The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Saturday, September 26, 2020

13 Highest Cash Back Credit Cards

Highest Cash Back Credit Cards

credit card advice

Adam West
By: Adam West
Posted: November 19, 2019
Advertiser Disclosure

Credit cards with purchase rewards are a great way to get a little something back for the things you already buy. And of all the different reward card types, cash back cards offer the easiest way to use your rewards. To take full advantage, you need to know where to find the highest cash back credit cards, and which one belongs in your wallet.

Whether you use a card for business expenses, dining, entertaining, or just everyday purchases, choosing the right cash back card is essential. Here are the cards we’ve identified as having the highest cash back for some of the most common card uses.

Highest Overall
Flat-Rate | Rotating | Tiered | Business | Student | Fair Credit | FAQs

Highest Cash Back Card Overall

A typical cash back credit card lets you earn back a percentage of what you spend as a reward, often with higher cash back earnings in different spending categories. Some of these categories rotate each quarter, while others offer higher fixed rewards for certain types of spending, such as gas, dining, groceries, etc.

If you plan to use your card for a variety of purchases, or if you’re looking for a single card to do it all, here’s our choice for an ideal “utility” cash back card.

1. Discover it® Cash Back

This card is currently not available.

Best Overall Rating

★★★★★

N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

The Discover it® Cash Back card is one of the most popular reward cards thanks to its bonus cash back in rotating purchase categories such as gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, wholesale clubs, Amazon.com, and more.

To earn the maximum cash back you need to monitor the rotating quarterly categories and activate your rewards.

Highest Cash Back Cards with Flat-Rate Rewards

Cash back cards that offer flat-rate rewards are great for everyday spending and for folks who use their card for a variety of purchases. That’s because these cards offer the same cash back percentage on all purchases made with the card.

No more monitoring categories or juggling cards, however, the flat-rate amount is usually less than what you could earn if you maximized the bonus categories on rotating cash back cards.

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no cap on the amount you can earn. The card comes with no annual fee, and your rewards never expire.

Plus, a 0% intro APR for purchases may apply. Rewards can be redeemed for cash at any time, used for travel and hotel booking, or linked to an Amazon.com account where they can be used to pay for eligible purchases.

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.7

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
  • 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 15 months; 15.49%-25.49% variable APR after that
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card lets you earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. There is no annual fee, and no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn.

Cash back can be redeemed at any time and for any amount. Rewards can be used in a variety of ways, including a statement credit, to cover a purchase, redeemed for gift cards, or, of course, as cash in the form of a check sent directly to you.

Highest Cash Back Cards with Rotating Categories

If you want to earn the maximum amount of cash back on your purchases and are willing to do a little work, a card with rotating categories may be right for you. Cards with rotating categories offer cash back rates as high as 5% at certain places each quarter, including gas stations, restaurants, grocery and home improvement stores, even Amazon.com and department stores, like Walmart and Target.

You can maximize your rewards by keeping an eye on the 5% cash back calendar. Just remember you have to register and activate your bonus categories each quarter.

4. Discover it® Cash Back

This card is currently not available.

Cash Back Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

As far as cash back rewards go, it’s hard to beat the rewards you earn from the Discover it® Cash Back card. The rotating bonus cash back categories include grocery stores and restaurants, gas stations, warehouse stores, Walmart and Target, and even Amazon.

Cash back can be redeemed at any time and in any amount. Rotating categories must be activated each quarter.

Chase Freedom Flex℠ Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • 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!
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

Similar to the Discover it® card, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card lets you earn 5% cash back in rotating spending categories. The places you can earn these bonus cash back rewards include grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, pharmacy chains, and more.

The 5% bonus category spending is capped at $1,500 per quarter, but you’ll automatically earn 1% cash back after you reach the cap and on all other purchases. There’s no annual fee for this card, and the cash back rewards never expire.

Highest Cash Back Cards with Tiered Rewards

Sometimes, a credit card is used for a specific purpose, but you still want to earn the most cash back from it. Cards with tiered rewards are great for this.

Tiered rewards cards give you higher cash back earnings on specific categories of spending, and the categories don’t change. For example, if you use your card primarily for dining out, you can choose one that maximizes cash back for dining and entertainment purchases while still providing smaller rewards for all other purchases.

6. Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

This card is currently not available.

Cash Back Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card is ideal for people who spend a lot on dining and entertainment each month. For example, if you frequently entertain clients or simply enjoy dinner and a show on a regular basis, the Savor card’s 4% cash back can really add up.

The card does come with a $95 annual fee, but that’s waived for the first year. While this isn’t a card for everyone, it is one of the highest reward cards available for those who can take advantage.

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • 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 15 months; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

As a sibling to the Savor® card, the Capital One SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers similar perks, but with no annual fee. To be clear, this is still a dining and entertainment card, but it offers 3% cash back rewards instead of the 4% its big brother offers.

An advantage to the SavorOne® card is that you don’t need to spend the $95 each year for the annual fee to get that extra 1%. Other benefits to both cards include a potential new cardmember bonus that may be available.

Highest Cash Back Cards for Businesses

If you’re going to use a credit card for business purchases, you may as well earn some cash back for it. Cards designed specifically for businesses include features like maximum cash back rewards for purchases made on office supplies and business services.

Many of these cash back business cards also include an option for employee cards at no extra cost. Using a cash back card for necessary expenses is a great way to grow a business while saving a little extra cash.

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 12 months
N/A
13.24% - 19.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card from Chase is a great cash back card for small business owners. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores — as well as on services such as internet, cable, and phone — annually on the account anniversary.

You’ll also earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants, plus 1% cash back on all other purchases with no limits. Employee cards are available at no extra cost.

9. Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

This card is currently not available.

Cash Back Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business is a versatile and generous card designed for businesses of all sizes. With its unlimited 2% cash back on spending for business and non-business expenses, this card can quickly add to your bottom line.

The $95 annual fee is waived the first year, so it’s easy to try it out and see if this is the right card for you. Cash back rewards can be requested at any time and in any amount, and they never expire. You can also get free employee cards, and those purchases also earn the same cash back rewards.

Highest Cash Back Cards for Students

If any group of cardholders could use some extra cash back, it’s college students. Cash back credit cards for students are designed to reward good grades, while also offering up to 5% cash back on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and other places students use their cards.

Everyone knows school is expensive, so why not get a little help in the form of cash back on those expenses.

10. Discover it® Student Cash Back

This card is currently not available.

Cash Back Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

As with Discover’s consumer-focused cash back card, the Discover it® Student Cash Back card offers bonus cash back in a rotating group of categories, up to the quarterly maximum. You can earn bonus rewards at gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, and many more merchants.

You must activate each category to receive your bonus cash back and you’ll earn a lesser reward rate on all other purchases. And, since Discover wants to reward students, you’ll get a statement credit each school term you maintain a minimum GPA.

11. Discover it® Student chrome

This card is currently not available.

Cash Back Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

With the Discover it® Student chrome card, students can earn a higher cash back rate at two of the places they’re most likely to use their card — gas stations and restaurants. No need to worry about rotating categories. All other purchases earn a lesser reward rate.

There’s also Discover annually awards students that maintain a minimum GPA with a reward in the form of a small statement credit for a set number of years.

Highest Cash Back Cards for Fair Credit

Card issuers love to reward applicants who have good credit. Cash back rewards for these folks are easy to come by. But what if your credit score is less than exemplary?

Believe it or not, you can still qualify for cash back cards with a fair credit rating. While these cards may not offer the highest cash back rewards, they’re still a great way to save a little extra cash while you work on improving your credit score.

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$39
Average, Fair, Limited

For consumers with average credit scores who still want to earn cash back, there’s the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card. This easy-to-use card gets you an unlimited 1.5% cash back on everything you buy, every day.

Rewards never expire, and you can redeem them in any amount at any time. You’ll also be able to access a higher credit line with Capital One’s Credit Steps after making your first five payments on time. The QuicksilverOne® does come with an annual fee, so take that into consideration when deciding if this card is right for you.

Credit One Bank® Visa® Cash Back Rewards Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

FAIR CREDIT RATING

0.0

OVERALL RATING

3.3/5.0
  • 1% cash back rewards on all purchases, no annual fee, and a competitive APR are just a few of the benefits qualified applicants will enjoy. Terms apply.
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Managing your account is easy with the Credit One Bank mobile app
  • Pick a card that fits your style. Multiple card designs are available, a fee may apply
  • Monitor your credit with free online access to your Experian credit score, terms apply
  • Never miss an account update with customizable text and email alerts
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% to 23.99% Variable
$0 - $99
Good

The Credit One Bank® Visa with Cash Back Rewards card is designed for folks with less-than-perfect credit who want to earn rewards. Sure, it’s just 1% cash back, but pickings are slim when it comes to rewards and imperfect credit.

This is an unsecured credit card that can be used anywhere Visa is accepted. There is an annual fee for this card of between $0 and $99, but count on paying the full $99 if your credit score falls into “bad” territory.

What is the Best Cash Back Credit Card?

Choosing the best cash back credit card for you depends on how you answer a few questions:

  • How and where do you use your card?
  • Do you carry a balance or pay in full each month?
  • Is this a primary card or will it supplement others?
  • What is the average amount you charge each month?

All these factors must be considered before you can decide which card is best for you.

Generally speaking, cash back credit cards are best for people who don’t carry a balance each month. That’s because the interest rate tends to be higher for cash back cards than for a standard card with limited rewards. The interest you pay on a balance can easily outweigh any cash back rewards you may accrue.

Consider a cash back card that earns 5% cash back. If you have an APR of 17%, you’ll be in the hole for 12% on any amount you carry forward as a balance each month.

Hence, the real value of a cash back card comes when you pay your balance in full. If that’s not you, consider a card with a lower monthly APR.

The type of cash back card you choose also makes a big difference. If you use your card mainly for dining and entertainment, choose a card like the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card that maximizes those expenses. If you’re a small business owner who regularly charges things like office supplies, the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card might be best.

Types of Cash Back Credit Cards

Another consideration is whether the card has an annual fee. If it does, how much will you need to spend to offset the fee? For example, even a nominal $50 annual fee on a 2% cash back card means you need to spend $2,500 before you start benefiting from your cash back rewards.

Finally, if you don’t mind spending time tracking and activating reward categories, some of the rotating category 5% cards can actually be quite lucrative. Of course, this means curtailing purchases that aren’t in the quarterly bonus category or putting them on another card. Yes, it can get a little tricky.

Is there a Limit on Cash Back?

Many of the highest cash back cards come with a quarterly spending cap that limits the amount you can earn in the maximum reward categories.

For example, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card lets you earn bonus cash back in rotating categories, but limits that to the first $1,500 in purchases each quarter. After that, you earn a tiered cash back rate on travel, dining, and drugstore purchases, then a flat 1% on all other purchases. The same is true for some other cards on this list.

The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card has a higher cutoff limit of $25,000 annually in combined office store purchases for its 5% cash back card. Contrast that with the Capital One Spark® Cash for Business card that comes with 2% cash back on all purchases, with no limit. Spending anything more than $60,000 annually makes the Capital One Spark® card the better choice.

Depending on how much you spend and in what categories, a fixed-rate card with a lower cash back percentage but no limits may be the way to go. If you can’t find a card that maximizes rewards in categories you’ll regularly use or otherwise restricts your regular spending patterns, go with a flat-rate 2% cash back card.

Which is Better, Points or Cash Back?

How do you spend, and what do you want to earn? That’s the question you need to ask yourself when considering whether a points card or a cash back card is best for you.

Cash back cards offer simplicity when redeeming your rewards, but points cards offer more flexibility in what you redeem your rewards for, and usually let you earn more for each dollar you spend. It’s all in how you use your cards and the rewards they offer.

Some points cards require you to know where and on what types of purchases you’ll earn the most points. If that’s not where you want to spend your energy, then a cash back card can remove much of the complexity of knowing when to use which card.

Cash back cards — especially flat-rate cards — let you earn a percentage of your spending back on every purchase you make, generally between 1% and 2%. Those rewards are then returned to you as cash via a statement credit or a mailed check, among other options specific to each issuer.

Cash Back Earnings at 1% and 2%

Points cards require you to redeem your rewards for specific benefits. These may include travel accommodations like flights and hotels, merchandise, gift cards, or even redeemed for cash back, though they’ll likely be worth less as cash back than if you redeem them for one of the other reward types.

While cash back may be simpler, cards that offer reward points can often have more value if used in conjunction with special offers and bonus point multiplier or loyalty programs.

Swipe Your Way to Free Money

In today’s vast credit card landscape, cash back cards are among the most popular and diverse offerings. And if you follow a few of the common-sense rules we’ve laid out in this guide, like not carrying a balance, they can be quite beneficial. Using a cash back card can be like rewarding yourself for having good spending habits.

Of course, you’ll need to choose the right card for your needs, and, hopefully, after reading this guide, you’ll be equipped to do so. Also, be sure to choose from among the highest cash back credit cards that support your spending patterns.

More than just a convenience, a cash back credit card can help you earn a little back from the spending you would be doing already. Just remember to never spend more than you’ve budgeted for, and never put something on a card simply for the cash back.

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