Cash back credit cards from our partners

By updated on September 30, 2014

Cash back credit cards rebate a percentage of your purchase amounts right back into your account. They are popular rewards cards for a very good reason: they pay you back based on the dollars you spend every day. Cash back rewards cards are a great way to save money as long as you stay within your budget and don't use them as a reason to spend more.

Many cash back rewards cards do charge interest, so you may save more if you have an excellent to good credit score and especially if you pay your balance in full each month. Shopping around--by comparing credit cards online and reading the terms and conditions--is the key to choosing the best cash back credit card that meshes with your lifestyle.

Cash is king … especially if you can earn cash with a cash back credit card. While it may seem counter-intuitive to use a credit card to earn money, you can earn as much as 1 to 5 percent on your regular purchases with a cash back rewards card.  If you use your card for gas and groceries, you plan to pay all or most of your balance every month, and you like the incentive of gaining a little something in return for your credit card loyalty, a cash back credit card could be a good bet.

Is a cash back credit card best for me?

The most important thing to think about when you try to decide on the best credit card is your personal spending habits. If you are disciplined enough to pay your credit card bill each month and won't be tempted to spend more on your rewards credit card, a cash back card can be a good deal.

But if you have trouble staying within budget from time to time, or you carry a balance from month to month on your credit card, a cash back card may not be the best choice for you since these cards typically charge higher interest rates than non-rewards credit cards.

Can I qualify for a cash back rewards card?

A cash back rewards card typically requires good to excellent credit to qualify, among other  requirements as determined by each issuer. Before applying, get your free credit report and check it for black marks and errors.

If you have good credit, you may qualify for a cash back rewards card, but you should check the interest rate to make sure it is not too high in case you need to carry a balance. Generally, the cards with the best rewards are limited to customers with high credit scores along with meeting other credit criteria.

If you are ready to consider applying for a cash back credit card, compare the cash back credit card offers on this page to see which one is the best choice for you.

How much can I earn with a cash back credit card?

It all depends on your spending patterns and how well the card matches your lifestyle. Some cash back credit cards offer big incentives when you sign up, sometimes amounting to hundreds of dollars if you meet reasonable spending limits. Other cards offer as much as 5 percent on specific purchase categories.

Sometimes cash rewards can be converted to points, which can then be used for a wide variety of incentives, including retailer discounts or airline miles. This handy list of cash back credit cards is a good place to learn more.

Are cash back credit cards a gimmick?

Nope! The cash back programs are very real, and can reward you with a nice chunk of change with regular use of your card. However, keep in mind that cash back cards can have many limitations and caveats, so it pays to pay attention to that little notice that comes with your credit card statement. Don't forget to take a good look at the interest rates, too; cash back credit cards can have much higher interest rates than a regular card.

Choosing the best cash back rewards card

Each credit card company offers something a little different for cash back rewards, and often the amount you earn depends on what you are buying with the card. Cash back credit cards often give bonus points based on the category of your purchase. Some cards offer bonus cash back on particular purchase categories for a limited time. Choose the right card and pay attention to the ever-changing rules to get the most bang for your buck.  Here are some items to compare when you look at credit card offers with a cash back rewards program:

  • Choice of rewards: While cash may seem like all you want right now, some rewards credit cards offer you the option of switching your points to things like airline miles, gift cards or gas whenever you want.
  • Interest rate: If you plan to pay your bill in full each month, interest rates may be less of a factor in your decision. If you think you might have to carry a balance from time to time, be sure to compare the rates on various card offerings.
  • Bonus cash: Some companies offer a bonus for new customers who meet a certain spending minimum within the first few months.
  • Percent you can earn: Of course you want the card with the highest percentage of cash back rewards, but make sure these rewards are on the items you buy, like gas or groceries, and that you can meet the requirements to earn the maximum.

Before you choose your cash back credit card, make an estimate of how much you will charge and what you will purchase to figure out which cash back credit card matches your spending pattern best. Then estimate how much you will earn in cash back and compare that with the annual fee you'll pay for the card. Some cash back credit cards do not charge any annual fee.

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