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The Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2017

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The Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2017

Do you like getting cash back with every credit card purchase? While many credit cards offer cash rewards, not all cards are created equally. These are the best cash back credit cards to maximize your spending power.

Flat-Rate Cash Back Credit Cards

This article is broken into two different types of cash back credit cards, flat-rate that earn the same amount on all purchases and tiered rewards that award a higher amount on select spending categories.

Citi Double Cash

Cashback Rate: 2%
Annual Fee: $0
Sign-Up Bonus: $0

The Citi Double Cash has the highest flat-rate reward payout of all the flat-rate credit cards. While most cards give you the full reward rate when you make the purchase, Citi does it slightly differently.

You earn 1% when you make the purchase and the other 1% when you make a payment.

Two downsides of the Citi Double Cash is that you need $25 in rewards to redeem a statement credit & it doesn’t come with a sign-up bonus like the other best cash back credit cards offer.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Cashback Rate: 1.5%
Annual Fee: $0
Sign-Up Bonus: $150 or $175

The Chase Freedom Unlimited pays back 1.5% on all purchases and earns Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed for cash statement credits or, if you own the Chase Sapphire Preferred travel rewards card, you can redeem the points for travel rewards.

Despite only having a 1.5% cash back rate, which is still really good, is the opportunity to earn $150 after spending $500 in the first 3 months and the opportunity to earn an additional $25 by adding an authorized user.

Related: Should I Choose a Cash Back Credit Card or a Travel Credit Card

Capital One Quicksilver

Cashback Rate: 1.5%
Annual Fee: $0 ($39 for Quicksilver One)
Sign-Up Bonus: $100

Capital One offers two different versions of the Quicksilver. The no-fee version is the Quicksilver and the Quicksilver One has an annual fee of $39. Both have the same reward rate of 1.5%, but, the Quicksilver One is for those with average credit that have either defaulted on a loan in the past 5 years or have owned a loan or credit card for fewer than 3 years. Owning an annual fee credit card, might not be ideal, but, if you can earn enough rewards to offset the fee, the Quicksilver One is a good option.

A cash back rate of 1.5% is pretty good as the national average is 1% for flat-rate cards. And, you also have the opportunity to earn an additional $100 when you spend $500 in the first three months (no-fee Quicksilver only).

Tiered Cash Back Credit Cards

This second bunch of cash back credit cards also offer cash back on every purchase, but, reward particular purchases with a higher rate. If you happen to spend big on these particular categories, you might do better than with a flat-rate card.

Chase Freedom

Cashback Rate: 5% on rotating categories & 1% on everyday purchases
Annual Fee: $0
Sign-Up Bonus: $150 or $175

Not to be confused with the flat-rate Chase Freedom Unlimited that rewards 1.5% on all purchases, the Chase Freedom provides 1% on every purchase and 5% on the first $1,500 in purchases on rotating spending categories.

For example, in the 2nd Quarter of 2017, you can earn 5% on the first $1,500 spent at grocery stores & 1% for all non-grocery store purchases. In the 1st Quarter of 2017, Chase awarded 5% at gas stations, meaning any grocery store purchases made during this quarter would have only netted 1%.

You earn cash back rewards that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

The sign-up bonus is $150 when spending $500 in the first three months & earn an additional $25 by adding an authorized user.

Discover It

Cashback Rate: 5% on rotating categories & 1% on everyday purchases
Annual Fee: $0
Sign-Up Bonus: Cash Rewards matched for 1st year

The Discover It is very similar to the Chase Freedom as it rewards 1% on all purchases and 5% on rotating quarterly categories, although they might offer the 5% at different times of the year. For example, the Chase Freedom is offering 5% cash back on grocery stores in the 2nd Quarter of 2017, but Discover might run this special during the 3rd quarter or offer it at wholesale clubs instead of traditional grocery stores like Kroger, Safeway, Harris Teeter, etc.

As Discover matches the cash rewards you earn during the first year, you have the potential to earn a higher sign-up bonus than what the Chase Freedom offers.

One downside of owning a Discover credit card is that you may run into difficulty finding merchants that accept Discover when shopping at small retail establishments or traveling overseas.

Blue Cash Everyday from American Express

Cashback Rate: 3% Groceries, 2% U.S. Restaurants and Gas Stations, 1% Remaining Purchases
Annual Fee: $0
Sign-Up Bonus: $250

If you want tiered rewards but don’t want to keep up with the hassle of rotating bonus categories, the Blue Cash Everyday provides tiered cash back rewards without an annual fee.

You can earn 3% at grocery stores, 2% at U.S. restaurants and gas stations, and 1% on all other purchases.

If you are willing to pay an annual fee of $95, you can earn 6% cash back at grocery stores and 3% at U.S. restaurants and gas stations.

The Blue Cash Everyday has the highest sign-up bonus of all the recommended credit cards in this article. You can earn $250, but, you will need to spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.

Choosing the Best Cash Back Credit Card for You

When it comes to choosing the best cash back credit card, you should primarily look at the card that will provide the highest reward rate for your spending habits.

A tiered card will be most valuable if you spend a lot of money on groceries or the rotating spending categories. The flat-rate cards will be the better option if you want the simplicity of knowing you earn the same rate on all purchases or won’t spend enough on the bonus categories to offset the 1% base reward rate.

If two cards will offer similar rewards, choosing the card with the better sign-up bonus is a good tiebreaker, unless, you some of the additional card benefits, such as travel insurance or free FICO credit scores, add additional value to the card.

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