There are plenty of other cash back credit cards to consider, though. You can start your search with WalletHub’s editors’ picks for the best cash back credit cards on the market. It’s good to compare multiple options before submitting an application, to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck.
Cash back is a benefit that gets you a discount for certain purchases. In the context of credit cards, cash back is a type of credit card rewards. You can earn cash back through signup bonuses for meeting certain spending requirements, or through ongoing rewards, as a percentage of the amount spent on qualifying purchases. Some credit cards also offer cash back anniversary bonuses in the form of statement credit for qualifying purchases.… read full answer
Cash back credit cards make for a great addition to anyone’s wallet because they provide a straightforward earning and redemption mechanism in a currency that cannot be devalued by a credit card company. The best cash back credit cards tend to be those that keep things simple by providing attractive flat earning rates across all purchases, or those that offer higher rates in your biggest spending categories. Cash back credit card rewards can usually be redeemed for statement credits, bank account deposits or paper checks, depending on the credit card company.
Other types of cash back
Some also think of getting cash from a credit card's credit line, like withdrawing cash from an ATM, as cash back. This type of transaction is considered a cash advance and should be avoided. Cash advances are extremely expensive transactions that are subject to fees and a cash advance APR that applies immediately, with no grace period.
Aside from credit card rewards and cash advances, cash back could also refer to money that you get at a store register when you’re checking out. But you can pretty much only do this when using a debit card to pay. The money is added to your purchase amount and debited from your bank account. Some stores have a limit on the amount too and not every store will let you do it.
Some car dealerships offer “cash back” when you’re buying a car, too. It’s basically just a rebate on the car. You can usually get it as a check or as a discount on your down payment.
The difference between cash back and points is that the former is the most versatile type of credit card rewards, as it can be redeemed for anything, and there’s never any doubt about how much it’s worth. Points, on the other hand, have a value set by the credit card company and tend to be worth the most when redeemed for travel. Credit card companies won’t always clearly disclose points values, and those values can change over time. It’s possible that points could be worth 1 cent apiece one day and 0.8 cents each the next.… read full answer
You can spend points for many different things. Usually, you can trade them for travel, gift cards, unique experiences, charitable donations or even cash. There are no restrictions on what you can use cash for. You can typically redeem cash back for a statement credit, paper check, or direct deposit to a bank account. One thing credit card shoppers should watch out for are cards advertised as offering cash back that really provide points. For example, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers “5% cash back” in certain bonus categories. But what it actually gives is 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1, which cardholders can then trade for cash back at a rate of 1 cent each.
Earning rate: Usually at least 1% cash back or 1 point per $1 spent.
Devaluation: Points can be devalued by the issuer, while cash back can’t.
Redemption options: Statement credit, check or deposit for cash. Travel, merchandise, gift cards, cash and more for points.
When it’s the best choice: Points for frequent travelers. Cash back for everyone else.
Let’s take a look at two high-profile cards in a battle of cash back vs. points.
Citi Double Cash Card tops the cash back offerings with 2% cash back on all purchases and an introductory APR of 0% for 18 months on balance transfers, with a balance transfer fee of 3% intro fee ($5 min) for each transfer in first 4 months, after that 5% ($5 min) for each transfer. It also chases a $0 annual fee and requires good credit to get.
But if you’re a frequent traveler, Chase Sapphire Preferred is a more attractive option. It gives 5 points per $1 spent on travel purchased through Chase, 2 points per $1 on all other travel purchases, 3 points per $1 on dining and online grocery purchases, 3 points per $1 on select streaming services, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. It has an initial bonus of 60,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. This card’s points are worth 1 cent each toward cash back or gift cards or 1.25 cents each toward travel. There’s a $95 annual fee and the card requires good credit.
For both cash back and points cards, you can expect to lose your rewards if your account closes for any reason. Most cards don’t let your rewards expire over time. But Citi Double Cash Card’s cash back expires if you don’t use your card for 12 months. And on points cards alone, your points can be devalued if the issuer decides to charge more points for its rewards. So, frequent redemption is essential.
So, the bottom line is that frequent travelers should check out points cards. Otherwise, cash is king.
Cash back vs. miles is a frequent debate among rewards credit card shoppers, but it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Both are fruit, or rewards that you earn on every purchase, in this case. And both have their virtues, though a lot depends on your personal tastes. For example, you always know how much cash back is worth, while miles tend to be more mysterious. Miles are also associated with travel, which is fun. But much like you can eat both an apple and an orange, there’s room in your wallet for a … read full answercash back credit card and a credit card with miles. The best approach is to use a cash back card with a high baseline earning rate for everyday purchases and a credit card with miles for travel expenses.
It’s still good to know how these two major rewards currencies compare, no matter how many credit cards you decide to get. So let’s take a look at some of their biggest similarities and differences.
Typical Redemption Method: Statement credit vs. Eligible travel expenses
Averages are from WalletHub’s 2021 Credit Card Landscape Report. And if you’re wondering, rewards devaluation is when a credit card company increases the number of points or miles needed for a certain amount of redemption value, which decreases the value any unredeemed points or miles you may have. That’s not a concern with cash back because a credit card company can’t change the value of a dollar.
Cash back is just a lot more straightforward than miles because it’s already in dollar terms. So you’ll always know exactly how much you’re earning on a particular purchase as well as how much your unredeemed rewards are worth. With credit card miles, you have to compare the number needed for a certain redemption item – a flight, for example – to how much that item would cost if purchased normally.
But cash back and miles credit cards have a lot in common, too. For example, you’ll find a similar mix of rewards programs among both types of cards. Some offer the same rewards earning rate on all purchases. Some give you more rewards in designated bonus categories, if only up to a certain amount spent. And others offer even higher bonus rates in categories that change every few months. You’ll also find initial bonuses on both types of cards but only on some offers in each group.
WalletHub Answers is a free service that helps consumers access financial information. Information on WalletHub Answers is provided “as is” and should not be considered financial, legal or investment advice. WalletHub is not a financial advisor, law firm, “lawyer referral service,” or a substitute for a financial advisor, attorney, or law firm. You may want to hire a professional before making any decision. WalletHub does not endorse any particular contributors and cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of any information posted. The helpfulness of a financial advisor's answer is not indicative of future advisor performance.
WalletHub members have a wealth of knowledge to share, and we encourage everyone to do so while respecting our content guidelines. This question was posted by WalletHub.
Please keep in mind that editorial and user-generated content on this page is not reviewed or otherwise endorsed by any financial institution. In addition, it is not a financial institution’s responsibility to ensure all posts and questions are answered.
Ad Disclosure: Certain offers that appear on this site originate from paying advertisers, and this will be noted on an offer’s details page using the designation "Sponsored", where applicable. Advertising may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). At WalletHub we try to present a wide array of offers, but our offers do not represent all financial services companies or products.