Cash back credit cards are a great and easy way to earn extra money just by paying with your credit card. However, determining the best cash back card for your particular spending habits can be an almost impossible task due to the complexity of most card calculations. Extra earnings for common category purchases like gas or groceries, quarterly rotating extra cash-back categories, and annual earnings limits are just a few of the obstacles card issuers throw at you. But rest easy — we've done the heavy lifting to help you figure out exactly which cash back card is best for you.


CUSTOMIZE THE CASH BACK TOTALS TO YOU:

Click the icon below and see the savings of each card based on your specific monthly expenses


Our Review Summary: A summary of the cash back values in our Cash Back Credit Card Analysis appears in the chart below. We used actual user purchase amounts to determine each card's rankings (How we calculated the earnings). To find the best card for your own spending style, fill out the Personalized Cash Back Calculator to the right.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Cash Back By Year
Year 1*
Year 2*
Total*
Click to Customize
Totals to You
$672
$286
$386

Bottom Line:
Up to 6% cash back on everyday spending with unlimited cash back; 100 Reward Dollars bonus; 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*
Savings Over 2 years

$100
$0
$100
Bonus

$722
$361
$361
Reward from spending

$150
$75
$75
Annual Fee

$672
$286
$386
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • Get 100 Reward Dollars, redeemable for a $100 statement credit, after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.
  • Earn Cash Back: 6% US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 3% US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Plus, get one year of Amazon Prime after you sign up for a new membership with your Card and meet the spending requirement in the same time period.
  • As an Amazon Prime member, you get unlimited FREE Two-Day Shipping on millions of items.
  • Terms and Restrictions Apply.

$522
$211
$311

Bottom Line:
Combines great cash back rewards with an Introductory APR offer; $100 online-exclusive bonus opportunity

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*
Savings Over 2 years

$100
$0
$100
Bonus

$422
$211
$211
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$522
$211
$311
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • Online-exclusive $100 cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • 1% cash back on purchases everywhere, every time
  • 2% at grocery stores and 3% on gas for the first $1,500 in combined grocery store and gas purchases each quarter.
  • Bank of America customers: Get an ongoing 10% customer bonus every time you redeem cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account.
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 12.99% - 22.99% variable APR.
  • No annual fee
  • No changing categories and your rewards do not expire

$507
$228
$278

Bottom Line:
Up to 3% cash back on everyday spending; 50 Rewards Dollars bonus; unlimited cash back; 15-mo 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*
Savings Over 2 years

$50
$0
$50
Bonus

$456
$228
$228
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$507
$228
$278
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • Get 50 Reward Dollars, redeemable for a $50 statement credit, after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.
  • Earn Cash Back: 3% at US supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2% at US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Plus, get one year of Amazon Prime after you sign up for a new membership with your Card and meet the spending requirement in the same time period.
  • As an Amazon Prime member, you get unlimited FREE Two-Day Shipping on millions of items.
  • Terms and Restrictions Apply.

$496
$198
$298

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
1.5% cash back on all purchases; 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers; $100 bonus opportunity

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*
Savings Over 2 years

$100
$0
$100
Bonus

$396
$198
$198
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$496
$198
$298
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • One-time $100 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
  • No rotating categories and no sign ups needed to earn cash rewards.
  • Redeem the cash back you earn for any amount, any time.
  • Your cash back doesn't expire.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers until January 2015.
  • No annual fee.

$492
$196
$296

Bottom Line:
Excellent combination of cash back rewards and 0% intro APR; $100 bonus opportunity

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*
Savings Over 2 years

$100
$0
$100
Bonus

$392
$196
$196
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$492
$196
$296
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • Earn a $100 Bonus after you make $500 in purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn a $25 Bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the intro period, a variable APR of 13.99%-22.99%.
  • 5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases between April 1 and June 30, 2014 at restaurants and Lowe's® home improvement stores.
  • You'll enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like gas stations, restaurants and Amazon.com. It's free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% Cash Back on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee and rewards never expire.

$370
$135
$235

Bottom Line:
12-month 0% APR intro and balance transfer APR period, $100 bonus after spending first $500, max of $300 cash back per year after $100 bonus

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*
Savings Over 2 years

$100
$0
$100
Bonus

$270
$135
$135
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$370
$135
$235
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • Earn $100 cash back after $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back every quarter in must-have categories. Right now, on purchases at The Home Depot®, home furnishing and home and garden stores from 4/1/14 through 6/30/14.
  • Enrollment each quarter is quick and easy.
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • The total cash back earned with the card is $300 per calendar year, excluding the $100 cash back with this offer. See Citi Dividend Card Reward Program Information.
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months. After that, the APR will be 12.99%-22.99% variable based on your creditworthiness.*
  • No Annual Fee*.
  • *Click Apply Now to see pricing details.

$343
$171
$171

Bottom Line:
Combines cash-back rewards with a 14-month 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*
Savings Over 2 years

$0
$0
$0
Bonus

$342
$171
$171
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$343
$171
$171
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • Fair. No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. Pay up to midnight ET online or by phone on your due date without a fee. Plus, paying late won't raise your APR.*
  • Generous. 5% cash back at Home Improvement Stores, Furniture Stores and Bed Bath & Beyond® on up to $1,500 in purchases from April through June 2014.*
  • Human. 100% U.S.-based customer service available any time.
  • Safe. Because you're never responsible for unauthorized charges with our $0 Fraud Liability Guarantee.
  • Plus, free FICO® Credit Score on your monthly statement to help you stay on top of your credit.*
  • 0% Intro APR* on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months. Then the variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%. A fee of 3% applies for each balance transferred.
  • *Click "Apply" to see rates, rewards, and free FICO® Credit Score terms and other information.

$330
$165
$165

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
Great choice for students, designed to help build good credit, cash back bonus for paying bill on time

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*
Savings Over 2 years

$0
$0
$0
Bonus

$330
$165
$165
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$330
$165
$165
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, every month - and pay no annual fee.
  • For every month you pay on time, you receive a 25% bonus - that's a total of 1.25% cash back.
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time.
  • Brighten your financial future with responsible credit use - and get rewarded along the way.
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • There's no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, and rewards don't expire.
  • Pick the monthly payment due date that works best for you.
  • Get free access to a credit score, credit report, and credit tips using Credit Tracker.

$318
$159
$159

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
Smart pick for those with average credit; 1.5% cash back on all purchases; 0% intro APR on purchases

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*
Savings Over 2 years

$0
$0
$0
Bonus

$396
$198
$198
Reward from spending

$78
$39
$39
Annual Fee

$318
$159
$159
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
  • No rotating categories and no sign ups needed to earn cash rewards.
  • Redeem the cash back you earn for any amount, any time.
  • No limit to the cash back you can earn.
  • Your cash back doesn't expire.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases until January 2015.
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time.
  • Fraud Coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen.

$276
$138
$138

Bottom Line:
No annual fee and a generous cash back rewards program make this a great choice for Costco members & others

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*
Savings Over 2 years

$0
$0
$0
Bonus

$386
$193
$193
Reward from spending

$110
$55
$55
Annual Fee

$276
$138
$138
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • 3% Cash back at US gas stations and on gasoline at Costco up to $4,000 per year in purchases, then 1%.
  • 2% cash back at US restaurants; 2% cash back on eligible travel purchases, including at Costco; 1% cash back on other purchases, including at Costco.
  • Terms and limitations apply; You will receive your cash back annually in the form of a reward coupon.
  • The Two-In-One Card: it's an American Express® Card and Costco membership card, with no annual fee for Costco members.
  • Terms and restrictions apply.

We have made our best efforts to ensure the information in this calculator is correct and up-to-date, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy. You should always check the terms and conditions of your card on the card issuer's web site before you apply to be certain of the latest terms of each card.

* Due to rounding, the Total Value may not always be the sum of Year 1 and Year 2. The cash back earnings seen here are estimates based on the information provided by both yourself and the each credit card company's terms and conditions. The actual earning may vary if your real-life purchase amounts differ or if the credit card terms and conditions change. You should always check the terms and conditions of your card on the card issuer's web site before you apply to be certain of the latest terms of each card. We made the following assumption in our calculations. Capital One Journey Student Rewards: We included the pay-on-time bonus equal to 25% of the cash back you earn each month.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

How We Calculated the Earnings

We based the cash back earnings of each card in our analysis on actual user data we've collected over the last 15 months. Real-life users of our Cash Back Calculator told us that on a monthly basis they spend $300 on groceries, $180 on gas, $150 on dining out, $25 at department stores and $444 on everything else. We used this spend breakdown to determine the initial cash back card rankings.


After making these assumptions, we used each credit card's earning percentages to calculate how much money the average cardholder could expect to earn annually. We included any cash back bonus offers, deducted any annual fees and kept in mind any earning limitations. Two years worth of calculations were done — one for Year One which includes any extra cash back bonuses the card might offer, and one for Year Two during which time these extra cash back bonuses wouldn't apply. The formulas for each of these are below.

  • Year One Total Cashback = Cashback Earned + Year One Cashback Bonus - Annual Fee
  • Year Two Total Cashback = Cashback Earned - Annual Fee


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Customize & Calculate Your Savings

We calculate Annual Savings by adding up your expected rewards, subtracting all fees and averaging that total savings over a two year period. Recalculate Annual Savings for your specific spending habits by editing the values below.

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How We Calculate Your Annual Savings

To calculate the cashback earnings of each card we used a basic formula, taking into account each card's earning percentages and limitations. We included any cash back bonus offers, deducted any annual fees and kept in mind any earning limitations. Two years worth of calculations were done - one for Year One which includes any extra cash back bonuses the card might offer, and one for Year Two during which time these extra cash back bonuses wouldn't apply.

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Disclosure: NextAdvisor.com is a consumer information site that offers free, independent reviews and ratings of online services. We receive advertising revenue from most of the services we review. Our editors thoroughly research and whenever possible test each service we review and offer their honest opinions about each one. We are independently owned and operated and all opinions expressed on this site are our own.