How to Earn 2% in Credit Card Rewards on Every Purchase

If you have good credit, you can qualify for cards that offer 2% or more back in the form of cash back, travel or store rewards.

Kimberly PalmerMay 28, 2020

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If you’re not earning at least 2% back on every purchase with your credit card, it might be time to shop around for a new one. That rewards rate used to be relatively hard to come by, but not so anymore.

And earning 2% back on every purchase can really add up: If you put $1,000 worth of expenses on your card every month, the rewards add up to $240 a year. Spend $1,500 a month, get $360 worth of value. That's money you can put aside for your future, pay toward your debt or spend on things that make life more enjoyable.

Options for those with good credit (typically FICO scores of at least 690) include cash back cards and travel cards, but also store cards — and in that last category, assuming you're super-loyal and do almost all of your shopping with one retailer, you can do even better than 2% back on "everything."

Here are some of our top choices.

Nerd tip: Among flat-rate rewards cards, 1.5% back on everything is the minimum you should settle for. Make sure you're earning at least that much.

Flat-rate cash back: Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: None.

Rewards: 2% cash back on purchases, distributed in two stages:

  • 1% cash back for every dollar spent.

  • 1% cash back for every dollar paid off.

Interest rate: 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

It’s hard to beat the flat-rate cash back rewards from the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer when it comes to every day spending: Since you earn 1% back for every dollar spent and then an additional 1% back when you pay off the purchases, you can earn 2% back on your spending without thinking too hard about it. If you like simplicity, this card could be the one for you.

Travel rewards: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee: $95.

Sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel.

Rewards: Unlimited 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases.

Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 17.24% - 24.49% Variable APR.

With the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you can earn double miles on every purchase, which you can then put toward your next trip. With 15 transfer partners as of this writing, you have plenty of options and flexibility. You can book flights, hotels, rental cars and vacation packages through the issuer’s travel portal.

Store cards: Apple, Amazon, Walmart, Target

The Apple Card

Annual fee: None

Sign-up bonus: None

Rewards:

  • 3% back on Apple purchases and when you use the Apple Card with Apple Pay at select merchants including Nike, Uber, Uber Eats, Walgreens, and T-Mobile stores.

  • 2% back on all other purchases made with Apple Pay.

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

Interest rate: Variable APRs range from 12.49% to 23.49% as of March 2020.

The Apple Card’s cash back rewards show up immediately in the form of Daily Cash, which means you don’t have to wait until the end of a billing cycle to enjoy your rewards. And as long as you use Apple Pay to make your purchases whenever possible, you'll earn at least 2% back on everything, and potentially more depending on the merchant.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Annual fee: $0, but you must be an Amazon Prime member. Membership costs $119 annually ($59 a year for students).

Sign-up bonus: Amazon occasionally offers gift cards of varying amounts upon approval.

Rewards:

  • 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market.

  • 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores.

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

APR: The ongoing APR is 14.24% - 22.24%, Variable.

Amazon sells basically everything, so on many purchases the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card can earn you much more than 2% back. That doesn't take into account the card's elevated rates at Whole Foods, restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores either.

Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard®

Annual fee: $0

Rewards:

  • 5% back on purchases at Walmart.com and items purchased through the Walmart app. This includes items you buy online for in-store pickup as well as for Walmart Grocery Pickup and Delivery. (Gift cards earn 2% back regardless of where they are purchased.)

  • 2% back on in-store purchases, including those made at Murphy USA and Walmart gas stations.

  • 2% back at travel and restaurants.

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

Sign-up offer: Earn 5% back on purchases in Walmart stores when you use this card in Walmart Pay for the first 12 months after approval. 

APR: The ongoing APR is 17.99% - 26.99% Variable APR.

Walmart, too, sells pretty much everything, and as such the Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard® is a great card for loyalists: With 5% back on all Walmart.com purchases and purchases with the app, including for Grocery Pickup and Delivery, and an elevated rewards rate for purchases at Walmart stores, restaurants and travel, it’s easy to see how the rewards can add up.

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Rewards: 5% discount on all eligible Target purchases.

Annual fee: $0.

APR: The ongoing APR is 22.90% Variable

Target is another big-box retailer so large that you could feasibly do most of your everyday shopping there. And if you have the Target REDcard™ Credit Card, you'll get a discount on most purchases that's worth more than 2% back. The card is also easy to manage, since you don’t have to consider different categories with varying rewards rates and you receive the discount at checkout.

Earning more than 2%

Earning 2% back on most or all purchases is great, but it's possible to earn even higher rewards rates if you're willing to juggle multiple cards.

For example, several credit cards pay 5% back in specific spending categories that rotate quarterly. Or you can pick a card that pays higher rewards in the areas where you spend the most, like groceries and gas, then use your 2% card on everything else.

Information related to the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card and the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

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