Cash Back Credit Cards 2018

Cash back offers are stacking up and you may not be getting the most out of your credit cards.

Note: many of these cards come with sign-up bonuses and introductory offers not mentioned here. as this article is focused on cash back value year after year through daily spending and not sign-up bonuses. Follow the link for each credit card to see the latest offers.

No Category Restrictions

If you only want to use 1 card, one of these is your best bet. It’s also nice to have one for when you are outside of your categories as most category rewards cards cap out at 1% on purchases outside of the designated categories.

Many of these cards have bonus/introductory offers that are not listed here. The primary purpose of this article is Cash Back. Click on each card for more details about bonuses and other details.

Alliant Visa Signature

If you are set on only using one credit card, this baby will get you unlimited 3% cash back the first year and then unlimited 2.5% cash back thereafter. But be aware this card has an annual fee so you need to make sure its worth getting over the Citi Double with unlimited 2% cash back and no annual fee.

2.5% Unlimited Cash Back

  • $59 Annual Fee
  • 0% Foreign Transaction Fee

Citi Double Cash

This is a very good card to have as a backup for when you are not in a premium points category where most card just give 1%. There is no annual fee but it has a foreign transaction fee so cant be used for travel abroad.

2% Unlimited Cash Back

  • $0 Annual Fee
  • 3% Foreign Transaction Fee

Capitol One Quicksilver

This is a pretty solid card with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. Its also a Visa Signature so had decent benefits. I went with this card over the above two because of the no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee.

1.5% Unlimited Cash Back

  • $0 Annual Fee
  • 0% Foreign Transaction Fee

Different Rewards Categories

These are some of the top cards for cash back in specific categories.

All cards in this category also include 1% unlimited cash back on purchases outside of categories or after maximum unless otherwise noted.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred

This card is very popular due to the 6% cash on grocery and 3% on gas back but does have a $95 annual fee. If you spend $6,000 on groceries every year this card  profit $265/year after the annual fee. Otherwise, the Blue Cash Everyday has no annual fee but only provides 3% cash back on grocery and only 2% on gas. Both cards are only 1% after the cap so you will want to keep track of your spending if you spend  a lot more than $6,000.

6% at Grocery Stores (up to $6,000/year)
3% at Gas Stations

  • $95/year
  • 2.75% Foreign Transaction Fee

Uber Visa

Full article on this card here:

4% at Restaurants, Bars, Takeout
3% at Hotels, Airfare, Vacation Home Rentals
$600 Mobile Phone Protection*

  • $0 Annual Fee
  • 0% Foreign Transaction Fee

Note: Details on the phone protection and other benefits found here.

Wells Fargo Propel Amex

Full article on this card here:

3% at Restaurants, Flights, Hotels, Gas, Car Rental, Transit
$600 Mobile Phone Protection*

  • $0 Annual Fee
  • 0% Foreign Transaction Fee

Note: Details on the phone protection found here.

Amazon Rewards Visa

If you are an Amazon Prime member, this card is a no brainier. You will get unlimited 5% cash back at Amazon with no annual fee. If you spend $1,980 a year at amazon, this card will pay for your Prime membership fee.

5% at, Whole Foods
2% at Gas Stations, Restaurants

  • $0 Annual Fee
  • 0% Foreign Transaction Fee

Chase Link:

Secured Credit Card

If you are building credit and want cash back, there is only one option.

Discover it Secured Credit Card

Even if you have bad credit you can still earn cash back. You will get 2% unlimited cash back the first year with Discover Match then unlimited 1% cash back thereafter, everywhere you go. This is a secured card so you will need to secure your credit line with a deposit. If you want a $1,000 credit limit, you need to make a $1,000 deposit to Discover ($200 to $2,500). Once they upgrade you to an unsecured card or you close out the account you will get the deposit back.

2% at Gas Stations, Restaurants (up to $1,000/quarter)
1% Unlimited Cash Back

  • $0 Annual Fee
  • 0% Foreign Transaction Fee

Travel Rewards Cards

Saving the best for the last. This category gets complicated and benefits very based on your travel preferences. I don’t travel much which makes the Uber Visa or Wells Fargo Propel more viable with no fees and many daily uses.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

My pick for a travel card is the Sapphire Reserve. After the $300 annual travel credit this card only cost $150/year; and with the $500 signup bonus its free for the first 3 years. I also chose this over the Platinum Card because it is a Visa Infinite which has some of the best travel benefits.

50,000 Point Signup Bonus ($500 cash $750 Chase Rewards*)
3x on Travel, Hotels, Cars, Restaurants (50% more at Chase Rewards*)
$300 Annual Travel Credit

  • $450 Annual Fee ($75 each additional authorized user)
  • 0% Foreign Transaction Fee

*Points are worth 50% more when you redeem them through Chase Ultimate Rewards meaning 10,000 points with a cash value of $100 would be worth $150 when used at Chase Ultimate Rewards.


American Express Platinum Card

My second choice to the Sapphire Reserve is the Platinum Card from American Express. This card is superior for airport lounge access and has a wider variety annual credits. Technically this card’s $550 annual fee would only cost only $50/year if you could use all the annual credits; $200 travel, $200 Uber (split up monthly) and $100 Saks Fifth Avenue.

60,000 Point Signup Bonus
5x Points on Flights
$200 Annual Travel Credit
$200 Annual Uber Credit (split up monthly)
$100 Annual Saks Fifth Avenue Credit

  • $550 Annual Fee ($175 each additional authorized user up to 3)
  • 0% Foreign Transaction Fee


How To Use Cash Back or Points

Statement credit is effectively cash back and usually how you should be redeeming your cash back or points. Almost never use them for things you could otherwise purchase with your credit card and earn more cash back on.

Most credit card providers make it very hard to redeem your points for cash (statement credit) and very easy to spend your points on things you could earn more points on. So unless you are able to redeem your points for more than the cash value, it is never worth it to redeem your points for anything but cash back.

Example, if you have $100 dollars in cash back (10,000 points) balance and you are using the Amazon Visa to make a $100 dollar purchase at amazon. If you use points to purchase the item you will end up with a $0 cash back balance. If you use the Amazon Visa to make the purchase, you will have a $100 balance and $105 cash back balance; so after you redeem $100 for statement credit to cover the cost of the item, you will have an additional 5%

This is however different for cards like the Sapphire Reserve which let you redeem your points for 50% more through Chase Rewards making $100 of statement credit worth $150 of purchases through the rewards portal. You will have to investigate your card to find out if such an option is available for you or not.

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