Best Cash-Back Credit Cards of November 2019

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

Disclosure: We are committed to recommending the best products for our readers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to products, but this never affects our reviews or recommendations.

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

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best Overall

,

Best for Simple Cash-Back Rewards

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Best With No Annual Fee

Our Rating Among Cash Back Cards
4.5
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit 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 (%) 15.74% - 25.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%

Why We Chose This Card

The Quicksilver Rewards card is our pick because of its uncapped 1.5% flat rate, no annual fee, and decent sign-up bonus (earn $150 if you spend $500 in the first three months you have the card). In fact, we like it so much, it wins our Best Flat-Rate Cash-Back category and Best No-Annual-Fee Cash-Back category. You get additional value with extended warranties, no foreign transaction fees, and travel accident insurance. We also like that you can redeem rewards whenever you want.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Best Sign-Up Bonus

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Best for Earning Different Levels of Cash Back

Our Rating Among Cash Back Cards
4.5
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® 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 (%) 15.49% - 27.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in, gas stations, rideshares, transit, and for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. Earn 1X points on other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%

Why We Chose This Card

Talk about a generous no-annual-fee card. Spend only $3,000 in the first three months after opening your account to earn a 30,000-point bonus worth $300 when redeemed for cash back. You’ll want to use it often after that, too, because the top earning category covers numerous expenses you may already pay for daily. (This card also wins our Best Cash-Back Card With Tiered Rewards category.) If you want to quickly knock out the sign-up bonus requirement by making a big purchase, this card will also give you a year to pay it off interest-free.

Discover it® Secured

Best for Less-Than-Perfect Credit

Our Rating Among Cash Back Cards
4.0
Discover it® Secured
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 (%) 24.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $200
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes

Why We Chose This Card

This is truly a quality secured card. On top of having no annual fee (a rarity for this type of card), 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.

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%.

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 to 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?

How to 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 to 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 four 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