The 5 best cash back credit cards right now

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Credit cards
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If you’re looking for a simple way to earn rewards with your credit cards, cash back is the way to go.

Unlike many travel rewards credit cards, cash back cards don’t require the time spent figuring out the best redemption options. It can be as simple as a click of a button to redeem your rewards. Simply put, cash back credit cards can make your life a little easier.

The two types of cash back cards

There are hundreds of cash back cards offered by all the banks and credit unions, but they generally fall into two groups: let’s call them flat rate cards and bonus cards. The flat rate cards offer you a relatively high amount of cash back on all purchases, typically at least 1.5%. On the other hand, the bonus cards can offer even more cash back on some kinds of purchases, 2% to as much as 6%, but just 1% cash back on all non-bonus purchases. Sometimes there are quarterly or annual limits on how much spending qualifies for the bonus, and sometimes it can be confusing to figure out which purchases are eligible for the bonus.

Which type is right for you?

You can estimate if you’d earn more from just using a flat rate card or using a bonus card, and decide which might be best for you. But another popular strategy is to use a bonus card just for purchases that are eligible for bonus cash back and a flat rate card for all non-bonus purchases.

While this will maximize the cash back you earn, it will also take a little more work to remember which card to use for which purchases. You’ll also have to manage two different accounts and pay two different bills each month. And, of course, you should never have more credit card accounts than you can manage responsibly.

Best 5 cash back credit cards: Team Clark’s picks

So what do you need to look for in a cash back credit card? If you want things to be as simple as possible, you’re going to want to look for a flat rate card. No matter what you purchase, you’ll always earn the same amount.

However, if you’re interested in maximizing the cash back you can earn, a card with different bonus categories might be a great option. These cards offer higher cash back rates on different categories of purchases.

So which cash back credit card should you choose? Let’s take a look at some of our favorites.

Table of contents

Discover It card

Discover It Cash Back

Welcome bonus None
Rewards
  • Earn 5% cash back each quarter in rotating categories like gas stations, grocery stores, Amazon.com and more.
  • 5% cash back is limited to the first $1,500 in spending each quarter. After that, you’ll receive 1% back.
  • Discover will automatically match the cash back rewards you earn during your first 12 months as a cardholder.
Advantages The Discover It Cash Back card has one of the highest cash back rates available. In addition to earning cash back, the card also comes with no annual fee and a 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 14 months. Plus, each month you will receive your FICO score for free.
Drawbacks Each quarter you will be required to activate the bonus cash back categories. If this isn’t done, you will only earn 1% cash back.

Learn more: Discover It Cash Back


Citi Double Cash card

Citi Double Cash

Welcome bonus None
Rewards You will earn 1% back when you make a purchase and another 1% back when you pay off the purchases, up to 2% cash back total.
Advantages The Citi Double Cash card comes with no annual fee and an 18 month 0% APR balance transfer offer. This card is one of our favorites because of its high rate of return combined with its simplicity.
Drawbacks Unfortunately, the Citi Double Cash doesn’t have a welcome bonus. Plus, it doesn’t give the chance to earn bonus rewards on different spending categories. And finally, it recently gutted its once valuable cardholder benefits.

Learn more: Citi Double Cash review


Chase Freedom card

Chase Freedom

Welcome bonus You will earn a $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Rewards
  • You will earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in select categories each quarter that you activate the bonus.
  • Every other purchase will earn an unlimited 1% cash back.
Advantages In addition to its generous welcome bonus and high rate of return on purchases, the Chase Freedom card also comes with no annual fee. Plus, it offers 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months.
Drawbacks Each quarter you are required to activate the new bonus cash back categories. If you don’t, you will not earn the extra cash back on eligible purchases.

Learn more: Chase Freedom review


Chase Freedom Unlimited

Welcome bonus None
Rewards
  • You will earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year, up to $20,000 spent.
  • After that, you will earn 1.5% cash back.
Advantages Because it offers a generous flat cash back rate, this no-annual-fee card is perfect for anyone who doesn’t want the complexity of rotating or tiered cash back categories. Additionally, you can also receive 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months.
Drawbacks In exchange for the higher cash back rate your first year, Chase eliminated the welcome bonus it had offered.

Learn more: Chase Freedom Unlimited review


Bank Of America Cash Rewards

Bank of America Cash Rewards

Welcome bonus You will earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
Rewards
  • You will earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice. Choose from gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvements/furnishings. You can also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, up to the first $2,500 in combined purchases in all categories each quarter.
  • All other purchases will earn an unlimited 1% cash back.
Advantages Bank of America Preferred Rewards members will earn a 25%-75% rewards bonus on each purchase. In addition to having no annual fee, you can also receive 0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases and any balance transfer made within 60 days of opening your account.
Drawbacks The reward structure is quite a bit more complex than most cash back credit cards. Since the bonus categories are capped at $2,500 each quarter, you should consider how you’ll be spending to understand if you might be able to earn more from a flat rate card.

Learn more: Bank of America Cash Rewards


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