How do we select the cards below?
1. We look for cards that allow you to earn unlimited cash back.
2. We hate fine print – the cards we feature have solid rewards programs without a lot of strings attached.
With Discover it there is no annual fee, no overlimit fee, no foreign transaction fee, and no pay by phone fee. In addition to this you will not be charged a fee the first time you make a late payment.
The rewards program allows you to earn up to 5% cash back on every purchase with popular spending categories that rotate throughout the year, to compliment your spending. You will also earn up to 1% cash back on all purchases that are outside of these rotating categories – with no caps on the amount of 1% cash back you can earn.
Discover it also allows you to earn up to a 20% cash back with this card by shopping online through ShopDiscover, which is Discover’s online shopping mall. ShopDiscover has hundreds of retailers including Apple (5% cash bonus) and Macys (5% cash bonus).
Last but not least, you can now redeem any cash back you earn with Discover it™ for purchases during checkout on Amazon.com and iTunes. In other words, you can now choose to pay for purchases directly with your cash back, instead of having to request a check or statement credit to redeem. This is our favorite feature and we hope to see this implemented on other online shopping sites throughout the year.
Discover it Rewards:
- Generous… 5% Cashback Bonus on up to $1,500 in purchases at Home Improvement Stores now through June with free and easy sign-up. And 1% cash back on all other purchases.*
- Get unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases at over 8 million merchants nationwide (Nielson Report, Feb 2012).
- Call our new Cashback ConcerigeSM who guides a customized online site tour to help you get the most from your rewards based on how you use your card.
Important: To increase your chances of being approved for Discover it, do not do a balance transfer when you apply. Wait and see what credit limit you are given, Discover gives you up to 2 months once you are accepted to do a balance transfer.
There are no rotating categories to worry about, what you see is what you get and the superior rewards program offered by American Express is what makes this card great. This card also has no annual fee, and you earn the full rewards right away – there is no minimum amount that you are required to spend.
Blue Cash Everyday Rewards:
- Earn 100 Reward Dollars after you make $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of Cardmembership.
- Earn Cash Back: 3% at US supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2% at US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
- Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
- Simple and Straightforward: With the Blue Cash Everyday Card, you can start earning cash back. No rotating reward categories. No enrollment required.
- No annual fee, 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months. After that, your APR will be a variable rate, currently 12.99%-21.99% with flexibility to pay over time.
- Terms and Restrictions Apply.
Blue Cash Tip: An easy way to earn cash back with this card (and to reduce the amount of time it takes to pay your bills each month) is to pay your bills with this card using the Automatic bill pay service offered by American Express. This way you don’t have to worry if your bills are paid on time, and you’re earning 1% cash back simultaneously – just remember to pay off your card balance in full each month.
Updated 05/15/2012: In addition to the other rewards, American Express is now offering a $100 cash bonus after your first $1000 in purchases during the first three months with Blue Cash.
This card gives college students access to the same rewards program and perks traditionally reserved for people with excellent credit. You don’t get a watered down program like with most student credit cards.
Discover Student it Rewards:
- Get 5% cash back at restaurants and movies right now through March on up to $1,500 in purchases with free and easy sign-up. Enjoy more quarterly 5% programs in categories like gas, online shopping and more throughout the year up to the quarterly cap when you sign up for each program.
- And get unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases at over 8 million merchants nationwide (Nielson Report, Feb 2012).
Like this card’s big brother, Discover it for Students has no annual fee, no over-the-limit fee, no fee the first time you pay late and your APR won’t in increased the first time you pay late.
In addition to cash back at restaurants and on travel, there is an AMAZING opportunity to save on gas with this card. You receive 3% cash back on your gas purchases at ANY station, including on already discounted gas at Costco.
Since this is an Amex card you also receive purchase protection and an extended warranty on many items that you purchase using your card.
True Earnings Rewards:
- 3% Cash back at US gas stations and on gasoline at Costco up to $4,000 per year in purchases, then 1%
- 2% cash back at US restaurants; 2% cash back on eligible travel purchases, including at Costco; 1% cash back on other purchases, including at Costco
- Terms and limitations apply; You will receive your cash back annually in the form of a reward coupon
- The Two-In-One Card: it’s an American Express® Card and Costco membership card, with no annual fee for Costco members
- Cardmembership offers access to benefits such as Global Assist and Purchase Protection* *Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company
- Terms and restrictions apply
There are quite a few things to look for when choosing a credit card that will give you the maximum amount of cash back.
1. Find a Card That Compliments Your Daily Spending Habits
The rewards structure for cash back credit cards can vary greatly. Some cards may give you 3% cash back on groceries while others give you 2% cash back on gas. After the credit crunch in 2008 many credit card companies began to restructure their card reward programs, making it important to evaluate your current rewards card.
The key to finding a great cash back credit card is to choose a card that that complements your spending habits. To put it simply – find a card that gives you more cash back for items that you spend the most on each month. For example: If you spend a lot on gas and groceries the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express is a great card because it offers 3% back on groceries and 2% back on gas which is much higher than the 1% back or less offered by most cards. In addition most cash back credit cards will give you 1% back on all other purchases by default.
2. Understand Rotating Rewards vs Standard Rewards
When comparing cash back cards you will find that there are primarily two different kinds rewards programs. Some cash back cards offer a certain set percentage cash back all year round. Others will offer a lower set percentage with a higher bonus percentage on categories that rotate throughout the year.
An example of this is the Discover More card which offers 5% cash back on popular categories like gas and groceries that rotate throughout the year, and then 1% back on all other purchases. For most people however finding a card that offers 2% or 3% cash back year round will yield a higher average rewards rate. This is something we take into account when selecting our recommended cash back credit cards.
3. Don’t Sweat The Annual Fee
Many people ask if they should apply for a card that has an annual fee. If you are going to use the card for the majority of your purchases, a card with an annual fee will generally pay for itself in 1 – 2 months. A great example is the TrueEarnings card from American Express. Although the TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express doesn’t have a traditional annual fee, it does require that you are a Costco member, which is $50 per year. Even if you’ll never shop at Costco I still recommend becoming a member just to get this card, the amount of money you’ll save with this card over the course of a year (assuming you use it for the majority of your everyday purchases) easily outweighs the $50 annual Costco membership fee.
If you are debating between a card that offers 2% cash back on purchases without an annual fee, or 3% back on purchases with an annual fee of $100 the card with the annual fee is a no-brainer because you are going to earn up to 50% more rewards.