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Best Cash Back Credit Cards February 2024

Not all cash back credit cards are created equal. From varying welcome bonuses to differing earning rates to ongoing benefits, finding the perfect cash back credit card for you is more intricate than you might think.

TIME Stamped shortens the process. We’ve compared these elements on all cash back credit cards and distilled your options down to each major cardholder profile. Whether the lion’s share of your spending is on dining, groceries, gas, or online shopping, we’ve identified the best credit cards for your style.

Best cash back credit cards compared 2024

bonus_miles_full plus 5% back on all purchases (up to $2,500 in spending) for three months after account opening

Our top recommendations for the best cash back credit card

Best for no annual fee: card_name

card_name

Welcome bonus. bonus_miles_full

Why we chose it. The card_name is one of the most versatile cash back credit cards in the industry for multiple reasons. The fact that it doesn’t charge an annual fee is an additional plus.

First, there are the card’s earning rates. You’ll earn 5% back in rotating bonus categories (for up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1%) after you activate. That amounts to a potential bonus of $300 per year. The bonus categories for Q3 (July 1 through Sept. 30, 2023) are gas stations, EV charging, and select live entertainment.

You’ll also earn:

  • 5% back for travel reserved through the Chase Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3% back for dining and drugstore purchases
  • 1% back on all other purchases

Even better, the card technically earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® points—not cash back. You’re free to redeem your rewards for cash at a rate of 1 cent per point, but if you also hold an annual fee-incurring Ultimate Rewards card, such as the card_name, you can convert those rewards into airline miles and hotel points with Chase transfer partners for free travel. This potentially gives you far more value than just 1 cent per point.

The card_name is a great way to accrue travel rewards if you’re not quite ready to spring for a credit card with an annual fee. Then, when you’re ready to open a travel credit card such as the card_name, you’ll already have a stockpile of points at your disposal.

Best for a large sign-up bonus: card_name

card_name

Welcome bonus. bonus_miles_full

Why we chose it. You won’t find a larger welcome bonus from a no-annual-fee credit card than the card_name. It’s only rivaled by its sibling, the card_name (which we’ll touch on later). In fact, this bonus is even larger than most cards that charge annual fees.

This card also earns:

  • 5% cash back (5x points) at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services
  • 2% cash back (2x points) at gas stations and restaurants
  • 1% cash back (1x points) on all other purchases

For the 5% and 2% categories, you’ll only earn bonus cash on up to $25,000 in combined spending, then 1%.

Instead of earning cash, this card actually earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which can be redeemed for 1 cent each. Or, if you have a card such as the card_name, Chase card_name, or card_name, you can transfer those points to travel partners, such as Hyatt and Southwest, for free travel.

Best for dining: card_name

card_name

Welcome bonus. bonus_miles_full

Why we chose it. The card_name was engineered for food purchases. Not only will you receive a whopping 4% back at restaurants (and even some food delivery services), but you’ll get 3% back at grocery stores for when you prefer to make your own culinary masterpiece. You’ll even receive 10% back on Uber Eats (and Uber) purchases—and free Uber One membership—through Nov. 14, 2024.

The card is no slouch in other common categories as well:

  • 8% back via Capital One Entertainment
  • 5% back for hotels and car rentals reserved through Capital One Travel
  • 4% back on entertainment
  • 4% back on popular streaming services
  • 1% back on all other purchases

Just remember the card’s annual_fees annual fee. You may be earning significantly more cash back for your everyday purchases than other no-annual-fee credit cards, but the annual fee may negate a lot of your cash back.

Also of note is that this card gives you access to Capital One Dining, a platform that helps you to book reservations at restaurants that are otherwise extremely difficult to get.

Even though this card earns cash back, you can turn your rewards into Capital One miles if you also have a Capital One miles-earning card, such as the card_name. From there you can transfer them to airline and hotel partners for free travel.

Best for business: card_name

card_name

Welcome bonus. bonus_miles_full

Why we chose it. The card_name is the best small business cash back credit card for most businesses because it earns a flat 1.5% back for all purchases. That makes it useful for all types of businesses instead of just those with spending that falls into what are often niche bonus categories.

This card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points—not cash. You can redeem your points for 1 cent each. Or, if you also hold an Ultimate Rewards–earning card, such as the card_name, you can turn your rewards into airline miles or hotel points for free travel.

Because this is a small business credit card, you’ll need to own a small business to qualify. But even a side gig as simple as delivering food with DoorDash, freelance writing, or tutoring is considered a small business.

Best for utility bills: card_name

card_name

Welcome bonus. bonus_miles_full

Why we chose it. The card_name is a choose-your-own-adventure card. Each quarter you can select two eligible categories with which you want to earn bonus rewards. Eligible categories are:

  • Cellphone providers
  • Department stores
  • Electronic stores
  • Fast food
  • Furniture stores
  • Ground transportation
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Home utilities
  • Movie theaters
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Select clothing stores
  • TV/internet/streaming purchases

The option to earn up to 5% bonus rewards on home utilities is extremely rare among rewards credit cards.

The card also earns unlimited 5% back for any travel reserved through the U.S. Bank Rewards Travel Center. You’ll earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. Additionally, you can choose one category for which you’d like to earn 2% back: gas/EV charging stations, grocery stores (including delivery), or restaurants.

Best for excellent credit: card_name

card_name

Welcome bonus. bonus_miles_full

Why we chose it. The card_name is, per Capital One, only for those with excellent credit. The card earns:

  • 5% back on hotels and car rentals reserved through Capital One Travel
  • 1.5% back on all other eligible purchases

No personal Capital One–branded cash back credit card offers a higher flat rate for all spending. It’s a great option if your spending doesn’t conform to standard bonus categories.

Similar to other Capital One credit cards, you can turn these rewards into Capital One miles. All you need is a Capital One miles-earning card, such as the card_name, and you’re free to transfer your rewards to partners such as Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways, Wyndham, and more.

This card also offers a few travel and purchase insurances, no foreign transaction fees, and up to six months of free Uber One membership (in the form of statement credits) through Nov. 14, 2024.

Best for no foreign transaction fees: card_name

card_name

Welcome bonus. bonus_miles_full

Why we chose it. Foreign transaction fees are normally incurred when you use a credit card for a purchase that is processed outside the U.S. Whether you’re hopping around South America or reserving a boutique European hotel room online from your sofa in Oklahoma, you could be subject to this fee (often between 3% and 5% of your total purchase).

When you spend internationally with the card_name, you won’t pay foreign transaction fees. And because of its return rate, it’s a card worth using. You’ll earn:

  • 10% back on Uber and Uber Eats purchases
  • 8% back for Capital One Entertainment purchases
  • 5% back on hotels and rental cars reserved through Capital One Travel
  • 3% back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services, and grocery store purchases (except for Walmart and Target)
  • 1% back on all other eligible purchases

As you can see, this is a great companion when traveling abroad. You’ll also receive statement credits to offset Uber One membership costs through Nov. 14, 2024.

The card_name earns cash back that can be converted into travel rewards if you also hold a Capital One miles-earning card. Examples include the card_name and the card_name. This uncorks the true value of your rewards by allowing you to transfer points to airlines and hotels for free travel.

Best for groceries: card_name*

card_name

Welcome bonus. bonus_miles_full

Why we chose it. The annual_fees annual fee card_name vanquishes all challengers in a couple of popular spending categories. Here’s what you’ll get.

  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in spending per year, then 1% (Amex does not consider superstores, convenience stores, warehouse clubs, and meal-kit delivery services to be supermarkets)
  • 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% back at U.S. gas stations (1% back at superstores, supermarkets, and warehouse clubs that sell gasoline)
  • 3% back on transit
  • 1% back on all other purchases

Earning 6% back on groceries makes this one of the best Amex credit cards for families. With a $6,000 cap, your potential bonus earnings amount to $360 per year. Even a household of moderate size should be able to achieve that by spending $500 per month on groceries.

This card even comes with two monthly statement credits:

  • $7 credit to reimburse a subscription to the Disney Bundle costing $12.99 or more per month (enrollment required).
  • $10 credit to offset Equinox+, an online workout subscription that costs $40 per month (enrollment required).

You can also take advantage of a intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration (then reg_apr,reg_apr_type).

Best for 5% cash back: card_name

card_name

Welcome bonus. bonus_miles_full

Why we chose it. The card_name is hands down the easiest to use 5% back credit card on the market. Here’s how it works.

You’ll get 5% cash back on up to $500 spent in your top spending category per billing cycle, then 1%. Eligible spending categories are:

  • Drugstores
  • Fitness clubs
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Live entertainment
  • Restaurants
  • Select streaming services (including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, YouTube TV, and many more)
  • Select transit
  • Select travel

You’ll earn 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.

This takes much of the strategy away from earning a boatload of credit card rewards. Simply spend as you normally would, and whichever above category you use the most will receive a 5% bonus. Five hundred dollars in eligible spending per billing cycle means you could earn a potential $300 back each year with virtually no effort.

This card earns Citi ThankYou points, which you can redeem for 1 cent each. If you’ve got either the card_name or the card_name (not available to new applicants), you can move those points to airline and hotel partners for free travel—and potentially get a value far greater than 1 cent per point.

Best for paying for a wedding: card_name

card_name

Welcome bonus. There is currently no publicly available offer for the card_name.

Why we chose it. The best card for weddings is the card_name. There are two ways you can use it to reward yourself for wedding costs.

First, the card earns 1% back when you make a purchase and 1% back when you pay off that purchase. Wedding expenses are usually wide-ranging, with very few falling into common bonus categories. The card_name will effectively earn 2% back on everything. If you funnel your wedding expenses through this card, you’re guaranteed to get a respectable return.

Second, the card offers balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_duration (followed by an reg_apr,reg_apr_type rate). This is notably more generous than other cash back credit cards.

For those planning a wedding, a wise strategy is to open a couple of credit cards offering juicy welcome bonuses. You could quite easily earn more than $1,000 in rewards. You could then transfer those balances to the card_name and have 18 months to pay off your expenses before any interest kicks in.

Best for gas: card_name

Welcome bonus. The card_name doesn’t offer a public intro offer. However, you can inquire in-store to see whether you are targeted for a bonus.

Why we chose it. The card_name offers a high return for filling up your vehicle. You’ll earn 4% back on gas and EV charging stations worldwide (up to $7,000 in spending per year, then 1%).

While you don’t have to fill up at Costco to get a 4% return, there are some stipulations: Any gas purchased at a supermarket, superstore, convenience store, or warehouse club (with the exception of Costco) will only earn 1% back.

This card also earns:

  • 3% cash back with restaurants
  • 3% cash back for eligible travel purchases worldwide
  • 2% cash back for all other purchases from Costco (in-store and online)
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases

The big annoyance with this card’s cash back is that you can only redeem it once per year after your February billing statement closes. You can use it for cash or for merchandise at Costco warehouses in the U.S. In other words, you can’t redeem your cash back throughout the year as you can with other cash back cards.

Best for online shopping: card_name

card_name

Welcome bonus. bonus_miles_full plus 5% cash back on all purchases (up to $2,500 in spending) for three months after account opening.

Why we chose it. There are a handful of credit cards that specifically pair bonus spending with online retailers. However, the fact that the card_name offers 5% back with Amazon—a place where you can get just about anything—makes this card the superior choice for most online shoppers. Here’s a full rundown of what the card earns.

  • 5% back at Amazon and Whole Foods
  • 5% back on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal
  • 2% back with restaurants, gas stations, and local transit and commuting (such as Uber)
  • 1% back on all other eligible purchases

This card also unlocks a limited-time 10% return (and sometimes more) for select products.

There’s one big caveat with the Prime Visa card: While it technically doesn’t charge an annual fee, you’ll only receive 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods if you’ve got Amazon Prime, which costs $139 per year. If you aren’t a Prime member, you’ll earn 3% in these categories.

Our methodology

We examined all cash back credit cards to determine which is the best fit for multiple different lifestyles. The features we compared were:

  • Annual fee. Does the card charge an annual fee? Are its benefits and earning rate worth the money?
  • Earning rate. How accessible are the card’s bonus categories? Are the return rates more impressive than competing cash back credit cards?
  • Ongoing benefits. Do the cards have benefits that can effectively put cash back in the pocket of the average cardholder?
  • Welcome bonus. Does the card come with an intro offer that’s worth mentioning?
  • Flexibility. Can you turn your cash back into travel rewards if you desire?

All cash back credit cards on this list strongly exhibit most (if not all) of these features.

Who should be applying for a cash back credit card

Cash back is the most flexible rewards currency around. If your goal is to simply make all your purchases a little cheaper, cash back is the way to go.

If you have aspirations to travel, however, cash back is far from the optimal choice. Travel rewards often take strategy to maximize, but the potential value is exponentially higher than cash back.

Fortunately, several cash back credit cards earn rewards that can be turned into travel rewards simply by holding a complementary travel credit card. Using one of these credit cards gives you the ultimate freedom, as you can choose between cash back and travel.

How to compare cash back credit cards and select the right card for you

There are a few details you should consider before opening a cash back credit card.

Spending habits

Identify which types of purchases you most often make. If you’re a road warrior, you may favor a credit card that pays a bonus for gas, restaurant, and hotel purchases. If you own a small business, you may want a credit card that offers bonus points for things such as shipping and online advertising.

Optimizing your wallet to match your spending habits can lead to many hundreds of dollars in cash back each year—from purchases you would have made anyway.

Annual fee

If you’re enticed by the earning rates of an annual fee-incurring cash back credit card, do some quick speculative math to decide if your spending habits will offset that fee and still come out ahead of a no-annual-fee option. For example:

  • The $0 annual fee Capital One SavorOne earns 3% back on groceries.
  • The $95 annual fee Amex Blue Cash Preferred earns 6% back on groceries.

To warrant opening the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, you’ll have to spend $3,167 before your earnings overtake the Capital One SavorOne.

Future goals

Whether or not travel is in your sights at the moment, do you foresee a time when you’ll want to begin collecting travel rewards? If so, you should open a credit card that earns cash back that can be turned into airline miles or hotel points, such as the Chase Freedom Flex or Citi Custom Cash.

Welcome bonus

All things being equal, grab the credit card with the biggest welcome bonus. In fact, if a cash back credit card is offering a limited-time increased bonus that’s too good to be true, it could be worthwhile to open it—even if you’re skeptical of its ongoing value for your situation. If it turns out not to be the card for you, simply throw it in your sock drawer and find a better one (or cancel it after one year if it comes with an annual fee).

Alternatives to cash back credit cards

Cash back vs travel

Collecting travel rewards, such as airline miles and hotel points, is a two-edged sword. The potential value you can get from them is sky high (sometimes 4+ cents per point).

Still, if there’s no award space on the flight you want to take or all the standard rooms at the hotel in which you want to stay are sold out, your points could be next to worthless. You can’t redeem them for cash, so you’ll be stuck with these travel currencies until you can sync up your vacation with airline and hotel availability.

Cash back vs rewards

Bank-issued travel rewards, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and Capital One miles, are much more useful than airline miles or hotel points for a few reasons.

First, you can transfer them to many different airline and hotel programs. If you can’t find award availability with one airline, you still have plenty of options to check.

Second, you can often redeem them at a reasonable rate through the bank’s proprietary online travel portal for airfare, hotel stays, rental cars, and more. This is a foolproof way to reserve travel for free.

Finally, you can choose to cash them out. The value you’ll get often isn’t the best, but at least it’s an option.

Cash back vs 0% intro APR

If you have a large upcoming purchase or a balance hanging on a credit card with high interest, a 0% intro APR credit card may put significantly more money back in your pocket than simply earning cash back on your purchases.

TIME Stamp: Choosing the right cash back credit card can translate into hundreds of dollars per year

Cash back credit cards are an easy way to effectively receive a rebate on everything you purchase. They can be easy or complicated—from a card that earns a flat rate on every purchase to rotating bonus categories that change each quarter.

For rates and fees of the card_name, please visit this URL.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What are the pros and cons of cash back credit cards?

The biggest pro is flexibility. You can use the cash to pay your rent, fill up your gas tank, etc. These are things you can’t do with airline miles and hotel points. One con is that the value of the cash you get back is fixed. There’s no way to get outsized value for it, as you can with travel rewards. $1 in cash will always be worth $1.

Another con is that these cards often have a higher APR than credit cards that don’t offer rewards.

What are the different types of credit cards?

There are many types of cash back credit cards catering to different spending habits. Think dining, groceries, gas stations, small businesses, online shopping, etc.

Furthermore, cash back credit cards can be categorized by earning rate. For example, some cards earn a flat rate for every purchase, some offer bonus categories for specific purchases, some provide rotating bonus categories that change every three months, and some let you select your own bonus categories.

What causes interest rates on credit cards to change?

Interest rates follow the behavior of the Federal Reserve. If the Fed lowers interest rates, your variable APR should also decrease. Conversely, if it increases rates, your interest will also increase.

Is cash back from a credit card taxable?

Cash back from a credit card is generally not taxable, as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers it to be a rebate instead of income. However, if you’ve earned cash back from referring friends to a credit card, you will have to claim that on your taxes.

Does cash back expire?

Cash back should not expire as long as you keep your card open and in good standing. Your account may also be required to experience activity every year or two (for example, earning or redeeming cash back). Still, it’s wise to read your card’s specific terms just to be safe.


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