Best Cash-Back Credit Cards of 2020

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Best cash-back credit cards
 
DollarSprout has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. DollarSprout and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
 
Note: If you currently have credit card debt or can’t pay off your balance in full every month, don’t sign up for a cash-back credit card. The rewards you’d earn won’t make up for the interest charges.

Cash-back credit cards provide a way for responsible cardholders to earn extra rewards while making regular purchases. They provide a percentage of your purchase back in the form of points, miles, or cash. If you already use a credit card for your expenses, consider switching to a cash-back card to maximize your rewards.

Some cash-back cards have special benefits and perks such as free trip cancellation insurance or VIP access to premier events.

Today’s Top Cash-Back Credit Cards

There are dozens of cash-back cards on the marketplace, but these are the best available.

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Capital One® Quicksilver® One Cash Rewards Credit Card

A flat-rate card that pays 1.5% cash back on every single purchase.

Annual Fee

$0

Cash Back Rate

1.5%

Welcome Offer

$200
Earn a one-time $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months of opening your account.

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent

I like how simple this card is. Since it’s a flat-rate card that offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases, there’s no need to worry about keeping track of different spending categories. I also like how easy the welcome offer is to unlock; you only need to spend $500 in the first 3 months to earn your $200 bonus. With no annual fee, the Capital One Quicksilver Card is a great card to have in your wallet for the long term.

The intro APY on purchases is 0% for the first 15 months, which, in my opinion, is a good thing and a bad thing. It’s nice to not have to worry about interest charges for the first 15 months, but this can also tempt someone to let a large balance to build up during that intro period. I still recommend paying off your balance in full every month whenever possible.  Once the intro period is over, the regular APR jumps to 15.49%-25.49% (variable).

No annual fees or foreign transaction fees are a huge plus for this card.

This is a no-frills card, so the normal textbook advice is all you need here. Spend responsibly - as if the card were cash - and do your best to pay off your balance each month. Treat the 15-month 0% APR intro period as a test run to see if you can stay on top of paying your full balance. If you find yourself carrying over a balance from month-to-month during that intro period, make changes before the high interest charges kick in. 

A Solid Flat-Rate Card for Everyday Purchases

If you are new to using cash-back credit cards and want something simple that still delivers a powerful punch, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash-Back Card deserves a spot in your wallet. A respectable 1.5% flat cash back rate along with a decent welcome offer and no annual fee make this a great card for those with good to excellent credit. 

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Citi Double Cash Card

This card rewards those who pay off their bill in full every month.

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1% to 2%
You can earn a flat 2% cash-back rate; 1% for making a purchase and 1% for paying it off.

Welcome Bonus

None

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent
  • 0% APR on balance transfer for 18 months
  • Earn 1% cash back when you make a purchase in any category and an extra 1% cash back when you pay off that purchase
  • No annual fee
  • Easy to earn rewards if you pay the balance in full every month
  • No limits on how much cash back you can earn
  • Can earn cash back in all categories
  • Can receive cash back as statement credit, direct deposit, check, or convert to points
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months
  • 13.99% – 23.99% APR after that
To get the most out of this card, you should pay off the bill in full. That's the only way to get the full 2% cash back rate. There are no limits on how much cash back you can earn.

Why you'll Like This Card

This card has an easy-to-understand cash back system, no annual fee, and a simple redemption policy.

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Savor Rewards from Capital One

This card has a great sign-up bonus and high cash-back rate.

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

1% to 4%
Earn 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases.

Welcome Bonus

$300 bonus
When you spend $3,000 or more in the first three months

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent
  • $300 sign-up bonus
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No minimum redemption amount
  • Rewards don’t expire
  • Travel accident insurance included when you make a travel-related purchase with the card
  • Access to special events such as concerts, sports games, or culinary events
  • $95 annual fee
  • 15.99% – 24.99% APR
  • No foreign transaction fees
To get the most out of this card, make sure to use it for all dining, grocery store, and entertainment purchases. You can also get a $300 bonus when you spend $3,000 in three months.

Why you'll Like This Card

This card has one of the highest cash-back rates for dining and entertainment. If you love the nightlife or eating out, this card can help you save money.

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Venture Rewards from Capital One

This card is an easy travel rewards cash back card.

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

2%
Available on all purchases

Welcome Bonus

100,000 points
Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent
  • 50,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months
  • Earn 2% cash back on all purchases
  • No limits on rewards
  • $95 annual fee
  • $95 annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 17.24% – 24.49% APR
Customers should spend enough to get the 50,000-bonus point offer. People who take frequent vacations can utilize this card and charge purchases without incurring foreign transaction fees.

Why you'll Like This Card

This card has a relatively low annual fee, high bonus offer, and a 2% cash-back rate. If you want to save money on traveling, pick up this card to earn enough for a free flight.

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U.S. Bank Cash+ Card

This card lets you choose your own extra cash-back categories.

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1% to 5%
Earn 5% cash back on two categories of your choice, up to $2,000 in purchases each quarter, earn 2% cash back on purchases in a category of your choice and 1% cash back on all other purchases

Welcome Bonus

$150
When you spend $500 in the first three months

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent
  • You can choose which categories provide 5% cash back
  • Rewards can be redeemed for cash, statement credit, or a bank deposit
  • No annual fee
  • $150 sign-up bonus
  • No minimum redemption
  • No annual fee
  • 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months
To get the most of this card, make sure to choose extra cash-back categories that you'll use the most. Staying on that of this will help you maximize your cash back.

Why you'll Like This Card

What makes this card different from other cash-back cards is that you can choose the categories that give you cash back. You can earn up to 5% cash back on two categories of your choice, 2% back on another category, and 1% on all other purchases. This gives you more freedom and potentially more earning power, even though there is a limit ($2,000) on how much you can earn per quarter.

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Deserve EDU Mastercard

This card is perfect for both local and foreign college students.

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1%
Cash back on all purchases

Welcome Bonus

$0

Recommended Credit Score

Average to Excellent
  • 1% cash back on all purchases
  • Cell phone protection, up to $600, if you pay your cell phone bill with this card
  • No annual fee
  • Free Amazon Prime Student membership for 12 months
  • No international transaction fee
  • $10 statement credit if you buy insurance through Lemonade
  • $45 statement credit if you buy a Mint Mobile wireless plan
  • No annual fee
  • No international transaction fee
  • 18.74% APR
To get the most of this card, you should pay your cell phone bill with. You'll get cell phone protection if you do that. You'll also get 1% cash back on all purchases, no matter the category.

Why you'll Like This Card

This card is designed for international students because Deserve doesn’t require a credit check from foreign students. It also comes with free Amazon Prime Student access.

How Cash-Back Credit Cards Work

Cash-back credit cards are fairly straightforward. If the cash-back card says you’ll earn 3% back on your grocery purchases and you spend $200 at the grocery store, you’ll earn $6 in cash-back rewards. Cards may require that you have a certain amount of cash back before you can redeem the rewards, but others may have no minimum threshold.

Cash-back credit card explanation. Cash-back cards provide a percentage of your purchase back in the form of points, miles, or cash.

There are different types of cash-back cards. Some will have a flat rate, such as 1% on all purchases. Others will provide a higher cash-back reward on certain categories, such as gas, groceries, dining, or travel.

Some cash-back credit cards have an annual fee, but many don’t. Many require a high credit score so if you have a recent bankruptcy or default, you likely won’t qualify.

Pros and Cons of Cash-Back Credit Cards

If you’re not sure if you want to replace your regular credit card with a cash-back one, here’s a brief overview of the pros and cons: 

Pros:

  • Helps you earn money for purchases you already make
  • Have other perks such as sign-up bonuses, rental car insurance, and no foreign transaction fees
  • Rewards are often eligible to be redeemed as a statement credit, bank deposit, or converted into travel rewards
  • Can often purchase merchandise with your cash-back rewards

Cons:

  • Can make people spend more because they know they’re getting cash-back
  • May have an annual fee
  • May be harder to be approved for than other credit cards

Types of Cash-Back Credit Cards

There are different types of cash-back cards that provide rewards in several unique ways. Here are the most common.

Legend. Empty square is category, green circle is cash back

Flat-rate

Flat rate cash back credit card
Earn the same amount of cash-back on all purchases.

Many cash-back cards have a flat-rate system where you earn the same amount of cash back on all purchases, usually between 1-2%. This is easy for cardholders who don’t have the patience to remember which card is best for gas and which is best for groceries.

Tiered

Tiered cash back credit cards
Earn more cash-back in certain categories than in the others.

It’s common for cash-back cards to have a tiered system where certain categories earn more cash back than other categories. For example, users with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card earn 2% cash-back on travel and dining and 1% on all other purchases.

Sometimes, though, cards may have limits on how much you can earn in rewards for the highest percentage. For example, you may have a $1,500 limit on a certain category. After that, you’ll earn the lowest cash-back rate.

Rotating categories

Rotating categories cash back cards
Earn extra cash-back in special categories during specific periods of time.

Some cards have special categories that earn extra cash-back during specific times of the year. Most of these are based on a quarterly system. For instance, in the first quarter of the year, you may earn 5% cash back on groceries but once that quarter is over, the special cash-back rate for groceries will be over.

Rotating categories can be helpful if you shop at a variety of retailers. But if you’re primarily using your card for groceries, then you’re better off focusing on a card that offers the most cash-back on grocery purchases. 

Choose your categories

Choose your categories
Earn extra cash-back on a category you choose from a predetermined list

Some cards let you choose your bonus cash-back category from a predetermined list. This helps you customize your cash-back card so you’re earning rewards on places where you shop the most. These types of cash-back cards are less common but they do offer more flexibility than traditional cash-back cards.

Travel

Travel cash-back credit cards
Earn extra points on trip-related purchases, plus a sign-up bonus.

Travel cash-back rewards cards often offer a sign-up bonus, usually in the form of points, that you can redeem for airfare, hotel stays, or rental cars. They usually have no foreign transaction fees, which can save you hundreds of dollars depending on how much you’re spending abroad.

The cash-back categories usually focus on travel-related purchases, so you’ll earn more points every time you take a trip. These cards may be tied to a specific airline or hotel chain or provide points and miles for a variety of companies.

How to Choose a Cash-Back Credit Card

When trying to decide which cash-back card is best for you, there are a few steps you can follow to make the best choice:

  • Go through your expenses and figure out what category you spend the most money on
  • Look up your credit score for free through a site like Credit Karma
  • Based on your credit score and spending habits, find a card you’re eligible for that fits your needs 
  • Apply and wait to hear back
  • If there are multiple cards you’re interested in, it may be better to space out applications instead of applying all at once
  • Compare cards side by side, analyzing which has the best cash-back rate, lowest annual fee, and other perks. A card with an annual fee and no foreign transaction fees may be a better fit than one that charges 3% for foreign transactions.

If you’re still unsure, check out credit card comparison sites or ask friends and family which ones they use. You might find out that the one you preferred isn’t very good at all, and one you hadn’t thought about is best.

How to Maximize Your Cash-Back Credit Card Rewards

You’re allowed to use several cash-back cards at one time and doing so can help you earn more rewards.

For example, you can have one cash-back card that offers 2% on all purchases and one that offers 5% cash back on groceries. You can remember to use the second card at the grocery store and the first card on everything else. Some people keep a note in their wallet to remind them which card is good for which type of store.

Some cards have no foreign transaction fees and offer more cash back on travel. Take that card with you if you go abroad.

Some consumers want to minimize their credit exposure and only have one credit card. If that’s your preference, then pick the card that offers the most perks for the lowest annual fee. 

And to make sure you consistently have the best card, periodically take a look to see if there are any new credit cards that fit your lifestyle and needs better.

Research Methodology

To conduct this research and choose the best cards, we analyzed cash-back cards from the most popular and reputable providers such as Chase, Discover, Capital One, American Express, Bank of America, and more. 

We compared annual fees, sign-up bonuses, APR, cash-back rates, redemption options, and other perks. We chose cards that had high cash-back rates, sign-up bonuses, and other benefits without charging high annual fees. We also chose cards from well-known companies with good reviews.

Most of the following cards are only available to those with very good or excellent credit scores, and there may be additional income requirements.

DollarSprout has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. DollarSprout and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.