December 2, 2023

7 Best Cash Back Credit Cards of September 2022

Getting something back for your everyday purchases is probably one of the best reasons to…

7 Best Cash Back Credit Cards of September 2022

Getting something back for your everyday purchases is probably one of the best reasons to use a credit card.

While most cards on the market offer a variety of rewards and perks, the best cash back credit cards will reward you in an easy, tangible way: by giving you a fixed percentage of what you spend, delivered right to your account or, in some cases, your door in the form of a check.

Read our guide to find out which cards offer the highest cash back rates and choose the right one for you.

Our Top Picks for Cash Back Credit Cards of 2022

Best Cash Back Credit Cards Reviews

  • High 2.5% cash back on all purchases up to $10,000 per billing cycle
  • Visa Signature® benefits such as purchase and identity theft protection
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Cardholders must comply with certain requirements to get the 2.5% rewards
  • No introductory offer


Annual fee
Insurance and protection
Purchase protection, extended warranty, identity theft protection, travel accident insurance, rental collision waiver
Current introductory offer

Why we chose it: Alliant’s credit card has an advantage over all other flat rate cards: a 2.5% cash back on every qualifying purchase up to $10,000 spent monthly. That’s a potential $3,000 in cash back per year.

This card by Alliant Credit Union offers the highest flat-rate cash back around: 2.5% on every purchase, up to the first $10,000 spent per billing cycle. This is a potential $3,000 if you spend the full amount; after that, you can still keep earning unlimited cash back at a base rate of 1.5%.

While the rate is certainly attractive, earning it does involve certain requirements. To qualify for the 2.5% earning rate, you have to be an Alliant Tier One customer. This means cardholders must have an Alliant High-Rate Checking account, keep an average daily balance of $1,000 or more, sign up for eStatements and make at least one electronic deposit a month.

This could be onerous or even inaccessible for some potential customers.. However, if you can easily meet these requirements, the 2.5% will be well worth it. If you don’t qualify for the 2.5% rewards, you’ll still get cash back, but at a 1.5% rate.

In addition to its high rewards, the card includes significant perks, such as travel accident insurance, purchase protection and other warranties. This makes the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature a very complete package that, when paired with no annual fee, can yield enormous savings.

  • 5% back on travel if you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3% on dining and drugstore purchases
  • Often has a high-value intro offer


Annual fee
Insurance and protection
Purchase protection, extended warranty, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, rental collision waiver
Current introductory offer
Additional 1.5% on all categories during the first year or up to the first $20,000, whichever comes first. That’s a total of 3% on all purchases and 4.5% on dining, for example.

Why we chose it: Simply put, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers more bonus categories and higher cash back rates than most no-annual-fee cards — higher, in fact, than than some cards that do charge an annual fee.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of the most popular credit cards and with good reason. Its high reward rates, travel and rental car insurance, and lack of an annual fee make it one of the best cards around.

Originally, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® only provided 1.5% of unlimited cash back on all purchases. Since 2020, however, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has increased this to 5% cash back on travel purchases when booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases.

These benefits, along with rental collision waiver and flight cancellation insurance, make it one of the best cards for travel. Do note that it does have a pesky 3% foreign transaction fee, which applies to any purchase you make abroad.

Finally, Chase Ultimate Rewards® frequently provides promotional offers for cardholders, and you can often get up to 20% cash back at specific stores upon activation.

  • 6% back at U.S. supermarkets up to the first $6,000 each year
  • 6% on select streaming subscriptions
  • 3% on transit category (includes U.S. gas stations, public transportation and more)


Annual fee
Insurance and protection
Secondary rental car coverage, purchase protection and return protection
Current introductory offer
American Express® currently offers a $350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in the first six months from account opening.

Why we chose it: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card by American Express offers incredibly high rewards, especially when it comes to groceries and transportation.

American Express® cards are known for providing plenty of rewards and luxury perks, and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card is easily its best cash back credit card.

It offers one of the highest rates out there when it comes to groceries — 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets up to the first $6,000 spent, after which you get 1%. That’s a potential $360 back per year for a family or anyone that can really max out the category, plus however much you earn with the subsequent 1%.

Cardholders also get 6% back on select streaming services, including fan favorites like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify. This means that, depending on how many subscriptions you have, you could get over $30 back a year just for binge-watching your favorite shows.

Whether you and your family commute by car or use public transportation, this card has cash back rewards for you. It offers 3% cash back on U.S. gas stations, public transportation such as trains and buses, plus tolls and even parking.

The biggest downside is the card’s $95 annual fee. While it also comes with benefits such as secondary rental car insurance, purchase protection and more, the $95 might not be worth it if your grocery shopping is minimal and/or you don’t commute much.

If the annual fee is a deal-breaker, you can also take a look at the Blue Cash Everyday® by American Express. It offers 3% back on U.S. supermarkets, U.S. online shopping and U.S. gas stations, up to $6,000 on each of those categories, and 1% after.

  • Unlimited 4% back on dining, entertainment and select streaming services
  • 3% at grocery stores
  • 8% on purchases booked through Capital One Entertainment


Annual fee
Insurance and protection
Extended warranty and travel accident insurance
Current introductory offer
Capital One, NA is offering a one-time $300 introductory bonus after spending $3,000 within the first three months of the account opening.

Why we chose it: The Capital One Savor is practically custom-made for a good night out, offering high rewards on dining as well as entertainment.

Many cards offer bonus rewards on dining and takeout; however, if your week regularly includes date nights and hitting the town to catch games and live shows, few come close to the Capital One Savor.

It offers 4% cash back on dining, which includes all sit-down restaurants, coffee shops and fast food places. It also offers 4% on entertainment such as concerts, movies, sporting events and more, as well as streaming services. However, you can double this entertainment rate to 8% if you purchase tickets through Capital One Entertainment.

If you want to cook at home, you can benefit from the 3% cash back on groceries. Capital One, NA is very specific with grocery store purchases, though, excluding wholesale clubs and super stores like Target and Walmart. To see what qualifies for this rate, check Capital One, NA’s list to be sure.

Keep in mind that this version of the card has a $95 annual fee. If you don’t go out to eat much, the no-annual-fee Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card could be a better option.

  • 2% back across the board on all purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Often has valuable introductory offers
  • Cell phone protection
  • No bonus categories
  • Foreign transaction fee


Annual fee
Insurance and protection
Cell phone protection
Current introductory offer
Wells Fargo offers a $200 cash reward bonus for cardholders that spend $1,000 in the first three months from account opening.

Why we chose it: The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card is as straightforward as cards come, offering 2% on all purchases, along with a great intro offer to jump-start your earnings.

Flat-rate cash back cards are great for anybody who just wants to earn rewards without complications. Just swipe away and get a fixed amount back every single time. In the case of the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, you get 2%, higher than the more common 1.5%.

As an additional bonus, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® stands out from many competitors by offering that 2% without restrictions or hoops to jump through. As of publication time, it also has a sizable introductory offer that surpasses that of most 2% flat-rate cards.

On top of this, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card offers cell phone protection up to $600, which most of its competitors lack, along with standard credit card security such as fraud protection and alerts.

  • 5% back on gas until the first $6,000 spent
  • 3% on dining
  • 3% at Sam’s for Plus members
  • Needs a Sam’s Club membership
  • Only 1% at Sam’s for non-Plus members


Annual fee
$0 but must be a Sam’s Club member
Insurance and protection
Standard fraud protection
Current introductory offer
There is a $30 statement credit after spending $30 in the first 30 days.

Why we chose it: Plain and simple, no other card offers 5% back on gas like the Sam’s Club Mastercard® does — this, in addition to other great benefits, makes it a great option for avid Sam’s Club shoppers.

The Sam’s Club Mastercard® is not just for wholesale shopping fans as it also offers benefits outside the store.

First, cardholders get a 1% base rate. That means 1% cash back on every purchase, whether at Sam’s or not. You also get 3% back on dining, a highly competitive rate in the category. Those who have the more expensive, $100 Sam’s Plus membership can enjoy a total 3% back on Sam’s Club purchases, though regular Club members will only get 1%.

Finally all Sam’s Club Mastercard® users get a whopping 5% back at U.S. gas stations up to the first $6,000 spent each year, and 1% thereafter. If you commute long hours or own a large gas-guzzler and reach that amount, that’s $300 of cash back each year, plus however much you earn with the other 1%.

You can use all this cash back to pay at any Sam’s Club, both at the register or through the mobile app, or redeem it for actual cash at the cash register.

Having said that, the lackluster introductory offer, the lack of any travel or purchase insurance and the need to be a Sam’s Club member are definite drawbacks. However, if you live near Sam’s major competitor, check out the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, which offers 4% on gas up until the first $7,000 spent, and 1% afterwards.

  • 5% back on rotating quarterly categories
  • 5% on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3% on dining and drugstores
  • 1% base rate on all other purchases
  • Foreign transaction fee


Annual fee
Insurance and protection
Purchase protection, extended warranty, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, cell phone protection, rental collision waiver
Current introductory offer
There is a $200 bonus after spending $500 in the first three months, along with $1,000 in cell phone insurance during the first year if you pay your cell phone bill with the card.

Why we chose it: The Chase Freedom Flex℠ packs great rewards and perks; add on the 5% cash back on quarterly categories and it’s easily one of the best cards in the category.

A card that simply offered 5% back on travel, 3% on two extra categories and nothing else would already be a leading contender for best cash back card.

But the Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers that and more. It offers 5% on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, 3% on dining and drugstores, 1% on everything else, and a high 5% on quarterly categories up to the first $1,500 spent each quarter. The categories depend on Chase’s cash back calendar; for example, you could get 5% back on gas one quarter, followed by the same rate of rewards on purchases at Amazon the next.

It also offers significant insurance and protection, which is rare for cards with no annual fees. It has trip cancellation and delay insurance, cell phone protection, extended warranties, purchase protection and more.

Keep in mind that the Chase Freedom Flex℠ only offers 1% on regular purchases. If you’re not going to use or keep track of the 5% rewards categories, you should consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, our pick for best no-annual-fee card.

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Other cash back credit cards we considered

Citi Custom Cash℠

The Citi Custom Cash℠ is similar to a rotating categories card, but personalized. It offers 5% cash back on the cardholder’s most used category each billing cycle, on spending up to $500 a month. While it’s a great card, its low spending cap for extra cash back, along with the absence of bonus categories, leaves it a little behind other options.

  • 5% back on user’s highest spending category up to $500 a month
  • Categories are not limited to a pre-established list
  • $500 max can be too low for some users
  • 1% base rate

Discover it® Cash Back

The Discover it® Cash Back Card offers a cash back match during the first year, meaning it doubles however much you earned at the end of the year. However, once you lose that perk after the first year, its reward rate isn’t as valuable as many competitors.

  • 5% cash back on quarterly categories up to $1,500
  • Cash back earned is matched at the end of your first year
  • Usually has a good welcome offer
  • Only 1% base rate
  • No additional spending categories

U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

What’s similar to but significantly better than rotating bonus categories? Getting rewarded in the category of your choice. Even better, this card allows you to choose two categories for special rewards. The main drawback is that the pre-established category list you can choose from is a bit limited.

  • 5% back on up to $2,000 spent on two categories of your choice
  • Unlimited 2% on a third category of your choice
  • 5% on travel purchased in the Rewards Travel Center
  • Foreign transaction fee
  • No purchase protection or insurance

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card

This card by Bank of America is, as its name suggests, customizable. You can choose a category each quarter and get a high 3% cash back on qualifying purchases of up to $2,500 each quarter. Preferred Rewards members, who must comply with hefty checking account requirements, can get even more cash back on all categories. However, unlike competitors, it doesn’t provide added features such as travel insurance or extended warranties.

  • 3% back on category of your choice and 2% on groceries up to $2,500 combined each quarter
  • Preferred Rewards members could get even more cash back
  • Spending cap for bonus rewards is low
  • No protection or insurance

Cash Back Credit Cards Guide

Credit cards can be complicated. Calculating and evaluating points versus cash back can be confusing, plus other rewards, perks and insurance policies are hard to keep track of.

In this guide, you’ll find information about cash back rewards specifically, how they work and how to choose the right card for your purchasing habits.

What are cash back credit cards?

Although it sounds too good to be true, cash back credit cards do just that: they give you a small amount of your spending back. Unlike points, which are subject to the issuer’s system and formulas, cash back corresponds to dollar value. That is, if you spend $100 and your credit card offers 1% cash back, you’ll get $1 back in your account.

This can be instant, like with the Apple® Card, but cash back may be paid monthly or yearly.

Depending on your preferences, this cash back can be used as a statement credit to pay the card back or as points in the issuer’s website, which you can redeem for certain products and services. Or it can be actual cash that’s deposited into your bank account.

It’s important to note that all credit cards are different and will only earn cash back from “qualifying purchases” or “eligible purchases.” In some cases, qualifying purchases can mean those made in specific stores or categories, while other purchases yield no cash back or other rewards.

However, in most credit cards (and all of our picks), this exception is usually mentioned for the base rate or flat rate. This means that you won’t get cash back for transactions such as money orders, balance transfers, person to person deals (on Venmo, for example), or things of that nature, but most purchases will at least get the minimum cash back.

Reading the card’s fine print is important, especially in terms of specific exclusions about bonus categories or offers. For example, some cards specify that wholesale clubs don’t qualify as supermarkets. That means purchases at Costco or other wholesale clubs won’t earn the high rate of rewards available for supermarkets, but you’ll still earn the base rate cash back.

Types of cash back credit cards

Most credit cards feature a specific type of reward structure, such as a flat cash back percentage on all purchases or bonus categories, in which the cardholder earns bonus rewards for purchases of a certain brand or kind of product or service. Some cards might combine aspects of both of these reward structures, in a hybrid approach.

These are the main types of cash back you’ll find:

Flat rate credit cards

Flat rate credit cards have a fixed cash back percentage across the board. Anything you purchase, with the exception of money orders, fee payments and similar transactions, will earn the pre-established percentage.

Most flat rate cards have a higher cash back base rate than other types. A typical flat rate card earns 1.5% cash back. Many of these cards feature “Unlimited” in their names, which, as that implies, means there are no monthly or annual spending limits past which you can’t earn rewards. However, unlimited flat rate cards usually do not have bonus categories that can garner you higher cash back rates.

Recently, there’s been a spike in cards with a 2% across all purchases, such as the Citi® Double Cash Card and the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card.

These are great choices for those who want a single card to get high rewards on absolutely everything. For lucky cardholders who can pay expensive bills with their credit card, like rent or a car loan (if your landlord and bank allow it without charging fees), this can be especially rewarding.

Bonus categories or tiered rewards credit cards

Many cards offer higher cash back rates in special categories — in some cases, much higher. The categories can vary widely and depend on the type of card you get. For example, a specialized dining card may earn you bonus cash back at restaurants, while a card partnered with a specific store might give extra rewards or special discounts on purchases with that retailer.

These rewards are usually tiered. For example, a card can offer 4% back on gas, 3% at drugstores, 2% on streaming and 1% on everything else. This minimum on everything else is regularly referred to as the base rate.

Rotating or quarterly categories cards

Some cards offer a set rate of cash back, but change categories throughout the year. For instance, a card can offer 5% on gas during the first quarter of the year, and then 5% on travel during the second.

This method usually requires activation on the user’s part and regular attention to see what the calendar brings next.

Custom categories cards

Some card issuers let users choose a specific category for bonus rewards every quarter from a preselected list.

However, this method, just like rotating categories, tends to have a low spending cap for bonus rewards and requires activation.

Cash back categories

While they reward spending differently, most cards use similar types of categories and reward each one differently.

These categories are flexible, however, which can work in your favor or not, depending on your shopping habits. For example, if you buy groceries at a drugstore, you’ll get the rate awarded to drugstore purchases, not supermarkets. With some cards, that means higher rewards; with others, it’s a lost opportunity.

These are some of the most common ones:

Restaurants. This includes restaurants, fast foods, cafes and most sit-down establishments. Some issuers use the word dining, which can sometimes (but not always) include takeout and delivery services.

Gas stations. This rewards you when paying at the pump, but it might also include other purchases at the gas station. Another possible category is transit, which typically includes gas, along with public transportation, paytolls, taxis, parking and more.

Travel. Travel doesn’t just include airfare, but hotels and rental cars as well. While most popular travel-focused cards use points systems, there are some cash back options with high travel rewards when you use their digital portals for booking vacations.

Supermarkets. Often specified as “U.S. Supermarkets,” this is just what it sounds like. However, in many cases the category excludes wholesale stores like Costco and stores such as Walmart and Target®. This category of spending can also be called groceries.

Retailers. Some stores tend to offer high reward rates if you use their co-branded cards at their retail locations. In this case, it’s not so much a category but benefits you can get from purchases made with a particular store or brand.

Streaming services. Some cards offer high rewards on select streaming services, which considering all the current options, can amount to quite a bit. Be sure to check each issuer’s list of approved services to ensure your favorites are included.

Pros and cons of cash back credit cards

There are two main types of rewards structures: points and cash back. While cash back is fairly straightforward, points are measured by the issuers’ own systems.

If you want a more in-depth look at credit cards all around, and the differences between rewards structures, you can check out our article on the best credit cards, which takes a look at credit cards of all types.

Here are some advantages and drawbacks of cash back over points.

  • Cash back is literally money in your pocket.
  • Cash back is simple and easy to calculate.
  • Cash back can be used to pay back the credit card itself.
  • Introductory offers often feature reduced interest charges and can provide extra cash back.
  • Cash back’s value is often static, while points can be worth more when redeemed.
  • Cash back cards usually have fewer perks than premium, point-based cards.
  • Rewards could give false sense of saving, driving users deeper into debt.
  • Annual fees could outweigh rewards.

How to choose a cash back credit card

In the process of applying for a cash back credit card, you should take into account your personal spending habits as well as other factors.

Here are some things to consider before filling the application.

1. Your credit status

The first step when applying for a new credit card is to understand how lenders analyze your financial status and what their requirements are. Some lenders are more lenient than others, but all will take into account your income, your debt-to-income ratio and your FICO score, among many other factors.

If you’re just starting out, you may want to learn what is a credit score and how to build credit, and perhaps obtain a copy of your credit report if one is available. You could also take a look at secured credit cards, for example, or check out our best student credit cards if you’re in college.

And, if your credit isn’t where you’d like it to be, check out the best credit repair companies, which could help you raise your score before you apply for a new card.

2. Consider spending habits when looking at rewards rates

If you’re looking for the best cash back credit cards, it means you’re in it for the rewards. Analyze and compare the different tiers of cash back offered by each card and evaluate how much you spend in each category.

For example, a big family or an avid home chef might benefit from high rewards on groceries with a card like the Blue Cash Preferred® from American Express. However, someone who doesn’t have a particular category that accounts for a lot of their monthly expenses could be better off with a flat-rate option such as the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card.

3. Calculate whether the annual fee is worth it

While cash back cards don’t typically charge high annual fees, you’ll still have to analyze whether the rewards make up for the fee. Say you manage to earn $1,000 in cash back with a 2% cash back card, but have to pay a $95 annual fee. Your yearly cash back total will be $905. But if you could instead make $950 with a 1.5% cash back card that doesn’t charge an annual fee, you’d be better off.

4. Compare introductory offers

Most cards include intro offers to lure applicants. Some are in the form of sign-up bonuses, giving $50 to over $1,000 after the cardholder reaches a spending requirement within a few months from the account opening.

Some cards also offer a promotional period with a 0% introductory APR on purchases and, possibly, balance transfers — frequently, on both. This period can be from nine months all the way up to 21 months.

The best cards tend to have a combination of these offers. You might see, for example, a $200 bonus after spending $500 in the first three months, along with 12 months of 0% intro APR.

5. Compare cardholder benefits

Other than monetary rewards like cash back and gift cards, some cards offer an array of benefits that can include travel insurance and purchase protection.

A benefit such as cell phone protection can be the one distinguishing factor between two cards. Make sure you look at sections breaking down all the services provided, normally titled “Service & Protection.”

You may also find luxury travel benefits included with the card such as priority boarding, restaurant reservations or airport lounge access.

Cash back cards vs. travel cards

Travel benefits are big reasons people want rewards cards. However, travel cards normally use points or miles instead of cash back. The cards with the most benefits can also be quite expensive, with annual fees ranging from $95 to $695. These typically require excellent credit too.

However, cash back options — especially no-annual fee cards — can be more versatile while still offering good benefits for traveling. For example, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Chase Freedom Flex℠ offer 5% when booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, as well as flight cancellation insurance.

If you’re looking for top-notch perks like credit for TSA PreCheck® or access to luxury lounges, check out our article on the best travel credit cards.

Latest News in Cash Back Credit Cards

Cash Back Credit Cards FAQ

How does cash back work on credit cards?

Cash back credit cards return a percentage of what you spend on your credit card on a periodic basis. This percentage can be redeemed to buy certain products or services through the bank’s online portal, or as a check in the mail. It can also be given as a statement credit to pay back part of your credit card bill.

What is the best cash back credit card?

The best cash back credit card depends on your spending habits and needs. We consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which has no annual fee and offers a wide array of perks and bonus cash back categories, as one of the best ones out there, as well as the Blue Cash Preferred® from American Express, which despite its $95 annual fee, offers high rewards in everyday categories.

Cash back is not taxable since it’s considered a rebate or discount. However, sign-up bonuses that are awarded just for enrollment could be taxable. If you earned many of these throughout the year, especially from business credit cards that offer higher amounts, keep in mind that you’ll most likely have to pay taxes on them.

When does my cash back expire?

In the majority of cases, cash back does not expire unless the account is closed.

How do I redeem my cash back?

Redeeming cash back depends on the issuer. In some cases, like the Apple® Card, you’ll receive the cash back through their app almost immediately. With others, the cash back is reflected each billing cycle. With some cards, you’ll get your rewards yearly in the form of a check.

Can I ask for cash back with a credit card at the cash register?

No, you can only get cash back at the register when you use a debit card. When credit cards refer to “cash back,” it means the card issuer gives you back a small percentage of what you spent throughout the year as a check or points, usually redeemable on the card issuer’s website.

How We Chose the Best Cash Back Credit Cards

In order to find the best cash back credit cards for each situation and lifestyle, we used the following methodology:

  • Cash back rates. We looked at cash back percentages on all purchases, bonus categories and other offers available for each card. Depending on the usefulness of each category, the spending limits, if any, and base rate cash back, we calculated the possible earning rate to see how competitive each card is.
  • Trustworthiness. There are a lot of options out there in terms of credit cards, but not all come from well-known and trustworthy issuers. We looked at the JD Power 2022 Credit Card Satisfaction Study℠, as well as reviews on other third-party websites, to see which banks and issuers did right by their customers.
  • Introductory offers. Intro offers are a big deal when applying for a new card. We looked at issuers that offer high welcome bonuses and/or long-term 0% introductory APR on purchases, as well as any of their intro balance transfer promotions.
  • Extra benefits. Most cards have ways of protecting users from fraud, but some have additional protection such as extended warranties, rental car insurance and flight cancellation coverage. Many cash back cards are lacking in this category, so those that offer solid protection had a leg up on their competition.

Summary of Money’s Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2022