GOBankingRates’ Best Cash-Back Credit Cards

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When you use a cash-back credit card responsibly, you essentially get free money for every purchase. But not all cash-back cards are created equal — some offer higher cash-back rates than others, some have different fees associated with the card and the interest rates can vary as well.

GOBankingRates identified the Best Cash-Back Credit Cards of 2021 by analyzing the following factors: annual fees, APR for purchases, promotional APR, sign-up bonuses and rewards and features. Find out which cards made the cut.

Our Top Cash-Back Card

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Why we like it: The Chase Freedom Unlimited card’s rewards structure offers users 5% cash back on unlimited travel purchases, plus 5% cash back for a limited time on groceries and Lyft rides. Other cash-back categories include 3% on drugstore and dining purchases and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases. The cash-back rewards and a lower-than-average starting APR, a sign-up bonus and $0 annual fee all make this card worth considering.

Benefits

  • No annual fee
  • High rewards value: Earn 5% cash back on groceries (excluding warehouse stores) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, as well as 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase. Plus, get 3% cash back on dining, including takeout, and at drugstores
  • Easy rewards redemption for cash, gift cards or travel, with no minimum to redeem
  • 15-month promotional 0% intro APR period

Drawbacks

  • Purchases made at Target and Walmart are excluded from the grocery category

Key Features

  • 5% cash back at grocery stores, excluding Target and Walmart, on up to $12,000 spent in your first year of having the card
  • 3% cash back on dining, including takeout, and at drugstores
  • 1.5% cash back on everything else
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months

APR

14.99% to 23.74%

Promotional APR

0% for 15 months

Annual Fee

$0

Top Cash-Back Categories

Groceries (excluding Target and Walmart) and travel

How To Get This Card:

You can apply for the card online here with just some basic personal and financial information (clicking the link will take you to Chase's application page). READ OUR FULL REVIEW

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Best Cash-Back Credit Cards 2021

Keep reading to see the other winners in the Best Cash-Back Credit Cards of 2021 category.

Chase Freedom FlexSM Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 on combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase
  • Earn 3% cash back on dining including takeout and drugstores
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

APR

14.99% to 23.74%

Promotional APR

0% for 15 months

Annual Fee

$0

Top Cash-Back Categories

Groceries (excluding Target and Walmart) and travel, and on bonus categories each quarter you activate

Redeeming Rewards:

Redeem for cash back (You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts); shop with Points at Amazon; redeem for a variety of gift cards and certificates for shopping, dining and entertainment and more; book your travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards® GET DETAILS

On Chase's site

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American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • 6% cash back on groceries, up to $6,000 a year
  • 6% cash back on streaming services
  • 3% cash back on transit
  • 3% cash back on gas
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn $350 back after spending $3,000 in the first 6 months

APR

13.99% to 23.99%

Promotional APR

0% for 12 months

Annual Fee

$95

Top Cash-Back Categories

Groceries and streaming

Redeeming Rewards:

Cash back is received in the form of reward dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit GET DETAILS

On American Express' site

U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

Key Benefits

  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter on two categories you choose
  • 2% cash back on one everyday category, like gas stations, grocery stores or restaurants
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn a $200 rewards bonus after you apply online and spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 120 days of account opening

APR

13.99% to 23.99%

Promotional APR

N/A

Annual Fee

$0

Top Cash-Back Categories

Two categories of your choosing each quarter

Redeeming Rewards:

Cash back is redeemed in the form of a statement credit or a deposit made to your U.S. Bank Savings, Checking or Money Market Account based on your designation, or as a U.S. Bank Rewards Card GET DETAILS

On U.S. Bank's site

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Citi Custom CashSM Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn $200 cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months

APR

13.99% to 23.99%

Promotional APR

0% for 15 months

Annual Fee

$0

Top Cash-Back Categories

Your top eligible spending category each billing cycle

Redeeming Rewards:

Redeemed for cash back as a statement credit, direct deposit or check; you can also redeem your points for other rewards such as gift cards, shop with Points at Amazon, travel and more GET DETAILS

On Citi's site

Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • 3% cash back on dining
  • 3% cash back on entertainment and streaming services
  • 3% cash back at grocery stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months

APR

15.49% to 25.49%

Promotional APR

0% for 15 months

Annual Fee

$0

Top Cash-Back Categories

Dining, entertainment, streaming and grocery stores

Redeeming Rewards:

You can get your cash back upon request in the form of a statement credit or a check GET DETAILS

On Capital One's site

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American Express Blue Cash Everyday® Card

Key Benefits

  • 3% cash back on US supermarkets, up to $6,000 annually
  • 2% cash back on gas
  • 2% cash back at select department stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn $250 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card within the first 6 months of card membership

APR

13.99% to 23.99%

Promotional APR

0% for 15 months

Annual Fee

$0

Top Cash-Back Categories

Supermarkets

Redeeming Rewards:

You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits GET DETAILS

On American Express' site

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings
  • 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Online $200 cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening

APR

13.99% to 23.99%

Promotional APR

0% for 15 months

Annual Fee

$0

Top Cash-Back Categories

Category of your choice

Redeeming Rewards:

Redeem your cash rewards for any amount, anytime for statement credits or deposits made directly into a Bank of America account. Redemptions for a contribution to a qualifying 529 account with Merrill or for a check start at $25. You may set up automatic redemptions into an eligible Bank of America® or Merrill account. GET DETAILS

On Bank of America's site

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M&T Visa® Signature Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn 10,000 bonus points, equal to $100 cash or statement credit when you spend $500 in the first 90 days

APR

11.24% to 18.24%

Promotional APR

0% for 12 months

Annual Fee

$0

Top Cash-Back Categories

Everyday spending

Redeeming Rewards:

Redeem points for cash; statement credit; direct deposit GET DETAILS

On M&T Bank's site

Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card

Key Benefits

  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Cashback match, get an unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year

APR

11.99% to 22.99%

Promotional APR

0% for 14 months

Annual Fee

$0

Top Cash-Back Categories

Rotating categories each quarter

Redeeming Rewards:

Deposit cash back directly into your bank account; apply it as a statement credit on your Discover card balance; pay with Cashback Bonus; use your rewards at checkout at Amazon.com and PayPal; redeem as gift card; redeem as charitable donation GET DETAILS

On Discover's site

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FAQs About Cash-Back Credit Cards

Here are the answers to a few commonly asked questions about cash-back credit cards.
  • What credit score do I need to get a cash-back credit card?
    • When you apply for a cash-back credit card, the lender will consider your credit score before deciding whether to approve you for the card. To qualify for the cards with the most attractive features, you'll want an exceptional or very good credit score. Here's a breakdown of FICO credit score ranges:
      • Exceptional: 800 or higher
      • Very Good: 740-799
      • Good: 670-739
      • Fair: 580-669
      • Poor: 579 or lower
      Check your credit score to see where you fall. If you're interested in a cash-back card, reach out to the card issuer to see if your score is high enough to qualify.
  • Do cash-back rewards expire?
    • In most cases, cash-back rewards do not expire. Cash back from issuers such as Capital One and Discover never expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.
  • Are there any cash-back cards with no annual fee?
    • Yes. Many of the Best Cash-Back Credit Cards of 2021 do not have an annual fee, including the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card, the Chase Freedom Flex credit card and the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card.
  • Can I use cash back to pay off my credit card?
    • Yes. You can use your cash back rewards as a statement credit. You will still need to make your minimum payment if you have a balance.

More From GOBankingRates

Last updated: Oct. 19, 2021

Methodology: GOBankingRates identified the best cash-back credit cards by analyzing the following factors: (1) annual fees; (2) APR for purchases; (3) promotional APR; (4) sign-up bonuses; and (5) rewards and features. All fees and rates are subject to change at the credit card issuers’ discretion. Some bonus offers may no longer be available on the credit card issuers’ websites, depending on how one accesses the web page. All data was sourced from each financial institution’s website or promotional material and is accurate as of Aug. 11, 2021. Please verify terms and conditions before opening an account. Rewards had to be in form of cash back to qualify.

About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

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