Start Earning Up To 10% Cash Back With One Of These Outstanding Cards

Cash-back credit cards range from straightforward to complex, but each can be rewarding. Learn more about how these cards work and how to choose the right one for you. Then, browse our Nerd-approved picks and apply today!

One Of Our Favorite Picks

How Do Cash-Back Credit Cards Work?

Every time you use a cash-back credit card to make a qualifying purchase in store or online, it earns a percentage of the amount paid. That means if you spend $500 on a card that earns 1.5% cash back, you'll earn $7.50 back in rewards. Cash back cards are so popular because they’re easy to understand, and the main benefit comes in the most useful rewards currency: dollars. Using a cash-back card is like getting paid to spend money that you were going to spend anyway. Or put differently, it’s an automatic discount on whatever you buy with the card. Big spenders can easily earn hundreds of dollars per year in cash back.

Types of Cash Back

Different credit cards issue cash back in the following ways:
Flat rate on all purchases
A flat-rate cash-back credit card can offer 1.5% or more in cash back on all purchases. It's typically the simplest way to earn cash back, but it may not be as straightforward on some cards.
Elevated rewards in everyday categories
Other cash-back credit cards may offer higher rewards in certain categories — like gas, dining, streaming services or groceries, for example — and a base rewards rate of 1%. Some cards may also set a spending limit on the maximum amount you can earn in the highest-earning cash-back category.
Cash back in customized categories
Some cash-back credit cards earn rewards in a few high-spending categories from a list of several popular options that are likely to match your spending.
Bonus cash in rotating categories
A cash-back rate as high as 5% in common spending categories is possible to earn with a bit of maintenance. Your memory will have to be sharp with these options or you'll have to set reminders to stay on top of categories as they change.

How to Choose a Cash-Back Credit Card

1) Decide which type of cash-back card you want:
  • Flat rate - lower hassle and lower cash-back rate, but on everything you buy
  • Fixed bonus categories - medium hassle, higher cash-back rate on some purchases
  • Rotating bonus categories - high hassle, highest cash-back rate on some purchases

    2) Narrow your list by considering the following:
    Reward rates and category spending:
  • High rates for certain categories are great, but all categories aren't created equal.
  • Consider how much you spend in the category regularly.

    New-cardholder bonus:
  • A one-time cash bonus is nice: it boosts your rewards in the short term if you can meet the required spending to earn it.
  • But, the rewards rate is more important over the long term.
  • A card without a bonus could still be the right one for you.

    Annual fee:
  • If a cash-back card has an annual fee, it has to be so good that it easily makes back that fee every year.
  • Think of it as a reduction in your annual cash-back total.

  • Consider how complicated one card is versus another.
  • That will mostly be decided by the type of card — flat-rate cards are easier to use than bonus-category cards.

    3) Weigh any other factors that may be important to you. For example:
  • Does the card charge any foreign transaction fees?
  • Does the card come with a 0% introductory APR (which will let you save money on interest charges)
  • Does the card come from an issuer you prefer to use (such as Chase, American Express or Discover)
  • Ready To Get Started? Compare Our Top Picks Below

    Food and entertainment rewards are the centerpiece of the #{}, which pays an unlimited 3% cash back at restaurants and grocery stores, but also on streaming and more. If you're a frequent restaurant diner or grocery shopper, it'll be hard to find a better cash-back card for an annual fee of $#{details.annual_fee.value}.

    The potential to earn such a rich rate on both eating out and eating in helps separate this card from much of its competitors, which tend to focus on only one of those categories or the other. It's possible to find similar or higher rates in either of those categories, but rarely on both with the same card unless you're willing to cough up an annual fee. Plus, unlike some of its competitors, it doesn't limit how much spending is eligible for its higher rewards rates, and it doesn't have a minimum amount for redeeming your rewards.

    But keep in mind one caveat: if your spending tends to favor one category over the other, other cards can out-earn this one. If that's the case, continue browsing our other cards below to find the right one for you.
    The #{} offers a high rewards rate in rotating categories, a good 0% APR offer and an unusual bonus that could become a windfall. If you don't mind keeping track of bonus categories that change every three months, this card is a winner either as an everyday card or as part of a multicard rewards-maximizing strategy.

    You would be hard-pressed to find a card with no annual fee that earns more than 5% cash back in bonus categories, which for the Discover it® Cash Back have recently included things like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and more. If you max out the 5% rotating quarterly category rewards each year on this card — that is, if you activated and spent up to $1,500 in those categories each quarter all year — you would earn $300 in bonus cash back, plus 1% back on every other purchase.
    Families can rack up serious cash back with the #{}. The #{details.annual_fee.value} annual fee is a whopper and pricey for a cash-back credit card, but if you spend at least $31 a week at the supermarket, you'll cover it.

    It offers an eye-popping 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in spending per year, 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, and a generous 3% back on transit including U.S. gas stations, plus 1% cash back on everything else. Terms apply. Cash back is received in the form of reward dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. Gift cards and merchandise are also available.
    The #{} is a good match for avid rewards optimizers — those who juggle cards strategically to get the best return for every dollar. It works fine as an everyday card, but keep in mind that it requires some work on your part.

    This card stands out from competitors in the 5% cash-back space by giving you the freedom to choose the categories where you'll earn that top rate. The card lets you select two 5% cash-back categories each quarter from a list of 12 (including home utilities, cell phone providers, ground transportation, gym and fitness centers, department stores, fast food and movie theaters), and it features a higher combined quarterly spending cap than the competition. Plus, you'll choose a 2% cash-back category every quarter from a list of three, and there's no spending cap on that category. Finally, you get 5% back on certain travel bookings through U.S. Bank.