What is the best cash back credit card?

Written by
Jennifer Doss
Terms apply; see the online credit card application for full terms and conditions of offers and rewards

With so many enticing cash back credit card offers on the market, how do you decide which is the best? In short, the best cash back credit card is the credit card that complements your spending habits and lifestyle. The card you deem best may not actually be all the great for someone who spends their money quite differently than you, and vice versa. When choosing a cash back credit card, consider the following:

  • Are most of your expenses in one category, or do you regularly make purchases in various categories? Some cash back credit cards offer higher rewards in specific categories like gas or online purchases, for example, while others offer perhaps a lower but still valuable rewards rate, but in multiple categories such as gas AND online purchases, plus maybe some additional categories like groceries and dining.
  • Are you okay with keeping up with rotating bonus rewards categories, or do you prefer to earn a flat rate on all of your purchases? If your spending habits are all over the place you can really benefit from a card that offers bonus rewards in various categories; however, sometimes these cards feature rotating bonus categories so you must also consider if you're up for the task of tracking what those categories are each quarter. Doing so can really help you maximize your rewards earning, but if you just want to spend and earn without thinking about it, a card offering a flat-rate rewards structure may be a better fit.
  • Are you willing to pay an annual fee? There are a number of great no-annual-fee cash back credit cards, but don't rule out a card just because it has an annual fee. If you're using that card frequently enough, there's a good chance you will easily earn enough rewards to offset the cost of the card. If you don't think you'll use your card very often though, annual-fee cards might not be worth it.

Cash back credit cards to consider in 2022

Once you've figured out the best type of cash back credit card for you, consider the rewards that each card offers and how the rewards structure fits into your lifestyle. Here's a summary of rewards for the top cash back credit cards:

Credit Card

Rewards Rate*

Welcome Bonus Offer*

Citi® Double Cash Card

Up to 2% back on all purchases

18 months 0% intro APR on balance transfers; then 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

3% on dining and drugstore purchases

An additional 1.5% cash back on purchases

Chase Freedom Flex℠

5% back in rotating quarterly bonus categories when you activate

$200 cash back

Discover it® Cash Back

5% back in rotating categories, up to a quarterly maximum of $1,500 when you activate

Unlimited cash back match on rewards earned in first year for new cardholders

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

3% back in choice category

$200 in online cash rewards

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

(American Express is a CardRatings advertiser)

6% back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 annually)

$300 statement credit; terms apply

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

3% back on dining, entertainment, and at grocery stores

$200 cash back

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

1.5%  back on all purchases

$200 cash back

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

5% back at office supply stores

$750 cash back

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

1.5%  back on all purchases

NA

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

2% back on the first $1,000 spent each quarter at gas stations and restaurants (then, 1%)

Unlimited cash back match on rewards earned in first year


*Terms may apply. Click a card's name to see the full details on rewards and bonus offers. 

You can also see our best cash back credit card list for our top picks for each card type, pros and cons of each card, cardholder scores, and more.

What credit card earns the most cash back?

For flat-rate cards, 2% is the best rate currently available for purchases, and you can earn that amount on cards such as the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card (This card is not currently available on CardRatings).

There's also a lot of earning potential with tiered-rate and rotating category cash back cards, especially when you factor in bonus offers.

For instance, Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months. Meanwhile, the Discover it® Cash Back card will match the cash back earned by new cardholders during their first year. Since the card earns 5% cash back on certain rotating categories, that means you could essentially earn 10% cash back with this card during the first year.

If you aren't eligible for the new cardholder welcome bonuses, you can also get impressive rewards in certain categories such as 6% cash back on up to $6,000 worth of U.S. supermarket purchases annually and on select streaming services with Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. Plus, many rotating category cards offer 5% cash back on their quarterly categories.

Remember though, just because a card offers the most cash back, doesn't necessarily mean it's the best cash back credit card. It's important to choose a credit card that naturally complements your spending. The right credit card for you will earn you rewards with little to no work on your end. If you're having to adjust the way you spend in order to earn rewards, you're likely not using the best card.

(Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express - See Rates and Fees; terms apply)

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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.

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