Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2019

Review the best cash back credit cards to reward your spending habits.

Mike Brown
Mike Brown
Updated: June 4, 2019

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When it comes to determining the best credit cards, there are several different ways to rank them. One way credit card companies attract users is by offering services such as roadside assistance or free credit score monitoring.

Others offer travel rewards cards so you can earn free flights and hotel stays. But for some people, maintaining loyalty to specific brands is too much of a hassle — they just want to earn straightforward rewards they can use anywhere they want. That’s where the best cash back credit cards shine.

These cards offer cash back rewards between 1% to 6% on qualifying spending, and you can redeem rewards in any way you want — cash back, monthly statement credits, gift cards, and more. Some give you bonus cash back for spending in certain categories, such as buying groceries from supermarkets. Others just let you earn a flat rewards rate everywhere you go.

To help you determine which cards are best, we analyzed the best cash back credit cards using weighted averages across eight data categories: Regular APR (10%), Purchase APR (5%), Transfer APR (2.5%), Annual Fee (10%), Late Fees (2.5%), Foreign Transaction Fee (2.5%), Cash Advance Fee (2.5%), Introductory Bonus (15%), Rewards (50%).

Here are our top picks.

LendEDU’s 9 Best Cash Back Credit Cards

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card

$95 annual fee $250 sign-up bonus

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card

  • New cardholders get a $250 cash back credit after they spend at least $1,000 within three months of getting the card
  • Earn 6% cash back at supermarkets and on streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at gas stations and on ride-sharing services, and 1% cash back on everything else
  • An excellent choice for families with high grocery and gas expenses
Apply Now

on American Express's secure website

Intro APR

0% APR for 12 months

Regular APR

15.24% to 26.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$95

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

Although American Express credit cards usually specialize in travel benefits, Amex actually provides one of the best cash back credit cards on the market. The Blue Cash Preferred Card is a tough product to get approved for, but if you do, it combines cash back along with some standard American Express travel benefits.

New Blue Cash Preferred cardholders can look forward to a $250 cash back credit after they spend at least $1,000 within three months of getting the card. This is effectively an introductory cash back rate of 25%.

The card also offers great cash back rewards. You can earn 6% cash back at supermarkets and on streaming subscriptions, plus 3% cash back at gas stations and on ride-sharing services. Everything else will earn 1% cash back.

APR & Fees

Since this card comes with such great perks, there is an annual fee of $95 to consider.

There are also other fees you may run into. Balance transfers and cash advances come with a fee of $5 or 3%, whichever is greater. Additionally, foreign transactions are subject to a 2.7% fee. Late payments and returned payments come with a fee of $38 or less, but there is no overlimit fee.

Upon receiving the Blue Cash Preferred Card, cardholders get a 0% APR on regular purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. After that introductory period, the APR is increased to between 15.24% and 26.24%, depending on creditworthiness and the market rate.

Bottom Line

The Blue Cash Preferred Card is an ideal card for families who spend a lot on groceries and gas. Even though it has an annual fee, the cash back rates could easily make up for it, especially if you meet the spending requirements and pay your balance in full every month to avoid interest charges. If you expect to spend big in these categories, this card could make sense for you.

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card

$0 annual fee $200 sign-up bonus

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Get a $200 cash rewards bonus for spending just $1,000 on your card within 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3% back in a category of your choice and 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs up to $2,500 in purchases each quarter
  • Earn 1% back on all other purchases
  • Preferred Rewards clients earn 25% to 75% more in card rewards
Apply Now

on Bank of America's secure website

Intro APR

0% for 12 months

Regular APR

16.24% to 26.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Bank of America Cash Rewards Card is one of the best Bank of America credit cards thanks to its solid sign-up bonus and flexible rewards rates.

You can earn a $200 cash rewards bonus for spending just $1,000 on your card within the first 90 days of account opening.

The card also offers generous cash back rewards, giving you 3% back in a category of your choice (you can choose between gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug store, or home improvement/ furnishings). You can change the category you choose every month. You also get 2% back for anything you buy at grocery stores or wholesale clubs and 1% back on all other purchases.

After you’ve spent $2,500 in a quarter in one of the 2% or 3% cash back categories, your rewards rate will convert to 1% for the remainder of that quarter.

Another perk: Preferred Rewards clients can get 25% to 75% more in additional card rewards. To become a Preferred Rewards client, you have to bank with the Bank of America and keep a certain amount of money in your investment or bank account. As the amount deposited grows, your benefits can double.

The card also offers things like overdraft protection, online shopping security, and a monthly FICO score for no additional charge.

APR & Fees

The card has a 0% intro APR for the first 12 months on both purchases and balance transfers. After that, a variable APR between 16.24% and 26.24% applies.

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card has no annual fee, but unfortunately, there are several other fees to keep your eye on.

There is a 3% fee on balance transfers, a 3% cash advance fee, and a 3% foreign transaction fee. The penalty APR is 29.99% and the cash advance APR is 19.24% to 27.24%. Penalty fees can go up to $39 and all APRs are variable.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, this is one of the best cash back rewards credit cards for those who don’t spend a lot on their credit cards and who can’t justify paying an annual fee. It is also particularly attractive for those who want bonus rewards in a particular category because they spend more in that category. This credit card is one of the few that allow you to choose your rewards category yourself.

Also, because this card offers extra benefits to Bank of America customers, it is particularly recommended for existing clients.

World Wildlife Fund Card

World Wildlife Fund Card

$0 annual fee $200 sign-up bonus

World Wildlife Fund Card

  • Get a $200 cash rewards bonus for spending just $1,000 on your card within 90 days of account opening
  • The World Wildlife Fund receives $3 for each new account, $3 every year you renew, and .08% cash back on all your purchases
  • Earn 3% back in a category of your choice and 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs up to $2,500 in purchases each quarter
  • Earn 1% back on all other purchases
  • Preferred Rewards clients earn 25% to 75% more in card rewards
Apply Now

on Bank of America's secure website

Intro APR

0% APR for 12 months

Regular APR

16.24% to 26.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The World Wildlife Fund Credit Card is another Bank of America credit card that offers a $200 cash reward when you spend just $1,000 in the first 3 months after you open your account. This card is similar to the Bank of America Cash Rewards card in almost every way, except that your card use results in donations to the World Wildlife Fund. For each new credit card account, the World Wildlife Fund gets $3, plus an additional $3 for each year you use the card. It also gets 0.08% cash back on all your purchases.

The card offers 3% cash back in a category that you get to choose (you can choose from gas, online shopping, travel, drug stores, gas, or home improvement/furnishings). You can change the category once each month if you want or you can also keep it the same. You then get 2% cash back at wholesale and grocery stores and 1% back on all your other purchases.

There’s a $2,500 quarterly maximum on spending before all card rewards rates convert to 1% cash back.

You can also get 25% to 75% more in bonus rewards if you are a Preferred Rewards Bank of America client. That could mean that you get 5.25% cash back rather than 3% in your category of choice.

APR & Fees

The card has a 0% intro APR for the first 12 months on balance transfers. After that, the APR is variable and runs from 16.24% to 26.24%. There is a 3% fee on balance transfers, a 3% cash advance fee, and a 3% foreign transaction fee. The penalty APR is 29.99% and the cash advance APR is 19.24% to 27.24%. Penalty fees can go up to $39 and all APRs are variable.

The card has no annual fee.

Bottom Line

This is a great card and one of the few 3% cash back credit cards available for people who don’t spend enough to justify getting a card with an annual fee. It is particularly good for people who want to support the World Wildlife Fund and for those who are Bank of America customers, since they can access higher cash back rewards as Preferred Rewards customers.

The World Wildlife Fund credit card is also one of the few that allows you to choose your bonus rewards category yourself, and it gives you several options.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

$0 annual fee $70 Amazon gift card for signing up

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

  • No annual fee, but an Amazon Prime subscription ($119) is required
  • Get a $70 Amazon gift card after your application is approved
  • Earn 5% cash back for purchases on Amazon.com and at Whole Foods, 2% cash back for purchases at restaurants, gas stations, and drug stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Points can be redeemed on Amazon.com at any time
  • If you have more than 2,000 points, you can redeem them for cash back, travel, gift cards, or other services
Show More
Apply Now

on Chase's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.49% to 24.49% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card is a Chase credit card designed for people who shop at Amazon and Whole Foods often and are Amazon Prime members. You get 5% cash back for purchases on Amazon.com and Whole Foods. You also get 2% cash back for purchases at restaurants, gas stations, and drug stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. There are no caps on how many bonus rewards you can earn, unlike some other cards — making it potentially the highest cash back credit card.

Your points can be used on Amazon.com, but after 2,000 points you can redeem them for cash, travel, gift cards, and other products and services. As a bonus, you also get a $70 Amazon.com Gift Card after your credit card application is approved.

The card also offers a number of great consumer and travel protections that some similar cards do not offer. These include travel and emergency assistance, lost luggage insurance, baggage delay insurance, travel accident insurance, auto rental collision damage waivers, purchase protection, extended warranties, and roadside dispatch. You also get access to the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel perks which could include freebies like free Wi-Fi or breakfast and the best rates.

APR & Fees

The card has no annual fees or foreign transaction fees, but you are required to be an Amazon Prime subscriber to qualify for card membership. There is a 5% balance transfer fee and no intro APR. The card also has a 27.24% cash advance APR and a 5% fee on cash advances. It has a late payment and return payment fee of up to $38.

The card’s variable APR runs between 16.49% and 24.49%

Bottom Line

This card is one of the best credit cards for cash back. It is primarily good for students or people who have Amazon Prime and who frequently shop on Amazon or at Whole Foods. The card allows you to get a significant amount of cash back rewards at both of those places for no additional annual fee. It also provides a number of great consumer and travel benefits that some cards don’t provide. The downside is that unlike some similar cards, it does not provide a 0% introductory APR, and you have to be an Amazon Prime member to qualify.

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Card

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Card

$0 annual fee $150 sign-up bonus

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Card

  • Get a $150 cash bonus when you spend just $500 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 3% on dining and entertainment, 2% on grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases
  • Free credit reporting from Capital One, as well as access to travel insurance, auto rental damage waivers, and price protection
Apply Now

on Captial One's secure website

Intro APR

0% APR for 15 months

Regular APR

16.24%, 22.24%, or 26.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Card is designed for people who spend a lot on dining and entertainment. The card provides a $150 cash bonus when you spend just $500 in the first 3 months. It also provides bonus rewards of 3% on dining and entertainment and 2% on grocery stores. You earn 1% on all other purchases.

As a member of the Mastercard network, the SavorOne comes with a number of great travel, entertainment, and consumer benefits, as well. For example, they provide concierge services, extended warranties, travel accident insurance, roadside assistance, auto rental collision damage, price protection, and access to premier culinary experiences, concerts, and sporting events.

APR & Fees

The card has a generous 0% intro APR for the first 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers. After that, you will pay a variable APR of either 16.24%, 22.24% or 26.24%. The card has a 3% balance transfer fee and a 3% cash advance fee.

There are no foreign transaction fees and the card has no annual fee. The cash advance APR is 26.24% and the card has late fee penalties of up to $38.

Bottom Line

This is a great option when it comes to the best cash back cards. The card offers a sign-up bonus that does not require you to spend a significant amount of money, and it charges no annual fee. That means it’s ideal for moderate spenders. The card could also be a great choice for those with existing credit card debt who want to transfer their balance to another card with a 0% intro APR.

If you spend heavily in dining and entertainment and want to earn extra bonus rewards in those categories, you might also want to consider the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards credit card, but only if you spend enough to make up for the annual fee.

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

$0 annual fee $200 sign-up bonus

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

  • Get $200 credit after spending at least $1,000 within three months of account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back at supermarkets, 2% on purchases made at gas stations and department stores, and 1% on all other purchases
  • Watch out for fees on cash advances, late payments, and foreign transactions
Apply Now

on American Express's secure website

Intro APR

0% for 15 months

Regular APR

15.24% to 26.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

Already mentioned on this list is the Blue Cash Preferred Card, but another American Express card, the Blue Cash Everyday Card, also earns its spot on the list. Applicants with moderate to good credit may qualify for this card, so if you didn’t qualify for the Preferred card, this may be your next best option.

The three-month intro offer on this card consists of a $200 credit after spending at least $1,000. This makes the introductory rewards rate an effective 20% compared to the Preferred Card's effective 25% cash back.

Just like its more exclusive counterpart, the Everyday Card has multiple cash back rates, but these are slightly reduced. Purchases at the supermarket garner 3% cash back, a rate of 2% is available on purchases made at gas stations or department stores, and all other purchases earn 1% back. While these rates are reduced, they are still very competitive compared to similar cards.

APR & Fees

Another key difference between the two Amex cash back cards is the annual membership fee. While the Preferred Card’s annual fee is $95, the Everyday Card charges no annual fee at all. Balance transfer and cash advance fees are set at either $5 or 3%, while foreign transaction fees warrant a 2.7% fee. Late payments and returned payments are charged up to $38 for each.

There is no difference in APR between these two cards. Balance transfers and regular purchases have a variable APR range of 15.24% to 26.24%, but the APR is 0% for the first 15 months after account opening — 3 months longer than you get with the other card. The cash advance APR is 27.49%, and the penalty APR is 29.99%.

Bottom Line

People who want the Blue Cash Preferred Card but don’t qualify for it might want to consider applying for the Blue Cash Everyday Card. The Everyday card offers a good intro bonus and competitive rewards without the cost of an annual fee.

All in all, it’s one of the top cash back credit cards. But if you travel abroad and plan to spend with this card, watch out for the foreign transaction fees.

Discover it Cash Back Credit Card

Discover it Cash Back Credit Card

$0 annual fee Cash back matched at end of first year

Discover it Cash Back Credit Card

  • Earn 5% cash back on purchases in rotating quarterly categories and 1% back on all other purchases
  • Discover matches your cash back earned at the end of your first year
  • Redeem cash back as statement credits, gift cards, charitable donations, or on Amazon.com
  • When redeeming for eligible gift cards, you get $5 extra for every $20 you redeem
Apply Now

on Discover's secure website

Intro APR

0% for 14 months

Regular APR

14.24% to 25.24 Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Discover it Cash Back card is one of the best Discover credit cards. It offers 5% cash back for purchases in its rotating quarterly categories. Discover also has several select deals with partners such as Apple; cardholders can get up to 5% on certain purchases with these partner companies if you shop through Discover’s shopping portal. All purchases outside of these special categories and partners earn 1% back.

You can redeem your cash back rewards as credit statements, gift cards, electronic deposits, or charity donations. And if you choose to redeem your rewards for gift cards, Discover will give you an extra $5 for every $25 you redeem.

Instead of a sign-up bonus, Discover offers the Cashback Match feature.

At the end of your first year, Discover matches all of the accrued cash back you’ve earned. For example, if you have $200 in cash back built up, you will receive $400 in total rewards. This means you could be earning as much as 10% during your first year. Additionally, cardholders can get a $50 credit for referring anyone to opening an account with Discover.

APR & Fees

The card does not charge an annual fee, and there are limited other fees as well. Balance transfers are charged a flat rate of 3%, and cash advance fees are charged either $10 or 5%. For the first late payment, the fee is waived, but following late payments are charged up to $37. Returned payments don’t get waived, but they are charged the same rate as late payments.

The APR for balance transfers and regular purchases is 0% for the first 14 months. This converts to a wide range of 14.24% to 25.24% for both types of transactions, depending on your credit. While there is no penalty APR, the cash advance APR is 27.24%. All APRs are variable.

Bottom Line

If you qualify for the Discover it Cash Back card, you can earn great rewards — especially with the first-year Cashback Match. But you’ll need to coordinate your spending for the rotating categories to maximize the amount of cash back you can earn. The lack of an annual fee, the 0% introductory APR, and the potential for a low interest rate also help make this one of the best cash back credit cards.

Discover it Student Chrome Card

Discover it Student Chrome Card

$0 annual fee Cash back matched at the end of first year

Discover it Student Chrome Card

  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants up to $1,000 in spending each quarter, and an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Discover matches your cash back at the end of your first year
  • Receive a $20 statement credit for every year that your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to 5 years
  • Redeem cash back for gift cards, charity donations, or on Amazon.com
Apply Now

on Discover's secure website

Intro APR

0% for 5 months

Regular APR

15.24% and 24.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

New/Average

Card Highlights

The Discover it Chrome Card is one of the best credit cards for students. In fact, you can get a $20 statement credit for every year that your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to 5 years.

The Discover it Chrome Card is one of the best credit cards for students. In fact, you can get a $20 statement credit for every year that your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to 5 years. You also get 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants up to $1,000 in spending each quarter, and an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Rather than providing a bonus offer, Discover offers to match all the cash back you earn after your first year, so first-time users are really earning double cash back.

One benefit of the card is that you can redeem your rewards at any time for any amount. They can be redeemed as cash back, gift cards, charity donations, or on Amazon.com. The card also provides valuable benefits like a free monthly FICO credit score reporting.

APR & Fees

The card comes with no annual fee and a 0% intro APR for the first 5 months on purchases. A 10.99% APR applies to your first balance transfer for 6 months after the date of the transfer. After that, your rate for both purchases and balance transfers will be variable and will fall between 15.24% and 24.24%.

There is a 3% balance transfer fee, a fee up to $37 for a returned payment, no penalty APR, and a 27.24% APR on cash advances. All APRs are variable.

Bottom Line

The Discover it Student Chrome card is a particularly good option for students who want a card that offers no annual fee, a 0% intro APR, and good rewards on dining and entertainment.

That said, the introductory APR period is relatively short compared to other cards, and the benefits are very narrowly focused on dining and entertainment — something that a student might not do as often if they live on campus. However, since this card is aimed at students, they’ll have a better chance at qualifying, so this makes a good card for beginning your credit journey.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

$0 annual fee $150 bonus after spending at least $500 in the first three months

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Get $150 back after spending just $500 in the first three months
  • Earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Use virtual card numbers from Eno when shopping online
  • 24-hour travel assistance from Capital One
Apply Now

on Capital One's secure website

Intro APR

0% for 15 months

Regular APR

16.24% to 26.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards credit card offers an achievable introductory bonus deal. Cardholders receive $150 back after spending just $500 in the first three months.

The Quicksilver card has only one standard cash back rate, which is set at 1.5% on all purchases. This is not as competitive as other top cash back credit cards, but it is a decent rate for a mid-tier card, and. it is a higher rate on general purchases than other top cash back credit cards, so it’s a good option if you don’t want to worry about spending in certain categories. Rewards do not expire unless the account is closed.

APR & Fees

There is no annual fee for holding the Quicksilver Rewards card, but there are a couple of fees that come standard with a credit card. Balance transfers are charged a flat 3%. The cash advance fee is either $10 or 3%. Late payments will cost you a standard $38.

There is a 0% APR in place for the first 15 months on regular purchases and balance transfers. After the introductory deal ends there are three possible interest rates; either 16.24%, 22.24%, or 26.24%. The cash advance APR is 26.24%, and there is no penalty APR to worry about, aside from late fees. Of course, these rates fluctuate depending on the market.

Bottom Line

The Quicksilver Rewards card is a good, mid-tier cash back credit card offering a flat cash back rate for all purchases. This can help simplify your rewards earning if you don’t like to deal with rotating categories or your spending doesn’t fit neatly in a rotating calendar. This card is geared toward users with good to excellent credit, so keep that in mind if you apply.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards Comparison

CardBonus OfferAnnual Fee
American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card$250 cash back after spending $1,000 within three months of account opening$95
Bank of America Cash Rewards Card$200 cash reward when you spend $1,000 within 3 months of opening your account$0
World Wildlife Fund Card$200 cash reward after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months$0
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card$70 Amazon gift card for signing up$0
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Card$150 statement credit for spending $500 in first 3 months$0
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express$200 credit after spending at least $1,000 within three months of account opening$0
Discover it Cash Back CardDiscover matches your cash back at the end of your first year$0
Discover it Chrome CardDiscover matches your cash back at the end of your first year$0
Capital One Quicksilver Rewards Credit Card$150 back after spending just $500 in the first three months$0

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.