Best Cash Back Credit Cards (May 2021)

If you’re looking for a new cash back credit card, you’re in the right place.

When it comes to the perks of a credit card, cash back is king. Years ago, 1% was the standard offer. As competition has intensified, you’re now seeing more and more cards that offer 1.5% cash back on all purchases as well as special tiers for certain categories of purchases.

The sign-up bonuses have also become bigger and more competitive as issuers look to win a coveted space in your wallet. A sign-up bonus for a hundred dollars or more is common nowadays.

Before you get a new cash back credit card, be sure to check our list to make sure you’re getting the best offer.

In our list, we explain the cash back structure of each card, the sign-up bonus if there is one, as well as other introductory offers, fees, and perks worth knowing. We also explain why we included in our list because not every cash back card is worth being included.

You’ll want to make sure your credit score is in good shape because issuers tend to approve those with good credit or better.

Here’s the list of the best cash back credit cards:

Table of Contents
  1. Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card – 1.5% + $150
  2. Capital One Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card – 1.5% unlimited + $200
  3. Chase Freedom Unlimited – 1.5% unlimited + $200
  4. Chase Freedom Flex- cashback bonus categories + $200
  5. Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards – 3% dining, 2% grocery + $200
  6. Blue Cash Preferred from American Express
  7. Citi Double Cash Card – Up to 2% cashback

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card – 1.5% + $150

Wells Fargo Cash Wish VisaUnlimited 1.5% cash back is where the bar has been set and the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card offers just that – no rotating categories, no activation, and no hoops. You earn 1.5% on all purchases with no limit. Also, in the first twelve months, you get unlimited 1.8% cash back on digital purchases made with Apple Pay and Android Pay.

The card also offers a juicy $150 welcome bonus when you spend $500 in the first three months of account opening with no annual fee.

The cash back is a little interesting because you can withdraw it from a Wells Fargo ATM as soon as you hit $20 in cash back. Once you get above $25, you can get it via check, statement credit, or a deposit into a Wells Fargo bank account. I’m not sure why it’s set up that way but it’s just a $5 difference.

  • Sign-up Bonus: $150 welcome bonus when you spend $500 in the first three months of account opening
  • Cash Back Rate: unlimited 1.5% cash back credit card on all purchases
  • Introductory Offers: Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Fees: $0 annual fee, 3% foreign transaction fee.
  • Extra Perks & Protections: This card has a cell phone protection plan (up to $600 per incident and $1200 annual) as well as travel insurance-like coverage for lost/damaged luggage.

Why we like this card: It’s a simple solid cash back card with no rules to confuse you – get an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. The $150 welcome bonus on just $500 of spending over three months is a nice bonus. Full review on the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Card here.

Learn more about this card and others

Capital One Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card – 1.5% unlimited + $200

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit CardThe Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card gives you unlimited 1.5% cashback on every purchase and a sign-up bonus of $200 after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months.

Capital One says you need Excellent credit to qualify for this card, which is the only potential hiccup about this great cash back card.

  • Sign-up Bonus: $200 after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months
  • Cash Back Rate: 1.5% cashback on every purchase
  • Introductory Offers: 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months
  • Fees: $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
  • Extra Perks & Protections: Auto rental collision damage waiver, Roadside assistance, travel accidental insurance, and extended warranty protections.

Learn more about this card and others

Chase Freedom Unlimited – 1.5% unlimited + $200

Chase Freedom Unlimited CardThe Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a $0 annual fee cash back credit card that is part of a solid group of cash back credit cards. You get 5% on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% at drug stores and dining, plus 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

It has a sign-up bonus of $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months.

The cash back you earn is in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points and you can redeem them for gift cards, merchandise, and “cash equivalents.” If you want cash, you can get cash (statement credits, bank deposit).

  • Sign-up Bonus: You earn a $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months
  • Cash Back Rate: 5% on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% at drug stores and dining, plus 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • Introductory Offers: Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases
  • Fees: $0 annual fee.
  • Extra Perks & Protections: This card offers purchase protection as well as a free credit score with Chase Credit Journey.

Why we like this card: Great baseline cashback percentage and a $200 bonus, not bad and similar to our previous card, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Card.

Learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card

Chase Freedom Flex- cashback bonus categories + $200

The Chase Freedom Flex Card offers 1% on all other purchases. It also offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter (must be activated).

What’s nice is the card has a great sign-up bonus – get $200 after $500 in purchases in the first 3 months. If you aren’t a heavy spender, this card’s bonus and cash back rate may be a good fit for you.

As is the case with most Chase card, the cash back is in the form of points that you can redeem in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. You can convert it to gift cards, merchandise, and “cash equivalents.” (statement credits, bank deposit)

  • Sign-up Bonus: Get a $200 after $500 in purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Cash Back Rate: Earn 1% on all other purchases. Also, 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter (must be activated).
  • Introductory Offers: Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases.
  • Fees: $0 annual fee.
  • Extra Perks & Protections: This card offers purchase protection, price protection, as well as a free credit score with Chase Credit Journey.

Why we like this card: It’s the easiest to get bonus we’ve seen, you get $200 after $500 in purchases in the first 3 months, and you get a great cashback bonus schedule.

Learn more about the Chase Freedom Card

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards – 3% dining, 2% grocery + $200

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards is the card for people who like to eat. You can earn an unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment as well as 2% at grocery stores. You earn an unlimited 1% on everything else – nothing to activate too, you get this all year.

You also get a great sign-up bonus of $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months. There is a $200 annual fee that is waived for the first year.

  • Sign-up Bonus: $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months
  • Cash Back Rate: 3% cashback on dining and entertainment, 2% cashback at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • Introductory Offers: No offers
  • Fees: $200 annual fee, waived for the first year. No foreign transaction fees.
  • Extra Perks & Protections: Auto rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage coverage, travel accident insurance, and extended warranty protections.

Why we like this card: One of the highest cash back rates for dining and entertainment, plus a solid welcome offer.

Learn more about this card and others

Blue Cash Preferred from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred from American ExpressThe Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has recently updated its cashback structure to offer one of the highest percentages we’ve seen for a non-promotional offer – 6% at supermarkets with a $6,000 per year in spending limit.

Here’s the full list of cashback tiers on this card:

  • 6% cashback at supermarkets on $6,000 per year in spending,
  • 3% cashback at gas stations with no limit,
  • 3% cashback on transit (ground transportation only),
  • 6% cashback on select US streaming (Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, ShowTime, Pandora, Apple Music, Amazon Music or Video but not Amazon Prime – see the American Express website for full detailed list),
  • 1% on everything else with no limit.

There’s also a $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 6 months, plus get 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card in the first 6 months (up to $200 back). – which is a really juicy welcome bonus.

  • Sign-up Bonus: $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 6 months, plus get 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card in the first 6 months (up to $200 back).
  • Cash Back Rate: Tiered cashback rate explained above, but minimum is 1% cash back with no limit.
  • Introductory Offers: Intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening
  • Fees: $95 annual fee, $0 introductory annual fee for one year. See Rates and Fees
  • Extra Perks & Protections: American Express’s suite of perks and protections, which you can see here.

Why we like this card: 6% on supermarkets, 3% at gas stations with no limit and 1% on everything else is a great cashback card. The only (potential) drawback is the $150 statement credit annual fee after the first year’s waiver – but you make up for it with the potential $360 in annual cashback you can earn from supermarket shopping.

Compare this card and others

Citi Double Cash Card – Up to 2% cashback

The Citi Double Cash Card is a 2% cash back credit card where you get 1% cash back when you buy and 1% cash back when you pay the statement. It’s tiered but in a way that makes no difference to someone who pays off their statements in full. If you don’t, it’s only a 1% cash back card until you pay the balance. If you carry a balance, you can still get the second 1% but you have to pay at least the minimum each month.

  • Sign-up Bonus: $150 statement credit.
  • Cash Back Rate: 6% on supermarkets, 3% at gas stations with no limit and 1% on everything else.
  • Introductory Offers: Intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening.
  • Fees: $95 annual fee. 3% foreign purchase transaction fee.

Why we like this card: If you pay off your balance in full each month, this is a 2% cashback card with no limit and no annual fee. You have to redeem the cashback but that’s a small step to take for a 2% card. The only drawback is that there is no sign-up bonus.

Which card looks most appealing to you?

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards featured, please visit the following links: Blue Cash Preferred(R) Card from American Express: See Rates and Fees

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Jim Wang

About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of three who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and a farm in Illinois via AcreTrader.

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  1. Stewart Graham says

    Outstanding article. Kudos for me for considering some of these cards. Unfortunately I suffer from inertia and “analysis paralysis”. I will definitely move forward on replacing my current card which is also recommended here. That should improve my rewards. I will recommend your column to my family.

  2. Jay says

    Hi Jim,

    Thank you for compiling this list. We have the Citi Double Cash back card already, and this past year we also signed up for Barclay’s Uber Visa Card. We love the Uber Visa Card as the cash back is 4% for restaurants and bars, 3% for travel, 2% for online shopping, and 1% for everything else. This is in addition to other perks.

    • IMdunDDS says

      Yeah, definitely recommend the 4% Uber – NO FEE, unlike Cap One Savor after the first year (therefore Savor won’t be as good unless you spend a TON on entertainment compared to a 2.5% Alliant card (below) – but you should get the Savor card and run with the $500 bonus w no fee the first year – then cancel card in that first yr).
      If you use only one card and spend $1600/mo, IMHO, the best cash back is Alliant Visa Signature – 3% first year, then 2.5% forever more, no limits, $95 annual fee. Starting at this spending level, it surpasses a no-fee 2% cash back card.
      Love that AMEX Blue Cash 6% groceries card
      For gas – PenFed card pays 5%
      Of course Amazon Prime card (Chase) pays 5% for Amazon purchases PLUS all of those movies and tv series and music streaming – $99 pays for itself soon enough

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