2% Cash Back Credit Cards — 17 Best Unlimited Cash Back Offers (2017)

2% Cash Back Credit Cards — 16 Best Unlimited Cash Back Offers (2017)

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Posted: July 10, 2017
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

As early as the 18th century, merchants were rewarding customers with free products in exchange for brand loyalty. One of the first programs required customers to send in proofs of purchase from a specific product or line in exchange for a premium promotional item. The success of these programs caused a wide range of businesses to adopt them. When the credit card industry saw rapid growth in the latter half of the 20th century, major card issuers experimented with their own loyalty programs.

Among the most popular credit card loyalty programs have been cash back rewards. At their peak, some companies offered flat 5% rates on every purchase. That’s not common today, but a wide variety of great cash back credit cards still exist, including some offering up to 2% unlimited cash back on everything and 5% back in rotating quarterly categories.

5% in Rotating Categories | 2% on Everything | $100 – $500 Cash Bonus

Cards with 5% Cash Back in Rotating Categories

In addition to having no annual fee, these cards offer higher cash back rewards in specific categories — up to a limit — with categories rotating every quarter. For those whose spending fits into these categories, a card based on the category system may be more profitable than one that offers only flat-rate rewards.

For Consumers

Does your spending change depending on the season, increasing around the holidays, or centering around home improvement in the spring? A card with rotating categories is often a great way to increase rewards for those whose purchasing aligns with the set categories.

Discover it® - Cashback Match™ Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

  • Our Take: "One of our favorite cards, with long 0% intro APRs, low ongoing APRs, awesome cash back rewards, and lots more.
  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate quarterly, up to $1,500 per quarter when you sign up for the quarterly bonus
  • 1% cash back on all your other purchases
  • With Cashback Match you could turn $200 into $400, as the card matches the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year (only for new cardmembers)
  • No limit to the amount of cash back that can be matched"
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
11.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • Our Take: "With a ridiculously good deal on balance transfers, low APR's, and a generous cash-back program, we can see why this card is so popular.
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months
  • 5% cash back in rotating categories that rotate quarterly, up to $1,500 per quarter when you sign up for the quarterly bonus
  • 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Matches the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year (only for new cardmembers)
  • No limit to the amount of cash back that can be matched"
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
11.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter like gas stations, restaurants and drugstores
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.99% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

Each card will also come with its own issuer perks and bonuses, so be sure to compare the different offers for what fits your spending habits. Additionally, no annual fee does not mean no fees at all. Make sure to read your cardholder agreement carefully to determine additional card and service fees.

For Businesses

4. SunTrust Business Credit Card

If the clerks at the local office supply store know you or your office manager by name, the SunTrust Business Credit Card may be for you. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on the first $2,000 they spend on office supplies and fuel for the first year, then 3% for those categories.

SunTrust Business Credit Card

  • 5% cash back on office supply and fuel purchases in first 12 months
  • 1% unlimited cash back on all qualifying purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Introductory 0% APR for first 12 months

Signing up is quick and easy, requiring a simple online application. The process takes just minutes for the majority of qualified applicants.

For Students

Being a college student often comes with many new experiences, like being away from home for the first time or doing your own laundry. It’s also a great time to start building credit. This card was designed with students — and their undeveloped credit histories — in mind. It has no annual fee and offers the same 5% rotating category perks as the consumer cards.

Discover it® for Students Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING
★★★★
4.4
OVERALL RATING
4.5/5.0
  • Our Take: "The lack of fees, combined with great perks like cash back and free credit score tracking, make this credit card a solid deal for college students.
  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate quarterly, up to $1,500 per quarter when you sign up for the quarterly bonus
  • 1% cash back on all your other purchases with no limits
  • No annual fee
  • $20 cash back each year your GPA is 3.0 or higher (maximum 5 years)"
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
13.99% - 22.99% Variable
$0
Fair

No matter which type of cash back program you choose, make sure to pay your bill in full and on time every month. Not only will you avoid late fees, but you’ll start building a good credit history.

Cards with 2% Cash Back on Everything, Everywhere

While 2% may not sound like a lot, that little bit can add up fast. In fact, if you’re looking for a flat-rate, unlimited cash back rewards program, 2% is the cream of the crop — and it can only be found with a handful of issuers for consumer and business credit cards.

For Consumers

The Citi Double Cash Card not only totals at 2% unlimited cash back but also encourages good credit card habits by rewarding bill paying.

CITI® RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
0.0/5.0
  • Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months.
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
  • No categories to track and no caps on cash back.
  • No annual fee*
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% for 18 months
14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

Depending on when you make your payments, it may take two or more statement cycles to see the full 2% reward, so factor that in when comparing cash back cards.

7. Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

This rewards card is a great fit for anyone who already has an eligible Fidelity account (or would like to open one). The flat-rate 2% bonus applies to any rewards redeemed into a Fidelity account.

Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature

  • Unlimited 2% cash back when redeemed into Fidelity account
  • Rewards have no cap and never expire
  • No annual fee
  • Access the Visa Signature® Concierge

Users will get the most out of their Fidelity Rewards card if they have a Fidelity account, but you don’t need an account to apply. In most cases, the process can be completed in just minutes online by filling out an application on Fidelity’s site.

For Businesses

For some business owners, the various business expenses are easy to categorize — but for others, it isn’t quite as easy. The Capital One Spark Cash credit card is a great option if your business expenses don’t fit into typical categories and you’d rather have a solid flat-rate rewards program.

CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • Earning unlimited 2% cash back could mean thousands of dollars each year going back into your business
  • Plus, a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Use Spark Cash across all your business spend, with no categories to limit your purchasing
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • Get employee cards at no additional cost, and earn rewards from their business spend
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

Make sure to note the annual fee, which is waived the first year but kicks in afterward.

For Students

Unfortunately, there aren’t any cash back cards for students that offer unlimited 2% cash back on everything. However, there are still a lot of great cash back student cards available, some with even more cash-earning potential for those who do well in school and have at least a 3.0 GPA.

Cards with $100 – $500 Cash Bonuses

Regardless of where you do the bulk of your purchasing, a one-time spending bonus of $100 or more can turn just about any card into a money-maker. Match a great initial bonus with solid cash back and no annual fee and you’ve got yourself a winner.

For Consumers

With many popular perks becoming standard across the field, a strong initial bonus can be a point of differentiation for a particular card. Start the comparison shop with our top choices.

CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.99% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good
CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Use your Quicksilver card and get 50% back as a statement credit on your monthly Spotify Premium subscription, now through April 2018
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months; 13.99%-23.99% variable APR after that
  • Balance transfers also have a 0% intro APR for 9 months; 13.99%-23.99% variable APR after that; a 3% fee applies to each balance transferred
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 9 months
0% for 9 months
13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good
CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter like gas stations, restaurants and drugstores
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.99% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Android Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 13.99%-25.99% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
13.99%-25.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® Review

at Barclaycard'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Get a $200 cash rewards bonus after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase. Every time you redeem, get a 5% cash rewards redemption bonus to use toward your next redemption
  • Redeem your cash rewards for a deposit into a U.S. checking or savings account, a statement credit or gift cards. Redemptions start at $50
  • Cash rewards do not expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • Enjoy a 0% introductory APR for the first 15 months on purchases.
  • Plus, you'll get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months for each balance transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that a variable APR will apply, 15.99%, 20.99% or 25.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)
15.99%, 20.99% or 25.99% Variable
$0
Excellent
BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card Review

at Bank of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
0.0/5.0
  • No annual fee
  • $150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas up to the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 12 Billing Cycles
0% Intro APR for 12 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

Be aware of the spending requirement for each initial bonus. Don’t spend more than you can pay off simply to get an initial bonus, as you may end up paying more in interest than the bonus is worth.

For Businesses

The top dog of initial bonuses also has one of the best flat-rate cash back rewards percentages: that’s right, the Capital One Spark Cash credit card not only offers 2% unlimited cash back but a giant one-time $500 bonus when you hit the spending requirement.

Need a more attainable spending requirement or to ditch the annual fee? Try the Capital One Spark Cash Select credit card instead.

CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • Earning unlimited 2% cash back could mean thousands of dollars each year going back into your business
  • Plus, a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Use Spark Cash across all your business spend, with no categories to limit your purchasing
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • Get employee cards at no additional cost, and earn rewards from their business spend
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good
CASH BACK RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earning unlimited 1.5% cash back could mean thousands of dollars each year going back into your business
  • Plus, a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Save on interest with 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months; 13.99%-21.99% variable APR after that
  • No annual fee
  • Use Spark Cash Select across all your business spend, with no categories to limit your purchasing
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 9 months
N/A
13.99% - 21.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

As always, pay your bill in full and on time every month to avoid costly late fees and interest charges that eat into your profits.

For Students

17. Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students

Though plenty of issuers are happy to take a chance on the non-existent credit history of many students, few of those issuers go so far as to offer a signup bonus — except for the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students. While not a direct cash bonus, Citi ThankYou points can be easily redeemed for cash.

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students

  • Earn 2,500 bonus ThankYou points after spending $500 in the first 3 months, redeemable for cash
  • 1 point per dollar on all other spending
  • No annual fee
  • Introductory 0% APR for first 7 months

For most, applying takes just minutes through Citi’s website. Simply fill out the online application to see if you’re approved.

Make the Most of Your Cash Back

For more than 200 years, merchants have used loyalty and rewards programs to draw in — and keep — customers. Today, just about every business seems to offer some type of rewards program, with credit card issuers leading the pack. Of course, when it comes to credit card rewards, there is no one-size-fits-all program.

Choosing the best card for your personal spending habits, be it category-based or flat-rate, will ensure you can maximize your earning potential. Also check for any redemption bonuses, such as an extra percentage for redeeming into a branded bank account, to really make the most of your cash back.