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Top cash-back credit cards of 2019

Last Updated, October 21, 2019

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Best cash-back credit cards of 2019

If you're looking to get serious about your credit card rewards strategy, adding a cash-back credit card to your wallet is a great place to start.

­Not only do cash-back credit cards offer you an easy way to earn rewards on purchases you'd be making regardless, but many of the best cash-back cards out there also happen to be no-annual-fee cards, meaning, these rewards come at no extra cost to you.

Now, the key with cash-back credit cards, as with any credit card, it to ensure that you're using it responsibly and that the card you choose matches your spending habits and financial goals. You won't benefit much with a credit card that offers 4 percent cash back on wholesale club purchases, for example, if you never shop at wholesale clubs.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a cash-back rewards card is not the same thing as cash-advance credit card. While many cash-back credit cards do offer an option for cash advances, it's important to note the difference between the two. Cash-back credit cards earn you cash rewards every time you swipe your card. A cash advance is when you use your credit card to withdraw cash at a bank or ATM, usually with a fee and high interest rates.

BEST CASH-BACK CREDIT CARDS

To help you narrow down which cash-back credit cards might be an ideal fit for you and your lifestyle, we've reviewed several of our favorite cash-back credit cards for both small businesses and consumers, breaking down their rewards structures, best features, potential drawbacks, and more.

Continue on to learn more about our top cash-back credit card picks: 

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: Calling all foodies! This cash-back card rewards you for both dining out and cooking at home with 4 percent cash back earned on all dining and entertainment purchases, and 2 percent at the grocery store. As an added bonus, new users can earn a $300 bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of card membership - a great perk for anyone looking to buy some fun new kitchen gadgets or to splurge on gourmet treats. Plus, through December 2019, users will receive a monthly statement credit for a Postmates Unlimited monthly membership with the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Bonus: Earn a $300 cash-back bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases within your first three months of opening an account. 

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, an unlimited 2 percent back at grocery stores, and 1 percent back on all other purchases. Read our full Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

Editor's tip: For a no-annual-fee alternative, you might want to consider the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card. With this no-annual-fee option you'll earn a still solid 3 percent cash back on dining and entertainment purchases, 2 percent back at grocery stores, and 1 percent back on everything else. There are no foreign transaction fees, and new users can earn a one-time $150 bonus once spending $500 with the card within the first three months.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Why We Like It: For many people, gas and grocery purchases are made every single week, if not every single day. And if people aren't filling up at the tank, they're likely paying for some type of transit cost like a bus pass or taxi fees. This card is great because it rewards you for those routine purchases, with 6% back on up to $6,000 at U.S. supermarkets annually, as well as on select U.S. streaming services, and an unlimited 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on ground transit purchases. Say your annual grocery expense is $6,000 - that's $360 back each year on grocery purchases alone! (Terms apply; American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.)

Welcome Offer: Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 within the first three months of card membership. Terms apply.

Annual Fee: $95. Terms apply. 

Rewards Rate: Earn 6% back on up to $6,000 in purchases at U.S. supermarkets annually; 6% on select U.S. streaming services; 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on ground transit purchases; and 1% 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 reviewTerms apply.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Why We Like It: Not only are the rewards tiers for this card solid, but the flexibility to choose where you'll earn your highest level of cash back from among a list of six possibilities is an incredibly attractive offer as well. Additionally, this card offers users the opportunity to earn bonus cash back on every purchase made if you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, up to 25-75 percent.

Bonus: Earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you use your card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account membership.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Maximize your cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishing. Earn 3 percent cash back in your choice category and 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), and earn an unlimited 1 percent back on all other purchases. You can update your choice category for future purchases once each calendar month using the mobile banking app or through online banking, or do nothing and it stays the same. Additionally, if you are a Preferred Rewards client (membership and tiers are based on a three-month average balance across your eligible Bank of America accounts) you can earn 25-75 percent cash back on each purchase depending on your tier.

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: Offering the opportunity for up to 2 percent cash back on all purchases, this card offers a simple earning structure that allows you to earn more than the typical flat-rate cash-back rewards credit card, making it a winning card in our opinion. Plus, new cardholders can enjoy 18 months of no interest on balance transfers, which alone is a great reason to consider an application. (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, subject to a balance transfer fee, 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 (you must pay at least the minimum due, on time) 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 many flat-rate cash-back rewards credit cards. Read our full Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer review.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good



Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

Why We Like It: Not only does this flat-rate cash-back credit card offer a nice welcome bonus and an easy rewards structure, but it also 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 $150 bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months of account membership. Plus, earn 1.8 percent cash back on qualifying digital wallet purchases, like those through Google Pay™ or Apple Pay®, during the first 12 months.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn unlimited 1.5 percent back on all of 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. Plus, new cardholders can take advantage of 15 months of no interest on purchases and balance transfers (then, 16.74-25.49% Variable), making it a great option for anyone looking for a bit of extra time to pay off a large purchase, interest-free. There's also a new cardholder offer of $150 cash back once spending $500 within the first three months of opening an account.   

Bonus: Earn $150 cash back once spending $500 within the first three months of opening an account. 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 16.74-25.49% Variable.

Annual Fee: $0

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

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


ROTATING CATEGORIES

Chase Freedom®

Why We Like It: Since the categories rotate quarterly, if you are strategic, this credit card can really help you to make the most out of your spending thanks to 5 percent cash back. 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 other purchases. Check out the current 5 percent bonus categories.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Why We Like It: If you want the power to decide where you'll earn the highest percentage of cash back, this might be the card for you. Since you can truly tailor this card to perfectly fit your spending habits - and change you mind quarterly - this card offers users the opportunity for some serious cash back potential. 

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

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: Good,Excellent


BEST CASH-BACK CREDIT CARDS FOR SMALL BUSINESS

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Why We Like It: If you’re not using a small business credit card to get bonus rewards for your company’s routine purchases, you’re leaving money on the table. With this card, routine purchases could earn you up to 5 percent cash back, and since the card has no annual fee, those rewards come to you at no extra cost.

Bonus: New cardholders will earn a $500 bonus once spending $3,000 within the first three months of card membership.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn 5 percent cash back on purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services (up to $25,000 in combined spending each account anniversary year); 2 percent back on the first $25,000 you spend each account anniversary year on combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants; and 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: Even though there is an annual fee associated with this card, considering the bonus and perks, it’s really not so bad. New cardholders can earn a whopping 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points once spending $5,000 within the first three months (which for many businesses, is a pretty realistic threshold), and the categories in which you can earn 3 percent back are diverse. 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 3 percent back 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 other purchases as well as on the bonus category purchases once you've reached the 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: Juggling personal expenses and business expenses with one credit card is something no business owner has time for. This card has an easy-to-understand rewards structure that 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 $4,500 on purchases in the first three months of account membership.

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

Rewards Rate: Earn 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: a $200 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account.

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

Why We Like It: Flexibility is such a nice feature when it comes to cash-back credit cards and this card has it in abundance. Plus, it's a solid no-annual-fee small business credit card option. With this card, not only will you earn 5 percent back on wireless phone service purchased from U.S. providers and at office supply stores (up to $50,000 spent annually), but additionally, you can earn 3 percent back in the category of your choice, with 8 different categories to choose from. Terms apply. 

Bonus: Currently, there is no traditional bonus offer available, however, there is an introductory offer of 0 percent interest on purchases for the first 15 months you're a cardholder (then, 14.49% - 21.49% Variable). Terms apply.

Annual Fee: No annual fee. Terms apply.

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 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 bonus category purchases after you reach the spending cap. Read our full SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express reviewTerms apply. 

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 anyone who really just doesn’t want to think about how they earn their cash back. Not only is this card great for that, with 1.5 percent earned on every purchase made no matter the category, it’s also great for anyone who doesn’t want to think about how they’re earning rewards while traveling abroad, as this card does not charge any foreign transaction fees – a relatively rare feature among cash-back credit cards.

Bonus: Earn a $150 bonus after spending just $500 during the first three months of card membership. Plus, enjoy 15 months of no interest on purchases and balance transfers (then, 15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)). Read our full Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

Annual Fee: $0

Rewards Rate: Earn 1.5 percent cash back on all your purchases without worrying about categories or spending caps.

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 CREDIT

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa®

Why We Like It: Cash-back rewards credit cards for folks with bad credit are rare. This card not only offers rewards in teh form of statement credits, but also doesn't require a security deposit.

Bonus: While there isn't a traditional bonus available with this card, it's still a card that offers solid rewards to people in a credit tier where it's difficult to find rewards at all. Let's look at the "bonus" as your chance to rebuild your credit while earning some rewards at the same time.

Annual Fee: $0 - $99

Rewards Rate: Earn 1 percent back, in the form of statement credits, on your grocery store and gas station purchases. Note that purchases at Walmart, Target or wholesale clubs will not qualify for rewards. Read our full Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa® review.

Credit Needed: Poor


FOR STUDENTS

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Why We Like It: Because it rewards good behavior, this card is great for students who are trying to build credit and who want to earn rewards while doing so. Users of this card will earn unlimited 1 percent cash back on all purchases, or 1.25 percent when the monthly bill is paid on time. Because it rewards people for paying their bill on time, it should also help new cardholders to develop healthy, lifelong financial habits. (Just don't carry a balance; the card has a 26.99% (Variable) APR on purchases and balance transfers.) 

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

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 (See Rates and Fees).
  • Tiered

    - Your amount of cash back varies depending on the spending category, but those categories are constant. For instance, the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers 4 percent on all dining and entertainment purchases and 2 percent at the grocery store.

    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 Chase Freedom®, mentioned above, 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.

To see the rates and fees of the American Express cards featured in this post, please visit the following links: SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express (See Rates and Fees); Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (See Rates and Fees)

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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