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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; $100 bonus and 1 yr of Amazon Prime; 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 one year of Amazon Prime plus $100 back after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three 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: 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.
  • 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.
  • Terms and limitations apply.

$592
$196
$396

Bottom Line:
Excellent combination of cash back rewards and 0% intro APR; $200 bonus opportunity

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

$200
$0
$200
Bonus

$392
$196
$196
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$592
$196
$396
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • For a limited time, earn a $200 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 October 1 - December 31, 2014 at Amazon.com, Zappos.com and select department 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.

$528
$264
$264

Bottom Line:
1% cash back when you buy PLUS 1% back when you pay = 2x cash back on all purchases; 15-mo 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases

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

$0
$0
$0
Bonus

$528
$264
$264
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$528
$264
$264
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 12.99%-22.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The only card that earns you cash back TWICE on every purchase with:
  • 1% cash back when you buy.
  • Plus 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases, whether you pay in full or over time.*
  • No Category Restrictions, No Caps, No Enrollments in Rotating Categories.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • *Additional details can be found on the Citi landing page.

$522
$211
$311

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

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
  • No annual fee
  • No changing categories and your rewards do not expire
  • 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

$507
$228
$278

Bottom Line:
Up to 3% cash back on everyday spending; $50 and 1 yr of Amazon Prime intro 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 one year of Amazon Prime plus $50 back after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.
  • You will receive $50 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. Plus, 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.
  • 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.
  • Cash back doesn't expire and there's no limit to how much you can earn.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases until September 2015; 12.9%-22.9% variable APR after that.
  • Balance transfers also have a 0% intro APR until September 2015, a 3% fee applies to each balance transferred.
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees.
  • Capital One® Credit Tracker — the free way to easily monitor your monthly credit score anytime, anywhere.

$441
$210
$230

Bottom Line:
Features a $20 cash back bonus and cash back rewards without registering quarterly, includes no foreign transaction fees

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

$20
$0
$20
Bonus

$420
$210
$210
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$441
$210
$230
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • Experience our cash rewards with $20 cash back after you make your first purchase within 3 months of approval.*
  • 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter — no sign-ups needed.* 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on your first late payment. And paying late won't increase your APR*.
  • Free FICO® Credit Score online and on your monthly statements so you can track your score's progress*.
  • Free text alerts can remind you when your payment is due. And free mobile app helps you stay on top of your account.
  • 100% U.S.-based customer service — anytime, day and night.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms and other info by clicking "Apply."

$421
$210
$210

Bottom Line:
Enjoy cash back rewards without registering quarterly, a 6-month 0% intro APR on purchases and 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:

  • No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on your first late payment. And paying late won't increase your APR.*
  • 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 for 6 months — then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 12.99% - 21.99%.
  • APR won't go up if you pay late.*
  • Free FICO® Credit Score online and on your monthly statement so you can track your score's progress*.
  • Free text alerts can remind you when your payment is due. And free mobile app helps you stay on top of your account.
  • 100% U.S.-based customer service — anytime, day and night.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms and other info by clicking "Apply."

$363
$171
$191

Bottom Line:
Features a $20 cashback bonus and ongoing cashback rewards

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

$20
$0
$20
Bonus

$342
$171
$171
Reward from spending

$0
$0
$0
Annual Fee

$363
$171
$191
Total Cash Back

Card Highlights:

  • Experience our cash rewards with $20 cash back after you make your first purchase within 3 months of approval.*
  • No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on your first late payment. And paying late won't increase your APR.*
  • 5% cash back for online shopping and department store purchases on up to $1,500 - Oct. through Dec. 2014 when you sign up for 5%*. 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Free FICO® Credit Score online and on monthly statements.*
  • Free text alerts can remind you when your payment is due. And free mobile app helps you stay on top of your account.
  • 100% U.S.- based customer service - anytime, day and night.
  • 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.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms and other info by clicking "Apply."

$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.
  • Over 5,000 cardmembers rated 4.8 out of 5 stars* and now Discover "Ranked Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Credit Card Companies in a Tie" by J.D. Power+.
  • 5% cash back for online shopping and department store purchases on up to $1,500 - Oct. through Dec. 2014 when you sign up for 5%*. 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Free FICO® Credit Score online and on monthly statements.*
  • No annual fee, no late fee for your first late payment — APR won't go up for paying late, no overlimit fee and no foreign transaction fee.*
  • 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.
  • 100% U.S.-based customer service — anytime, day and night.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms and other info by clicking "Apply".

$343
$171
$171

Bottom Line:
Combines cash-back rewards with a 6-month 0% intro APR on purchases

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:

  • No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on your first late payment. And paying late won't increase your APR*.
  • 5% cash back for online shopping and department store purchases on up to $1,500 - Oct. through Dec. 2014 when you sign up for 5%*. 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Free FICO® Credit Score online and on monthly statements*.
  • 100% U.S.- based customer service — anytime, day and night.
  • 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.
  • 0% intro APR* on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99%.
  • Free text alerts can remind you when your payment is due. And free mobile app helps you stay on top of your account.
  • *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.
  • For every month you pay on time, you receive a 25% bonus — that's a total of 1.25% cash back.
  • 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 fee or foreign transaction fees.
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen.
  • Pick the monthly payment due date that works best for you.
  • Get free access to your credit score and learn how everyday decisions can affect your score using Capital One® 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.
  • Cash back doesn't expire and there's no limit to how much you can earn.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases until September 2015; 22.9% variable APR after that.
  • 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.
  • Get free access to your credit score and learn how everyday decisions can affect your score using Capital One® Credit Tracker.

$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:

  • Earn cash back: 3% US gas stations up to $4,000 per year in purchases; 2% US restaurants & eligible travel; 1% other purchases. See details.
  • 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.
  • Maximize your cash back: Add additional Card Members to help get more cash back for you, also 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

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.

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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 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.

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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 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.