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While 1.5% might be the standard in cash-back credit cards, a growing number have entered an elite 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 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 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.
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
For sign-up bonus
The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card offers an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases and has an annual fee of $0. But a factor that sets it apart from other 2% cash-back cards is that it also comes with a sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months.
Adding to its winning profile are cell phone protection and a competitive introductory 0% APR offer: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 15.74%, 20.74%, or 25.74% Variable APR. Unlike most 2% cash-back cards, there are no tricks with applying for the card or redeeming rewards. You can get a statement credit or even withdraw from a Wells Fargo ATM using the bank’s debit or ATM card. Maybe its biggest drawback is a relatively minor one: a 3% foreign transaction fee, which many of its direct competitors have, too. So it’s a poor choice to use for purchases abroad.
But otherwise? It’s hard to ask for more from a flat-rate cash-back card.
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.
The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card
For sky-high cash back
This sweet deal requires some work — you have to join a credit union — and cash back is capped for super-high spenders. You'll also have to open an Alliant High-Rate Checking account, opt in to electronic statements, make one monthly deposit into the account and maintain an average daily balance of $1,000 or more. That's a lot of work to get a higher rate. 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 (1.5% cash back after that.) Most spenders will seldom come anywhere near that cap. Plus, its annual fee is $0. Anyone can join the credit union for free when applying for the card by agreeing to become a member of an eligible charity.
Capital One Spark Cash Plus
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 Plus offers an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. It has an annual fee of $150. 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 up to a $1,000 cash bonus; $500 once you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months, and $500 once you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of account opening.
For Apple Pay users
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.
Synchrony Premier World Mastercard
For hassle-free redemption
It doesn’t get much easier than earning 2% cash back on your spending and receiving rewards automatically as a credit to your account. That’s the deal with the Synchrony Premier World Mastercard, which applies rewards as a statement credit to your account within two billing periods after the purchase is made. It has no sign-up bonus, but also no annual fee. A plus is that it’s a World Mastercard, a higher-level Mastercard that comes with cell phone insurance and other perks.
Bread Cashback American Express Credit Card
For an American Express card
The Bread Cashback American Express Credit Card — issued by Comenity Capital Bank, a Bread Financial company — earns an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases, with an annual fee of $0. That's typical for these cards. But this one runs on the American Express payment network and gives you access to merchant discounts via AmEx Offers. It also has no foreign transaction fees. Terms apply. Redeem cash-back rewards for a statement credit or direct deposit into a checking or savings account. However, you won't find a welcome bonus or 0% intro APR promotion for new purchases or balance transfers. You don’t need to be a Bread Financial customer to qualify.
PayPal Cashback Mastercard®
For PayPal users
The PayPal Cashback Mastercard® offers an unlimited 2% cash back on purchases — and 3% back on purchases made through PayPal — for an annual fee of $0. Just keep in mind that this card is PayPal-centric. You must have a free PayPal account to apply. You can get a deposit into your PayPal Balance account or redeem rewards to your bank account or debit card linked to your PayPal account, among other redemption options.
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.
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.
From smaller issuers
Smaller banks and credit unions typically like to see some loyalty when they give 2% cash back. Here is a sampling of more options — best for existing customers of these financial institutions or people who prefer smaller ones. None of these cards has an annual fee.
First National Bank of Omaha offers 2% cash back on every purchase with the Evergreen by FNBO Rewards Visa Card. It is open to applications nationwide. You don’t need an FNBO bank account, giving this one wider appeal than those that require you to have one with the issuer.
The TD Double Up℠ Credit Card allows you to earn 1% cash back on purchases, plus 1% cash back when you redeem rewards into an eligible TD Bank deposit account. It even comes with a sign-up bonus. However, the card isn't open to consumers in all U.S. states.
The Key Cashback credit card comes with hurdles to get 2% cash back. You must have a KeyBank checking account with at least $1,000 in deposits each month, as well as a KeyBank savings or investment account with a minimum daily balance of $1,000. If you don’t, you'll earn 1.5% cash back on purchases instead. It’s open to applications from some U.S. states only.
Also related to KeyBank is the Laurel Road Student Loan Cashback Card. It is from Laurel Road, a digital lending platform and brand of KeyBank. It offers 2% cash back toward private or federal student loans with eligible servicers, or 1% cash back in the form of a statement credit. It also comes with a sign-up bonus and a 0% intro APR promotional offer. It has no foreign transaction fees.
PenFed Credit Union
The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card earns either 1.5% or 2% cash back on all purchases and comes with a sign up bonus. To get 2% back, you not only have to be a member, you also must be in its Honors Advantage program. That requires you to maintain a PenFed Access America Checking Account or meet the military service criteria — active duty, reserve, honorably discharged or retired.
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.
The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card. If you keep big money in Bank of America® or eligible Merrill accounts, your “everything else” cash back on this card goes from 1.5% to 1.875% or 2.25% or 2.625%, depending on your balances. Annual fee: $95.
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, like gas stations or grocery stores (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.