Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2018

Chanelle Bessette

Last updated on December 12, 2018

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Spending happens. Make your everyday purchases more rewarding with one of these cards.

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Not sure which card rewards you the most?

Take a quick quiz and we'll find out.

Our pick for

5% categories and a unique bonus

Discover It Credit Card

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Cash sign-up bonus

Wells Fargo Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa (R) Card Credit Card

on Wells Fargo's secure website

on Wells Fargo's secure website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.99% - 26.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Flat rate + no minimum redemption

Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

on Capital One's secure website

on Capital One's secure website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

recommended credit score

Our pick for

5% categories and a cash bonus

Chase Freedom Credit Card

on Chase's secure website

on Chase's secure website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

16.99% - 25.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Families

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Rates & Fees

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

14.99% - 25.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Flat-rate cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card

on Citibank's secure application

on Citibank's secure application

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Customizable rewards

US Bank Cash+(TM) Visa Signature(R) Card Credit Card

on US Bank's secure website

Rates & Fees

on US Bank's secure website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Annual 10% rewards bonus

HSBC Cash Back Mastercard

on HSBC's secure website

Rates & Fees

on HSBC's secure website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable APR

Intro APR

0% Intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers, then a 14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable APR.

recommended credit score

Our pick for

High rewards for bigger spenders

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

on Alliant Credit Union's secure website

on Alliant Credit Union's secure website

Annual Fee

$59

Waived first year

Regular APR

11.99% - 14.99% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Our pick for

Average credit

Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card

on Capital One's secure website

on Capital One's secure website

Annual Fee

$39

Regular APR

26.46% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Summary of Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2018

Credit CardBest ForIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeLearn More
Discover It Credit Card

Discover it® Cash Back

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

5% categories and a unique bonus

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

$0

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Wells Fargo Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa (R) Card Credit Card

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

on Wells Fargo's secure website

Cash sign-up bonus

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

15.99% - 26.99% Variable APR

$0

on Wells Fargo's secure website

Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's secure website

Flat rate + no minimum redemption

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

$0

on Capital One's secure website

Chase Freedom Credit Card

Chase Freedom®

on Chase's secure website

5% categories and a cash bonus

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

16.99% - 25.74% Variable APR

$0

on Chase's secure website

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Families

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

14.99% - 25.99% Variable APR

$95

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

on Citibank's secure application

Flat-rate cash back

0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months

15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

$0

on Citibank's secure application

US Bank Cash+(TM) Visa Signature(R) Card Credit Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

on US Bank's secure website

Customizable rewards

0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles

15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

$0

on US Bank's secure website

HSBC Cash Back Mastercard

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

on HSBC's secure website

Annual 10% rewards bonus

0% Intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers, then a 14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable APR.

14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable APR

$0

on HSBC's secure website

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

on Alliant Credit Union's secure website

High rewards for bigger spenders

N/A

11.99% - 14.99% Variable

$59

Waived first year

on Alliant Credit Union's secure website

Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's secure website

Average credit

N/A

26.46% Variable APR

$39

on Capital One's secure website

Credit CardBest ForIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeLearn More
Discover It Credit Card

Discover it® Cash Back

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

5% categories and a unique bonus

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

$0

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Wells Fargo Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa (R) Card Credit Card

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

on Wells Fargo's secure website

Cash sign-up bonus

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

15.99% - 26.99% Variable APR

$0

on Wells Fargo's secure website

Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's secure website

Flat rate + no minimum redemption

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

$0

on Capital One's secure website

Chase Freedom Credit Card

Chase Freedom®

on Chase's secure website

5% categories and a cash bonus

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

16.99% - 25.74% Variable APR

$0

on Chase's secure website

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Families

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months

14.99% - 25.99% Variable APR

$95

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

on Citibank's secure application

Flat-rate cash back

0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months

15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

$0

on Citibank's secure application

US Bank Cash+(TM) Visa Signature(R) Card Credit Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

on US Bank's secure website

Customizable rewards

0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles

15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

$0

on US Bank's secure website

HSBC Cash Back Mastercard

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

on HSBC's secure website

Annual 10% rewards bonus

0% Intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers, then a 14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable APR.

14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable APR

$0

on HSBC's secure website

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

on Alliant Credit Union's secure website

High rewards for bigger spenders

N/A

11.99% - 14.99% Variable

$59

Waived first year

on Alliant Credit Union's secure website

Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's secure website

Average credit

N/A

26.46% Variable APR

$39

on Capital One's secure website

HOW THEIR REWARD RATES STACK UP

The cards on our roundup are the ones we consider the best when taking all their features into account — cash-back rates, bonuses, 0% APR periods, etc. But they're not the only good cash-back cards on the market. Here's a quick look at a broader array of cards:

CARD (ANNUAL FEE) REWARDS BONUS OFFER
Flat-rate cash-back cards
Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card ($0 the first year, then $59) 2.5% cash back on all purchases (3% in first year) None
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer ($0) 2% cash back on all purchases (1% when you make a purchase + 1% when you pay it off) None
Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus® World Mastercard® ($0) • 1.8% cash back on all purchases None
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card ($0) • 1.65% effective rate (1.5% on all purchases plus an annual bonus of 10% of all rewards earned) $150 Cash Back Intro Bonus for new HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card customers who spend $2,500 or more in new, net card purchases during the first 3 months from credit card account opening.
American Express Cash Magnet™ Card ($0) • 1.5% cash back on all purchases Earn up to $250 back. Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn an additional $100 statement credit after you spend an additional $6,500 in purchases within your first 12 months. Terms Apply.
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card ($0) • 1.5% cash back on all purchases (1.8% on mobile wallet purchases in first year) Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card ($0) • 1.5% cash back on all purchases One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Chase Freedom Unlimited® ($0) • 1.5% cash back on all purchases Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
USAA® Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card ($0) • 1.5% cash back on all purchases None
CARD (ANNUAL FEE) REWARDS BONUS OFFER
Tiered cash-back cards
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express ($95) 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 a year in spending)
3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
1% cash back on all other purchases
(Terms apply)
$200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.
Sam's Club Mastercard ($0, but requires Sam's Club membership starting at $45) 5% cash back on gas (on the first $6,000 per year)
3% cash back on dining and travel
1% cash back on all other purchases
Get $45 (covers your Sam's Club membership fee for a year). Offer valid now through January 15, 2019.
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card ($0 for the first year, then $95) 4% cash back on dining and entertainment
2% cash back at grocery stores
1% cash back on all other purchases
Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi ($0*, but requires Costco membership starting at $60) 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year
3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases
2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
1% cash back on all other purchases
None
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express ($0) 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 a year in spending)
2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
1% cash back on all other purchases
(Terms apply)
$150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.
Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card ($0) 3% cash back on dining and entertainment
2% cash back at grocery stores
1% cash back on all other purchases
Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card ($0) 3% cash back on gas
2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
(on up to $2,500 per quarter in combined gas/grocery/wholesale club spending)
1% cash back on all other purchases
$200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Discover it® chrome ($0) • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter
1% cash back on all other purchases.
Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
CARD (ANNUAL FEE) REWARDS BONUS OFFER
Bonus category cash-back cards
Discover it® Cash Back ($0) 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 per quarter in spending
1% cash back on all other purchases
Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
Chase Freedom® ($0) 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 per quarter in spending
1% cash back on all other purchases
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card ($0) 5% cash back in two categories that you choose, on up to $2,000 per quarter in combined spending
2% cash back in one everyday category
1% cash back on all other purchases
New Cardmember bonus: $150 after you spend $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

OTHER RESOURCES

How to choose a cash-back credit card

Cash-back credit cards come in three varieties. Flat-rate cards, the simplest, give you the same rewards rate on everything. Tiered cards earn a higher rate in specific categories, such as groceries or gas, and usually 1% on everything else. Bonus category credit cards offer an even higher cash-back rate, typically 5%, in specific categories that change periodically, and 1% on everything else.

Which type is right for you depends on how you spend money and your patience for keeping track of rewards categories. If you spend a lot in certain categories, such as gas or groceries, consider a tiered or bonus category card. If you don’t want the fuss of remembering which of your cards have which bonus categories, opt for a flat-rate card.

Once you’ve decided which type of cash-back credit card works best for you, consider these factors:

  • Are you willing to pay an annual fee for higher rewards?
  • How flexible do you want your redemption options to be?
  • Does the card have a sign-up bonus?
  • Do you want a 0% introductory APR?

For more, see our guide to choosing a cash-back credit card.

Making the most of your cash-back card

Combine cards for optimum rewards. If you’re willing to switch among cards to maximize your rewards, be sure to get cards that complement one another's rewards structures. For example, you can get one card that offers extra cash back for dining, another that offers extra for shopping at Amazon and another that gives extra for gas and groceries. If your cash-back categories overlap, you’ll wind up with redundant cards in your wallet.

If there's an annual fee, make sure you’re getting more cash back. An annual fee is only worth it if you’re earning more in rewards than you pay — and more than you would if you were using a no-fee card. Most cash-back credit cards keep a running total of the rewards you’ve earned in the past year, so log in to your account and check your statements after a year to make sure it’s worth it to pay the annual fee again.

Take advantage of rotating bonus categories. If you have a card with rotating cash-back bonus categories, make sure to opt in to (or "activate") the categories every quarter so you don’t miss out on 5% cash back on featured categories like restaurants, wholesale clubs, gas stations, groceries and more.

Don’t miss out on your sign-up bonus. Make sure you meet the minimum spending requirement to qualify for the bonus, otherwise you could miss out on hundreds of dollars. Cash-back cards typically require less than $1,000 in spending to earn the bonus, so shift as much spending as possible to a new card until you have the extra cash sewn up.

Use your credit card’s shopping portal for extra rewards. Online credit card malls, accessible through your credit card login, can help you earn extra cash back on your web-based purchases, sometimes up to 10 times as much.

Other cards to consider

A cash-back credit card isn’t necessarily the best option for you. If you travel a lot, consider a travel credit card or an airline credit card. If you carry a balance from month to month, the interest can quickly gobble up more than you're earning in cash back. In that case, a low interest card is probably a better choice.

Still not sure? See our best rewards cards for a range of credit cards that earn cash, points or miles.

Methodology

NerdWallet's credit cards team selects the best cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen in multiple categories.

Last updated on December 12, 2018

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2018