Updated: Oct. 16, 2017

It seems like the wealthy wouldn’t have a need for credit cards since they can pay for everything with cash, right? Well, the wealthy didn’t get that way by leaving money on the table. They know that by using credit cards they can get big cash back for every purchase they make, up to 6%. But this strategy is not limited to the wealthy. All you have to do is use the right card for purchases that you’re going to make anyway. If you pay off your balance every month, you won’t be charged interest rates or late/penalty fees.

Those who want to maximize their earnings know to have a few “specialty” credit cards that give them the most cash back in different categories and to use those cards specifically in those categories, then have a general purpose card with a high base cash back rate they can use for everything else. For example, you can use a credit card that gives 6% cash back from supermarkets to do your grocery shopping, one that gives you 3% back on gas every time you fill your tank and one that gives you 2% on all purchases for everything else.

Best for Grocery Shopping: Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

To maximize your earnings at the grocery store, get the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express (a NextAdvisor advertiser), the No. 1 pick in our Cash Back Card Analysis. With this card you’ll earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for up to $6,000 in purchases annually), as well as 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% cash back on everything else. And you’ll get a $200 bonus when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months, as well as a generous 0% intro APR for the first 12 months of card membership. This card does have a $95 annual fee, but it’s more than worth it for most cardholders. If the fee is a deal-breaker, you may want to check out the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express that offers comparable rewards without the annual fee. Something you’ll want to note is if you plan to max out the $6,000/year in groceries, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is your better bet because you’ll earn $360 when you max out the 6% back on grocery purchases. If you subtract the $95 annual fee from $360 grocery rewards, you’ll still get $265 back, which is more than the $180 back you’ll earn when you max out the 3% on groceries with the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express.

Best for Gas: BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card

If you commute every day or spend a lot of time at the gas station, you should get a card that gives you the most rewards on gas purchases. The BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great choice because it gives you 3% cash back on gas, 2% cash back on groceries and at wholesale clubs (for the first $2,500 combined gas/grocery/wholesale club purchases each quarter) and 1% cash back on everything else with no annual fee. In addition, you get a 0% intro APR for the first 12 billing cycles, as well as a $150 bonus when you spend $500 within the first 90 days of account opening. Another way to make some extra money is to link your card to your Bank of America account so you’ll get an additional 10% cash back when you redeem your rewards directly into this account. And if you’re a Bank of America customer with a Gold, Platinum or Platinum Honors account you can earn a 25% to 75% bonus on every single purchase (this bonus replaces the 10% previously mentioned bonus and requires a healthy minimum balance, but if you fit the profile it’s an amazing way to earn extra cash).

Best for All Other Purchases: Citi Double Cash Card

For those who want the convenience of one high cash back rate for all their purchases, or who just want to maximize cash back for purchases that fall outside of specific categories, there is the Citi Double Cash Card. This card gives you an effective 2% cash back on everything you buy with no annual fee.  We say “effective” because it gives you 1% back when you make the purchase and the other 1% when you pay for it (and for the math nerds, if you redeem for a statement credit instead of a check, you actually get 1.99% back).  Still, for most people, especially the wealthy who are sure to pay their full balance every month, this is 2% cash back, the highest base cash back rate we’ve ever seen for a consumer card.

Best for Those With Less-Than-Perfect Credit: Discover it Cash Back

The cards we’ve mentioned so far require excellent credit (usually considered having a credit score around 750 or higher). But you can still get the benefits of a top-end card if your credit is good (usually around a 700 credit score) or average (around 670). If that describes you, Discover it Cash Back is a great card to look into. That’s because it earns impressive cash back rewards and is available to those with average to excellent credit. In terms of cash back rewards, cardholders will earn 5% cash back on purchases within select categories (up to the quarterly maximum, currently $1,500, then it’s 1% back) and 1% on all other purchases. The rotating categories can vary from Amazon.com purchases and restaurants to home improvement stores and gas stations, which means you have the opportunity to earn cash back on a number of different purchases. It’s also important to note that cardholders are required to activate the 5% back every quarter, but Discover will remind you when it’s time to do so. On top of these impressive ongoing rewards, Discover will match the cash back new cardholders earn in the first year. This means if you earn $400 in your first year as a cardholder, Discover will match that to give you a total of $800 back! On top of that, Discover offers a 14-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (with a 3% balance transfer fee) and it has no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee. Discover cardholders also receive a number of added perks, including free social security number alerts, special shopping discounts and more.

Not seeing the card that fits your lifestyle in this post? Visit our reviews of the best credit cards to learn more about other top cards on the market.

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.