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13 Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2016

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When most people hear the phrase “credit card rewards,” their minds immediately turn to cash back rewards. And why not? Flip on the TV, navigate to your favorite website, or drive around your hometown and you’re bound to see an ad for a cash back credit card before long.

Cash back credit cards are popular because they provide tangible, easy-to-understand benefits. Who doesn’t like getting a credit on their monthly credit card statement – or, better yet, actual cash deposited into the account of their choice?

Not all cash back credit cards are created equal though.

Some offer the same cash back rate on all purchases. Others offer higher cash back rates on certain spending categories, such as groceries or gas, and lower rates on everything else. Still others offer bonus cash back on spending categories that rotate every quarter. A few accrue cash back on purchases and monthly payments. And some cash back cards even hew to hybrid models, with cash back on certain spending categories and different types of rewards (such as airline miles) on others.

You’ll find each type of card on this list of the best cash back cards available to U.S. consumers today. Keep in mind that most cash back credit cards require applicants to have very good to excellent credit – usually indicated by a credit score above 700, and sometimes even higher. If you don’t meet that threshold, work on building your credit before applying.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards

1. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

6% Cash Back at Supermarkets; 3% at Gas Stations and Department Stores; 1% Elsewhere; Up to $350 Sign-up Bonus

american-express-blue-cash-preferred-card-191If you love the supermarket, you’ll love the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express. You get 6% cash back on all supermarket transactions, up to a $6,000 annual spending limit. Once you hit $6,000, you get 1% back on supermarket purchases, with no upper limit. There’s no spending limit on the gas station and department store categories – you get 3% cash back on every $1 spent in those places, period. And you get 1% cash back on all other purchases, with no limits.

Cash back comes as a statement credit. However, there’s a significant drawback: a $75 annual fee.

Another smaller drawback of the Blue Cash Preferred card is American Express’s restrictive definition of “supermarket.” Superstores like Walmart, wholesale clubs like Costco, and alcohol retailers aren’t considered as supermarkets for this card’s purposes. The annual fee does cut into your earning potential somewhat – but since the 6% supermarket cash back doubles what most competing cards offer, you’re still likely to come out ahead if you take full advantage of this category.

If you’re struggling to meet your $6,000 annual supermarket spending limit with food and dry goods purchases alone, make up the difference by purchasing other merchants’ gift cards at the supermarket checkout counter. It’s like getting an immediate 6% discount at your favorite restaurants, retailers, and e-commerce websites.

  • Sign-up Bonus. If you make $1,000 in qualifying purchases within three months of signing up, you get a $150 statement credit. Additionally, if you sign up for the card by June 15, 2016, you get 10% cash back at U.S. wireless service providers until the end of the year (2016) on the first $2,000 in purchases. This equates to an additional bonus of up to $200, for a total of $350.
  • Cash Back Rate. 6% cash back at supermarkets, up to $6,000 in spending per year. After that, you receive 1% cash back at supermarkets. Also, this card offers unlimited 3% cash back at gas stations and department stores, and 1% cash back on everything else.
  • Redemption. The minimum redemption is $25. You can redeem in $25 increments ($25, $50, $75, and so on) for statement credits.
  • Introductory APR. 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months.
  • APR. After the introductory period, APR varies between 13.24% and 23.24%, depending on your creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates.
  • Key Fees. There’s a $75 annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 2.7%. Balance transfers cost either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Other Perks. If you attempt to return a purchased item within 90 days and the merchant refuses to accept it, AmEx’s Return Protection policy refunds the item’s entire purchase price, up to $300 per item and $1,000 per calendar year.

 


2. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

3% Cash Back at Supermarkets; 2% at Gas Stations and Department Stores; 1% Elsewhere; Up to $300 Sign-up Bonus

american-express-blue-cash-everyday-card-191The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express gives you ample cash back on everyday, hard-to-avoid purchases: food, staples, fuel, clothing, and home goods. You get 3% cash back on supermarket purchases, up to the $6,000 annual limit. After you hit the limit, you get 1% cash back on supermarket purchases, with no spending cap. 2% cash back at gas stations and department stories is unlimited, as is 1% cash back everywhere else. Your cash back comes as a statement credit.

Note that big box superstores such as Target, wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club, and alcohol retailers don’t count as “supermarkets,” according to American Express.

  • Sign-up Bonus. If you make $1,000 in qualifying purchases within three months, you get a $100 statement credit. Additionally, if you sign up for the card by June 15, 2016, you get 10% cash back at U.S. wireless service providers until the end of the year (2016) on the first $2,000 in purchases. This equates to an additional bonus of up to $200, for a total of $300.
  • Cash Back Rate. 3% cash back on supermarket purchases, up to $6,000 in annual spending (so $180 max annual cash back in this category). The card offers unlimited 1% cash back on supermarket purchases above the annual limit. There is unlimited 2% cash back on gas station and department store spending, and unlimited 1% cash back everywhere else.
  • Redemption. The minimum redemption is $25. Once you reach this threshold, you can redeem in $25 increments for statement credits.
  • Introductory APR. 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months.
  • APR. After the introductory period, APR varies between 13.24% and 23.24%, depending on your creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates.
  • Key Fees. There’s no annual fee, compared to the $75 fee for the Blue Cash Preferred Card which offers higher cash back rates. The foreign transaction fee is 2.7%. Balance transfers cost either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Other Perks. Also includes Return Protection, as described as a benefit of the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express.

 


3. Citi® Double Cash Card

1% Cash Back on All Purchases; Additional 1% Cash Back on All Balance Payments at or Above Minimum Payment

citi-double-cash-191The Citi Double Cash Card literally pays you twice. You get 1% cash back on all purchases, with no spending limits or spending categories to worry about. You also get 1% cash back on all monthly payments, regardless of whether you carry a balance, as long as you keep up with your minimum payments.

There’s never a cap on how much cash you can earn with the Citi Double Cash Card. Once you accumulate at least $25 in cash back rewards, you’re free to redeem by paper check, gift card, or statement credit, but not direct deposit.

  • Sign-up Bonus. There’s currently no sign-up bonus.
  • Cash Back Rate. Unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases and unlimited 1% cash back on all monthly payments, for total cash back rate of 2%.
  • Redemption. The minimum redemption amount is $25. You can redeem by paper check, statement credit, or gift card.
  • Introductory APR. 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
  • APR. After the introductory period, APR varies between 13.24% and 23.24%, depending on your creditworthiness. The cash advance APR is 25.49%, and the penalty APR is 29.99%.
  • Key Fees. There’s no annual fee. The balance transfer fee is the greater of $5 or 3% of the total amount transferred. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Foreign transactions cost 3%.
  • Other Perks. Citi Price Rewind refunds up to $300 for each individual purchase, and up to $1,200 per year, if Citi finds a lower price on an item you purchased within 60 days of purchase. Also, Citi waives your first late fee after sign-up.

 


4. Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard®

1.5% Cash Back on All Purchases; 5% Redemption Bonus; $100 Sign-up Bonus

barclaycard-cashforward-world-mastercard-191Like the Capital One Quicksilver and QuicksilverOne cards, the Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no spending caps or rotating categories. It also offers a 5% redemption bonus that automatically boosts redeemed cash back by 5% – so a $100 redemption becomes $105. This essentially increases the effective cash back rate to 1.575%. You can redeem for a statement credit, gift card, or bank account deposit.

One significant drawback is the rather high cash back redemption limit. Whereas most other cash back cards allow you redeem in amounts greater than $10 or $20, and sometimes in any amount, the Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard requires at least $50 before you can redeem.

  • Sign-up Bonus. You get a $100 cash bonus when you spend $500 within 90 days of account opening.
  • Cash Back Rate. Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Redemption. The minimum redemption is $50. You can redeem for statement credits, gift cards, or bank account deposits. You always get a 5% boost at redemption, for a 1.575% effective cash back rate.
  • Introductory APR. 0% introductory purchase and balance transfer APR for 12 months after account opening.
  • APR. After the introductory period, regular variable APR is 15.24% to 23.24%, depending on your creditworthiness and prevailing rates. The cash advance APR is 25.49%.
  • Key Fees. There’s no annual fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%. Foreign transactions are 3% of the total transaction amount.
  • Other Perks. You get a free FICO score and access to a generous trip protection policy that provides refunds for trip cancellations due to illness, bad weather, and certain other events.

 


5. Quicksilver® From Capital One®

1.5% Cash Back on All Purchases; $100 Sign-up Bonus; 20% Credit for Uber purchases

capital-one-quicksilver-cash-rewards-credit-card-191The Quicksilver From Capital One complements a host of other Capital One financial products, including the Capital One 360 banking platform. Its cash back perk is attractive and easy to understand: 1.5% cash back on all purchases, everywhere, with no spending caps or rotating categories. You can redeem cash back for a statement credit, bank account deposit, or gift card.

If your spending spans a wide range of categories, this is one of the better general-purpose cash back cards. However, it’s not as strong a choice if you’re looking to maximize your spending in specific categories, such as grocery purchases or travel.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn $100 when you make $500 in qualifying purchases within 3 months of opening your account.
  • Cash Back Rate. Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Redemption. Redeem in any amount for statement credits, bank account deposits, or gift cards. You can also set up automatic redemptions at predetermined thresholds ($25, $50, $100, or $200) and receive your cash back in the method of your choosing when you hit the threshold.
  • Introductory APR. 0% purchase and balance transfer APR through November 2016.
  • APR. After the introductory period, the purchase and balance transfer APR is 13.24% to 23.24%, depending on your creditworthiness. The cash advance APR is 23.24%. There’s no penalty APR.
  • Key Fees. There’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fees. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 3% of the transferred amount.
  • Other Perks. All Uber purchases made through April 30, 2016, earn a 20% discount (statement credit only). Card membership automatically entitles you to Visa Signature benefits, including travel upgrades, exclusive shopping discounts, and preferred seating at sporting events and concerts. You also get access to Capital One Credit Tracker, which includes 100% free, unlimited access to your credit score, plus a “what-if simulator” that you can use to visualize different credit scenarios.

 


6. QuicksilverOne® From Capital One®

1.5% Cash Back on All Purchases; Lower Credit Requirements; 20% Credit for Uber purchases

capital-one-quicksilverone-cash-rewards-credit-card-191The QuicksilverOne From Capital One is very similar to the Quicksilver card. You get 1.5% on all purchases, all the time, with no spending limits or rotating categories. Cash redemption procedures are the same, as are the card’s general benefits and restrictions. The biggest differences are a modest annual fee ($39), no sign-up bonus, and a higher variable APR for the QuicksilverOne card.

The main benefit of the QuicksilverOne is its relatively lax credit history requirements. Whereas the Quicksilver card (like most cash back credit cards) requires excellent credit, QuicksilverOne requires merely “average” credit, though Capital One doesn’t specify exactly what this means.

The flip side of this is that most new cardholders don’t qualify for high credit limits. If you’re able to make your monthly payments on time for five consecutive months, Capital One approves you for a higher credit line.

  • Sign-up Bonus. There is currently no sign-up bonus for this card.
  • Cash Back Rate. Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Redemption. Redeem in any amount for gift cards, statement credits, or bank account deposits. You can also set up automatic redemptions at predetermined thresholds ($25, $50, $100, or $200) and receive your cash back in the method of your choosing when you hit the threshold.
  • Introductory APR. 0% purchase and balance transfer APR through November 2016.
  • APR. After the introductory period, the variable APR rises to 23.24%, depending on your creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates.
  • Key Fees. There’s a $39 annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 3% of the transferred amount, plus a 23.24% APR.
  • Other Perks. All the perks of the Quicksilver card apply, including 20% discounts on Uber purchases, access to Capital One’s Credit Tracker feature, and exclusive/VIP access to events.

 


7. Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Unlimited 2% Cash Back on All Purchases

fidelity-rewards-visa-signature-cardThe Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card is a great addition to any Fidelity customer’s wallet. This no-annual-fee card earns an unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase, every day. Its cash rewards accrue through the Fidelity Rewards program – you earn 2 Fidelity Rewards points per $1 spent.

You can redeem your accumulated Fidelity Rewards points on a 1-to-1 basis for cash deposits into a wide range of Fidelity accounts, including brokerage accounts, 529 College Savings Plans managed by Fidelity, Fidelity Cash Management accounts, and certain retirement accounts.

With no annual fee, no spending restrictions, and no hoops to jump through (such as category activation requirements), this is an ideal card for people who spend in a wide range of categories and love to maximize their cash back earning power. However, it’s not as useful for people who have no interest in opening a Fidelity account.

  • Sign-up Bonus. There’s currently no sign-up bonus.
  • Cash Back Rate. Unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases.
  • Redemption. The minimum redemption is 5,000 points ($50). You can redeem your accumulated points for cash deposits into Fidelity brokerage accounts, Fidelity 529 College Savings Plans, Fidelity Cash Management accounts, and certain Fidelity retirement accounts (including traditional and Roth IRAs). You can split your redeemed cash between as many as five separate accounts. You can also set up an automatic redemption system that deposits cash into your chosen account(s) each month, provided you’ve reached the minimum threshold.
  • Introductory APR. There’s currently no introductory APR promotion.
  • APR. The regular purchase and balance transfer APR is a variable 14.24%, and the cash advance APR is a variable 24.24%.
  • Key Fees. There is no annual fee. The balance transfer and cash advance fees are the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred or advanced amount, and the foreign transaction fee is 1% of the total transaction amount.
  • Other Perks. Includes a purchase protection plan that reimburses up to $500 per item in the event of theft, damage, or certain other losses within 90 days of purchase.

8. Chase Freedom®

5% Cash Back in Rotating Categories Every Quarter; 1% on Everything Else

chase-freedom-card-191All purchases made with the Chase Freedom card earn 1% cash back, with no caps or restrictions, and purchases up to $1,500 in quarterly rotating categories earn 5% cash back (e.g., grocery stores and wholesale clubs for Q2 2016). Limited-time promotions occasionally push the card’s earning power even higher – for example, in the fourth quarter of 2015, purchases at Amazon, Zappos, Audible, and Diapers.com earned 10% cash back up to the $1,500 limit.

Chase Freedom actually accumulates Chase Ultimate Rewards points, a versatile spending currency that is usually worth $0.01 per point. Spending in the 1% cash back category earns 1 Ultimate Rewards point per dollar, while spending in the 5% category earns 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. Once you accumulate 2,000 points, you can redeem for cash back at a 1:1 ratio, deliverable as a statement credit, bank account deposit, or gift card at select retailers (including Amazon). You can also redeem for a wide variety of purchases, including travel and general merchandise, through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal.

One small drawback of Chase Freedom: You have to manually activate your 5% cash back each quarter. If you don’t do so by the middle of the last month of that quarter, you forfeit the 5% cash back opportunity.

  • Sign-up Bonus. When you make $500 in qualifying purchases within 3 months of opening your account, you get $150. You can earn an additional $25 by adding an authorized user to the account and making a purchase within the same 3-month period.
  • Cash Back Rate. 5% cash back (5 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent) on purchases in quarterly rotating categories, up to $1,500 combined spending across all categories. Unlimited 1% cash back on quarterly category purchases above the $1,500 limit, as well as on all other purchases.
  • Redemption. Once you accumulate 2,000 Ultimate Rewards points ($20 value), you can redeem for statement credits, bank account deposits, and gift cards at a 1 point to $0.01 ratio. You can also redeem for travel, general merchandise, and other purchases at the Ultimate Rewards portal.
  • Introductory APR. 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
  • APR. After the introductory APR period ends, purchase and balance transfer APR is 14.24% to 23.24%, depending on your creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR is 25.24%.
  • Key Fees. There’s no annual fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5% of the transferred amount. The foreign transaction fee is a flat 3%. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
  • Other Perks. Chase’s Purchase Protection is an insurance product that covers all purchases made with your Chase Freedom card for 120 days, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account, against theft, damage, and loss.

 


9a. Discover it®

5% Cash Back in Rotating Categories Every Quarter; 1% on Everything Else; Double Cash Back Your First Year

discover-it-red-191Discover it is one of several quality cards from Discover. All purchases earn 1% cash back, with no spending caps or restrictions. Like the Chase Freedom card, purchases in quarterly rotating spending categories earn 5% cash back, up to a $1,500 quarterly limit across all active categories. Example spending categories include department stores, gas stations, restaurants, movie theaters, home improvement stores, and Amazon.com. You need to manually activate the 5% cash back in your account each quarter.

At the end of your first year as a cardholder, Discover automatically doubles all the cash back you earned over the previous 12 months. You can redeem your cash in any amount as a statement credit, bank account deposit, check, or Amazon purchase credit.

  • Sign-up Bonus. There’s no signup bonus, though the first-year double cash back is a very nice perk.
  • Cash Back Rate. 5% cash back on spending in quarterly rotating categories, up to the $1,500 combined limit. Additionally, you receive unlimited 1% cash back on quarterly category spending above the $1,500 limit, and on all other purchases.
  • Redemption. Redeem in any amount for statement credits, paper checks, bank account deposits, and Amazon purchase credits.
  • Introductory APR. 0% purchase and balance transfer APR for 12 months.
  • APR. After the introductory period, purchase and balance transfer APR ranges between 11.24% and 23.24%, depending on creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR is 25.24%.
  • Key Fees. There’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers after the introductory period cost a flat 3% of the transferred amount. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
  • Other Perks. Discover’s Freeze It feature lets you turn off many account features, including the ability to make new purchases and cash advances, at the click of a button. The Discover it card also comes with a free FICO credit score and no late fees on your first late payment.

 


9b. NHL® Discover it®

5% Cash Back in Rotating Categories Every Quarter; 1% on Everything Else; Double Cash Back Your First Year; 10% off NHL Merchandise

nhl-discover-it-card-191The NHL Discover it card is the official credit card of the National Hockey League. On the cash back rewards front, it’s the same as the flagship Discover it: You get 1% cash back on all purchases, with no spending limits, plus 5% cash back on purchases in quarterly rotating categories up to $1,500 per quarter. Like the other it cards, Discover doubles cash back earned during the first year of your membership.

The main distinguishing feature of the NHL Discover it card is a permanent 10% discount on purchases made with the card at shop.nhl.com. You can also customize your card’s face with the logo of your favorite pro hockey team.


10. Discover it® chrome

2% Cash Back on Dining and Gas; 1% Cash Back on Everything Else; Double Cash Back Your First Year

discover-it-chrome-191Discover it chrome is a solid card for anyone who spends money on gas and restaurant meals. Dining and gas purchases with the card earn 2% cash back, up to $1,000 per quarter. After you hit your quarterly limit, you earn 1% on dining and gas purchases, with no spending caps. You also earn an unlimited 1% on all other purchases. Quarters begin January 1st, April 1st, July 1st, and October 1st.

As with the flagship Discover it, Discover it chrome automatically doubles all the cash back you earn during your first year. You can redeem your cash in any amount as a statement credit, bank account deposit, check, or Amazon purchase credit.

  • Sign-up Bonus. There’s no signup bonus, though the first-year double cash back is a nice perk.
  • Cash Back Rate. 2% cash back on dining and gas purchases, up to $1,000 per quarter. Additionally, the card offers unlimited 1% cash back on dining and gas purchases above the quarterly limit, as well as on all other spending.
  • Redemption. Redeem in any amount for statement credits, bank account deposits, paper checks, and Amazon purchase credits.
  • Introductory APR. 0% purchase and balance transfer APR for 12 months.
  • APR. After the introductory period, APR ranges between 11.24% and 23.24%, depending on creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates.
  • Key Fees. There’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fees. Balance transfers cost 3% of the transferred amount.
  • Other Perks. There’s no late fee on your first late payment. The card also comes with the Freeze It feature, which shuts off your card’s purchasing and cash advance capabilities with one click, and free FICO credit score.

 


11. U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

5% Cash Back on 2 Quarterly Categories, Up to $2,000 Spending; Unlimited 2% Cash Back in 1 Quarterly Category

us-bank-cash-plus-cardThe U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card is a powerful, no-annual-fee cash back card with above-average earning power in a variety of common spending categories.

This card earns 5% cash back in 2 quarterly categories of your choice, up to $2,000 in combined quarterly spending. 5% options vary from quarter to quarter, but typically include department stores, fast food outlets, electronics stores, movie theaters, and car rental companies. The card also earns an unlimited 2% cash back in a single category of your choice. 2% categories tend to be broader, and typically include gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Finally, this card earns an unlimited 1% cash back on all 5% category spending above the quarterly spending limit, and on purchases not included in one of the three selected spending categories.

One minor – but notable – drawback of this card is that you need to activate your 5% and 2% categories each quarter. If you fail to do so, you forfeit their earnings above the 1% baseline cash back rate.

  • Sign-up Bonus. There is currently no sign-up bonus.
  • Cash Back Rate. 5% cash back in two quarterly categories of your choosing, up to a $2,000 combined quarterly spending limit. There is unlimited 2% cash back in one everyday category of your choice, plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other spending, including in 5% categories above the quarterly spending limit.
  • Redemption. Redeem in any amount for deposits into U.S. Bank accounts or statement credits. You can also redeem for a U.S. Bank gift card, subject to a $20 redemption minimum.
  • Introductory APR. 0% APR on balance transfers for 9 months from account opening.
  • APR. After the introductory period, the balance transfer APR ranges from 13.24% to 24.24%, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing rates. The purchase APR falls within the same range from day one. The cash advance APR is a variable 24.24%.
  • Key Fees. There’s currently no annual fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, while cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 4%. Foreign transactions cost 2% to 3% of the total transaction amount, depending on the denomination. The late payment fee is $37, while the returned payment fee is $35.
  • Other Perks. Includes 24/7 concierge service (for help with travel bookings and event reservations), plus complimentary loss/damage coverage for car rentals charged in full.

12. The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

2x Points at Supermarkets; 1x Points on Everything Else; 20% Point Bonus for 20+ Purchases; 10,000 Points Sign-up Bonus

The Amex EveryDay Cramex-everyday-credit-card-191edit Card isn’t a traditional cash back card. Instead of calculating your cash back as a percentage of your purchase total, this card earns Membership Rewards points. You get 2 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent at the supermarket, up to $6,000 per year, and 1 point per $1 spent for all supermarket purchases above that amount. You also get 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent for all other purchases. And if you make more than 20 purchases in a billing cycle, you automatically get a 20% point bonus for that cycle.

You can redeem your points for gift cards (including American Express gift cards), travel purchases, online shopping (including at Amazon), Uber rides, Plenti points, statement credits, and more. Point values vary depending on how you redeem. For instance, 10,000 points gets you a $50 American Express gift card, $100 in Uber credits, or $60 in statement credits. In general, points are worth between $0.005 and $0.01, so every $1 spent at the supermarket (where you get 2x points) earns you between $0.01 and $0.02.

You’ll like this card if you spend a lot on groceries, don’t like to deal with rotating spending categories, and can figure out the somewhat complicated Membership Rewards point system. Otherwise, a more traditional cash back card may be in order.

  • Sign-up Bonus. You get 10,000 Membership Rewards points, worth roughly $50 to $100 depending on how you redeem, when you make at least $1,000 in purchases within 3 months of opening your account.
  • Cash Back Rate. 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent at the supermarket, up to a $6,000 annual spending limit. Further, you receive 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent at the supermarket above the $6,000 cap, as well as on all other purchases.
  • Redemption. Redeem Membership Rewards points at the Membership Rewards portal for gift cards, statement credits, Plenti points, general merchandise, travel purchases, local transportation, and more. Redemption minimums start around 1,000 points. Point values generally range between $0.005 and $0.01 at redemption, depending on what you redeem for.
  • Introductory APR. 0% introductory purchase and balance transfer APR for the first 15 months.
  • APR. After the introductory period ends, your APR ranges from 13.24% to 22.24%, depending on your creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR is 25.49%, and the penalty APR is 29.49%.
  • Key Fees. There’s no annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 2.7% of the total transaction amount. Balance transfers and cash advances cost the greater of $5 or 3%.
  • Other Perks. Also comes with the American Express Return Protection policy, which compensates you up to $300 per item for attempted returns rejected by merchants.

 


13. The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express

3x Points at Supermarkets; 2x Points at Gas Stations; 1x Points on Everything Else; 50% Point Bonus for 30+ Purchases; 15,000 Points Sign-up Bonus

amex-everyday-preferred-credit-card-191The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card is a supercharged version of the Amex EveryDay card. Supermarket purchases earn 3 points per $1 spent, and gas station purchases earn 2 points per $1 spent, up to a $6,000 annual spending limit. Points vary in value from $0.005 to $0.01, depending on how you redeem, so every $1 spent at the supermarket (where you get 3x points) is worth between $0.015 and $0.03. After you hit the limit, supermarket and gas purchases still earn 1 point per dollar. Note that there’s a $95 annual fee on this card.

The frequent-purchase points bonus is juicier than the non-preferred version of the card, too, if you can manage it: You get a 50% point bonus when you make at least 30 purchases per billing cycle, an average of about one purchase per day. Redemption procedures and values are identical to the regular Amex EveryDay.

Keep in mind that, due to this card’s $95 annual fee, it’s only a good deal if you use it frequently – ideally, enough to qualify for the 50% monthly point bonus. If you don’t plan on using the card frequently, look elsewhere, especially given the complexity and variable values of the Membership Rewards points system.

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points (worth between $75 and $150) when you make at least $1,000 in purchases within 3 months of opening your account.
  • Cash Back Rate. 3 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent at the supermarket and 2 points per $1 spent at the gas station, up to a combined $6,000 annual spending limit. You also receive an unlimited 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent at the supermarket and gas station above the $6,000 cap, as well as on all other purchases.
  • Redemption. Redeem accumulated points for gift cards, statement credits, Plenti points, general merchandise, travel purchases, local transportation, and more. Redemption minimums start around 1,000 points. Point values generally range between $0.005 and $0.01 at redemption, depending on what you redeem for.
  • Introductory APR. 0% introductory purchase and balance transfer APR for the first 15 months.
  • APR. Regular purchase and balance transfer APR ranges from 13.24% to 22.24%, depending on your creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR is 25.49%, and the penalty APR is 29.49%.
  • Key Fees. There’s a $95 annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 2.7% of the total transaction amount. Balance transfers and cash advances cost the greater of $5 or 3%.
  • Other Perks. Also comes with Return Protection, which protects against rejected returns up to $300 per incident, plus discounts, priority ticketing, and exclusive access to concerts and shows.

 


Final Word

Even the most generous cash back credit cards rarely offer more than 5% cash back on any purchases. Cards that offer more than 2% or 3% cash back typically require holders to keep track of specific spending categories or respect purchase limits.

By contrast, cash back credit card APRs usually range from somewhere north of 10% to more than 20% in some cases. At those rates, carrying a balance for even a single month can seriously eat into your cash back earnings. Habitually carrying a balance from month to month more than negates your cash back earnings, adding to the actual cost of your purchases.

In other words, don’t let the promise of cash back lull you into letting your card balances grow over time. It’s almost never worth it. If you need to carry a credit card balance from month to month, opt for a low APR credit card instead. And if you worry about your ability to keep your credit card spending to a level that allows for in-full payments each month, choose a credit card with a low spending limit, or a secured credit card that requires you to make an upfront cash deposit.

What’s your favorite cash back credit card?

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