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While 1.5% might be the standard in cash-back credit cards, a select few have entered an exclusive club: the 2% cash-back credit card.
Getting a flat 2% cash back or more on everything you buy with your credit card is extremely valuable, especially for those who care about simplicity. Some people don’t want to manage a bunch of spending categories that give you higher returns on some spending — like gas or restaurants — and a lower rate, usually 1% back, on other spending.
Other people are willing to manage spending categories but want a high-rate card for spending that doesn’t fall neatly into those bonus categories. You might as well get 2% or more cash back on your doctor copay, trash pickup bill and haircuts, none of which fall into typical bonus categories.
Some of these 2%-or-more cards have minor catches, like joining a credit union or redeeming your rewards in specific ways. Here are examples of cards that pay at least 2% cash back on spending.
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
No hassles to apply and no hassles to get your unlimited reward cash. That describes the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer. Its main quirk is how the card doles out 2% cash back: You get 1% cash back when you make a purchase, then another 1% cash back when you pay it off. But if you pay your balance in full every month — recommended for all rewards cards — it’s essentially 2% back. It has an annual fee of $0, making it free to carry. Redeem for cash via statement credit, direct deposit into a bank account, gift card or check in the mail. The main knocks on the card are that it has no sign-up bonus and charges a foreign transaction fee, so it’s a poor choice to use for purchases abroad.
The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card
For sky-high cash back
This sweet deal requires a little work upfront — you have to join a credit union — and cash back is capped for super-high spenders. But the payback with this card is eye-popping. The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card offers 2.5% cash back on spending up to $10,000 in qualifying purchases per billing cycle. This means the maximum amount of cash back you can earn on the card each month is $250. Normal spenders will seldom come anywhere near that cap. Its annual fee is $0 intro for the first year, then $99. Anyone can join the credit union for free when applying for the card by agreeing to become a member of an eligible charity.
If you don’t fancy paying an annual fee, Alliant has another good choice, a flat 2X-back card called the Alliant Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card, with an annual fee of $0. Again, you must join the credit union to apply.
Capital One Spark Cash for Business
For small-business owners
You don’t have to have a super-formal business (employees, an LLC, etc.) to qualify for a business credit card, which makes this card more mainstream than you think. A side hustle might qualify you. The Capital One Spark Cash for Business offers an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. It has an annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $95. A reason you might choose this over another 2% card is that it comes with one of those generous business-card sign-up bonuses: Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
For Apple Pay addicts
The Apple Card actually offers triple cash back on Apple purchases and certain retailers, but it makes this list of 2% flat-rate cards for a specific reason: It earns 2% cash back on all other purchases made via Apple Pay mobile payment on iPhone. (However, the physical Apple Card offers a lackluster 1% back.) The card has no annual fee. So if you’re an iPhone user and able to spend a lot at merchants that accept Apple Pay, it’s an enticing choice.
PayPal Cashback Mastercard®
For PayPal users
The PayPal Cashback Mastercard® offers an unlimited 2% cash back on purchases with an annual fee of $0. Just keep in mind that this card is PayPal-centric. You must have a free PayPal account to apply. A minor drawback is you can’t redeem your cash back as a statement credit or for a paper check. You can get a deposit into your PayPal Cash or PayPal Cash Plus account or redeem rewards to your bank account or debit card linked to your PayPal account.
Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card
For Fidelity customers
If you don’t mind immediately turning spending rewards into savings, consider the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card. It pays out a flat 2% back on every purchase, and has a $0 annual fee. Rewards are deposited automatically into a Fidelity Investments regular brokerage account, individual retirement account or 529 college savings plan. Other redemption options drop the value below 2% back.
These cards don’t give you quite 2% cash back all the time, but they’re notably close.
The Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus® World Mastercard®. Flat 1.8% cash back. Annual fee: $0. Full review.
Nerd tip: If you don’t necessarily need cash back — and points or other rewards are OK — see additional choices: How to earn 2% in credit card rewards on every purchase.
Flat-rate 2%-or-more cards are ideal for pairing with a card that features bonus categories — areas of spending that offer more than 2% cash back. Examples are spending at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations and travel or entertainment vendors.
The idea is you would use the cards in tandem: Use the bonus-category card for its categories and the 2%-or-more card for everything else. Examples of cards that play well with a flat-rate 2% cash-back card:
the Chase Freedom Flex℠ or the Discover it® Cash Back
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Discover it® Cash Back earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in spending in quarterly rotating bonus categories that you activate (1% back on everything else). In addition, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ earns 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase and 3% at restaurants and drugstores.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in spending per year (then 1%); 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit; and 1% cash back on everything else. Terms apply.