The best cash back cards for fair, good and excellent credit

Smiling woman looking at a laptop with the best cash back credit cards for people with fair, good, and excellent credit Smiling woman looking at a laptop with the best cash back credit cards for people with fair, good, and excellent credit Image:

In a Nutshell

Cash back cards let you earn rewards for every dollar you spend. It may be hard to get approved for the card you want if you don't have excellent credit, but other options may exist.

We generally make money when you get a product (like a credit card or loan) through our platform, but we don’t let that cloud our editorial opinions. Learn more about how we keep this compensation from affecting our editorial views.
Advertiser Disclosure

We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.

Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.

Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.

At a glance: The best cash back cards by VantageScore 3.0 credit score

Fair credit Chase Freedom®
Fair credit N/A
Good credit Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Good credit Citi® Double Cash Card
Excellent credit Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Excellent credit Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Looking for a cash back credit card? In January 2016 and January 2017, we reviewed VantageScore 3.0 credit scores provided by TransUnion for Credit Karma members who were approved for particular cards to get an idea of what credit score ranges were most likely to be approved for each card.

While every creditor may have its own designations for each of these categories, Credit Karma classifies each score range as:

Needs Work: 300-639
Fair: 640–699
Good: 700–749
Excellent: 750 and above

When applying for a loan or credit card, lenders will check your credit. Before applying, it’s important to make sure inaccurate information isn’t harming your credit. On Credit Karma, you can see your VantageScore 3.0 credit scores and credit reports provided by TransUnion and Equifax. But the lender will likely use a different scoring model altogether.

Many different factors could be taken into account when calculating a score, and each model may weigh credit factors differently. Though your scores may vary, they’re all based on information in your credit reports. So focusing on what’s in your reports could help you build your credit health overall.

Keep in mind that even if your scores fit a certain range, it’s not a guarantee you’ll be approved for a card. It’s also up to you to decide whether you should apply. Each new credit application may result in a hard inquiry on your credit reports, which can impact your scores.

Why use cash when you may get rewards every time you swipe?

Cash back credit cards let consumers earn rewards for everyday spending, in some cases giving them as much as 5 or 6 percent back in specific categories.

But it may be hard to get approved for the cards with the best rewards if you do not have excellent credit. Generally, consumers with at least a 750 score may have more credit card choices, while those in the lower 700-range or 600-range may have fewer options.

However, there are more cash back cards available for consumers with not-so-perfect credit than you might think.


The best cash back cards for fair, good and excellent credit

Cards for consumers with fair credit (640-699)

Chase Freedom®

From our partner

Chase Freedom®

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

Credit Karma member data

54 percent of Credit Karma members who were approved for this card in January 2017 had a VantageScore 3.0 credit score (provided by TransUnion) between 640 and 699 , which means it may be a viable option for consumers with less-than-perfect credit.

Why we like it

Chase Freedom® offers 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter, and unlimited 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. The card has a 0 percent intro purchase APR and a 0 percent intro balance transfer APR for the first 15 months from account opening (then a 15.99 to 24.74 percent variable APR), making it a good option if you want to transfer a balance from a higher-interest rate card — as long as you can afford the 5 percent (minimum $5) balance transfer fee.

Chase Freedom® doesn’t have an annual fee, either, which makes it more affordable for those who may not have much wiggle room in their budget.

Watch out for

Categories rotate every three months, requiring legwork if you want to maximize your rewards. Also, you must opt in every quarter to earn 5 percent cash back for the bonus categories — otherwise, you’ll earn 1 percent. Fortunately, you can sign up for text message alerts or email reminders to avoid forgetting about this.

Another drawback? Chase Freedom® has a 3 percent foreign transaction fee, so using the card abroad will cost you.

How to use it

You’ll earn cash back rewards in the form of points. Each $1 in cash back rewards earned is worth 100 points.

If you want to redeem your points for cash back, you can either choose a statement credit or a deposit into a checking or savings account. However, you can also redeem for gift cards, travel and more. Again, note that depending on which redemption method you choose, you may need a minimum number of points to redeem.

Discover it®

Credit Karma member data

50 percent of Credit Karma members who were approved for this card in January of 2016 had a VantageScore 3.0 credit score (provided by TransUnion) between 640 and 699.

Why we like it

Similar to Chase Freedom® cardholders, Discover it® cardholders can earn 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases on rotating categories every quarter, plus unlimited 1 percent cash back on everything else. Bonus categories in the past have included gas, restaurants, wholesale clubs and Amazon.com purchases.

The card also has a 0 percent introductory purchase and balance transfer APR for the first 14 months from account opening, then a 11.99 to 23.99 percent variable APR.

Watch out for

There’s no sign-up bonus, unlike some other rewards cards. And some consumers may prefer a simpler rewards structure. Though Discover’s cash-back calendar makes it easy to track rotating bonus categories, you have to activate the categories to earn rewards.

How to use it

Make sure you sign up for the bonus categories, as these are your best chance to earn substantial rewards.

Also, if you’re interested in the 14-month 0 percent intro APR period for balance transfers, make sure you move quickly – transfers must post to your account by December 10, 2017 in order to qualify for this intro rate. Just be aware that you’ll pay a flat 3 percent balance transfer fee for each transfer.

Cards for consumers with good (700-749) credit

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

From our partner
See Details, Rates & Fees

Credit Karma member data

57 percent of Credit Karma members who were approved for this card in January 2017 had a VantageScore 3.0 credit score (provided by TransUnion) of 700 and higher.

Why we like it

With the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, you can earn 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases a year (then 1 percent), 3 percent on U.S. gas purchases, 3 percent on purchases at select U.S. department stores and 1 percent on all other purchases. The lack of rotating rewards categories also makes the card simpler to use.

Watch out for

The $95 annual fee and 2.7 percent foreign-transaction fee can make the card costly. However, the welcome bonus of a $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months can largely offset or even make up for these fees in the first year.

How to use it

This card is great for everyday spending, especially on purchases at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.

Citi® Double Cash Card

From our partner

Citi® Double Cash Card

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

Credit Karma member data

59 percent of Credit Karma members who were approved for this card in January 2017 had a VantageScore 3.0 credit score (provided by TransUnion) of at least 700.

Why we like it

You can earn cash back twice with Citi® Double Cash Card — 1 percent on purchases and another 1 percent when you pay for those purchases. This card has a simple rewards structure that’s more competitive than comparable cards, such as the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Citi waives the penalty fee for your first late payment but charges up to $35 after that. Rewards are unlimited, and there’s no annual fee, making this card more attractive in the long run.

Watch out for

The 3 percent foreign transaction fee makes spending abroad more expensive. And while Citi® Double Cash Card has a high rewards rate, cards such as Chase Freedom® offer more in certain categories.

How to use it

Since the Citi® Double Cash Card has unlimited rewards, use it as your everyday card to quickly earn more cash back.

Cards for consumers with excellent (750 and above) credit

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

From our partner
See Details, Rates & Fees

Capital One says the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is for consumers with excellent credit, but it doesn’t detail a specific score range. Rather, it broadly defines “excellent credit” as those consumers who haven’t declared bankruptcy, defaulted on a loan or been more than 60 days delinquent on any credit card, medical bill or loan in the last year, plus those who have had a loan or credit card for three or more years with a credit limit above $5,000.

This broad definition may mean it’s actually easier to get approved for the card than you’d think. In fact, only 43% of Credit Karma members who were approved for this card in January 2017 had a VantageScore 3.0 credit score (provided by TransUnion) of 700 or higher. In contrast, 53% had a score between 640 and 699 — a range Credit Karma classifies as “fair.”

Why we like it

There’s a flat rewards structure of 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase — and no cap on how much you can earn. The  Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card has no annual or foreign transaction fees, rewards don’t expire and you can redeem your cash back at any time (there’s no minimum requirement).

Watch out for

The 0 percent introductory purchase APR and 0 percent balance transfer APR are for shorter terms — nine months (then a 13.99 to 23.99 percent variable APR) — so a card with a longer intro APR offer may be better if your main motivation is to transfer and pay off a high balance. Also, each balance transfer comes with a 3 percent fee.

A cash back card that offers more rewards for certain categories, like gas or restaurants, may be a better fit if most of your monthly spending is in these categories.

How to use it

Redeem rewards in the form of a statement credit or check. Redemption options include credits for previous purchases, gift cards and other items available through the Capital One Rewards Center.

The card also comes with a one-time sign-up cash bonus that looks modest at face value ($150), but you only have to spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening to get it.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

From our partner

Credit Karma member data

67 percent of Credit Karma members who were approved for this card in January 2017 had a VantageScore 3.0 credit score (provided by TransUnion) of 700+.

Why we like it

You earn 3 percent cash back on gas and 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for your first $2,500 spent in combined gas/grocery/wholesale club purchases each quarter. For all other purchases, you’ll get 1 percent cash back. There’s a $0 annual fee, and if you spend at least $500 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening, you’ll receive a $150 online cash rewards bonus.

If you’re a new cardholder, you’ll get a 0 percent intro APR for 12 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers (made within the first 60 days), but it increases to a 13.99 to 23.99 percent variable APR after this intro period. The card has a balance transfer fee of 3 percent (minimum $10) of the amount of each transfer.

Watch out for

You may be able to get a card with more rewards. The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, for example, offers 5.5 percent cash back on the first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases you spend each quarter in your two chosen bonus categories. Plus, you also get 2.5 percent cash back on one everyday category you select and 1.5 percent cash back on everything else. Like the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card has a 0 percent introductory APR for 12 billing cycles on balance transfers made within the first 60 days (then a 14.99 to 23.99 variable APR) and no annual fee, though keep in mind that the intro APR applies only to balance transfers — not purchases.

How to use it

Have a big-ticket item you want to purchase in the next year? If you’re a new cardholder, you can take advantage of the limited-time, intro no-interest offer on purchases with the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card. And to maximize your quarterly earnings, you may want to use this card — and not a debit card — for every grocery store trip and fill-up at the gas station.


Bottom line

Whether you have fair, good or excellent credit, do your due diligence before applying for a card. Consumers can fall into the credit score range that the company says the card is for and still be declined. And applying for a card means there will be a hard inquiry, which could lower your credit scores for a certain time period.

Many credit cards report to at least one of the three major credit bureaus, so making consistent on-time payments could help consumers with fair and good credit improve their credit health.

That alone can be a worthwhile benefit of using these cards — the cash back you earn for money you would’ve spent anyway just sweetens the deal.


Editorial Note: The opinions you read here come from our editorial team. While compensation may affect which companies we write about and products we review, our marketing partners don't review, approve or endorse our editorial content. Our content is accurate (to the best of our knowledge) when we initially post it, but we don't guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. You can visit the company's website to get complete details about a product. See an error in an article? Use this form to report it to our editorial team. For questions about your Credit Karma account, please submit a help request to our support team.