3 best cash back debit cards for 2023

Young woman paying for her coffee at counter with her cash back debit cardImage: Young woman paying for her coffee at counter with her cash back debit card

In a Nutshell

Cash back debit cards allow you to earn cash back with every eligible purchase you make. Depending on the card, you can earn up to 2% cash back on select purchases.
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If you don’t want to use a credit card but still want to earn cash back on purchases like some credit cards offer, a cash back debit card could be an option.

You may have heard of cash back credit cards or rewards cards, but what about cash back debit cards? Whether you’re avoiding credit cards to help control your budget or because you’ve had credit issues in the past, a cash back debit card allows you to earn rewards on eligible purchases, much like a cash back credit card.

We’ve picked some of the top cash back debit cards to help you sift through your options. On top of cash back rewards, some of the debit cards we reviewed also offer benefits like earlier access to your direct-deposited paycheck or no ATM fees. Let’s go over our choices.

Best for extra cash back offers: Bank of America Visa debit

Why this card stands out: Merchants provide special, limited-time cash back offers through Bank of America’s AmeriDeals program.

  • Fees — Bank of America charges monthly maintenance fees, but you may be able to get this fee waived if you’re a student or meet qualifying minimum balance or direct deposit requirements.
  • Mobile app — Bank of America customers get access to a powerful mobile app that allows you to set savings goals, receive customized alerts and chat with Erica, Bank of America’s virtual banking assistant.
  • Rewards — Your cash back rewards are credited to your checking, savings or credit account in the next month following your cash back redemption.

Best for unlimited cash back: Serve American Express Prepaid Debit

Why this card stands out: Unlike other cards that require you to have a checking account, the Serve American Express Prepaid Debit card is a prepaid option. You can get a debit card without a checking account and reload it with cash when you want to use it.

  • Cash back — With this card, you can earn unlimited 1% cash back when you spend money in stores or online.
  • Rewards — Instead of having to wait to use your rewards, you can apply your rewards as soon as the same day you earn them — or you can save them for later.
  • Added benefits — With this debit card, you can take advantage of perks like roadside assistance and purchase protection.  

Best for cash back on common categories: Upgrade Rewards Checking

Why this card stands out: Out of all the debit cards we looked at, Upgrade offered the highest cash back rate. You can earn 2% cash back at gas stations, restaurants, convenience and drug stores, and for streaming subscriptions and utility bills — plus unlimited 1% cash back on everything else.

  • No fees — Upgrade doesn’t charge any fees on their rewards checking account. 
  • No minimum balance — Upgrade doesn’t require you to keep a certain amount of money in your  account.
  • Lower rates on loans — If you maintain an Upgrade Rewards checking account, you can potentially get a rate up to 20% lower than you otherwise would on an Upgrade personal loan.

What to consider when looking at cash back debit cards

When shopping for a cash back debit card, you may be focused on finding the highest cash back rate. But here are other factors to consider.

  • Fees — Some cash back debit cards are fee-free, while others charge monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees and other added costs.
  • ATM access — You can use a debit card at the register or to complete purchases online, but you can also use your debit card to withdraw cash at ATMs. Check with the bank to see how large its network of ATMs is, and what ATM fees — if any — it charges.
  • Other tools — Some banks offer customers additional tools and resources, such as access to their credit scores or budgeting tools. 
  • Minimum balance — Minimum balances vary by bank. While some require you to deposit hundreds to open an account, other banks have no minimum balance requirement.

How we picked these cash back debit cards

We researched a number of cash back debit cards available now, focusing on debit cards available to customers nationwide. Cash back debit cards offered by regional banks or credit unions weren’t included. When evaluating cash back debit cards, we looked at their available cash back rates, what purchases qualified for cash back rewards, reward redemption options and added account fees. We also looked for accounts that had very low minimum balance requirements.

About the author: Kat Tretina is a personal finance writer with a master’s degree in communication studies from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Obsessed with her many side hustles, she focuses on helping people pay down their … Read more.