The best cash back credit cards of 2019

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In a Nutshell

The best cash back credit cards offer solid rewards rates in certain spending categories, or for everything you buy. No matter what you spend your money on, you can find a cash back card that’s right for you.

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If you’re looking for a credit card that offers flexible rewards, a cash back credit card may be your best bet — you can use cash for just about anything you want. Here are our top choices and what you need to know about each of them.



Best for a high rewards rate: Citi® Double Cash Card

Here’s why: The Citi® Double Cash Card offers 2% cash back on every purchase you make — 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay it off.

There’s no cap on the amount of cash back you can receive, and you don’t have to worry about an annual fee eating into your earnings. The only drawback? There’s no sign-up bonus for new cardholders.

If you want a simple cash back card with a great rewards rate, read more about the Citi® Double Cash Card in our full review.

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Best for supermarket spending: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Here’s why: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers a whopping 6% cash back on up to $6,000 you spend on purchases each year at U.S. supermarkets. After you reach the spending cap, you’ll earn 1%.

You’ll also earn an unlimited 3% cash back on purchases at U.S. gas stations and 1% back on all other purchases. Plus, you’ll receive a $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after opening your account.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind before applying for this card. First, it charges a $95 annual fee, so you’ll want to max out the 6% bonus category at U.S. supermarkets. Second, you can redeem your cash back as a statement credit, not a paper check or a deposit into your checking account. Every once in a blue moon, American Express may give you other redemption options in the form of gift cards or merchandise, but don’t count on it. This inflexibility could be a deal-breaker if you’re looking for a card with redemption options.

Because this card’s annual fee can cut into the amount of cash back you earn, you might want to take a look at the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, especially if you don’t think you’d be able to max out grocery spending on the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has a $0 annual fee, and you’ll still earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases every year, and then 1% after you reach the spending cap). You’ll also earn an unlimited 2% cash back on purchases at U.S. gas stations and 1% on all other purchases. If you’re choosing between the two cards, consider your typical spending habits to pick the best card for you.

If you want to know more about the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, read our review to get the full scoop.

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Best for flexibility: Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Here’s why: With the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, you’ll earn 3% cash back on purchases in a category of your choice. Choices include gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores, or home improvement and furnishings. You have the chance to change the 3% category once a month, or you can set it and forget it.

The card also offers 2% cash back on purchases at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. But there’s a downside: Bonus cash back only applies to the first $2,500 total spent each quarter in both the 3% and 2% categories. All other purchases, and any bonus-category purchases after the cap, will net you just 1% back.

You get all of that with an annual fee of $0.

Depending on your relationship with Bank of America, though, you could earn even more cash back. Specifically, Preferred Rewards members who have a certain level of combined balances in qualifying Bank of America, Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch accounts can earn 25% to 75% more cash back on every purchase.

As a new cardholder, you’ll earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

If you think the card feels right for you, read our review of the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card to learn more.

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Best for maximizing rewards with a low intro purchase APR: Chase Freedom®

Here’s why: With the Chase Freedom®, you’ll earn up to 5% cash back on purchases in everyday spending categories that change every three months, as long as you remember to activate them.

In the first quarter of 2019, for instance, 5% categories included gas stations, tolls and drugstores. In the past, bonus categories have also included grocery stores, restaurants, Walmart and more. Just keep in mind that the bonus rate only applies to the first $1,500 spent in combined purchases in that quarter’s bonus categories. All other purchases will get you only 1% back.

Other perks you’ll get with the card include a $0 annual fee and a $150 cash back bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.

Plus, you’ll get an introductory 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months of having the card. After that, the variable APR on both goes up to 17.24 - 25.99%. That’s a great time to make a big purchase. If you pay your purchase off in full before the intro period ends, you won’t have to worry about interest and you’ll be getting cash back! Note that if you choose to transfer a balance with the Chase Freedom®, you’ll pay a balance transfer fee of 3% (minimum $5) of the transferred balance.

Read our full review of the Chase Freedom® to learn more.

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Best for bonus cash back: Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

Here’s why: The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card offers a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

The card’s base rewards rate is 1.5% on all purchases. But you’ll you can earn 1.8% back when you pay for qualifying purchases with the card via your mobile wallet during the first year of having the card.

If you pay your phone bill with the card, you’ll also get up to $600 worth of cellphone protection per claim against damage and theft. The card’s annual fee is $0.

Check out our review of the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card if you’re considering the card.

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Best for people new to credit: Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Here’s why: The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a solid choice if you have less-than-stellar credit. Capital One defines that as perhaps having defaulted on a loan in the past five years, or maybe you’ve only recently started building credit.

The card offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase, and you may be able to get a higher credit line after you make your first five monthly payments on time. The card charges a $39 annual fee.

Read our editorial review of the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card to find out if it’s right for you.

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Best for building credit: Discover it® Secured

Here’s why: If you’re brand new to credit or you have a rocky credit history, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card could help you rebuild your credit — while earning cash back along the way.

The card offers 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 spent in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, you’ll earn 1% back on all other purchases. If that’s not enough, the card issuer will match all of the rewards you earn during your first year.

The minimum security deposit is $200, and your credit limit will be equal to your deposit. Depending on how you use the account and other credit accounts, you’ll have a chance each month to get your deposit back, starting eight months after you open the account.

How do secured credit cards work?

The Discover It® Secured Credit Card doesn’t charge an annual fee. Take note though, Discover isn’t as widely accepted abroad as other cards. So if you’re planning an international trip, have a backup payment method just in case.

Read our review of the Discover it® Secured Card to learn more and decide if it’s right for you.


How we picked these cards

As we researched which cards to include on our list, we looked at different types of cash back rewards programs to help you decide which one is best for you. Programs include flat-rate rewards, tiered rewards and rotating rewards.

We also included cards that offer bonus rewards on certain everyday categories, including grocery stores, gas stations and more, to show that the right card for you often depends on how you spend your money.

How to make the most of the best cash back credit cards

Whether this is your first credit card or just your latest, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to get the most bang for your buck. For starters, try to make it a goal to pay off your balance in full and on time each month. By doing this, you can avoid paying interest, which can eat into the value you get out of the card.

Getting a cash back card without an annual fee means that any money you earn will go straight into your pocket, instead of offsetting the annual fee.

Also, if you have a card with bonus rewards on categories like groceries and dining, look for opportunities to maximize that value. Remember to use your card with bonuses to buy your groceries at the grocery store, or think about paying the restaurant bill when you’re out with friends and asking them to pay you back.

Don’t forget: Some cash back cards with rotating categories offer high rewards rates, but only if you remember to activate the cash back offer periodically.

Finally, it’s important to understand that the right credit card for you now might not be the right credit card for you in a few years. As your spending habits, credit and preferences change, take the opportunity to make sure you’re still getting the best value with your current card. If not, consider shopping around for a new one that better suits your needs.