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Best cash-back credit cards of 2019 from our partners

Updated, December 11, 2018

Our credit card articles, reviews and ratings maintain strict editorial integrity; however we may be compensated when you click on or are approved for offers from our partners. How we make money.

Best cash-back credit cards of 2019Every serious credit card rewards strategy should involve a cash-back credit card. That's because these cards essentially offer you a way to earn cash-back rewards on literally every purchase you make and, in some cases, that cash back percentage is substantial (think as high as 6 percent on your grocery purchases, for instance). Furthermore, a number of the best cash-back cards out there also happen to be no-annual-fee cards.

The key with these cards, as with any credit card, is to ensure that you’re using them smartly AND that you’ve selected a card that aligns with your spending habits, financial goals and credit history. Let us help you understand what a cash-back credit card is (and isn't) as well as how to use that card and even narrow down the options for you to some of the top picks on the market right now.

BEST CASH-BACK CREDIT CARDS

The average American credit card holder has four credit cards in his/her wallet, and there are literally hundreds of options out there. If you’re looking to add a cash-back credit card to your portfolio, we can help. We can even give you some ways in which to use more than one cash-back credit card to maximize your rewards.

We reviewed several of our favorite cash-back credit cards for small business and consumers, taking a look at their reward structures, credit score needed, best features, potential drawbacks and more. We're bringing you the best cash-back credit cards: 

TIERED REWARDS | FLAT-RATE | ROTATING CATEGORIES | SMALL BUSINESS |
WITHOUT FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEES| FAIR CREDIT | BAD CREDIT | STUDENTS 

Still have questions? Reach us at editors@cardratings.com.

TIERED REWARDS

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why We Like It: Finally! A tiered cash-back card that rewards you well for both dining out and cooking at home. Plus, a $500 bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months (WHAT?! $500?!!!), there are no foreign transaction fees to worry about and the annual fee is reasonable and waived the first year. Plus, receive a monthly statement credit for a Postmates Unlimited monthly membership through December, 2019 with the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Bonus: Earn a $500 cash-back bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases within your first three months of account opening.

Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Rewards Rate: Earn an unlimited 4 percent back on all your dining and entertainment purchases as well as an unlimited 2 percent back at grocery stores. You'll also rake in 1 percent back on all your other purchases. Read our full Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Editor's tip: If you don't want to pay an annual fee, you might consider the Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card . You'll earn 3 percent cash back on dining and entertainment, 2 percent back at grocery stores and 1 percent back on everything else. No annual fee or foreign transaction fees, but you can earn a one-time $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Why We Like It: This card rewards you handsomely for living your everyday life – U.S. supermarket, U.S. gas station and all other purchases earn bonus cash back. (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser)

Welcome Offer: Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 within the first three months.

Annual Fee: $95. Terms apply. See Rates and Fees

Rewards Rate: Earn 6 percent back on up to $6,000 in purchases at U.S. supermarkets annually; earn 3 percent back at U.S. gas stations; earn 1 percent back on all other purchases (and on purchases over $6,000 annually at U.S. supermarkets). Read our full Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express review.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

Editor's tip: There is a no-annual-fee version of this card, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers a similar rewards structure at a slightly lower rate: 3 percent back on the first $6,000 spent annually at U.S. supermarkets, then 1 percent; 2 percent at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores; and 1 percent on all your other purchases. Additionally, there's a welcome bonus opportunity of $150 cash back after you spend $1,000 in the first three months. Read our full Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express reviewTerms apply. See Rates and Fees

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Why We Like It: The rewards tiers for this card are solid, if not spectacular; however, this card makes our list because of the possible bonus cash back you can earn if you're a Bank of America account holder or, better yet, a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client as well as the opportunities for extra cash back through the easy-to-use BankAmerideals® program.

Bonus: Earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you use your card to make $500 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. Plus, save money with 12 months no interest on purchases as well as on balance transfers made within the first 60 days. After the intro period your rate jumps to 15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR on purchases and 15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR on balance transfers.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn 3 percent back on gas purchases and 2 percent back on grocery and wholesale club purchases up to $2,500 in combined gas/grocery/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then 1 percent. You'll also earn 1 percent back on all your other purchases.

Additional Details: If you have an eligible Bank of America checking or savings account, you can redeem your cash rewards as an account deposit and you'll receive a 10 percent bonus on your redemption. Going a step further, if you happen to be a Preferred Rewards client (membership and tiers are based on a three-month average balance across your eligible Bank of America accounts) you can increase that bonus to 25-75 percent depending on your tier. That means that even at the 25 percent tier, redeeming $100 worth of cash back would actually mean a $125 deposit into your eligible account. Not bad, right?

Bank of America also runs a program called BankAmerideals®. With this program, you select deals from an ever-changing list of retailers, restaurants and websites, pay for your product or service with an eligible Bank of America credit or debit card, and earn the listed cash back directly in your linked account. While this isn't tied specifically to your Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, the card is among those that are eligible for the program. Read our full Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent/Good


FLAT-RATE CASH BACK

Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

Why We Like It: With a simple earning structure that allows you to earn more than the typical flat-rate cash-back rewards credit card, this is a winner. (Citi is a CardRatings advertiser)

Bonus: There's not a traditional bonus, per se, but this card does offer you 18 months of no interest on balance transfers (then, 15.49% - 25.49%* Variable), which could be "bonus" enough if you're currently paying hefty interest charges on a balance you're carrying on another card.

Annual Fee: $0*

Rewards Rate: You'll earn 1 percent back when you make your purchases and another 1 percent back when you pay your bill, for a possible total of 2 percent cash back on all your purchases, a nice lift over the typical 1.5 percent cash back offered by flat-rate cash-back rewards credit cards. Read our full Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

Why We Like It: Sure, we love a good intro bonus offer, but we really love a card that has a solid intro bonus AND offers a bonus opportunity each year of card membership.

Bonus: Get started with a $150 bonus after you spend $2,500 in the first three months of card membership. Then, each year after your account anniversary, you'll receive a loyalty bonus of 10 percent of the rewards you earned during the previous year.

Annual Fee: None. See Rates and Fees

Rewards Rate: Earn 1.5 percent on each $1 spent. There are no caps or categories to think about. At the end of each year, your loyalty will be rewarded with a 10 percent bonus on all the rewards you've earned. Read our full HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card review.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent


Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

Why We Like It: A flat-rate cash-back option that offers the added perk of cell phone protection that covers you against eligible damage and theft to your phone when you pay your cellular bill with your card. Additionally, you can redeem your cash rewards directly from a Wells Fargo ATM.

Bonus: Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $1,000 in the first three months. Plus, earn 1.8 percent cash back when you use mobile wallet, like Google Pay™ or Apple Pay®, during the first 12 months.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn an unlimited 1.5 percent back on all your purchases. Read our full Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Why We Like It: The convenience of a flat-rate rewards card along with the flexibility and value of Ultimate Rewards® points goes a long way in our book.

Bonus: Earn a $150 cash-back bonus after you spend just $500 in the first three months. Plus, take advantage of 15 months no interest on purchases and balance transfers (balance transfer fee applies). After the intro period, the rate jumps to 16.99% - 25.74% Variable.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn a flat 1.5 percent back on all your purchases. Read our full Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


ROTATING CATEGORIES

Chase Freedom®

Why We Like It: Get the most out of 5 percent cash back in multiple categories. The categories rotate quarterly, but being strategic with your spending can mean big bucks. Plus Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are highly useful and can be combined in a single pot if you happen to have other Chase cards that operate on the Ultimate Rewards® system)

Bonus: Earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months. Read our full Chase Freedom® review.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn 5 percent back on up to $1,500 in purchases in quarterly bonus categories when you sign up (then 1 percent). Earn 1 percent on all your other purchases. Check out the current 5 percent bonus categories.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Editor's tip: Don't be afraid to carry both this card AND Discover it® Cash Back. The 5 percent categories will likely be different each quarter, so having both can be your ticket to getting 5 percent cash back on more of your purchases!

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

Why We Like It: What's not to love about a no-annual-fee card with which you effectively earn up to 10 percent back during your first year as a cardholder? Discover MATCHES ALL CASH BACK EARNED during the first year (more below), so your 5 percent back is worth 10 percent back.

Bonus: Here's what that "first-year match" means: Cardholders earn 5 percent cash back in quarterly rotating categories each quarter you activate (up to $1,500 spent quarterly). At the end of your first year, Discover MATCHES that 5 percent – effectively meaning you earn 10 percent cash back in those categories. You also earn 1 percent back on all your other purchases so, with the first-year match, you effectively earn 2 percent back. Most flat-rate cash-back cards offer 1.5 percent back, so the first year rewards here really can't be beat. 

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Each quarter you activate, you'll earn 5 percent back on the first $1,500 spent in that quarter's category. The 2018 bonus categories calendar features the following: January-March 2018: gas stations and wholesale clubs; April-June 2018: grocery stores; July-September 2018: Restaurants; October-December 2018: Amazon.com and wholesale clubs. Earn 1 percent back on all your other purchases and on any purchases over the cap in the bonus categories. If you max out your spending in the bonus categories each quarter, you'll earn $75 cash back on those purchases alone. Thanks to the first-year match, that means you would earn $150 cash back each quarter that you activate and max out your spending during your first year. Read our full Discover it® Cash Back review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Why We Like It: Cardholders have the power to decide where they'll earn the highest percentage of cash back, which means you can truly tailor this card to perfectly fit your spending habits – and you can change your mind quarterly. All with no annual fee.

Welcome Offer: Receive a $150 cash-back bonus after you use your card to make $500 in purchases within the first 90 days.

Annual Fee: $0*

Rewards Rate: Earn 5 percent back on $2,000-worth of combined purchases in two categories that you select quarterly; earn 2 percent back in one "everyday" category you select quarterly, such as gas or groceries; earn 1 percent back on everything else.

Credit Needed: Excellent


BEST CASH-BACK CREDIT CARDS FOR SMALL BUSINESS

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Why We Like It: Earning up to 5 percent cash back in popular business categories is always nice; it's even nicer when you can do it without having to budget for an annual fee.

Bonus: New cardholders will earn $500 bonus cash back after spending $3,000 within the first three months as card members.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn 5 percent cash back on your purchases at office supply stores and on your internet, cable and phone services (up to $25,000 in combined spending each account anniversary year). Earn 2 percent back on the first $25,000 you spend each account anniversary year on combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants. You'll earn 1 percent back on all your other purchases as well as in the bonus categories once you reach the spending cap. Read our full Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Why We Like It: The bonus on this card gets you off to quite a nice start from a rewards perspective. Plus, this card offers something that's rare in the credit card world: cell phone protection.

Bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months as a cardholder.

Annual Fee: $95

Rewards Rate: Earn three points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent each account anniversary year on travel expenses; shipping costs; Internet, cable, and phone services; and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines. Earn one point per $1 on all your other purchases as well as on the bonus category purchases once you've reached your spending cap. Read our full Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card review.

Cell Phone Protection: When you pay your monthly cellular bill with your card, the primary phone and the other phones on the account will be protected against covered damage and theft (subject to a deductible and other terms). This is a nice added bonus that could save your business a chunk of change.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Why We Like It: An easy-to-understand rewards structure lends itself well to busy business owners who just want to earn rewards with a cash-back credit card, but don't want to jump through a bunch of hoops to do it.

Bonus: Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Rewards Rate: Earn an unlimited 2 percent cash back on every purchase, every day. Read our full Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Editor's tip: Like what you read about the card above, but don't want to budget for an annual fee? Consider Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business . With this card, you'll earn 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase, every day, but you won't have to pay an annual fee to do it. And there's still a nice bonus offer opportunity: Earn a $200 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

Why We Like It: Flexibility is such a nice feature when it comes to cash-back credit cards and this one has it in abundance. Furthermore, it's a solid no-annual-fee option. (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser)

Bonus: There's not a traditional bonus right now, but there is a special offer of 0 percent interest on purchases for the first 15 months you're a cardholder (then, 14.24% - 21.24% Variable).

Annual Fee: No annual fee (terms apply; See Rates and Fees).

Rewards Rate: Earn 5 percent cash back on the first $50,000 you spend each year on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and at office supply stores. Additionally, earn 3 percent cash back on the first $50,000 you spend in a category of your choosing from the following list: airfare; hotel stays; car rentals from select companies; purchases at U.S. gas stations; purchases at U.S. restaurants; purchases of advertising with select media; U.S. shipping purchases; and U.S. computer hardware, software and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers. You'll earn 1 percent back on all your other purchases as well as on the bonus category purchases after you reach the spending cap. Read our full SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express review.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent


WITHOUT FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEES

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why We Like It: Flat-rate cash-back rewards cards are great for the "I just want to earn but don't want to think about it" crowd. This particular card also happens to be good for the person who wants to think that while traveling abroad as it doesn't charge foreign transaction fees – a relatively rare feature among cash-back credit cards.

Bonus: Jump-start your cash back with a $150 bonus after spending just $500 on purchases during the first three months of card membership.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn 1.5 percent cash back on all your purchases without worrying about categories or spending caps. Plus, if you're looking for a 0 percent intro, this card has you covered with 15 months no interest on purchases and balance transfers (then, 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)). Read our full Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


FOR FAIR CREDIT

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why We Like It: The best cash-back rewards credit cards are often reserved for people with excellent credit. This card, however, is available to people with Average, Fair, Limited credit and it offers a solid percentage of cash back for a modest annual fee.

Bonus: There isn't a traditional bonus with this card, but a cash-back rewards card for people with Average, Fair, Limited credit is fairly unique, so let's think of the bonus as your opportunity to earn cash-back rewards while you work on moving your credit score into the good/excellent range.

Annual Fee: $39

Rewards Rate: Earn 1.5 percent back on all your purchases without having to worry about rotating categories or spending caps. In addition, if you make your first five monthly payments on time, you'll receive access to a higher credit line. Read our full Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Credit Needed: Average, Fair, Limited


FOR BAD/LIMITED CREDIT

Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

Why We Like It: It's not easy to find a card that will help you rebuild your credit while still allowing you to earn cash-back rewards. Not only does this card do that, it also offers a nice introductory bonus.

Bonus: At the end of your first year, Discover will MATCH dollar-for-dollar all the cash back you've earned in that first year. That effectively means that earning $200 in cash back in your first year is actually worth $400.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn 2 percent cash back on $1,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each quarter, then 1 percent. You'll also earn an unlimited 1 percent cash back on all your other purchases. Read our full Discover it® Secured review.

Credit Needed: Learn more about Please refer to issuer's website


FOR STUDENTS

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Why We Like It: The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® is a great card for students who are trying to build credit, and who want to earn rewards while doing so. Because it rewards good behavior, it should also help new cardholders develop healthy, lifelong financial habits. (Just don't carry a balance; the card has a 26.46% (Variable) APR on purchases and balance transfers.) Another nice thing about the card is that you can set up your account so that you receive text alerts and email reminders to help you keep track of your spending.

Bonus: Get access to a higher line of credit after making your first five monthly payments on time.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn unlimited 1 percent cash back on all purchases, or 1.25 percent cash back when you pay your monthly bill on time.

Credit Needed: Average, Fair, Limited


TYPES OF CASH-BACK CREDIT CARDS

Before jumping into a credit card application, take some time to understand the three types of cash-back credit cards.

  • Flat-rate

    - Receive a static percentage cash back on your purchases regardless of amount or spending category. For example, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card offers an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase.
  • Tiered

    - Your amount of cash back varies depending on the spending category, but those categories are constant. For instance, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers 3 percent cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 spent annually, then 1 percent), 2 percent back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1 percent back on all other purchases.
  • Rotating categories

    - These cards offer a flat rate across all purchases, but also offer bonus cash back on purchases made in particular categories that change each quarter. Cardholders generally must activate quarterly in order to receive the bonus cash back, which is usually capped at a certain level of spending. An example of this type of cash-back credit card is Discover it® Cash Back, which offers 5 percent back on the first $1,500 you spend in the quarterly bonus category when you activate and 1 percent back on your other purchases.

QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT CASH-BACK CREDIT CARDS

Jumping into the cash-back credit card world requires that you ask a few questions before you begin applying for a card.

  1. What are your goals?

    Be honest. Visualize how and when you’ll use the card and whether you want to keep track of rotating categories or if you’ll be best served by a "one-size-fits-all-purchases" situation.
  2. What is your credit history and credit rating?

    Without a solid understanding of your credit status, you could miss out on valuable intro offers by applying for a credit card with sub-par terms despite your excellent credit. Worse yet, you could even damage your credit by applying for a credit card for which you are not qualified. Know where you stand so you can match your application to your credit history.
    Need help understanding what affects your credit history?
  3. Can you offset an annual fee?

    This is really a question of how often you expect to use the card. You’ll want to use the card frequently enough to earn rewards enough to offset the annual fee, whatever it may be. There’s some wiggle room here if you will use other perks offered by the card, but usually you’ll only want to pay an annual fee if you can recoup that cost in rewards or features.
  4. What does the fine print say?

    It's no fun to sign up for big cash rewards only to be hit by fees on the back end that wipe out any potential gains. Be certain to look beyond intro offers and teaser rates.

USING YOUR CASH-BACK CREDIT CARD: BEST PRACTICES

You've followed our advice and narrowed the field down to your perfect card. Congratulations! Here's more expert advice to keep in mind as you use your cash-back card to rack up rewards.

Change is Constant.

When your circumstances change – and they likely will – your card needs will likely change. Periodically review your spending situation and make sure your card (or cards) are still working for you. Don’t be afraid to break up with your card if things aren't working out. Maybe you've changed jobs and your commute got much shorter – that card that offered high cash-back rewards on gas station purchases might not be right any longer. Or maybe you've gone back to school and find yourself eating a lot of meals at coffee shops and diners – a card that offers bonus rewards at restaurants could benefit you now.

Actually Use it.

It sounds simple, but different cards maximize different things. Be aware before you swipe and always use the best card for the situation; don't just grab Old Trusty because it's handy. 

Pay off your balance each billing cycle.

Nothing will offset rewards earned quite as quickly as mounting interest charges. If you're going to the effort to earn cash-back rewards, be responsible with your card and pay off your balance each month. Along the same lines, spending more than you can afford simply for the rewards is a terrible idea; you won't come out on top. 

Cash rewards or miles cards?

When it comes to card rewards, is it better to focus on cash or miles?

A lot of that depends on your lifestyle and goals but in order to make an apples-to-apples decision, the trick is to come up with the dollar equivalent of a mile or point then think about your use cases.

Say someone flies on United twice a month. The earning potential of getting a United Airlines branded credit card, or another points card, might allow the miles to accrue so fast that realizing rewards is a snap.

Contrast that with someone else who doesn’t fly or stay in hotels often. In this case, a cash-back program is the better and quicker path to getting the cash to spend on a flight or hotel stay – and allow you to spend that cash back on other things as well.

This really goes back to what we discussed earlier in the "Questions to ask" section above. Know your goals and your spending habits before making a credit card decision.

Cash-back credit cards bottom line.

You are the best person to accurately assess which credit card will fit seamlessly into your lifestyle. Don’t be wooed by introductory offers from cards you know won’t ultimately be the best fit. Don’t fall into the "I’ll change my spending habits to make this card work because that intro offer is just too good to pass up" trap. Chances are, you’ll just end up carrying around the wrong credit card and not reaping maximum rewards.

Instead, do your research and take the time to know what you need. When it comes to credit cards, "To thine own self be true."

Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.

1 Comments

  1. Ron Crum November 23, 2015 - 3:06 pm
    My wife and I got the Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express. Having carried an American Express Card since 1975, getting one that paid 2% was a no brainer. Or so I thought. We have outstanding credit and our credit reports show we have never missed a payment. I spend about $5-8k/month on the card and lay promptly. That said, the FIA Card Services that runs the program would decline to accept charges ALL THE TIME as part of their Fraud Alert program. This has happened several times in the last 18 months. Just six weeks ago, they declined the card at 4 merchants we use frequently, all within 5 miles of my house. I called them and complained, again. Then, they did it again this week at my local grocery, Winn-Dixie; at my nearest Walgreens; and at Amazon, all merchants I use 30-40 times a year. I called and canceled the card yesterday.
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