Start Earning Up To 5% Cash Back With One of These Nerd-Reviewed Credit Cards

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

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Earn Rewards On Everyday Spending

Great For: High Flat-Rate Rewards Plus Bonus Categories

The Citi Double Cash® Card is notable among cash-back cards, especially for an annual fee of $0. With superior flat-rate cash back, it’s ideal for consumers who want low-hassle, unlimited cash rewards on everything they charge. What it lacks in sizzle, it makes up for in daily dependability.

How does it work? The card gives you 2% cash back on every purchase — 1% when you make it, and another 1% back when you pay it off. The sooner you pay your balance, the sooner you earn the second half of the rewards. That's a powerful incentive to pay your credit card bill in full every month, which we recommend you do anyway to avoid interest.

Great For: Ongoing high cash back with no annual fee

When it comes to flat-rate cash-back cards, it's hard to beat 2% back, especially when the card is one of the few in this category to come with a bonus for new cardmembers.

Great For: Customizable rewards

The Citi Custom Cash® Card offers a lot of value for a $0 annual fee: 5% back automatically in your eligible top spending category on up to $500 spent per billing cycle (1% back on other spending). The list of eligible 5% categories is varied and includes biggies like restaurants, grocery stores and more. And unlike with its competitors, there's no activation schedule or bonus calendar to keep track of. 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. Plus, unlike some other cards, 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. It's possible to find similar or higher rates with other options, but rarely both with the same card unless you're willing to cough up an annual fee.

Great For: High grocery rewards rate

Families can rack up serious cash back with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. The $95 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.

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, you get a discount on whatever you buy with the card, in the form of redemption options such as a deposit into an eligible bank account, a check, statement credit, or a gift card. Big spenders can easily earn hundreds of dollars per year in cash back.

How to Choose the Right Card For You

First, decide what type of cash back you want to earn:
  • Flat-rate: Lowest hassle, lower cash-back rate (but on everything you buy).
  • Fixed bonus categories: Medium hassle, higher cash-back rate on some purchases.
  • Changing bonus categories: High hassle, highest cash-back rate on some purchases.

Then, narrow your list by considering how important the following factors are for you:
Does the card offer attractive rewards rates in your highest spending categories? Does the card offer a sign-up bonus to boost your short-term earnings? Does the card charge an annual fee? If so, is the rewards rate so good that it makes back that fee every year? How complex are the earning criteria, compared to how much effort you're willing to put in? Ready to start racking up rewards? Compare Nerd-reviewed cards and find the right card for you.