Our pick for

Bonus categories

Chase Freedom®

Apply Now

on Chase's secure website

Rewards Rate
1.00%
Annual fee
$0
Recommended credit score
We like it for
Optimizing cash back Everyday spending No annual fee Cash sign-up bonus

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.

Drawbacks

Bottom line


Our pick for

Everyday spending

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Apply Now

on American Express's secure website

Rewards Rate
1.00%
Annual fee
$95
Recommended credit score
We like it for
Household spending High rewards rates Cash sign-up bonus

Benefits

This card’s 6% cash back rate at supermarkets (up to $6,000 a year in spending) makes it a longtime favorite with the Nerds, as does its unlimited 3% rate at gas stations and department stores. All other purchases earn an unlimited 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.

Drawbacks

Bottom line


Our pick for

Average credit

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now

on Capital One's secure website

Rewards Rate
1.50%
Annual fee
$39
Recommended credit score
We like it for
Average credit Simple earnings Simple redemption

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.

Drawbacks

Bottom line


Our pick for

Flat-rate cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Apply Now

on Citibank's secure website

Rewards Rate
1.0%
Annual fee
$0
Recommended credit score
We like it for
Simple earnings Simple redemption Free FICO score Balance transfers

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.

Drawbacks

Bottom line


Our pick for

Sign-up bonus

Discover it® - Cashback Match™

Apply Now

on Discover's secure website

Rewards Rate
1.00%
Annual fee
$0
Recommended credit score
We like it for
Optimizing cash back Everyday spending No annual fee

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: Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Drawbacks

Bottom line


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 Jan. 12, 2017.

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