The Best Cash-Back Credit Cards for June 2022 – CNET

Cash-back credit cards offer rewards on your transactions that can be redeemed for statements credits, checks or other forms of “cash”. There are a wide variety of cash-back credit cards tailored to all sorts of budgets. Some cards even adapt to your spending habits. Many cash-back credit cards also offer welcome bonuses, introductory APRs and other valuable benefits. The offers below offer most people the best overall value. See which offer fits your lifestyle best.

Best overall cash-back credit card

Intro OfferIntro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back!

APR15.74% – 24.49% Variable

Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Recommended Credit Excellent/Good

Reward Rates

  • Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more;
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  • 1.5% on all other purchases

Annual Fee$0

Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months

Balance Transfer APR15.74% to 24.49% Variable

Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Foreign Transaction Fees 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

Penalty APR Up to 29.99%

  • Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more;
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  • 1.5% on all other purchases

Our Take

Of all the credit cards available on the market, the Chase Freedom Unlimited covers the most bases when it comes to cash-back categories. It covers travel (5% when booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards), dining (3%) and drugstores (3%), while covering every other purchase with a blanket 1.5% cash-back rate. And for the first year you have this Chase credit card account, you can earn an additional 1.5% cash back on up to $20,000 in purchases, for up to $300. Most welcome bonuses aren’t offered in the form of additional cash back.

For online shoppers

Intro Offer$200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

APR14.74% – 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Intro Purchase APR0% for 15 billing cycles

Recommended Credit Excellent/Good

Reward Rates

  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases)
  • Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases)
  • Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.

Annual Fee$0

Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee (min. $10) applies.

Balance Transfer APR14.74% – 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

Late Payment Fee See Terms

Foreign Transaction Fees 3%

Penalty APR up to 29.99% APR

  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases)
  • Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases)
  • Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.

Our Take

Most cards that offer category selection for maximized cash rewards limit these selections to a single quarter. But the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card* allows you to select “online shopping” as an indefinite rewards category where you can earn 3% cash-back rewards. Note that you must manually choose this category via online banking or the mobile banking app, as the default category is “gas.” 

You can also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (earn 3% and 2% cash back on up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then 1%), and 1% cash back on all other purchases. The welcome bonus doesn’t hurt, either.

Intro OfferEarn a $350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.

APR14.74% – 24.74% Variable

Intro Purchase APR0% on purchases for 12 months

Recommended Credit Excellent/Good

Reward Rates

  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases

Annual Fee$95

Balance Transfer Fee N/A

Late Payment Fee Up to $40

Foreign Transaction Fees 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.

Penalty APR 29.99% Variable

  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases

Our Take

While there are a lot of other quality gas cards available, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express boasts simplicity with straightforward cash-back rewards. With 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, it earns one of the highest returns on the market for gas purchases. 

Even for city dwellers and commuters, this card offers great transportation benefits with 3% cash back on transit (trains, buses, parking, rideshare services, taxis, tolls and more). This is a unique offering among gas credit cards. There are more cash-back categories to enjoy with this card, as well, such as 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). Cash back is received in the form of Rewards Dollars that can be redeemed for a statement credit.

Check out our full review of the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express for more details.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Restaurants and entertainment

Intro Offer$300 after you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

APR16.24% – 24.24% (Variable)

Intro Purchase APRN/A

Recommended Credit Excellent, Good

Reward Rates

  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining, entertainment and popular streaming services
  • Earn 3% at grocery stores
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases

Annual Fee$95

Intro Balance Transfer APRN/A

Balance Transfer APR16.24% – 24.24% (Variable)

Balance Transfer Fee None for balances transferred at the Transfer APR.

Late Payment Fee Up to $40

Foreign Transaction Fees None

Penalty APR None

  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining, entertainment and popular streaming services
  • Earn 3% at grocery stores
  • Earn 1% on all other purchases

Our Take

With the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card*, you can earn an unlimited 4% cash back on dining and takeout. The $300 welcome bonus (when you spend at least $3,000 within the first three months of account opening) can essentially cover your annual fee ($95) for the first three years. 

You can even earn more cash-back rewards when you make purchases on entertainment (4%), popular streaming services (4%) and grocery stores (3%). For everything else, a 1% cash-back rate covers you. “Entertainment” is a rare category among cash-back credit cards, but Capital One defines it to include movie theaters, sports promoters (professional and semiprofessional live events), theatrical promoters, amusement parks, tourist attractions, aquariums, zoos, dance halls, record stores, pool halls and bowling alleys.

If you want to avoid the annual fee, or don’t have a very large dining and entertainment budget, you may also want to consider this card’s sibling, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, or some of our other best picks for restaurant credit cards.

Intro OfferEarn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months

APR15.74%, 20.74%, or 25.74% Variable APR

Intro Purchase APR0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening

Recommended Credit Excellent, Good

Reward Rates

  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

Annual Fee$0

Intro Balance Transfer APR0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers

Balance Transfer APR15.74%, 20.74%, or 25.74% Variable APR

Balance Transfer Fee up to 5%; min: $5

Foreign Transaction Fees 3%

Penalty APR None

  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

Our Take

It doesn’t get simpler than the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card. This card boasts a 2% flat cash rewards rate on purchases — one of the highest flat cash rewards rates on the market. You don’t have to worry which card you’re going to use for which purchase. And while there are other cash rewards credit cards that’ll net you 2%, the intro bonus, $0 annual fee and introductory APR make this card stand out among the competition. This is also a great option for an emergency credit card.

See our full review of the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card for more details.

FAQs

How do cash-back credit cards work?

Cash-back credit cards offer cardholders rewards on their spending in the form of statement credits or cash. A statement credit is a reduction in the amount due to the credit card company on your monthly bill. Note that rewards are not always available the month you earn them — they are usually applied to your balance by credit card issuers after one or two billing cycles.

The redemption process for cash-back credit cards is either automatic or very simple. Some cards automatically apply cash rewards to your statement balance each month. Others require you to log in and redeem available rewards points for statement credits. Most points don’t expire, but you will lose them if you close the account before redeeming them. 

What types of cash-back credit cards are there?

Cash-back credit cards generally fall into four primary categories: flat-rate, tiered, rotating or choose-your-own. 

Flat-rate cards offer the same rate for every purchase. Tiered cards offer a different rewards rate for different categories of spending. Rotating category cards offer different rewards each quarter, determined by the card issuer. Choose-your-own category cards allow you to choose your rewards category.

How do you choose a cash-back credit card?

To choose the best cash-back credit card for you, the most important thing is to have a clear idea of how you’re already spending money each month. Once you identify the categories where you have the highest, most consistent spending, use the charts in our list to determine which card will net you the highest return. Consider other features of the cards, too, such as APR, sign-on bonuses and foreign transaction fees — make sure you get something that fits with your lifestyle and spending habits.

Your credit card choice may also be affected by your credit score. Most of the cards we recommend require a good or excellent credit score, which is typically around 670 or higher. If you don’t meet the credit criteria required, there are credit cards available that are specifically for those trying to rebuild credit, like secured credit cards. Alternatively, you can look into the best credit cards for no credit and the best credit cards for bad credit.

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash-back, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles — with the understanding that everyone’s financial situation is different — and the designated function of a card. 

We prioritized the cash-back credit cards that reward broad spending categories where Americans tend to spend significant amounts of money, instead of narrow categories like streaming services or “home improvement.” Then we compared reward offerings with potential returns based on typical spending budgets derived from Bureau of Labor Statistics data. 

In the end, we chose five high-value options from the crowded market. Some are no-annual-fee, flat-rate credit cards that earn the same amount on all purchases. Some require you make a certain qualifying purchase to start earning cash-back rewards. Some credit cards offer a signup bonus reward as well as cash back. Some are limited to specific spending categories (such as whether it’s a grocery purchase, gas purchase, dining, transit or travel) but have a higher rewards rate, while others charge an annual fee. We then outlined important information for each card, including whether it has a transfer fee, bonus redemption thresholds or introductory APR. We also specified general credit requirements for eligibility (if you find you aren’t eligible for a card that offers cash-back rewards, try a student credit card first). 

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, click here.

*All information about the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card and the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.