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
$682
$266
$416

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
10% cash back at Amazon for first 6 months (up to $200 back); 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6K in purchases; $150 intro bonus; 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. Terms apply.

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$150
$0
$150
Bonus

$722
$361
$361
Reward from spending

$190
$95
$95
Annual Fee

$682
$266
$416
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

    • Apply by 1/11/2017- Earn 10% cash back on purchases at Amazon.com in the first 6 months, up to $200.
    • Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 3 months.
    • You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.
    • Everyday Cash Back: 6% at U.S supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%); 3% at U.S gas stations; 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
    • No rotating reward categories. No enrollment required.
    • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. You can only earn cash back on eligible purchases.
    • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, currently 13.24% to 23.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
    • Terms and Conditions apply.

$564
$207
$357

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
Excellent combination of cash back rewards and 0% intro APR; 5% back at wholesale clubs until end of year; $150 Bonus opportunity

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$150
$0
$150
Bonus

$414
$207
$207
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$564
$207
$357
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

    • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
    • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
    • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
    • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 14.24-23.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
    • Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like gas stations, restaurants, and wholesale clubs
    • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
    • No annual fee

$556
$228
$328

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
10% on Amazon.com purchases made in first 6 mos (up to $200 back); $100 bonus; unlimited cash back; 12-mo 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers. Terms apply.

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$100
$0
$100
Bonus

$456
$228
$228
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$556
$228
$328
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

    • Apply by 1/11/2017- Earn 10% cash back on purchases at Amazon.com in the first 6 months, up to $200.
    • Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 3 months.
    • You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.
    • Everyday Cash Back: 3% at U.S supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%); 2% at U.S gas stations; 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
    • No rotating reward categories. No enrollment required.
    • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. You can only earn cash back on eligible purchases.
    • No annual fee. Plus, 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, currently 13.24% to 23.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
    • Terms and Conditions apply.

$546
$198
$348

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
Unlimited 1.5% cash back; 0% Intro APR on Purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; $150 Bonus opportunity

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$150
$0
$150
Bonus

$396
$198
$198
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$546
$198
$348
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

    • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
    • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
    • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 14.24-23.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
    • Redeem for cash - any amount, anytime
    • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
    • No annual fee

$546
$198
$348

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
Best for Wells Fargo customers who want to earn 1.5% cash back; $150 bonus opportunity; 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$150
$0
$150
Bonus

$396
$198
$198
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$546
$198
$348
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

    • NEW: Earn $150 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in net purchases in the first 3 months
    • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on everyday net purchases
    • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on Android Pay™ or Apple Pay™ mobile wallet net purchases during the first 12 months from account opening
    • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, after that the variable APR will be 13.24%-25.24%
    • No category restrictions or quarterly sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
    • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Credit Card
    • No annual fee
    • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions

$528
$264
$264

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
1% cash back when you buy PLUS 1% back when you pay = 2x cash back on all purchases; 18-mo 0% APR on balance transfers

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$0
$0
$0
Bonus

$528
$264
$264
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$528
$264
$264
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

    • Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
    • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
    • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.24% - 23.24% based on your creditworthiness
    • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
    • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*

$522
$174
$348

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
Double your cash back at end of 1st year; 14-month 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers.

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$174
$0
$174
Bonus

$348
$174
$174
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$522
$174
$348
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • You could turn $200 into $400 with Cashback Match™. We'll automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. New cardmembers only.
  • Earn 5% cash back in new bonus categories each quarter like gas, restaurants, Amazon.com and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements and online.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

$522
$211
$311

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
2% back at wholesale clubs; introductory APR offer; $100 online cash rewards bonus offer

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$100
$0
$100
Bonus

$422
$211
$211
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$522
$211
$311
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • No annual fee
  • $100 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and now at wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas up to the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter.
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases AND for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 13.24% - 23.24% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers.
  • Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%.

$522
$211
$311

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
2% back at wholesale clubs; cash back rewards card that contributes to breast cancer cause; $100 online cash rewards bonus offer

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$100
$0
$100
Bonus

$422
$211
$211
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$522
$211
$311
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • $100 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • From June 2015 through December 2020, Bank of America is guaranteeing to Susan G. Komen® $3 million in conjunction with its Pink Ribbon Banking credit card and checking program.
  • Susan G. Komen ® has received more than $7 million from Bank of America from this program since 2009.
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and now at wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas up to the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter.
  • No annual fee
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your 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, 13.24% - 23.24% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers.

$522
$211
$311

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
2% back at wholesale clubs; display your favorite MLB colors while earning great cash back rewards; $100 online cash rewards bonus offer; Introductory APR offer

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$100
$0
$100
Bonus

$422
$211
$211
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$522
$211
$311
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • $100 cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • All 30 team cards are available, customized with your favorite team's colors and logo
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and now at wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas up to the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter.
  • No annual fee
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • Get a 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, 13.24% - 23.24% variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers.

$522
$174
$348

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
Double your cash back at end of 1st year; 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$174
$0
$174
Bonus

$348
$174
$174
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$522
$174
$348
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • Discover matches all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year - automatically. Only for new cardmembers.
  • Earn 5% cash back in new bonus categories each quarter like gas, restaurants, Amazon.com and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements & online.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 13.24% - 22.24%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

$516
$208
$308

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
1.5% on all purchases; $100 bonus; unlimited cash back; 15-mo 0% APR on balance transfers.

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$100
$0
$100
Bonus

$416
$208
$208
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$516
$208
$308
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

    • Get a $100 cash rewards bonus after you spend $500 in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening
    • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase
    • Every time you redeem, get a 5% cash rewards redemption bonus to use toward your next redemption
    • Redeem your cash rewards for a deposit into your bank account, a statement credit or gift cards. Redemptions start at $50
    • Cash rewards do not expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
    • 0% introductory APR for 15 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that a variable APR will apply, 14.99%, 19.99% or 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Please note, there is a fee for balance transfers
    • No annual fee

$513
$171
$342

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
Double your cash back at end of 1st year; Cash back rewards without registering quarterly; 14-month 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$171
$0
$171
Bonus

$342
$171
$171
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$513
$171
$342
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • Discover matches all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year - automatically. Only for new cardmembers.
  • 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter—no sign-ups needed. Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements and online.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

$513
$171
$342

Our Rating:
Bottom Line:
Double your cash back at end of 1st year; Cash back rewards without registering quarterly; 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$171
$0
$171
Bonus

$342
$171
$171
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$513
$171
$342
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • Discover matches all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year - automatically. Only for new cardmembers.
  • 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter—no sign-ups needed. 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements & online.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 13.24% - 22.24%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

$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*

$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 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months of approval
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back doesn't expire and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months; 13.24%-23.24% variable APR after that
  • Balance transfers also have a 0% intro APR for 9 months; 13.24%-23.24% variable APR after that; a 3% fee applies to each balance transferred
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees

$466
$233
$233

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

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$0
$0
$0
Bonus

$466
$233
$233
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$466
$233
$233
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

    • Exclusively for Costco Members: Go Big with Cash Back Rewards
    • 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
    • 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases
    • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
    • 1% cash back on all other purchases

$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*

$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 all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • There's no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, and rewards don't expire
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Pay no annual or foreign transaction fees
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Pick the monthly 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

Total*
Year 2*
Year 1*

$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 or sign ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back doesn't expire and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 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
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use


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. Citi Double Cash Card: We assumed a 2% cash back reward based on the user paying off each purchase. Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard: We assumed users would earn the 5% redemption bonus and included that in the calculation for the card. All Discover Cards: It was assumed that cash back rewards are doubled at the end of Year 1. 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


Customize & Calculate Your Savings

How much do you plan to spend on your card each month?

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.

$
$
$
$
$
$

$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$

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 include any cash back bonus offers, deducted any annual fees and kept in mind any earning limitations. Two years worth of calculations are 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 won't apply.


About Us Blog Contact Us Forums Terms & Privacy Policy Affiliate Program Site Map
Copyright© 2006 - 2016 NextAdvisor.com - All rights reserved.

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 and private label issuers. We may also review cards from other issuers in select cases. We do not review all products in a given category. We are independently owned and operated and all opinions expressed on this site are our own.