Updated on Jul 31, 2018

Best Cash Back Cards for 2018

Reward yourself with a card that puts money back in your pocket.
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Cash back credit cards make it incredibly easy to earn rewards. Some offer flat rates, so you’ll earn no matter where and how you use your card. Others earn high-rate rewards in specific categories. Take a look at our top picks for the best cash back credit cards of 2018 and apply for your perfect fit in minutes.

The Simple Dollar's top picks for the best cash back cards

Best cash back match

Discover it® Cash Back
Cash back details 5% cash back at different places each quarter; 1% on all other purchases
Redeem for... eDeposit, statement credit, charitable donation, or Amazon purchases

Current Offer First year cash back match
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by Discover Show Highlights
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.
  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.74% Variable
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 14 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 14 months
  • Ongoing APR: 13.74% - 24.74% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Discover it® Cash Back is great if you’re looking for an easy-to-earn bonus because there’s no minimum spending requirement — for new cardmembers you’ll get a dollar-for-dollar match of your first-year earnings automatically. It’s also ideal if you have a big purchase in mind thanks to its 14-month 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers (then ongoing 13.74% – 24.74% Variable APR).

How to use it
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • New cardmembers get a dollar-for-dollar match of all your earnings at the end of your first year.
  • Use the above-average 14-month 0% intro-APR period to pay for larger purchases without incurring any interest and then the ongoing APR of 13.74% – 24.74% Variable APR.
Consider this

If your spending habits don’t line up with rotating bonus categories, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® will help you maximize your earnings. It has a 1.5% rewards rate for all purchases and no annual fee. (It also offers a longer 15-month 0% intro APR for balance transfers and purchases.) Note: You’ll have to spend $500 in the first three months to earn the $150 signup bonus.

Why you'll love it

The Discover it® Cash Back doesn’t have a spending requirement for its bonus — for new cardmembers you’ll get a dollar-for-dollar match of your first-year earnings automatically.

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Apply Now on Bank of America's secure website

Great all-around card

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer
Cash back details Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas
Redeem for... Cash Back

Current Offer $200
Annual Fee $0.00
Highlights Provided by Bank of America Show Highlights
  • No annual fee
  • NEW OFFER: $200 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 for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases AND for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 14.99% - 24.99% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers
  • 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%
  • Easily add your Mastercard® credit card to any digital wallet for a simple, secure, and convenient way to pay online, in-app, and in-store
  • Issuer: Bank of America
  • Rewards Details: 1% cash back on every purchase. 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter. 3% cash back on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter. 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account.
  • Annual Fee: $0.00
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: See Terms
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Introductory APR: 0% Introductory APR on purchases
  • Introductory APR Period: 12 billing cycles
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 12 billing cycles
  • Ongoing APR: 14.99% - 24.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Penalty APR: up to 29.99% APR

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is a great entry-level card for Bank of America customers. Depending on your Bank of America® Preferred Rewards program status, your rewards rates could climb up to 75% higher.

How to use it
  • Earn 3% cash back on gasoline, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% on all other purchases (for up to $2,500 in combined purchases every quarter)
  • Spend $500 or more in the first 90 days of account opening to get a $200 cash back bonus.
  • Redeem cash back rewards.
Consider this

If you don’t bank with Bank of America, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is worth considering. Most notably, it earns a much higher reward rate at U.S. supermarkets than the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, but it does have a $95 annual fee.

Why you'll love it

The rewards structure, signup bonus, and no annual fee all make the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card an attractive choice. If you have a Bank of America® account or a qualifying Merrill Lynch Cash Management Account®, the potential for customer points bonuses make this card an obvious choice.

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Partner Offer Apply Now on American Express's secure website

Best for groceries & gas

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
See Rates & Fees
Cash back details 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000, then 1%) (Terms apply)
Redeem for... Reward Dollars (redeemed as a statement credit)

Current Offer $200
Annual Fee $95
Highlights Provided by American Express Show Highlights
  • $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) - that means spending $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 back per year.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.74% to 25.74%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
  • Issuer: American Express
  • Rewards Details: 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $95 See Details
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 12 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 12 months
  • Ongoing APR: 14.74% - 25.74% Variable See Rates & Fees
  • Penalty APR: 29.99% Variable

Our two cents

Who should get it

If you have a large family, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is an excellent choice — spending just $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 cash back per year. It also earns unlimited rewards at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, which is also a big win for shoppers.

How to use it
  • Use this card when you’re grocery shopping and filling up your tank to maximize your earnings.
  • Plan to spend at least $1,000 on purchases in the first three months to earn a $200 statement credit.
  • Redeem your Rewards Dollars as statement credits that can be applied to any purchase you make.
Consider this

If you don’t want to pay an annual fee but still want high-rate rewards for grocery shopping, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express can be a better fit. It earns 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets and 2% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, all without an annual fee.

Why you'll love it

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express’ extremely high-rate rewards make it a first-rate choice for frequent shoppers or large families. And if you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months you’ll qualify for a $200 statement credit that you can use to pay down your balance.

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Learn More on Capital One's secure website

Best for fixed-rate cash back

Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months
Cash back details Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Redeem for... Statement credit or check

Current Offer One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by Capital One Show Highlights
  • 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; 14.74%-24.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 14.74%-24.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Rewards Details: 1.5 % Cash Back on every purchase, every day. $150 Cash Back after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.74% (Variable)
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: 0% intro on purchases
  • Introductory APR Period: For 15 Months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0% intro on balance transfers
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: For 15 Months
  • Ongoing APR: 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Card is for those who love simplicity. It has a flat 1.5% rewards rate, no annual fee, and a $150 bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months on any type of purchase. And when you earn rewards, you can redeem them for any amount.

How to use it
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Spend $500 in the first three months to earn the $150 signup bonus.
  • Take advantage of Visa Signature® Benefits like travel and emergency assistance, auto rental coverage, and fraud coverage.
Consider this

The Discover it® Cash Back has a much higher rewards rate (5% on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter each time you activate), though you’ll have to focus your spending on rotating bonus categories, like restaurants and gas stations. One perk: There’s no spending requirement to earn a bonus — Discover will award you a dollar-for-dollar match of your first year earnings automatically.

Why you'll love it

There aren’t any rotating categories or annual fees to worry about, so you’ll earn 1.5% cash back no matter how you use your Capital One® Quicksilver® Card. And if you spend around $170 a month for the first three months (over $500 in total), you’ll earn a one-time $150 cash bonus.

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High-reward bonus categories

Chase Freedom®
Cash back details Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
Redeem for... Statement credit, cash back, travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Current Offer $150
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by Chase Show Highlights
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • 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
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
  • Issuer: Chase
  • Rewards Details: 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. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.74% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 15 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 15 Months
  • Ongoing APR: 16.74% - 25.49% Variable
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

The Chase Freedom® rewards credit card makes it easy to maximize your earnings with rotating 5% bonus categories — one of the highest rewards rates out there. It’s also great if you want versatile redemption options. This is one of the few cards of its kind that gives you the option to redeem your points for travel rewards (via Chase Ultimate Rewards®).

How to use it
  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories (on up to $1,500) and 1% cash back on everything else.
  • Spend $500 within the first three months to get a $150 cash back bonus.
  • Redeem your cash back reward points for statement credits, cash back, and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards® — and there’s no minimum to redeem!
Consider this

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card doesn’t have the same high-rate rewards, but it does earn unlimited 2X points on travel and dining worldwide. It also offers a signup bonus of 50,000 bonus points, worth $625 for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®. However, you will have to spend a lot more on purchases in the first three months ($4,000) to earn that more valuable reward.

Why you'll love it

With its extra-flexible redemption options and high-rate rewards, the Chase Freedom® is a staple of the industry. Just focus your spending on the rotating categories and you can earn 5% on rotating categories on up to $1,500 per quarter.

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Best 0% intro APR

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Cash back details Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase – it’s automatic
Redeem for... Statement credit, cash back, travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Current Offer $150
Annual Fee $0
Highlights Provided by Chase Show Highlights
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • 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
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
  • Issuer: Chase
  • Rewards Details: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.74% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 15 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 15 Months
  • Ongoing APR: 16.74% - 25.49% Variable
  • Penalty APR: None

Our two cents

Who should get it

Considering a balance transfer? Want unlimited flat-rate rewards without having to worry about rotating categories? The Chase Freedom Unlimited® excels in both categories, all with no annual fee. There’s also an easy-to-earn $150 bonus to smile about.

How to use it
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. No categories, no activations.
  • Pay off large purchases or balance transfers during the 15-month 0% intro APR period to avoid interest.
  • Redeem your rewards at any time, for any amount — there’s no minimum to redeem!
  • Spend $500 in your first 3 months to earn $150 bonus.
Consider this

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express gets unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. Plus, you’ll can earn 6% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 a year, and 1% thereafter. If you want high-rate rewards without rotating categories, this is the card for you.

Why you'll love it

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of the most simple flat-rate cards in the game. Not only does it earn a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases, it offers one of the easiest-to-earn signup bonuses around. Plus, you can redeem your rewards at any time, for any amount (there’s no minimum).

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What does cash back mean?

Credit card cash back refers to the rewards program offered by certain credit cards that allows you to earn a percentage of “cash” back on your purchase. This usually ranges from 1-6%, depending on the card.

For instance, the top card on our list, the Discover it® Cash Back, offers 5% cash back on rotating categories up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate, and 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases. If you spent $1,500 at Amazon.com and Wholesale Clubs from October to December this year, you’d receive $75 in cash back.

If you’re trying to receive cash from an ATM, bank teller, or convenience check with your credit card then that’s actually considered a cash advance. In those cases, you’ll need to contact your card’s customer service center to set up a PIN number. Once you have a PIN, you can withdraw money from your credit card as you would a debit card.

What credit card gives the most cash back?

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has one of the highest rewards rates of any cash back card: 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%). It also earns 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, and 1% back on other purchases.

Three types of cash back cards

There are three types of cash back credit cards: flat-rate cash back cards, tiered cash back cards, and bonus category cards. Of the three, bonus category cards usually offer the highest rewards rates.

Type of cash back card How it works
Flat-rate cash back card Earns unlimited, flat-rate rewards on all purchases (usually around 2%)
Tiered cash back card Earns rewards in specific categories, often with a earning limit, and a lower rate (usually 1%) on all other purchases
Bonus category card Earns high-rate rewards (some as much as 6%) on spending categories that change periodically, and a lower rate on all other purchases (usually 1%)

Flat-rate cash-back cards. If you like keeping things simple, go with a flat-rate card. This type of cash back card earns unlimited rewards (usually 2%) on every dollar you spend on eligible purchases. It’ll take you longer to earn the same amount of rewards as a bonus category cash back card, but you have the flexibility of using whenever, and however you want.

Tiered cash-back cards. Tiered cash-back cards like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express are usually best for families that regularly shop for groceries or at department stores. The rewards are higher than flat-rate cards (usually from 3% to 6%), but usually accompanied with an earning limit. If you plan to spend more than the earning limit, consider whether you might be better off with a flat-rate card.

Bonus category cards. If you have the flexibility to adjust your purchasing habits every few months, a bonus category cash back card may be for you. Bonus categories rotate multiple times a year, usually every quarter, earning high-rate rewards on things like gas, groceries, and restaurants. Keeping track takes discipline, but the rewards rates are higher than with flat-rate cards — and the signup bonuses are often easy to earn.

Pros and cons of cash back credit cards

Pros Cons

They’re easy to understand.
It’s easy to keep up with how much you’ve earned and what your rewards are worth, because you don’t have to convert a point or mile into the equivalent cash value.

Not everyone will qualify credit-wise.
The best cash back credit cards usually require a “good” FICO credit score, 700 or more.

Easy to redeem cash back.
Redeeming cash back is as simple as connecting your bank account for a direct transfer. Gift cards and statement credits are also options. (It’s important to note that some cards have a minimum redemption requirement.)

Chasing signup bonuses.
Cards with signup bonuses generally have a minimum spending requirement. It can be tempting to spend more than you can afford to earn the bonus, resulting in a monthly balance and interest charges.

A wide range of bonus categories.
Some cash back cards earn high-rate rewards on categories that rotate throughout the year. Others earn unlimited flat-rate cash back on all types of purchase.

Tracking bonus categories.
Keeping track of rotating bonus categories takes discipline. If you prefer keeping things simple, consider a flat-rate cash back card.

How do I redeem cash back?

Redemption options vary from card to card, but here are the most common methods for redeeming rewards:

  • Bank Deposit. All the cash back that you earn goes straight into a checking or savings account.
  • Statement Credit. This form of cash back is only applied to your credit card balance — you can’t spend it anywhere else.
  • Gift Cards. Some credit cards offer cash back in the form of physical gift cards or eCertificates for popular retailers and merchants.
  • Charitable Donations. Other cards offer you the opportunity to donate your earnings to charities and disaster relief programs.
It’s important to remember that some of the best cash back cards have limits on how much you must redeem, and when you can redeem it. For example, the Discover it® Cash Back matches your first-year earnings dollar-for-dollar, but you won’t get access to them until the end of your first account year. Be sure to read the terms and conditions before you pull the trigger on a card.

Does it make sense to pay an annual fee?

Applying for a credit card with an annual fee doesn’t always make sense. If your spending habits don’t align with its reward structure, you might net a loss — even if you earn the signup bonus.

For example, the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card earns a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase. It also has a $39 annual fee. To recoup that fee, you need to spend $2,600 on eligible purchases with your card annually, or $216 a month. Only once you spend more will you begin to earn net rewards.

Can I get my interest rate lowered on my credit card?

Your credit card interest rate isn’t written in stone. In face, 69% of people who asked their issuer for a break got a lower rate.

If you pay your balance in full every month (which we highly recommend), interest rates don’t matter. But if you’re trying to pay down debt, asking for a lower rate could save a significant amount of money in the long run.

Before you call, look for better offers from other lenders that you can use as leverage. If you get a “no” the first time, don’t give up. Instead, ask to speak to a manager and try again.

Here are the best cash back credit cards of 2018

  • Discover it® Cash Back: Best overall
  • Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card: Great for Bank of America customers
  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for families
  • Capital One® Quicksilver® Card – 0% Intro APR for 15 Months: Best for fixed-rate cash back
  • Chase Freedom®: High-reward bonus categories
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Best 0% intro APR

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