3 cash back credit cardsUpdated: Jan. 17, 2019

Cash back is a well beloved category of credit card rewards. It’s no wonder — most of us wouldn’t turn down more money, and there’s an elegance to the simplicity of cash rewards. That said, cash back cards don’t all work in the same way. Some cards offer cash rewards at a fixed rate on all purchases (e.g., 1.5%, no matter what you buy). Other cards reward you for spending on specific categories (e.g., on gas or at wholesale clubs). Still others have categories that rotate, so one quarter you might get 5% at U.S. supermarkets and the next quarter you might get extra rewards at restaurants. Since there are so many rewards options, how do you know which cash back credit card is worthwhile? We’re breaking down our three best cash back cards with three different cash back earning opportunities, so you can find the right card for your needs.

Best for rotating categories: Discover it Cash Back

best cash backThe Discover it Cash Back card can really rake in the cash. You’ll earn 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter you activate (up to the quarterly maximum, currently $1,500, then it’s 1%) and 1% cash back on everything else. Earning rewards on rotating categories gives you the opportunity to earn cash back on a number of purchases throughout the year. For example, 2019’s categories include groceries from January to March, gas stations, Uber and Lyft from April to June, restaurants from July to September as well as Amazon.com from October to December. But perhaps the most exciting part is Discover’s Match it feature. At the end of your first year with the card, Discover will match your cash back rewards. As an example, let’s say you earn $300 cash back in your first year as a cardholder. Discover will match that $300 so you will get $600 cash back total. Added up, you can see why we feel this card can be such a strong earner. Cash back earned with Discover it Cash Back can be redeemed for cash back, gift cards or eCertificates and used to make purchases on Amazon.com.

All these rewards for purchases might make you worry you’ll find yourself spending more than you can afford, but if you use the card responsibly, it shouldn’t be an issue. If you need a little more time to figure out your budget, Discover it Cash Back’s intro purchase APR period can help. For the first 14 months with the card, you’ll enjoy a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (with a 3% balance transfer fee) — after the 0% intro APRs expire, the go-to variable rate applies. But that’s not all, as this card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees! Most cards charge a 3% to 5% foreign transaction fee on purchases outside the U.S., so cutting that out can save you a nice chunk of change while you’re out traveling the world. Discover cardholders will also receive a free FICO credit score every month, get access to free identity theft protection and a number of other perks. What’s more, Discover it Cash Back is available to those with average to excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 670 or higher).

Best for select categories: Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card

best cash backWith the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card, cardholders earn high cash back rates in set categories. You’ll earn 3% cash back on the category of your choice (there are 6 to choose from) and 2% cash back at wholesale clubs and grocery stores (up to $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/choice category purchases each quarter, then it’s 1% back), along with 1% back on all other purchases. We love that these high cash back rates apply to categories that are so common and necessary. It also has a nice $150 bonus for spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. That’s a very attainable spending requirement and a generous bonus amount!

As if that’s not enough, this card offers 0% intro APR for 12 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers (with 3% balance transfer fee, $10 minimum) and has a special perk for cardholders who bank with Bank of America. What’s more, Gold, Platinum and Platinum Honors Bank of America customers earn an bonus ranging from 25% to 75% (depending on their account status) when they redeem their rewards for a deposit into their Bank of America account. Rewards can also be redeemed for a statement credit or a check. Finally, this card has no annual fee and it’s available to those with good to excellent credit (usually considered a credit score 700 or higher).

Best flat cash back rate: Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card

best cash backIf you are looking for a straightforward cash back card, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card is your card. Instead of categories, rotating or otherwise, you’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. There’s no need to sign up for any special categories and your cash rewards won’t expire for as long as you retain your account. Those who use mobile wallets, like Google Pay or Apply Pay, earn a higher 1.8% cash back on mobile wallet purchases made in the first 12 months. As a nice intro bonus, you’ll earn $200 back after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s a higher spending requirement than some similar bonuses, but it should be achievable if this is your primary card. If you have a Wells Fargo checking or savings account, you can redeem your rewards as a direct deposit or at a Wells Fargo ATM. If not, no worries, as your rewards can be redeemed via a paper check or in exchange for gift cards, merchandise or travel.

The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Credit Card, which is available to those with good to excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 700 or higher) also charges no annual fee and has a 12-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (with an intro balance transfer fee of 3% for 120 days, then it’s 5%). As an unusual perk, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card also offers mobile phone protection. Pay your monthly cell phone bill with this card and you can be reimbursed for up to $600 per claim. There is a 2-claim maximum per 12-month period and a $25 deductible, but that’s still a wonderful perk.

Looking for more options? Visit our cash back card reviews for a wide array of choices. Or, let our free Cash Back Credit Card Analysis help you find the best cash back card for your spending habits. To keep up to date with the latest credit card deals, follow our credit card blog.

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 content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.