Most of us could benefit from a rewards credit card that gave us a break on our most common household expenses. As long as we are going to spend that money on groceries, gas, and other regular purchases, we might as well get something back for it.
Thankfully, there are a number of great cash back rewards cards to do just that.
But with so many rewards cards on the market today, how do you choose the card that's right for you?
You let CreditShout sort out the top contenders so you can choose the best cash back credit card to suit your needs.
The Contenders: Blue Cash vs Double Cash vs Quicksilver vs Costco Anywhere
To start things off, let's quickly compare how four top rewards cards stack up. For this part. we will be comparing each of the Blue Cash Everyday Amex, Citi Double Cash, Capital One Quicksilver, and Costco Anywhere cards.
These are all popular cash back credit cards that carry no annual fee.
Capital One Quicksilver
The Quicksilver is a straightforward rewards card that earns a flat-rate 1.5% back on every purchase with no spending categories. There is no limit on how much you can earn and the card has no annual fee. Rewards never expire and your cash back can be redeemed at any time. The Capital One Quicksilver card has a $100 sign-up bonus after you spend $500 during the first 3 months.
Citi Double Cash
The Double Cash card from Citi rewards you for spending and for being responsible. The card earns 1% cash back on all purchases plus another 1% back as you pay your bill, whether you pay in full or over time. There are no caps on the cash back you can earn and no spending categories. The Double Cash card has no annual fee.
Click here to read our complete review of the Citi Double Cash card.
Costco Anywhere Visa
The new Costco Anywhere Visa -- which debuts in June 2016 -- replaces the TrueEarnings card from American Express.
The Costco Anywhere card has one of the most generous rewards programs in the industry with 4% back on gas (at gas stations and Costco), 3% back on restaurants and travel, 2% back at Costco, and 1% back on everything else. While the card has no annual fee, you will need a Costco membership -- which starts at $55 per year.
Our review of the Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi can be found here.
American Express Blue Cash Everyday
The Blue Cash Everyday card from American Express was designed for families with generous cash back on common household expenses.
The Everyday card earns 3% back at supermarkets (on up to $6,000 a year), 2% at gas stations, 2% at many department stores, and 1% back on everything else. There is no annual fee.
The Blue Cash Everyday card currently has a sign-up bonus of $100 after you spend $1,000 during the first three months.
How These Cards Save You Money
To see how each card saves you money, let's compare the cash back rewards you can earn from your common household spending. This includes money spent on gas, on dining, at the grocery store, on clothing, and the ubiquitous "everything else" category.
For the purposes of this article, we will assume you always pay your bill in full and on time to make it easier to calculate the everyday rewards you can earn.
The average U.S. household spends about $2,000 per year on gasoline, or about $165 a month. The Costco Anywhere Visa offers the best cash back rate on gasoline among all rewards cards, with the exception of the PenFed Platinum Rewards card. That card, however, requires Pentagon Federal Credit Union membership.
Here's how each card would reward you for average annual gas spending:
- Costco Anywhere: $80
- Blue Cash Everyday: $40
- Citi Double Cash: $40
- Quicksilver: $30
The average household spends $3,970 on groceries, or $300 per month. Note that most rewards cards do not classify stores like Costco, Sam's Club and Walmart as supermarkets so spending at these stores.
Here's what each card would earn if you shop exclusively at grocery stores:
- Blue Cash Everyday: $119
- Citi Double Cash: $79
- Quicksilver: $59.50
- Costco Anywhere: $40 (but the same spending at a Costco warehouse earns you $79 cash back!)
Do you spend even more at grocery stores? The Blue Cash Preferred Amex earns a whopping 6% cash back on groceries. If you spend more than $2,5000 per year on groceries, you will earn back the $75 annual fee when compared to 3% back from the Blue Cash Everyday card.
The typical U.S. household spends $2,780 per year on dining away from home. That's almost $232 per month! Several rewards cards offer boosted rewards for restaurant spending, which usually includes fast food.
Here's how each card rewards you for restaurant spending:
- Costco Anywhere: $83.50
- Citi Double Cash: $55.50
- Quicksilver: $42
- Blue Cash Everyday: $28
Consumers spend an average of $1,700 per year on apparel. A few credit cards offer boosted rewards for department store spending, including the AmEx Blue Cash Everyday card.
Here's how each card rewards you for clothing purchases:
- Blue Cash Everyday: $34
- Citi Double Cash: $34
- Quicksilver: $25.50
- Costco Anywhere: $17 (if you buy your clothing at Costco instead, you will earn $34 cash back)
Your Other Spending
Consumers also spend about $12,000 per year on other non-housing expenses, including homeowners and car insurance, entertainment, and utilities. I know that I feel like most of my money on these "other" items, and not on the common bonus categories offered by many cards.
This is where flat-rate cards can come out ahead. And why everyone should consider having one in their wallet.
The Citi Double Cash and Quicksilver cards may not offer the higher reward rate for gas, groceries, and other spending categories, but they do offer a higher rebate for all other spending.
If you spend $5,000 per year on your credit card for miscellaneous expenses like utilities, entertainment, and car maintenance, here's what each card will earn you:
- Citi Double Cash: $100
- Quicksilver: $75
- Costco Anywhere: $50
- Blue Cash Everyday: $50
How Your Spending Adds Up
We've seen how each card performs in the different bonus categories, and on your other spending. So let's add it all up and see if we can determine a winner. And, for the purpose of these calculations, we'll be generous and assume that your Costco card is used to buy all your groceries and clothes at Costco.
The final numbers are:
- Costco Anywhere: $326.50
- Citi Double Cash: $317.50
- Blue Cash Everyday: $271
- Capital One Quicksilver: $232
Our Final Takeaway
All four cards are similar in that they have no annual fee and reward you for spending you need to do anyway. The best way to decide which card (or cards) will work best for you is figuring out how much you spend per month in each of these categories.
For most people, the Costco Anywhere card will earn the most cash back over the course of a year. But having a card like the Citi Double Cash is good to have for spending that doesn't fall under gasoline or groceries, and will allow you to earn even more back. If you combine those two cards, you would earn a whopping $376.50 back!
By the way, if you were willing to spend the $75 annual fee, the same spending outlined above would have earned you $352 (after subtracting the fee) with the Blue Cash Preferred! So sometimes that annual fee can pay.
Get Even More Cash Back Rewards
Want to see how we rank all the top cash back cards? Check out our EPIC Guide to Cash Back Rewards. See how rotating rewards and cards with annual fees do when compared to other popular cash back credit cards.