Many or all companies we feature compensate us. Compensation and editorial research influence how products appear on a page. Credit Cards Best Cash Back Credit Cards Updated Oct 13, 2023   |   16-min read Written by Jeff Gitlen, CEPF® Written by Jeff Gitlen, CEPF® Expertise: Student loans, personal loans, home loans, insurance, credit cards Jeff Gitlen, CEPF®, is the director of content operations at LendEDU. He graduated from the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics at the University of Delaware. Learn more about Jeff Gitlen, CEPF® There are many types of credit cards on the market. For those who want a straightforward card that rewards you with endless cash back on your purchases, a cash back credit card is your best choice. Our picks for the best cash back credit cards include cards with low fees and cash back rates as high as 6%. Some cards give you bonus cash back for spending on certain categories, such as buying groceries from supermarkets. Others just let you earn a flat rewards rate wherever you use your card. Best cash back credit cards Best overall: Chase Freedom UnlimitedBest for rotating categories: Chase Freedom FlexBest for groceries and gas: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American ExpressBest for earning cash back on all purchases with Amex: American Express Cash MagnetBest for groceries and gas with no annual fee: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Reviews of the 5 best cash back cards Below, you will be able to read reviews of our picks for the best cash back credit cards. Chase Freedom Unlimited Next StepsLendEDU Rating: 4.9/5Rewards rate: 1.5% – 5%Annual fee: $0Editor’s thoughts: Our top-rated cash back credit card. This card comes with a great introductory bonus, a high cash back rate on all purchases, and no annual fee The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is our top-rated option for earning cash back. New cardholders can earn a match of all the cash back earned over the first year. Here is the cash back breakdown after the first year or first $20,000 spent: 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 20223% on dining3% on drugstores1.5% on all other purchases Pros Cash back does not expire as long as your account is open No limitations on how you redeem your cash back The non-category-specific reward rate is higher than most cash-back cards A welcome bonus with a low spending requirement Contactless payment No annual fee Added benefits from partners such as DoorDash and Lyft Cons No interest-free promotion on balance transfers To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here. Chase Freedom Flex Next StepsLendEDU Rating: 4.9/5Rewards rate: 1% – 5%Annual fee: $0Editor’s thoughts: A new offering from Chase, this card comes with a high introductory bonus, a high cash back rate on bonus categories, and no annual fee The Chase Freedom Flex card is our top-rated card for earning cash back on rotating categories. New cardholders can earn $200 after spending $500 within the first three months of account opening. Here is the cash back breakdown: 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®5% on up to $1,500 on combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 20223% on dining3% on drugstores1% on all other purchases Pros Cash back does not expire as long as your account is open No limitations on how you redeem your cash back A welcome bonus with a low spending requirement No annual fee Added benefits from partners such as DoorDash and Lyft Cons No interest-free promotion on balance transfers You need to activate the rewards rate on rotating categories each quarter To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Next StepsLendEDU Rating: 4.8/5Rewards rate: 1% – 6%Annual fee: $0 year one; then $95Editor’s thoughts: This card has one of the largest welcome bonuses for cardmembers that meet the spending requirement and high cash back rates on select categories Rates and Fees. Terms Apply. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is our top-rated card for earning cash back on groceries and gas. New cardholders can earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first six months. The annual fee of $95 after the first year shouldn’t deter those who find themselves paying monthly subscriptions for streaming services or who spend $6,000 a year at supermarkets. The value of that spending, plus spending on other bonus categories, will provide more than enough to cover the yearly cost of card ownership. Here is the cash back breakdown: 6% on groceries up to $6,000 per year in purchases at U.S. supermarkets6% on select U.S. streaming subscriptions3% on transit3% at U.S. gas stations1% on all other eligible purchases Pros Cash back does not expire as long as your account is open A large welcome bonus for new cardmembers that meet the spending requirement Stay in the know with exclusive access to ticket presales and members-only events Contactless payment Cons Cash back can only be redeemed in the form of a statement credit To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here. American Express Cash Magnet Next StepsLendEDU Rating: 4.6/5Rewards rate: 1.5%Annual fee: $0Editor’s thoughts: This card offers a generous welcome bonus, has one of the higher cash back rates on all purchases, and has no annual fee Terms Apply. The American Express Cash Magnet card is one of American Express’s newer cards. It is excellent for those who prefer to earn more on all purchases than on specific bonus categories. New cardholders can earn $150 after spending $1,000 within the first three months of account opening. Here is the cash back breakdown: 1.5% on all purchases Pros Cash back does not expire as long as your account is open A welcome bonus with a lower-than-average spending requirement No annual fee Stay in the know with exclusive access to ticket presales and members-only events Contactless payment Cons Cash back can only be redeemed in the form of a statement credit No interest-free promotion on balance transfers To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Next StepsLendEDU Rating: 4.7/5Rewards rate: 1% – 3%Annual fee: $0Editor’s thoughts: This card offers a generous welcome bonus, a competitive cash back rate on bonus category spending, and no annual fee Rates and Fees. Terms Apply. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is one of the issuer’s most well-known cards and is our top-rated card for earning cash back on groceries and gas without an annual fee. If you are a new cardholder, you can earn $200 in statement credits after spending $2,000 within the first six months. Here is the cash back breakdown: 3% on groceries on up to $6,000 per year in purchases at U.S. supermarkets, then 1%3% on gas at U.S. gas stations on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%3% on U.S. online retail on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%1% on other purchases Pros Cash back does not expire as long as your account is open A generous welcome bonus for those that meet the minimum spending requirement No annual fee Stay in the know with exclusive access to ticket presales and members-only events Cons Cash back can only be redeemed in the form of a statement credit To learn more about this card and what it offers, click here. Recap of the best cash back cards CardRewardsAnnual feeChase Freedom Unlimited1.5% – 5%$0Chase Freedom Flex1% – 5%$0Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express1% – 6%$0 year one; then $95American Express Cash Magnet1.5%$0Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express1% – 3%$0 How We Chose the Best Cash Back Credit Cards To find the best cash back credit cards, our Editorial Team analyzed cards by introductory benefits, cash back rates, redemption options, other benefits, annual fee, and whether or not the issuer is nationally recognized. Learn more about our ratings and methodology here. What you need to know about cash back credit cards Three types of cash back credit cards Cash back credit cards have grown in popularity over the years as cardholders appreciate the ability to earn flexible rewards on purchases large and small. These types of credit cards come in several different forms, including flat-rate cash back, tiered cash back, and bonus category credit cards. Each has its own degree of appeal as well as downsides to consider. Flat-rate cash back credit cards are the most straightforward of the three categories. No matter the category of the purchase or the amount, flat-rate cash back credit cards earn a set percentage of the amount spent. For example, a cardholder may earn 1% of the dollar amount spent on a purchase as cash back. A $1,000 transaction then earns the cardholder $10 in cash back. Rates for flat-rate cash back credit cards may not seem high, but their simplicity and unlimited cash earning potential is attractive to some credit card users.Tiered cash back credit cards differ from flat-rate cards because they offer higher rates on certain purchase categories than others. For example, a tiered cash back card may offer 3% on purchases made at gas stations or grocery stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. The tiered categories may impose limits on the total amount of cash back earned for a set timeframe, such as a billing cycle or a calendar year. Typically, the “all other purchases” cash back rate does not have a maximum potential.Bonus category cash back credit cards are similar to tiered cards in that they offer higher earnings on specific purchase categories. However, the bonus categories differ from the tiered categories because the bonus categories change every quarter. For example, a bonus category credit card may offer 5% cash back on gas station or department store purchases for the first quarter of the year, and then switch to travel or online shopping for the next quarter. All other purchases made on a bonus category cash back card earn a flat rate, typically 1% or less. There are limits on the total earning potential for each bonus category per quarter, but no limit imposed on all other purchases. How to redeem cash back earnings All cash back credit cards offer flexibility in how cash back earnings can be redeemed as they accumulate. In most cases, there are four main strategies for redeeming cash back, including statement credits, direct deposits, gift cards, and donations. Statement credits Statement credits are available from many cash back credit card issuers. The benefit is an easy choice if there is a balance on your credit card at the end of the billing cycle. As long as the amount of cash back you have earned meets the minimum redemption amount, you can request to have the cash back credited to your statement to offset the amount owed. Statement credits appear as a negative on your statement whenever a redemption is made, just like a normal payment would. It is important to note that statement credits often do not satisfy the minimum payment amount due, so remitting a payment is still required. Direct deposits Another option for cash back redemption is through direct deposit. Unlike a statement credit, cash back may be redeemed for cash to a linked checking or savings account. A direct deposit redemption is not available from all credit card issuers offering cash back, but it can be a nice perk when it is offered. Similar to statement credits, card issuers may require a minimum cash back amount be met before a direct deposit redemption is available. Gift cards A common cash back redemption option is a gift card purchase directly from the credit card issuer. When cash back accumulates, you may be able to purchase a gift card in the amount of your cash back from a variety of retails, like Amazon, Target, or Starbucks. Each credit card company offers different gift card redemption options, and minimum cash back amounts may be required before redemption for a gift card is an option. Donations Over the last several years, credit card companies have added another option for cash back redemption in the form of charitable donations. Instead of redeeming cash back as a monthly statement credit, direct deposit, or a gift card purchase, you may have an option to convert your cash back to a donation for a specific charity. In most cases, this charitable donation is not tax deductible for the cardholder, and minimum cash back accumulation amounts still apply. You may also have the option of donating cash back to a friend or family member who has the same credit card or rewards program available. Cash back credit cards and annual fees There are many credit card issuers offering cash back credit cards to qualified borrowers, but some are more advantageous than others. One of the drawbacks of some cash back credit cards is the annual fee cardholders pay to simply own the card. Annual fees for cash back credit cards range from zero to more than $400 per year, depending on the card issuer, the perks and benefits offered with the credit card, and the rewards potential cardholders can maximize throughout the year. In most cases, paying an annual fee for a cash back credit card makes sense if the amount earned is far higher than the fee charged. This is typically only the case when cardholders spend a significant amount on the cash back card each year. If credit card spending is minimal or the cash back has low earning potential, paying an annual fee isn’t usually a smart financial move. Several of the best cash back credit cards on this list don’t have an annual fee, and these are best suited for cardholders who use their cards sparingly. You can also check out the best no annual fee credit cards we have reviewed. Can you negotiate for better cash back rates? Credit card companies design cash back programs to meet the needs of a large number of consumers. While there are varied programs available, the card you select comes with a set cash back plan that cannot be altered. Credit card companies do not design cash back rewards specific to individual cardholders, and therefore, you cannot negotiate for better rates once you have a credit card established. However, if the cash back credit card you initially selected is no longer meeting your needs or wants, you can always change to another cash back card from a different issuer or the same company. Be sure to check your eligibility for getting a new cash back credit card before applying, and check with your current card issuer to see what other options may be available. Are There Drawbacks to Cash Back Credit Cards? Although cash back credit cards are appealing to many, they do come with some drawbacks of which you need to be aware. First, many consumers utilize cash back credit cards for everyday purchases, both big and small, up to their available credit limit. While this strategy is beneficial for accumulating a substantial amount of cash back, it can be detrimental to your overall financial picture. Without a spending plan in place, and a repayment strategy to quickly follow, you could end up overdoing it with your cash back card and owe far more than you could initially afford. The other major caveat to cash back credit cards is the potential for an annual fee. Again, if the rewards do not outweigh the fee each year, a cash back credit card is not worth the hassle. Also, credit card holders need to recognize the limitations on cash back earning potential, as well as minimums that must be met in order to redeem earned cash back balances. Managing multiple cash back credit cards If you are planning to open several different cash back credit cards in an effort to extract the maximum value based on your spending, be sure to do so with caution. So long as your credit history is strong, you have the option to apply for and use many different cash back credit cards with varied programs. Some cardholders have a flat-rate card used for everyday purchases, a tiered card used only for the higher-level categories, and a bonus card to maximize rotating categories. This strategy can work well in earning the most cash back over time, but it requires some work. Always have a plan in place for making on-time payment if you have multiple credit cards, and have a set spending limit for each credit card, each month. Taking these simple steps can make all the difference in managing your cash back credit cards responsibly or getting in over your head with credit card debt. Multiple cash back credit cards and credit score Having multiple cash back credit cards also impacts your credit score, both at the time you apply and as you manage spending and repayment over time. Taking out multiple credit cards in a short period of time (typically, less than six months) has the potential to drop your credit score by several points. Creditors view an influx of new credit as a negative because it gives the appearance that you are in need of cash you do not have on hand. Make sure to wait between applying for credit cards. After the initial credit score drop with multiple new credit cards, your credit may also take a hit if you are utilizing a heavy portion of your available credit limits with each card consistently. Utilization needs to be around 30% of your available credit lines, across the board, if you want to keep your credit score strong. Cash back credit card sign-up bonuses Many cash back credit card companies offer sign-up bonuses to new cardholders. Sign-up bonuses are an incentive to establish a new credit card account, and while the value of each bonus varies from company to company, they can be lucrative when used correctly. A sign-up bonus is typically structured like this: when a cardholder spends a minimum amount within the first few months after establishing an account, the credit card issuer credits a large cash back bonus to their account. Minimum spending can range from $500 up to several thousand, with cash back bonuses ranging from a few to several thousand in rewards. Many credit card issuers restrict the sign-up bonus to cardholders who have not had an active account with the company for at least the last 12 months. Additionally, sign-up bonuses may have restrictions as far as when the cash back can be used and how long the account needs to remain open and in good standing before earnings are credited to the account. Timing for cashing in cash back rewards Just like cash back earnings differ from issuer to issuer, so do the rules around rewards redemption. Credit card companies may impose a minimum cash back balance before rewards can be redeemed, often between $10 and $25. So long as cash back is available above the minimum amount, cash back can be redeemed for whatever you’d like. However, waiting to accumulate a substantial amount of cash back can be beneficial in planning for large purchases, major expenses, or travel. It is also important to recognize that most credit card companies apply an expiration date to cash back earned. Some cardholders may have rewards expire one year after they are issued, while others may have up to five years. If you wait to redeem your cash back, be sure to determine if an expiration date applies so you do not miss out on your benefits. >> Read More: Best credit cards LendEDU has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. LendEDU and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.