Best Everyday Cash-Back Credit Cards of March 2021

We help you choose the best cash-back card for your lifestyle.

We publish unbiased reviews; our opinions are our own and are not influenced by payments we receive from our advertising partners. Learn about our independent review process and partners in our advertiser disclosure.

The best cash-back credit cards are designed to let you earn a mini refund on every dollar you spend. We sorted through hundreds to help you choose the best ones for your wallet based on their earnings rates, fees, bonuses, and more.

Best Cash-Back Cards

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®

Best Overall

,

Best for Simple Cash-Back Rewards

,

Best Sign-Up Bonus

Our Rating Among Cash-Back Cards
5.0
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®
Current Offer

Earn an Introductory 3% Cash Back on all purchases in the first 12 months from Account opening, up to the first $10,000 in purchases. 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn an introductory 3% cash back on $10,000 in purchases made during the first 12 months of account opening. 1.5% cash back thereafter.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    Why We Chose This Card:

    The HSBC Cash Rewards card features a stellar rewards scheme for a cash-back card:  for one year, you’ll get double cash-back (3%, instead of the normal—but still competitive—1.5%) on every purchase, up to $10,000 spent on purchases. After that, you’ll earn unlimited 1.5% back on everything, so there’s no need to track bonus categories. That's just about as no-fuss as it gets.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Superb bonus that doubles the already-solid rewards earning rate on eligible purchases during the first year
    • 0% APR deals give you a full year to pay off purchases and balance transfers
    • Includes cellphone insurance coverage, which is uncommon

    Cons

    • No short-term new cardholder bonus for those seeking a quick stash of cash back
    • Above-average balance transfer fee can chip away at the cost savings of moving large balances to this card
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • 1.5% Unlimited Cash Back – on all purchases after the intro period
    • No Annual Fee
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

Best for Financing a Large Purchase

,

Best for Balance Transfers

Our Rating Among Cash-Back Cards
5.0
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
Current Offer

Get $150 cash rewards bonus when you spend $500 in purchases in the first 3 months.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.49% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1.5% cash rewards on everyday purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    Why We Chose This Card:

    If you’re looking to pay off a big purchase over time and earn cash back at the same time, it’s hard to do better than this card. You’ll get a full 15 months to pay off any purchases and balance transfers interest-free, and you’ll get 1.5% cash back on each purchase, even after the APR deals end. What’s even better, you can redeem those points for travel or cash, your choice. Plus, if you use your card to make a big purchase of $500 or more within the first three months (or just spend that much overall), you’ll get a $150 bonus.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Unlimited and competitive cash back rewards
    • Decent welcome bonus
    • No annual fee

    Cons

    • Cash back can only be redeemed in $20 or $25 increments
    • APR may be well above average after promotional interest rate offers end
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • $150 cash rewards bonus after $500 in spend during the first 3 months.
    • 1.5% cash rewards on all purchases.
    • During the first 12 months from account opening you'll enjoy 1.8% cash back on eligible digital wallet purchases.
    • Pay your monthly cellular bill with your card and get up to $600 worth of coverage on your cell phone (subject to a $25 deductible) against eligible losses.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Best for Boosting Rewards in Different Categories

Our Rating Among Cash-Back Cards
4.9
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
Current Offer

Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months ($200 cash redemption value).

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.49% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in, gas stations, rideshares, transit, for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals, as well as popular streaming services. Earn 1X points on other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    Why We Chose This Card:

    If you want flexibility in earning cash back, this no-annual-fee card could be perfect for you. The top-earning category covers numerous expenses you may already pay for daily, including gas, dining out or ordering in, streaming services, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, rental cars, and more. There is no cap on the rewards you can earn, either. If you spend $1,000 within the first three months, you’ll get a $200 bonus. If you plan on making a big purchase to quickly knock out that bonus spending requirement and earn a little extra cash, this card also gives you a year to pay it off interest-free.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Generous rewards rate on many common expenses
    • No annual fee

    Cons

    • Longer 0% APR offers on purchases and balance transfers exist
    • Cash back can only be redeemed in $20 or $25 increments
    • If you’ve received the bonus or interest deal before, you may not be eligible again
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – a $200 cash redemption value.
    • Earn 3 points on the following: eating out/ordering in, gas, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, homestays, car rentals, and popular streaming services.
    • $0 annual fee.
    • No limit to points you can earn, and points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
    • Cell phone protection offers insurance against your cell phone from damage or theft.

Discover it® Business Card

Best for Businesses

Our Rating Among Cash-Back Cards
4.8
Discover it® Business Card
Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 12.99% - 20.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1.5% cash back on every dollar spent on all purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Cash Advance APR (%) 24.99%
Cash Advance Fee Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    Why We Chose This Card:

    Between an easy-to-follow rewards program and a substantial new-cardholder bonus, this card is our pick for small-business owners looking to earn cash back on day-to-day expenses. You’ll get unlimited 1.5% back on everything, no purchase categories or earning caps to keep tabs on. And true to Discover form, new cardholders will also get all the cash back earned their first year doubled as an atypical—but potentially high-value—bonus. Sure, you can earn more rewards on some business purchase categories with other cards, but this is a great card for a solid baseline rewards rate on everything you purchase.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Welcome bonus matches all cash back earned at the end of your first year, effectively giving you 3% cash back that first year
    • New cardholders get 12 months interest-free on purchases—an offer as good or better than other business cards
    • No annual fee

    Cons

    • Cash-back rate is standard, nothing better
    • No common perks, like auto rental insurance or coverage on damaged purchases
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases.
    • Only Discover automatically matches ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year.
    • Use your card to pay for airfare, hotels, rideshares & more with no blackout dates. Then easily redeem miles as a statement credit for travel or get cash.
    • No annual fee.

Citi® Double Cash Card

Best Earning Rate

Our Rating Among Cash-Back Cards
4.4
Citi® Double Cash Card
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2% unlimited cash back on every purchase you make: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    Why We Chose This Card:

    This card offers 2% back on all purchases, which is stellar considering most cash-back cards offer 1% to 1.5% back. There’s just one quirk to note, which we like since it encourages paying off your card each month: You’ll get 1% back when you make a purchase, and the next 1% back when you pay it off. While 2% back isn’t the absolute highest earning rate you can find on a cash-back rewards card (even compared to others on this list), this is still a stand-out option since you don’t have to keep tabs on earning limits or bonus categories. As long as you use this card and pay it off, you’ll get that top-notch 2% return on everything you buy.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • High rewards earning rate among flat-rate cash-back cards
    • Generous introductory 0% APR balance transfer deal
    • No annual fee

    Cons

    • Must pay off purchases to earn full 2% cash back
    • Few perks such as extended warranties
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Earn cash back twice. Earn an unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, with an additional 1% when you pay for those purchases.
    • No spending categories, rewards caps, or annual fee.
    • Enjoy a 0% introductory APR for 18 months on balance transfers. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99% based on your creditworthiness.
    • Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening, and a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of each transfer (whichever is greater) will apply.

Discover it® Secured

Best for Less-Than-Perfect Credit

Our Rating Among Cash-Back Cards
4.4
Discover it® Secured
Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $200
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
Pay deposit in installments No
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    Why We Chose This Card:

    This is truly a quality secured card. On top of having no annual fee, the Discover it Secured offers cash-back rewards on each purchase, and Discover will match your earnings at the end of the first year. There are incentives to improve your credit behavior, too. Eight months after you get the card, Discover will begin reviewing your account for a possible upgrade to the unsecured version.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Ability to earn cash-back rewards while building credit
    • Responsible use can lead to automatic unsecured card upgrade
    • No foreign transaction fee
    • Cash-back match as a first year bonus

    Cons

    • Low cap on highest rewards earning rate
    • Mediocre maximum credit limit compared to other secured cards
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • No annual fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
    • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
    • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if Discover can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
    • Get 100% U.S.-based customer service and get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO Credit Score.

Discover it® Cash Back

Best Sign-Up Bonus

Our Rating Among Cash-Back Cards
4.1
Discover it® Cash Back
Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 14 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    Why We Chose This Card:

    This card’s sign-up bonus isn’t like what you get from other cash-back cards, which tend to offer a set bonus of $150-200 if you can spend a certain amount in the first three months. Rather, Discover matches the rewards you earn your first year. The Balance estimates the card’s bonus is worth at least $376 based on average household spending, which is higher than what you can earn with most cash-back cards. You can boost that bonus even higher if you take full advantage of the card’s quarterly 5% cash-back rates for select spending categories.

  • PROS & CONS

    Pros

    • Excellent rewards-earning rate for quarterly bonus categories
    • Great welcome bonus matches all cash back earned at the end of your first year
    • Rewards can be redeemed any time for any amount

    Cons

    • Limits on how much cash back you can earn in bonus categories each quarter
    • Enrollment required to earn extra cash back each quarter
    • No travel insurance, extended warranties, or other perks
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
    • Earn 5% cash back on your everday purchases at different places each quarter, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
    • No annual fee.
    • See if you're pre-approved – with no harm to your credit to check.
Find Your Credit Card Match We believe the rate at which you earn rewards, as well as the overall cost of the card, are the most important factors to consider when choosing a rewards card, but we know you might have different priorities. See what suits you best.
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How Do Cash-Back Credit Cards Work?

Cash-back credit cards allow you to earn back a percentage of your eligible purchases. Every time you buy something, your “cash back” will accumulate in your account at the specified earnings rate. So if you have a cash-back card that earns 2% back on all purchases, and you spend $100 per week, you will earn $2 a week, or $8 a month. 

But like any financial product, cash-back credit cards have their advantages and disadvantages:

Pros
  • May have a sign-up bonus

  • Simple rewards that are easy to understand

  • Many cash-back cards don't have annual fees

Cons
  • Limited redemption options

  • Higher APRs than non-rewards cards

  • Some cards cap your earnings

Pros Explained

  • May have a sign-up bonus: Many cash-back cards give you a lump sum of cash if you spend a certain amount on the card within the first three months of card opening. For instance, you might earn $150 for spending $500 in the first 90 days. Some even offer to match your cash-back earnings for the whole first year you have the card.
  • Simple rewards that are easy to understand: With cash-back rewards, pretty much every point you earn is worth a penny in cash. That’s a lot less complicated than many travel rewards credit cards.
  • Most cash-back cards don’t have annual fees: That means you don’t have to make up for a fee you shell out every year. 

Cons Explained

  • Limited redemption options: Most cards don’t let you redeem your points for free flights or hotel nights, which can be worth more than the one-penny-per-point value you get with cash back. 
  • Higher APRs than non-rewards cards: Whenever you’re earning cash back or rewards, expect the interest rate to be slightly higher than what you’d find on a non-rewards card. Ideally, you will pay your bill in full each month and this con won’t be relevant.
  • Some cards cap your earnings: For example, you may earn 3% on grocery purchases, but only for the first $3,000 spent each year. For each dollar you spend over $3,000, you’ll only earn 1%.

What Are the 3 Types of Cash-Back Cards?

  • Flat-rate cash-back cards: These cards offer one earnings rate—for example, 2% cash back—on all purchases. There are no bonus-earning categories to keep up with. 
  • Tiered cash-back cards: These cards let you earn more for certain types of purchases than others. For example, 3% cash back on restaurant purchases, 2% on gas, and 1% on other purchases. These cards can be a good way of earning extra if you spend a lot in the bonus categories.
  • Rotating category cash-back cards: These cards earn a higher rate in specific categories that change each quarter. So you might get 5% at department stores one quarter, and 5% on groceries the next. But you have to sign up for the bonus categories each quarter, so these cards require a little extra attention.

Is a Cash-Back Card Right for You?

Cash-back cards are a good fit for most consumers because they offer an easy way to earn rewards on your everyday purchases. If you’re deciding between a cash-back card and a travel rewards card, the answer depends on your spending habits and your goal. However, there’s no rule that says you can’t have both. 

Tip

Even frequent travelers can use cash-back cards as a secondary piece of plastic. Use your travel card for travel purchases and your cash-back card for everything else.

How Much Can You Earn With a Cash-Back Card?

In general, it’s standard for flat-rate cash-back cards to offer 1.5% to 2% back. For tiered cards, the top tier is typically 3% to 4%, but the tier can be up to 6% on cards that charge an annual fee. The percentages you earn step down from there. Rotating-bonus card categories usually top out at 5% back. 

To figure out how much you might earn, think about how much you spend in a particular category and multiply it by the cash-back rate. For instance, if you spend $1,000 a month on groceries and a card offers 3% cash back at supermarkets, you could earn roughly $30 a month.

How Do You Pick a Good Cash-Back Card?

Choosing a good cash-back card often comes down to knowing your personal spending habits and how much attention you want to devote to reward-earning structures. Check out our guide to choosing the best type of cash-back card to learn more.

Important

If you’re considering a cash-back card with an annual fee, calculate how much you could earn with that card annually. You’ll want to not only make up for the fee, but also out-earn what you’d get from a no-annual-fee card. 

Here are some other things to think about when you’re cash-back card shopping:

  • Will I be able to qualify for the card?
  • Does the card have an attractive (and achievable) sign-up bonus?
  • Are there bonus earnings in categories that I routinely spend a lot of money on?
  • Are there any caps on earnings, fees to watch out for, or other drawbacks?

Keep those questions in mind as you decide which credit card to apply for. Again, here is our list of the best cash back credit cards:

Best Everyday Cash-Back Credit Cards
Credit Card Category Annual Fee
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard Best Overall $0
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard Best for Simple Cash-Back Rewards $0
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card Best for Financing a Large Purchase $0
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card Best for Balance Transfers $0
Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card Best for Boosting Rewards in Different Categories $0
Discover it Business Card Best for Businesses $0
Citi Double Cash Card Best Earning Rate $0
Discover it Secured Best for Less-Than-Perfect Credit $0
Discover it Cash Back Best Sign-Up Bonus $0

How Can You Make the Most of Cash-Back Cards?

Other than ensuring you meet the earning requirements for any offered sign-up bonus, and regularly using the card for any bonus category purchases, the main way to optimize cash-back cards is to pay your bill in full each month. If you don’t do this, your interest charges will quickly outweigh any cash back earned.

Tip

If you know you’ll run a balance, you’re better off looking for a low-interest credit card. 

How Do You Redeem Cash Back?

Even with a reward as simple as cash back, there are a few different ways for you to get your payout:  

  • Statement credit: Your earnings will offset charges already made on your card. Some cards will apply earnings automatically or allow you to set redemption triggers, such as redeeming every time your earnings hit $25, or once a quarter. 
  • Check: Some people just want to have the cash. Get your earnings in a check that’s mailed to you. 
  • Bank account transfer: It’s sometimes possible to deposit earnings directly in a checking or savings account.
  • Gift cards: Though this isn’t technically cash, some cards let you redeem your cash back for a variety of gift cards. The value of the gift cards varies—some gift cards are worth more than the value of your cash back, some are worth less, so be sure to check.
  • Pay with points at Amazon: An increasing number of cash-back cards allow you to use points directly at the Amazon.com checkout, to partially or fully pay for your purchase.

Methodology

We collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances. We do this because it's our mission to give you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews.

Our reviews are always impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive.

About This List

We reviewed more than 40 cash-back credit cards to find the very best in the category, and these cards made the cut for this list.

What We Score

Cards with high rewards-earning rates, low annual fees, few fees overall, sign-up bonuses, flexible rewards programs, and better benefits receive better scores. For more information about how The Balance evaluates credit cards, see our full credit card review methodology