Here are the best cash back credit cards:

Best for sign-up bonus

Discover it® - Cashback Match™
Apply Now on Discover's secure site

Discover it® - Cashback Match™

Apply Now on Discover's secure site
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • What our experts like about it

Best for bonus categories

Chase Freedom®
Apply Now on Chase's secure site

Chase Freedom®

Apply Now on Chase's secure site
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate; Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • What our experts like about it

Best for flat-rate cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Apply Now on Citibank's secure site

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Apply Now on Citibank's secure site

Best for everyday spending

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Apply Now on American Express's secure site

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Apply Now on American Express's secure site
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Rewards rate: 6% at U.S supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%); 3% at U.S gas stations and at select U.S. department stores; 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • What our experts like about it

Best for average credit

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Apply Now on Capital One's secure site

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now on Capital One's secure site

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Our pick for

Sign-up bonus


Benefits

The Discover it® - Cashback Match™ offers 5% cash back in categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. Past categories have included such common merchants as gas stations, restaurants, home improvement stores and Amazon.com, so there’s a good chance of earning bonus cash back on spending you were going to do anyway. This card puts you in charge of your sign-up bonus. Instead of a flat amount paid once you spend a certain amount of money, the bonus is based on your spending and is awarded at the end of your first year: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Activating the bonus categories each quarter can be a hassle. In recent years, the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ has not offered grocery stores as a bonus category, so if you’re feeding a family of teenagers, the Chase Freedom® might be a better option.
It’s pretty hard to beat 5% cash back, and the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ has historically offered bonus categories where many of us spend a lot. With a $0 annual fee, this card does well as either an everyday card or a backup.
Our pick for

Bonus categories


Benefits

This card offers 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories, which in recent years have included gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and wholesale clubs. You earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. The card comes with a cash sign-up bonus that’s fairly easy to reach: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

The Chase Freedom® requires you to opt in to the bonus category each quarter. You can opt in at any time and get the bonus for the entire quarter — but if you forget, you won’t get 5% cash back. If you don’t spend enough to maximize the bonus categories each quarter, you might earn more rewards with another card.
The Chase Freedom® has one of the best rewards rates out there without an annual fee or a complicated redemption process. If you spend a lot on the 5% bonus categories — and most people do — you’ll easily earn substantial cash back with this card.
Our pick for

Flat-rate cash back



Benefits

This card offers an industry-leading cash back rate on all purchases: You get 1% back on every dollar you spend and another 1% back when you pay off your purchases. Cash back can be redeemed as a statement credit, a gift card or a check in the mail.

This card has no sign-up bonus or categories for higher rewards. Higher cash back percentages can be had on different cards for specific categories. There’s a minimum cash back redemption of $25.
The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is one of the best rewards cards on the market, partly because it’s so simple: straight cash back — no points, no bonus categories to keep track of. Cardholders can shop as they normally would and get a fantastic rewards rate.
Our pick for

Everyday spending


Benefits

This card’s 6% cash back rate at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 a year in spending, then 1%) makes it a longtime favorite with the Nerds, as does its 3% rate at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. All other purchases earn 1% back. By buying gift cards at the supermarket and using them at restaurants, retailers and other merchants, you can extend the 6% cash back far beyond just groceries. The sign-up bonus also adds to the appeal — and you may be eligible for an even better offer from American Express. Check out our American Express Pre-Qualified Offers page.

The annual fee is high for a cash back card, but if you spend at least $31 a week at the supermarket, the cash back will offset it. Because this card is an American Express, you may have trouble using it in some places.
If you spend at least $61 a week at the supermarket and are a regular at the gas pump, this is a great card. If you spend less than that, consider an alternative version of this card — the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. It has a $0 annual fee, but the cash back rates are lower.
Our pick for

Average credit



Benefits

The flat 1.5% cash back rate is pretty great, especially for people without perfect credit, and there’s no limit on the rewards you can earn. The rate is the same as that paid by the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, which is only for people with excellent credit. There are no foreign transaction fees, and Capital One may bump your credit limit up if you make your first five monthly payments on time.

The annual fee of $39 isn’t very high, but it will still cost you something to have this card. The ongoing APR is high, so you should plan on paying your balance in full each month; otherwise, the interest will wipe out your rewards.
The reality is that not everyone has a credit score above 800. The Nerds appreciate that Capital One offers a credit card with an extremely competitive 1.5% rewards rate for people still building their credit scores.

Our 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 Sept. 20, 2017.

Virginia C. McGuire is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: virginia@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @vcmcguire.