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.
SoFi Credit Card
For SoFi customers
The $0-annual-fee SoFi Credit Card is a straightforward credit card that could earn 2% cash back. The catch: To earn the 2% rate, you must redeem rewards points toward investing, saving or paying down an eligible loan with SoFi. Other redemption options aren't as valuable. For example, redeeming toward a statement credit has a value of 0.5 cent per point. Another downside: no sign-up bonus.
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.
Nerdy 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 (see rates and fees).
To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, see this page.