle, instead of waiting for weeks or months as you would with other cards.
Fidelity® Investment Rewards American Express® Card
If you're playing a long game with your credit card rewards, Fidelity Investments offers a generous 2 percent rebate on purchases with this account that bears the American Express logo. Once you've accrued at least $50 in rewards points, you can redeem your balance for a deposit straight to a linked Fidelity brokerage account. Zapping your rebates right into an IRA or 529 college savings account means you can convert a portion of your everyday transactions into a pillar of your retirement or education funding.
Discover® it card
The credit card that helped define the cash-back rewards market reinvented itself not long ago. With more flexible redemption options and an emphasis on personal customer service, cardholders no longer have to wait to spend rebates of up to 5 percent on quarterly promotional purchases (on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter) and 1 percent on most other purchases. Although this card doesn't always feature big sign-up bonuses, it's still worth a space in your wallet. Be sure to note the most recent feature access to free FICO® credit score online and on your monthly statement.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
This card, which charges no annual fee, offers a baseline rebate of 1 percent on most everyday purchases. However, purchases at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores will get you 2 percent cash back. Cardmembers can also earn 3 percent cash back on up to $6,000 per year in U.S. supermarket purchases. Terms and limitations apply. This card also provides a full slate of American Express customer service benefits, including purchase protection, roadside assistance, extended warranty, and merchant dispute resolution. Terms and restrictions apply.
A frequent favorite among cash-back card lovers, Chase Freedom also uses a rotating list of quarterly bonus rebate offers. Bonus categories have included purchases at gas stations, movie theaters, restaurants, gas stations, and select department stores, with a quarterly spending cap of up to $1,500 in combined purchases. Beyond that, eligible purchases on this no-annual-fee card earn 1 percent rebates with no limit. A linked Chase checking account can qualify eligible cardholders for an annual rebate bonus on the cash back earned on new purchases from the previous year, boosting your rewards balance by an extra 10 percent.
PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa® Card
Pentagon Federal Credit Union Plus version of this card rewards eligible members with a cash-back credit card that offers 5 percent cash back on gas purchases at the pump. Qualifying for the Plus version of this card means also carrying a qualifying account, such as a money market savings account or a checking account with direct deposit ($250 min). If you can afford to stash some savings with one of the country's fastest growing credit unions, this card can help insulate your household against rising gas prices. Don’t have a qualifying account? Qualified applicants have a chance with the Standard version of this card to earn 3 percent cash back on gas purchases at the pump and an annual fee for the first year is $0, then an annual fee of $25. As a side note fuel purchases for airplanes and boats do not receive cash back rewards with either version of this card.
BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card
Bank of America tagged its iconic BankAmericard brand to one of its most generous cash-back credit cards. This no-annual-fee card offers 1 percent rebates on all purchases, with no restrictions. For your first $1,500 in gas and grocery store purchases each quarter, BofA bumps your grocery rebates to 2 percent and your pay-at-the-pump rewards to 3 percent. Like Chase, Bank of America extends a 10 percent annual rewards bonus for customers who link an eligible checking or savings account. However, Bank of America Cash Rewards cardholders can choose to redeem rewards directly into a linked account. It's a great way to cash out your rewards balance when you only plan to use a card for infrequent, large purchases.
Cash-back credit cards offer the most value for consumers willing to pretend they're debit cards. Use them routinely for as many purchases as possible, then pay down your balance before the close of your monthly statement cycle. Otherwise, annual fees and finance charges can strip your rewards balance, or even cost you more money than if you had used a no-frills card.