The Best Cash-Back Credit Cards of 2019

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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 find the best ones for your wallet based on their earnings rates, fees, bonuses, and more.

Editors' Picks

Best Overall

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our Rating Among Cash Back Cards
4.8
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 (%) 16.24% - 26.24% variable
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
Rewards Earning Rate 1.5 % Cash Back on every purchase, every day.
Intro Purchase APR 0%
Intro Purchase APR Length (number of months) 15
Foreign transaction fee 0%

Why We Chose This Card

The Quicksilver Rewards card was 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.

Best for Boosting Rewards on Different Purchases

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our Rating Among Cash Back Cards
4.7
Capital One® SavorOne® 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 (%) 16.24% - 26.24% variable
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3% Cash Back on dining, 3% Cash Back on entertainment, 2% Cash Back at grocery stores, and 1% Cash Back on all other purchases.
Intro Purchase APR 0%
Intro Purchase APR Length (number of months) 15

Why We Chose This Card

While a card that earns a flat rate of cash back on everything is simplest, you may be able to earn even more with a card that earns extra points on certain kinds of purchases. The SavorOne lets you earn bonus points on dining and entertainment, so there’s a lot of rewards potential here if fun and food are big budget items for you—especially since there’s no cap on earnings. Plus, you can jumpstart your rewards with the easy-to-earn sign-up bonus (spend $500 in the first three months to earn $150 in cash back).

Best Sign-Up Bonus

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Our Rating Among Cash Back Cards
4.1
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
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 (%) 16.99% - 25.74% variable
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
Intro Purchase APR 0%
Intro Purchase APR Length (number of months) 15
Foreign transaction fee 3%

Why We Chose This Card

Earn 3% back on the first $20,000 you spend in year one–that’s worth $600. You don’t get it all in one lump sum soon after getting the card like you do with traditional credit card sign-up bonuses, but the wait may be worth it because it’s so much higher than the bonuses you’d earn on similar cards. Even better, there’s no annual fee, making this card even more attractive for cash-back seekers.

Best for Less-Than-Perfect Credit

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our Rating Among Cash Back Cards
3.8
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® 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
Fair - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 26.96% variable
Annual Fee $39
Rewards Earning Rate 1.5 % Cash Back on every purchase, every day.
Foreign transaction fee 0%

Why We Chose This Card

Even those with fair credit can enjoy some cash-back rewards on this card. You’ll get a solid 1.5% flat rate, which would otherwise be hard to come by for applicants who don’t have high credit scores. And there’s no limit on earnings.

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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    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.
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What Are Cash-Back Credit Cards?

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%.

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. 
  • Cash-back cards for rewards optimizers: These cards have a tiered rewards structure in which certain types of purchases earn more 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.
  • Cash-back cards with rotating bonus categories: 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 offer an easy way to earn rewards on your everyday purchases, making them a good fit for most consumers. 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.

Average Cash-Back Earning Rate

The amount of cash you can earn varies based on the type of card and whether or not there is an annual fee associated with it. 

In general, it’s standard for flat-rate 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. 

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. 

Ways 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

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

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