The best cash back / travel credit card is Capital One Savor because it has no foreign transaction fee and offers 1% - 4% cash back on purchases. The card gives 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, which makes it great for vacations. In addition, there’s 2% cash back on groceries and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, the card offers an initial bonus of $300 for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, which can provide a nice chunk of money to put toward a trip. Capital One Savor has a $95 annual fee.
Capital One Quicksilver is another good cash back credit card for travel. It gives a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases with a $0 annual fee. It also has an initial bonus of $200 for spending $500 in the first 3 months.
Both the Savor and Quicksilver cards require good credit for approval.
You might not want to use a cash back card for travel. Travel-branded credit cards often provide extra rewards for travel purchases. So you may want a cash back card for everyday purchases and a travel card for your trips.
Check out the Alliant Credit Union Visa Signature card. It has no foreign transaction fee and gives 3% cash back on all purchases for the first year. After that, it’s 2% back on everything. The card does have a $99 annual fee, but they won’t charge it during the first year. You’ll need excellent credit to get approved. Anybody can join Alliant CU by making a one-time $10 donation to the foundation Foster Care to Success.
The best way to get 10% cash back from a credit card is by earning an initial rewards bonus. For example, a bonus of $150 cash back for spending $500 within 3 months of opening an account – a deal several cards currently offer – is 10% back three times over. The Capital One Quicksilver and SavorOne cards have that 30% cash back initial bonus offer, as do the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards. They all have $0 annual fees.… read full answer
There aren’t any 10% cash back credit cards, at least none offering that much back on all purchases. But you can get 10% cash back from some credit cards in specific spending categories or thanks to promotional offers. For example, the NHL Discover it card offers 10% off ShopNHL.com and NHL.TV purchases. And Discover it Cash Back offers 5% back in bonus categories and gives double rewards the first year, for a total of 10% cash back on some purchases.
In terms of more consistent cash back rates, the highest on the market is Amex Blue Cash Preferred’s 6% cash back on $6,000 spent per year at U.S. supermarkets. For a high rate on all purchases, the best offer is Citi Double Cash, which gives 2% cash back.
Here are the best 2% to 10% cash back credit cards:
Best for groceries: Amex Blue Cash Preferred. 6% cash back on the first $6,000 per year at U.S. supermarkets, unlimited 3% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% on everything else. $200 for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. In 2016, Blue Cash Preferred and Blue Cash Everyday offered a limited-time promotion for 10% cash back on U.S. wireless telephone service. But it’s long gone now.
Best for gas: Amex Cashback Rewards Plus. 5% cash back on the first $3,000 per year in gas or military purchases, 2% on the first $3,000 at supermarkets and 1% on everything else.
10% first year rate: Discover it Cash Back. 5% cash back on the first $1,500 spent in quarterly categories and 1% on everything else. 10% cash back the first year, because rewards get doubled at the end of the year.
Best for hockey fans: NHL Discover it. 5% cash back on the first $1,500 spent in quarterly categories, 1% on everything else. Rewards doubled at end of first year only for total of 10% cash back. 10% Discount at ShopNHL.com and NHL.TV.
Best cash bonus: Chase Freedom. $150 for spending $500 in the first 3 months. 5% cash back on your first $1,500 spent in quarterly categories, 1% on everything else.
Best for travel: Capital One Venture. 50,000 miles for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months ($500 in travel). 2 miles per $1 on all purchases.
Best overall cash back rate: Citi Double Cash. 2% cash back on all purchases, 1% at the time of purchase and 1% when the purchase is paid off.
Best store card rate: Overstock.com Credit Card. 8% back in Club O rewards on Overstock purchases, 2% Club O rewards on gas and groceries, 1% Club O rewards on everything else.
The highest cash back rates all have caps. But you’ll always earn at least 1% back when you make a purchase.
Also note that some cards with high cash back earning rates have bonus categories that change every few months. Others have bonus categories that stay the same. In many cases, cards with lower but unlimited rates, like Citi Double Cash, will give more value in the long run.
Plenty of credit cards give bonus cash back rewards in certain purchase categories. Cardholders may receive extra value on gas, groceries, dining, entertainment, wholesale clubs and more. Other cards have bonus categories that change every quarter, giving you the chance to earn big on different types of purchases every few months. … read full answer
Lots of credit cards with cash back bonus rewards on purchases also offer an initial cash rewards bonus for spending a certain amount in the first few months. Plus, it’s good to remember that many credit cards without cash back bonus rates still give a solid cash back rate on all purchases.
Choosing between cash back rewards and travel rewards ultimately comes down to your spending preferences, the perks that specific cards offer, and how you plan to redeem rewards earnings. In general, people looking for flexible redemption options and rewards with clear values that can’t be changed by the card’s issuer should choose cash back rewards. But frequent travelers who enjoy perks such as free flights, airport lounge access, and hotel room upgrades have the chance to earn more total value from travel rewards.… read full answer
With travel rewards credit cards, the number of points or miles you’ll need to redeem for a free flight or hotel night, for instance, varies from issuer to issuer and card to card. Points/miles can also lose their value any time the card’s issuer decides to raise the number needed to get a certain dollar amount in redemption value. Cash back rewards, on the other hand, are easy to understand and will retain their value because they’re already expressed in terms of dollars and cents.
All told, cash back rewards are the better way to go for most people. However, there are a number of variables to consider on both sides. Not everyone always needs to choose between cash back and travel rewards, either. Having both a cash back credit card and a travel rewards card in your wallet can make sense in some situations.
Cash Back vs. Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Average Initial Bonus
Average Earn Rate
1.08% cash back
1.18 point/mile per $1 spent
More redemption options
More value on travel purchases
Generally higher fees, from $0-$400+
Foreign Transaction Fee
Up to 3%
Rewards never lose value
Rewards may be devalued
Recommended credit score
Offers for all credit scores
Offers for all credit scores
When choosing between cash back and travel rewards, it’s important to be realistic in how you’re going to use the card. And whichever type of rewards you pick, make sure to pay your bill in full each month, or else you could end up spending more in fees and interest than the rewards are worth.
Bottom Line: Cash Back vs. Travel Rewards
You should get a cash back credit card if you want to earn everyday rewards and enjoy straightforward, flexible redemption options.
You should get a travel rewards credit card if you travel multiple times per year and are confident you’ll earn enough in rewards to cover the cost of the annual fee – without overspending.
You should have both if you can manage more than one account responsibly and want the best collection of earning rates for your biggest spending categories. Just make sure you pay your balances in full each month.
As long as you use your credit cards responsibly, you have the potential to reap lucrative rewards on your everyday purchases. Just be sure to actually put those rewards to use. Rewards that go unredeemed defeat the purpose getting the card in the first place.
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