Saving (and Earning) Money with Cash Back Credit Cards

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In this day and age of credit, cash still reigns supreme. Cash back cards can be pretty lucrative in getting you a rebate on your hard-earned money that you spend. We carry some of these cards ourselves and it’s not always about trying to earn points for travel. We’re going to focus on $0 annual fee cards so these will get you something for nothing. That’s already a win in our book.

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash Card, Photo: Citi

Citi Double Cash Card, Photo: Citi

Earn: 1% on all purchases and an additional 1% when you pay for those purchases

Annual Fee: $0

Provided you pay your balances (and we’ll assume you do), 2% back is a good rate.

Chase Freedom / Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom quarterly categories, Photo: Chase

Chase Freedom quarterly categories, Photo: Chase

Earn: Chase Freedom provides 1% on all purchases; bonus rotating categories each quarter allow for an 5% earn up to $1500 (categories may include gas stations, restaurants, wholesale clubs, Grocery stores); Chase Freedom Unlimited gets you 1.5% back on all purchases

Annual Fee: $0 for both cards

The best part of the Chase Freedom is the rotating bonus categories. You really can earn a nice amount. One of team members paid for a wedding celebration at a restaurant and was able to earn quite a bit on the tab. The only downside to the card is that you need to opt-in each quarter to earn the 5% bonus. The Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5% back on a consistent basis is above average for regular spend in other categories. While we want to focus only on cash back cards only with the article, you can also transfer points through Chase Ultimate Rewards but you’ll need the Chase products mentioned here to do so. 

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Proto: Fidelity

Proto: Fidelity

Earn: 2% on everything

Annual Fee: $0

This is one of the best deals out there for a cash back card. The 2% back is hassle-free, without any gimmicks or specific categories. It’s also without limits so rack up as much as you can. You can also link your card account to fund another Fidelity account such as a 529 College Savings plan or a retirement account so it’s a great way to save for the future.

Discover it® Card

Earn 5% this quarter at Photo: Discover

Earn 5% this quarter at Photo:

Earn: 5% on purchases at rotating quarterly categories such as gas stations, restaurants, and wholesale clubs; 1% on all other purchases; one-time match of all points for new customers after the first year

Annual Fee: $0

Like the Chase Freedom card, the Discover it® card provides 5% back on rotating quarterly categories. The kicker is that Discover will match all the cash back that you’ve earned in the first year. This could be very lucrative, especially if you know you have some major expenses coming up. If you tend to shop on the internet, the Discover Deals shopping portal can also be a good place to earn extra points. Often, major retailers offer double digit cash back percentages.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Earn 3% at supermarkets - Photo: Michael Coté via Flickr, used under Creative Commons License (By 2.0)

Supermarket – Photo: Michael Coté via Flickr, used under Creative Commons License (By 2.0)

Earn: 3% at US Supermarkets; 2% at US gas stations and restaurants; 1% everywhere else.

Annual Fee: $0

If you find most of your spend is at supermarkets then this may be the right card for you. Keep in mind that if you buy groceries at Wal-Mart, Target, or Costco, chances are they aren’t considered supermarkets.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Photo: Capital One

Photo: Capital One

Earn: 1.5% on all purchases

Annual fee: $0

Can you hear Samuel L. Jackson’s voice here? As exciting as he can make this product sound, we think it’s pretty ho-hum. While 1.5% is above average, there are certainly better options on this list.

What card you choose depends on where you shop. If you have lots of hungry mouths to feed, then a card such as the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express with 3% back at supermarkets may be for you. However, you can get 5% back in that category once a quarter with the Discover it Card or the Chase Freedom. Or, you don’t want to deal with rotating categories and just want to earn a flat rate? Look at the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card or the Citi® Double Cash Card. As you can see, there’s something here for however you spend your money. Check out the Card Match tool to see what bonus offers may be in store for you to make these cards even more valuable.


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