Cash back credit cards can help consumers practice responsible spending while earning a little extra for their efforts when used properly. The days of earning 5% cash back for credit card purchases may be nothing but a memory, but the smart use of credit cards can still be profitable for diligent spenders. You may be able to find some credit cards offering a high level of cash back in certain spending categories, but these are often subject to maximums.
Most of today’s better cash back credit cards offer 1% to 2% cash back on purchases. However, if you look hard enough, you’ll find a number of credit cards with higher cash rebates than just 1%. This article lists a selection of cash back credit cards you can find today, and I update the article when there is new information to share.
Keep in mind that in order to make credit card with rewards programs worthwhile, you must avoid interest charges and late fees by paying your bill on time and in full every single month.
Chase Freedom – $200 Bonus. In advance of the holiday season, for a limited time, Chase is offering a $200 bonus for new cardmembers. The bonus will deposited into your account after spending only $500 on purchases within the first three months of owning the card. You can earn an additional $25 cash back bonus by adding an authorized user to your credit card account and by making a purchase within this same 3-month period.
Besides these bonuses, Chase Freedom offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases at Amazon.com and select department stores. The headlining stores include JCPenney’s, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Sears, but many other stores are included. This could be beneficial for holiday shopping, but keep in mind only the first $1,500 spent in combined purchases qualifies for the 5% cash back rate. All other purchases — purchases in other categories or purchases in these stores beyond $1,500 from October through December — earn 1% cash back.
So while the most you can earn from the 5% bonus cash back rate is $75, your cash back at the 1% rate is unlimited. Chase Freedom carries no annual fee.
Citi Double Cash Credit Card. While there’s no bonus for opening this account today, there is an introductory interest rate of 0% on purchases and balance transfers until March 2016 (15 months). Keep in mind there is a 3% fee (with a minimum of $5) for balance transfers.
Citi is looking to attract customers with a potential of 2% cash back on every purchase. They make you work to get it, though. Every purchase with this card earns 1% cash back immediately. Then, as you pay off the card — and I recommend always paying your card in full every month because if you don’t, the interest you pay negates your rewards — you’ll earn 1% cash back on every dollar you pay.
Fidelity Investment Rewards Visa Signature Card. Fidelity’s card is regularly cited as a Consumerism Commentary readers’ favorite. For the first $15,000 you spend on this card in a year, you will earn 1.5 points. After you hit the $15,000 threshold, each dollar will earn 2 points. Every time you pass 5,000 points, Fidelity will deposit $50 into your account.
This card requires a linked account at Fidelity, but these accounts are free and can be good choices for savers and investors. A few years ago, I chose to rollover a former company’s 401(k) into a Fidelity IRA, and I use Fidelity as the servicing company for my charitable gift fund. Their index mutual funds are some of the lowest cost in the business, but for most of my own investing I prefer Vanguard. Vanguard, however, does not offer a similar credit card offer.
Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express Card. If you prefer a charge card — the full balance of your spending is due every month and there are no interest charges — you may like Fidelity’s other offering. With the Fidelity Investment Rewards AmEx Card, you earn 2% cash back right away in the form of points, so every $2,500 you spend is deposited as $50 into your linked Fidelity account.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards. The basic offer for Quicksilver Cash Rewards from Capital One is a 1.5% rate of cash back on all purchases with no limit. If you open a card today, Capital One will offer a $100 account opening bonus if you spend at least $500 across the first three months.
Capital One is also offering an introductory interest rate of 0% on purchases and balance transfers until September 2015. Balance transfers carry a fee of 3% of the transferred balance. You’ll need excellent credit to qualify for this no-fee credit card.
The categories for double cash back with Discover it
Chase Ink Cash Business Card. Yes, this is a business card, but sole proprietors can open an account, and anyone can be a sole proprietor. Not only is this a good cash back card, but it’s the card I recently chose to open for a side business. Chase is currently offering new customers a $200 account opening bonus after you spend $3,000 across the first three months.
Beyond the opening bonus, Chase offers cardholders 5% cash back on purchases at office supply stores, telephone (mobile and landline) payments, and cable and internet bills, up to a total of $25,000 in spending. The next tier is a 2% cash back rate, and purchases up to $25,000 at gas stations and restaurants. These bonus cash back tiers include points that aren’t added to your account until the anniversary of your card opening, so that’s a little inconvenient.
Otherwise, all other purchases earn an unlimited 1% cash back. The card is also offering an introductory 0% cash back rate on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months.
If you’re holding on to a cash back credit card that you feel deserves to make this list, let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments below. If the offer is good, I’ll add it to this best cash back credit cards list.
Updated December 1, 2014 and originally published November 4, 2014. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.