3 no-hassle cash back credit cards

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In a Nutshell

Earning cash back for your purchases doesn’t have to be complicated. Cash back credit cards like Chase Freedom Unlimited® come without complex spending categories and annual fees.

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With the right cash back credit card, earning cash rewards for your purchases can be simple and easy.

There’s a reason cash back credit cards are so popular: They make it easy to earn money for your everyday purchases. At least, some of them do. Others may restrict accelerated cash back earnings to certain categories — like gas or groceries — or cap those earnings at a certain dollar amount each quarter.

The thing is, not everyone is willing to weed through lists of changing category restrictions and spending limits to find a card that fits our needs. Some of us just want a simple, no-hassle cash back credit card that doesn’t make our head spin.

If that sounds like you, start by considering these three options. Each comes with no annual fee, no category restrictions and no cap on the amount of cash back you can earn.

At a glance: 3 no-hassle cash back credit cards

Chase Freedom Unlimited® 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase
Citi® Double Cash Card 1 percent cash back on all eligible purchases and an additional 1 percent as you pay off purchases
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

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Chase Freedom Unlimited®

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

How simple is it?

Very simple. This no-frills cash back credit card earns 1.5 percent cash back on every single purchase.

Better yet, there’s no limit on your cash back earnings and no minimum amount required to redeem your cash back.

What to watch out for

If you’re looking to transfer high-interest debt to a single credit card by balance transfer, Chase Freedom Unlimited® may not be the best choice. This card charges a 5 percent (minimum $5) fee for balance transfers. And even though it offers 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, the variable APR jumps up to 15.99 to 24.74 percent after that.

This card also has a foreign transaction fee of 3 percent, so it’s not the best option for the international traveler.

How to use it

This card offers an impressive sign-up bonus: You’ll earn $150 after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

You’ll definitely want to qualify for this bonus if you can. Just be sure to keep your budget in mind.

Bola Onada Sokunbi, Certified Financial Education Instructor and Founder/CEO of Clever Girl Finance, offers a word of caution for cash back card users.

“Resist the temptation to overspend just to get a cash back reward,” she says. This is especially true when it comes to the sign-up bonus, which may require you to spend more than you normally would in a three-month span.

Instead, Sokunbi advises trying to plan your spending according to your budget. “This way,” she says, “you know exactly how much you can afford to spend in order to pay your balance off in full [and on time] each month.”

Citi® Double Cash Card

From our partner

Citi® Double Cash Card

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

How simple is it?

Pretty simple in practice, but the way you earn cash back can be a little confusing.

With Citi® Double Cash Card, you’ll have not one but two chances to earn cash back — 1 percent when you make purchases, and another 1 percent when you pay off those purchases. That gives you an incentive to pay off your balance sooner, which is a good financial habit to build.

What to watch out for

Citi® Double Cash Card offers a 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers. The intro period stretches for 18 months, after which the variable APR converts to 14.49 to 24.49 percent.

That’s a longer intro period than both Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, but you’ll have to pay a 3 percent (minimum $5) fee for each balance transfer. Also, balance transfers must be completed within four months of account opening.

Keep in mind, the 0 percent intro APR only applies to balance transfers, meaning that all of your purchases will still be subject to a variable APR of 14.49 to 24.49 percent right away.

Citi® Double Cash Card also has a 3 percent foreign transaction fee, so it isn’t ideal for spending abroad.

How to use it

The sooner you pay off your account balance, the sooner you’ll see your rewards.

You’ll receive your additional 1 percent cash back as you pay off your purchases as long as you pay the minimum amount due each month. But, as with any credit card, paying more than just the minimum due is the best approach.

“Pay your balance in full and on time each month […] or you could end up paying dearly for it by the way of interest fees later on,” says Sokunbi.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

From our partner
See Details, Rates & Fees

How simple is it?

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card rivals Chase Freedom Unlimited® in terms of sheer, beautiful simplicity.

You’ll earn unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase, with no spending categories to keep track of.

Better yet, this is the only card of the trio with no foreign transaction fees, making it a hassle-free cash back option even when you’re traveling abroad.

What to watch out for

This card offers 0 percent APR on purchases, but only for 9 months (it then jumps to a 13.99 to 23.99 percent variable APR).

You’ll also want to watch out for a balance transfer fee of 3 percent. That’s lower than the 5 percent (minimum $5) fee you’ll pay with Chase Freedom Unlimited®, but it could still add up to a significant amount of money depending on the amount you’re planning to transfer.

How to use it

Like Chase Freedom Unlimited®, this card comes with a nice sign-up bonus: You’ll earn $150 if you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. Just be sure you don’t stretch your budget too much to qualify for that bonus.

Using this card while traveling can earn you additional benefits.

When booking travel accommodations, look for hotels that are part of the Visa Signature® Luxury Hotel Collection in order to cash in on the upgrades and savings you get from having a Visa Signature® card.

While you may want to use another cash back card to earn more for everyday purchases at home, international travelers should consider using this card while abroad, since there are no foreign transaction fees.

Read our full review of this card

Bottom line

Cash back credit cards can be a great tool to help you earn some extra cash with minimal effort. Who wouldn’t want to earn cash back for doing something they already do nearly every day?

With that said, choosing the right cash back card matters. Some cash back cards come with complicated spending categories and restrictions. These can still offer great value, but they may make earning rewards feel like too much of a hassle.

If tracking rewards doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, try to find a cash back card that comes with no earning limits or category restrictions. Most of the time, these cards will also come with no annual fee.

If you’re someone looking for simplicity, we recommend a flat-rate cash back card like Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Citi® Double Cash Card or Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. This cash back trio lets you skip the hassle and just focus on earning your rewards.

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