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. (Ad Disclosure)


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
$722
$286
$436

Bottom Line:
Up to 6% cash back on everyday spending with unlimited cash back; $150 bonus; 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months

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

$150
$0
$150
Bonus

$722
$361
$361
Reward from spending

$150
$75
$75
Annual Fee

$722
$286
$436
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • Get $150 back after you spend $1,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $150 back in the form of a statement credit.
  • Hassle-free cash back: no enrollment required, the same great reward categories year-round.
  • Earn Cash Back: 6% US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 3% 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..
  • A credit card that gives you cash back with a 0% Intro APR Offer on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
  • After that, your APR will be a variable rate, currently 12.99%-21.99% based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and restrictions apply.

$557
$228
$328

Bottom Line:
Up to 3% cash back on everyday spending; $100 bonus; unlimited cash back; 15-mo 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers

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

$100
$0
$100
Bonus

$456
$228
$228
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$557
$228
$328
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • Get $100 back after you spend $1,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $100 back in the form of a statement credit.
  • Hassle-free cash back: no enrollment required, the same great reward categories year-round.
  • Earn Cash Back: 3% 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.
  • No Annual Fee. A Credit Card that gives you cash back with a 0% Intro APR Offer on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
  • After that, your APR will be a variable rate, currently 12.99%-21.99% based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • 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

$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 all purchases until May 2015.
  • Balance transfers also have a 0% intro APR until May 2015, a 3% fee applies to each balance transferred.
  • 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 spend $500 on 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 July 1 and September 30, 2014 at gas stations and Kohl's®.
  • 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.

$421
$210
$210

Bottom Line:
Enjoy cash back rewards without registering quarterly; 14-month 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers; no foreign transaction fees

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

$0
$0
$0
Bonus

$420
$210
$210
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$421
$210
$210
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • 2% cash back automatically on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter-no sign-ups needed*. 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months-then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%.A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • APR won't go up if you pay late.
  • No annual fee, no overlimit fee, no late fee on your first late payment and no foreign transaction fee*.
  • Free FICO® Credit Score online and on your monthly statement so you can track your score's progress*.
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it's unusual, you're alerted by e-mail, phone or text-and never responsible for unauthorized Discover card purchases.
  • U.S. based customer service-anytime, day and night.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms and other info by clicking "Apply."

$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 in categories every quarter. Right now, on eligible purchases within the Hilton Portfolio, car rental agencies, movie theaters and theme parks from 7/1/14 - 9/30/14.
  • 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:

  • 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 14 months — then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • Rated 4.8 out of 5 stars by over 4,000 cardmembers.*
  • No annual fee, no late fee for your first late payment — APR won't go up for you paying late, no overlimit fee and no foreign transaction fee.*
  • Free FICO® Credit Score online and on monthly statements.*
  • 5% cash back at gas stations on up to $1,500 in purchases from July through September 2014 when you sign up*. 1% cash back on all other purchases automatically.*
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it's unusual, you're alerted by e-mail, phone or text-and never responsible for unauthorized Discover card purchases.
  • U.S.- based customer service — anytime, day and night.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms and other info by clicking "Apply".

$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.

$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 May 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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Advertiser Disclosure: NextAdvisor.com is a consumer information site that offers free, independent reviews and ratings of online services. We receive advertising revenue from most but not all of the companies whose products and services we review. For credit cards, we review cards from all of the top 10 US issuers by purchase volume (according to Issue 1035 of The Nilson Report, Feb 2014) excluding issuers that require additional accounts to be a cardholder or private label issuers. We may also review cards from other issuers in select cases. We are independently owned and operated and all opinions expressed on this site are our own.