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Best Rewards Credit Cards: Double miles, 5% cash, and more – December 2018

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Rewards Credit Cards Illustration

Looking for a rewards credit card to earn cash or travel from the spending you’re already doing? There are hundreds of rewards cards out there, and we’ve combed through our database to hand pick the very best rewards credit cards, most with no annual fee.

If you’re just looking for one card to earn cash rewards, your best bet is to use our calculator to get a personalized recommendation based on your spending habits. Otherwise, read on for our top picks. This guide will help you understand whether you are ready to earn rewards, and whether earning cash back or miles for travel rewards is your best bet.

 

Intro 0% for 15 months and rewards

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is a $0 annual fee card that earns 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 1x points on other purchases.

 

With Membership Rewards® Points, you can turn your points into real airline miles with several frequent flier programs, including Delta SkyMiles, JetBlue True Blue, Virgin America Elevate and British Airways Avios. If you fly Delta and use SkyMiles this is a simple way to build on the SkyMiles you already have without a fee (since the Delta branded cards all have a fee). Check here to see if focusing on convertible points that can turn into real airline miles is a good plan for you.

 

Even better, if you don’t want to deal with airline miles, you have the flexibility to use your points for travel on almost any airline. Just book your flight via the American Express Travel website and pay for it with points. Other redemption options include gift cards, merchandise, pay with points at checkout and statement credit.

 

This card also comes with an intro 0% for 15 Months on purchases that allows you to carry a balance without racking up interest (after the intro period, 14.74%-25.74% Variable APR). And, you earn Membership Rewards® points on those purchases!

 

The information related to The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

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  • Simple Welcome Offer
  • You need 20 transactions each month to get the 20% bonus

Tip: Make any large purchases or balance transfers as soon as you can so you can benefit from the intro 0% for 15 Months on purchases and intro 0% for 15 Months on balance transfers (after, 14.74%-25.74% Variable APR).

Read our full review of The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express here.

 

1. Cash back rewards credit cards

Start here: No annual fee, 2x cash

The most important recommendation we can make is to start with either the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer or Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card in your wallet.

Both earn double cash on everything you purchase and pay off with no limits, and no annual fee.

If you prefer MasterCard or have less than perfect credit, go with the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer. If you prefer Visa or plan to use the card abroad, go with the Fidelity (it has a low 1% foreign transaction fee).

If your credit is fair or you have no credit history, then consider one of these options with a slightly lower cash back rate.

Once you have one of these base cards, you can look at our other favorite cards to earn 3%, or even 5% on some of your other spending. You can scroll down this page to see our top picks, or go to our full directory of dozens of cards that earn 3% or better cash back in many categories.

 

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has easy double cash rewards with a $0 annual fee.

You Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay, so it’s easy to earn double cash on everything you buy with the card.

And since there’s a $0 annual fee, you don’t have to miss out on the seductive 5% cash back you sometimes see on other cards. Just keep the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer in your wallet for most of your spending, and if you have a card that earns 5% in special categories, just use it for that spending, so you can really rack up the cash rewards.

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  • Earning cash back is simple – there are no special categories or limits
  • There is a fee on foreign transactions, so only use this card for purchases in the U.S.

Tip: You need to earn or use rewards at least once every 12 months, or else your rewards will expire.

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on Citibank’s secure website

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card

2.5% cash back with an annual fee

If you’re willing to pay a $59 annual fee, waived the first year, this card offers an unlimited 3% cash back during the first year; 2.5% cash back afterwards. Alliant is a credit union anyone can join online and you don’t need to be a member to apply. If you travel abroad there are no foreign transaction fees to worry about. So is the fee worth it? Basically, if you spend more than $1,000 a month on the card, you’ll earn more than the annual fee in cash back compared to the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer.

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  • Good disclosure: they tell you what they need to know
  • Simple introductory bonus
  • Impossible to know your interest rate until you apply

Tip: Be aware this card is only for people who are eligible for high credit limits, so it’s harder to get than the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer. You’ll need excellent credit and a good income to qualify.

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on Alliant Credit Union’s secure website

Up to 5% rewards with a little effort

Once you have a double cash rewards card in your wallet, you’re ready to start considering cards that earn 5% cash back in special categories. If you’re really serious about earning the most cash from your spending, you can get all of these rotating category cards and leverage the fact they earn 5% in different categories. Then, use your base double cash rewards card for everything else.

All of these cards have a limit on how much cash back you can earn at 5%, so you’ll want to pay attention to that, and some of them require you to enroll each quarter to activate your 5% cash back, so if you miss the deadline you’ll earn just 1%.

Chase Freedom®

Our pick for small spenders & travelers

With Chase Freedom® you can Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

If you spend the full $1,500 in bonus categories each quarter all year long, you could earn $300 cash back a year from your bonus category spending.

A good introductory bonus for small spenders. Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. That’s like earning 30% cash back on your first $500 in purchases with the card and gets you off to a fast start.

Boost your travel rewards. If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for travel rewards, you can combine your points with those from the Chase Freedom®, letting you turn your Chase Freedom® points into real airline miles with Chase Ultimate Rewards® partners like United MileagePlus® and Southwest Rapid Rewards®, which can make your points worth even more.

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  • There’s a nice, simple sign on bonus
  • You have to enroll every quarter to earn 5% in bonus categories
  • There are late payment and cash advance fees.

Tip: You generally have about 2 and a half months during the quarter to activate your 5%. For example, for January – March 2018, you can activate by March 14, and still get the 5% in your bonus category spending for the whole quarter, even if you made purchases in the category before you activated.

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Discover it® Cash Back

Best 5% cash for bigger spenders

The Discover it® Cash Back and Chase Freedom® are pretty similar when it comes to rewards, but if you spend more than about $1,000 a month, the Discover it® Cash Back is your better bet if you’re looking to choose just one.

Double cash back better for big spenders. As an intro offer for new cardmembers, Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.So big spenders get more out of this than the introductory offer on the Chase Freedom®.

Plenty of 5% categories. Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Earn 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases..

  • January until March 2018 – Gas Stations & Wholesale Clubs
  • April until June 2018 – Grocery Stores
  • July – September 2018 – Restaurants
  • October – December 2018 – Amazon.com & Wholesale Clubs

If you spend the full $1,500 in bonus categories each quarter all year long, you could earn $300 cash back a year from your bonus category spending.

 

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  • There’s a nice, simple sign on bonus
  • You have to enroll every quarter to earn 5% in bonus categories
  • There are late payment and cash advance fees.

Tip: One gotcha about the Discover it® Cash Back is that you only get the 5% in bonus categories for spending you do after you activate your bonus each quarter. For example, for the April – June 5% categories, if you activate on April 15, only spending from April 15 to the end of June will qualify, even if you made purchases in a 5% category before then.

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

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Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

Best 5% with no enrollment hassle

If you want 5% in rotating categories each quarter without having to enroll each quarter, consider the NUSENDA Credit Union’s Platinum Cash Rewards card.

Automatic 5% categories. You’re automatically eligible for 5% cash rewards each quarter, up to $1,500 worth of spending across the categories each quarter. Currently that’s typically a $1,500 per quarter maximum, like the Chase Freedom®. But the categories where you can earn 5% are a bit broader.

For 2018 the 5% cashback bonus categories include:

  • January – March: Groceries and Gas
  • April – June: Restaurants, Movies, and Home Improvement
  • July – September: Gas and Education
  • October – December: Restaurants, Hotels, Airfare

The introductory bonus is the weakest of the bunch, and offers 2% on all your purchases for the first 90 days. You’d have to spend $15,000 in 90 days to beat the Chase Freedom®‘s $150 sign on-bonus (Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.)

 

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  • No need to enroll every quarter to earn 5% in bonus categories
  • You need to join a credit union, though anyone can join NUSENDA

Tip: When you apply, you’ll be asked where you live or work to determine your eligibility to join NUSENDA Credit Union. If you don’t live in one of the New Mexico counties listed on the application, just enter the company you work for, and they’ll call you to offer you a non profit organization you can join for a small one time fee to be eligible.

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Cash back for frequent diners

What’s better than 2% cash rewards? 3%.

While you can get 5% cash back on dining some quarters with the 5% foursome cards above, to get consistently good cash back on dining all the time, read on.

You can also check out our full list of the best cards for dining cash back.

Uber Visa Card

Best unlimited dining cashback rewards

There is a $0 annual fee with this card. The Uber Visa Card offers 4% back on dining, 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, and 1% on everything else. You can earn points through UberEATS and web shopping to video and music streaming services.

This rate is great for people who dine out, whether it’s through a restaurant, a bar, a takeout joint on the corner or UberEATS.

There is a great sign-up bonus: Earn $100 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days. Also, you can earn up to a $50 credit for online subscription services after you spend $5,000 or more on your card per year.

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  • Good disclosure: they tell you what you need to know
  • Simple introductory bonus
  • Impossible to know your interest rate until you apply

Tip: Use this card for all dining, hotel and airfare purchases to maximize your rewards at the higher percentage rate.

Grocery cash rewards

Groceries are one of the most popular spending categories, and you can check out our full list of the best cards for grocery cash back.

But if you’re out to earn the most possible cash back from your grocery shopping, here is our pick:

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Best grocery cash back for heavy shoppers

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is the card that can earn the most cash from U.S. supermarket purchases at 6% up to $6,000 per year, then 1%, but there are two big hoops to deal with.

  1. There’s a cap of $6,000 a year in supermarket spending that earns 6% (then 1%), so you can get a maximum of $360 a year in rewards at the 6% rate.
  2. There’s a $95 annual fee. So, this is really offering 4.4% cash back on supermarket spending if you spend the full $6,000 a year at U.S. supermarkets and take the annual fee out of your rewards.

So the rule is this: if you spend about $300 – $800 a month at supermarkets, consider this card. Otherwise, get 3% back at supermarkets with no annual fee with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express or Consumers Credit Union Visa Signature Cash Rebate Card (anyone can join their credit union).

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  • The biggest supermarket cash back rate.
  • There is a $95 annual fee and a cap on the supermarket cash rewards you can earn at 6%.

Tip: If you shop at big box stores like Walmart or Target, those aren’t considered supermarkets, even when you’re buying groceries, and spending there won’t earn the grocery cash back bonus.

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

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Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Best grocery cash back for Whole Foods Market

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card offers cardholders to Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases. The rate you earn at Whole Foods Market rivals other grocery cards and is great considering there is no cap on the amount you can spend and no annual fee. However, keep in mind a Prime membership is required — annual plans cost $99 or $49 for students.

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  • Earn a high cash back rate on Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market purchases
  • Prime membership is required to earn the 5% back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market purchases

Tip: If you don’t have a Prime membership and don’t plan on getting one, check out the Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card.

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on Chase Bank’s secure website

The information related to the Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Cash rewards for less than perfect credit

If you’re credit’s not perfect, but you’re now able to pay your cards in full each month, you won’t yet qualify for the very best cash rewards, but you can do well with no annual fee.

Discover it® Secured

Best cash rewards for rebuilding credit

If you have little or no credit history, or are rebuilding credit, the Discover it® Secured is the best way to do it while earning rewards.

You can earn 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations (on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter). Plus, get 1% cash back on all your other purchases. There is a $0 annual fee. A security deposit of $200 or more will establish your credit line (up to the amount that Discover can approve). There are automatic monthly reviews starting at 8 months to see if you can be transitioned to an account with no security deposit.

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  • $0 annual fee.
  • The Regular APR is 24.99% Variable.

Tip: You will get your official FICO® credit score for free with this card. Watch it closely, because the goal of a secured card is to graduate to an unsecured card as quickly as possible.

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

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2. Travel Rewards Cards

Real airline miles

If you’re serious about travel, you want points that give you the option to turn them into real airline miles. Yes, there are ‘no hassle’ cards out there that promise to avoid the rules and traps of airline miles, but you’ll often pay more in points if you use those cards, especially if you’re flying on expensive international flights.

 

 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Best for serious travel rewards

The information related to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Serious travel rewards are all about being able to earn points you can transfer into real airline miles or hotel points with several travel partners, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card‘s roster of partners is one of the most useful round. It’s why so many travel enthusiasts love this card.

Transfer to real airline miles and hotel points. You can transfer your points to nine airline and four hotel partners: Aer Lingus AerClub, British Airways Executive Club, Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM, Iberia Plus, JetBlue TrueBlue, Singapore Airlines, Southwest Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and World of Hyatt.

A fallback for when mile seats aren’t available. You always have the option to book flights directly via Chase on most airlines without the restrictions of frequent flier programs. Every 10,000 points is worth $125 in flights, hotels, or rental cars booked via the Chase website.

A big introductory bonus. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with a big introductory bonus offer that can earn you award travel fast. (Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®).

2x points on dining and travel. You get double points on all dining and travel purchases you make, even cab rides, fast food, and subway tickets.

Check to see if trying to convertible points that can turn into real airline miles makes sense for your habits, but if it does, this is a great card to get started earning big travel value fast.

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  • There are no foreign transaction fees.
  • There is a $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95.

Tip: For a real powerhouse combo, pair this up with a no annual fee Chase Freedom®. The points you earn from the Chase Freedom® can be added to those from your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, letting you take advantage of the fact the Chase Freedom® earns 5x points in special bonus categories.

And if you really want to turbocharge rewards, but can deal with a higher annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers 3x points on travel and dining.

Points that work like cash for travel

If you don’t want to put in the work to get the extra value real airline miles can offer, but like rewards for travel, consider a card that earns points that work like cash. With these cards you just pay for your flight or hotel with the card, and then use points to get statement credit.

 

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Best for not messing with miles

If you’re a big traveler, the action is with real airline miles. But if you don’t want to keep track of rules, and still want great rewards for travel, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is one of the biggest earners available.

Pay for travel, get it reimbursed. Instead of using an airline mile program, with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card you just pay for travel with your card, then use your Venture® miles to get it reimbursed on your statement. 10,000 miles is worth $100 toward any travel.

2x miles on everything. Everything you buy with the card earns 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day, so you can earn up to twice as fast as many airline cards.

A big introductory bonus. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card comes with a big introductory bonus offer that can save you hundreds on your next trip.

 

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  • There are no foreign transaction fees.
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Tip: You can’t mix and match Venture® miles with any regular airline miles you already have. Venture® miles are simply like cash you can use to pay for travel charged to your card.

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This card has a pretty basic. You Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, and you can use those points to cover any travel purchase. There is a $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fee.

$50,000+ in Bank of America accounts = big earning. Where it gets interesting is if you have $50,000 or more in retirement, savings, checking, or other account balances with Bank of America. That qualifies you for the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program which lets you earn 2.25x – 2.6x points per dollar with no limits.

That’s because Platinum and Platinum Honors level members of Preferred Rewards get a 50% – 75% bonus on all the points earned with many Bank of America credit cards, including the Travel Rewards card.

You can rollover any of your 401k or IRA accounts to a Merrill Edge account with no maintenance fees, so you don’t need a huge checking or savings account balance to get this benefit.

No other card offers so much straight cash for travel earning potential off your spending across any category.

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  • There are no foreign transaction fees.
  • You need a big balance in Bank of America accounts to get the most out of the card.

Tip: Bank of America cards have the option to request a PIN that you can use for foreign purchases at places that don’t accept a signature.

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on Bank Of America’s secure website

3. Learn more

Are you ready to earn rewards with a credit card?

Rewards credit cards can be great, and earn you hundreds of dollars a year in savings, but they are still credit cards, with all the dangers that come with them.

Answer these questions

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you’re not ready for a rewards credit card.

  • Are you unsure if you’ll be able to pay your balance in full every single month?
  • Do you plan to do a balance transfer to your card?
  • Do you sometimes make late payments?
  • Do you tend to max out your current credit limit, even if you pay it off?

 

Even if you can safely say ‘no’ to the questions, be aware that the lure of rewards can cause you to spend more than you otherwise would.

 

Credit card companies make money every time you spend on the card, so they want you to spend more. And the more you spend, the greater the chance you spend more than you can afford, which makes them even more money in interest payments.

Cash back or miles for travel?

We don’t think most people should be messing with travel rewards.

Cash rewards cards are more generous than ever and choosing our favorite cash rewards cards will earn you 2% or better on your spending, which is hard to beat even with travel rewards.

You’ll get rewards you can use anywhere – to pay down bills, give a gift, or whatever you want – all with the same good value.

Travel rewards require extra effort, and they tend to penalize you if you use your rewards for something besides travel.

If you already travel twice a year or more, then travel rewards can sometimes offer you more rewards than straight cash back and you should read on.

We’ll cover cash back for travel, real airline miles, and a newer development, convertible points that can turn into real airline miles, but give you more flexibility.

Cash back for travel

Cards with cash rewards let you book travel with any airline or hotel, any time.

You don’t have to think about award rules or restrictions, but you get less value for your points if you try to use them for rewards that don’t involve travel, but you’re usually better off just earning straight cash rewards via a card like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer.

Best for: People who want to keep it simple (but a regular cash rewards card Is usually better)

Pros

You can use the rewards for any travel. You can pay for travel with your card and use points to get credit back. No worrying about airline award seats or

There are lots of special category bonuses. If you’re really into maximizing things, cash rewards have the biggest array of extra points you can earn from special categories like grocery, gas, or dining spending. We keep a full list of them here.

Usually no annual fee. Cash rewards cards mostly have no annual fee to worry about.

Cons

They don’t have the biggest intro bonuses. The very biggest introductory offers are typically reserved for cards that earn airline miles or other travel rewards.

Expensive tickets aren’t as good a deal. If you spend a lot and can earn a lot of airline miles, you can save a lot on tickets that are expensive in cash, like big international trips or first class tickets.

 

Real airline miles

These are cards that earn miles directly into your account with one airline, like a Delta SkyMiles American Express. They’re usually not the fastest way to earn miles, but they often come with other benefits like a free checked bag.

Our rule of thumb is you should only consider airline miles if you typically spend $2,000 or more in a month on a credit card, so you can earn enough miles for an award in a reasonable amount of time. Otherwise, stick with a cash back rewards card.

But spending $2,000 a month isn’t the only factor. You should also be able to answer YES to at least one of these three questions:

  1. Do you have 5,000 or more existing airline miles?
  1. Are you planning to fly in business or first class?
  1. Do you want to go to expensive destinations like Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, or Australia?

If you can answer YES to one of them, then airline miles are a good choice for getting the most out of your card spending.

Pros

They can get you luxurious flights. If you’re really flexible with dates and times, a good chunk of real airline miles can get you flights that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars in cash.

You can build on miles you earn from flying.

If you fly more than a few times a year, this can be really lucrative since the miles you earn from your credit card get to build on the ones you already have, getting you to an award ticket a lot faster than spending on a card that just earns regular cash rewards.

They have big intro bonuses

Often, the most generous deals that offer you a bonus to open a new account are on cards that offer travel rewards, rather than regular cash rewards. That’s because travel rewards are more restricted, and not appealing to everyone.

Cons

If you don’t have a big balance, they can be hard to use. To get the most out of airline miles, you really need to pay attention to things like what airline partners you can use with which miles, where to search for award seats, and how many miles is a ‘good’ price to pay.

They can expire. Many airline miles expire after a year or so if you leave your account dormant. It’s easy to avoid it by earning or spending just one mile, but a lot of people forget and end up losing their miles, so unless you’re willing to make them a habit, stay away from regular airline miles.

You need a lot of them to get a good value award. Here’s how much you can expect to pay for flights with miles:

  • 25,000 – 50,000 miles: domestic roundtrip ticket in Economy class (typical value: $300 – $1,000)
  • 50,000 – 100,000 miles: domestic roundtrip ticket in First Class (typical value: $500 – $1,500)
  • 60,000 – 100,000 miles: international roundtrip ticket in Economy Class (typical value: $800 – $1,500)
  • 100,000 – 200,000 miles: international roundtrip ticket in Business Class (typical value: $2,500 – $5,000)

That’s a lot of miles. And if you’re just sticking to one credit card, don’t fly much, and

They have annual fees. Most cards that can earn you real airline miles carry a hefty annual fee, which isn’t worth it if you don’t travel much.

You’re locked into one program. Miles you earn via a traditional airline miles card are stuck in that one program, so if the airline suddenly raises prices or changes rules you’re stuck. Instead, consider convertible points (below) which we prefer over plain airline miles.

 

Convertible points

These are the newest kind of rewards on the block, and cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earn points you can convert into real airline miles with certain airlines anytime.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card will let you convert points into miles with United MileagePlus® and Southwest RapidRewards®, so you’re not locked into just one airline program.

Best for: People who want to take advantage of real airline miles, but want extra flexibility

Pros

You get all the advantages of airline miles. With convertible points like Chase Ultimate Rewards® or Amex Membership Rewards®, you can turn your points into real airline miles with several airline programs at any time. The catch is once you turn points into real airline miles, you can’t convert them back.

You’re not stuck with one airline. Convertible points cards let you turn points into real airline miles with several participating airlines, so you have even more options than a traditional airline miles card.

You get some of the cash rewards benefits. Points from convertible points cards can be used for a lot of things besides travel, like gift cards, merchandise, and sometimes statement credit, though your points tend to go much further using them for travel.

Cons

Cash rewards aren’t as generous. If you don’t have a need for airline miles at all, don’t go for a convertible points card. Stick to a straight up cash rewards card and your points will stretch further. Convertible points cards tend to be less generous for straight cash rewards because they use the savings there to help fund the cost of being able to convert your points into real airline miles.

There are usually annual fees. You’ll generally have to pay an annual fee to get a card that earns convertible points. The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is a notable exception. So again, only use these cards if you can answer “yes” to the 3 questions you should ask before earning airline miles with a credit card.

 

Questions and Answers

With most cash rewards credit cards, your rewards won’t expire as long as you keep your account open. But some like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer require you to either earn or use rewards at least once every so often. For the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer that’s once every 12 months.

With cash rewards, you may lose all of your unused rewards if you close your account, so make sure you use them before closing. With travel rewards, miles you hold in an airline program aren’t affected if you close your credit card account, but they will be subject to whatever expiration rule the airline has.

No – you can earn rewards, even if you pay off your entire balance each month before it’s due.

Most cash rewards cards have no annual fee. But if you have an annual fee card, and don’t want to pay the fee, you can sometimes ask your bank to ‘downgrade’ you to a version with no fee. It might earn fewer rewards, but you can avoid the hassle of closing your account altogether.

Many cards won’t give you the rewards from your spending in months where you are late on your payment, so always make your payments on time with a rewards card.

Usually mortgage servicers and other loan providers don’t accept credit card payments. Some companies will make payments on your behalf with a credit card, but you’ll be charged a fee, and often that fee is more than the rewards are worth.

Most cards don’t offer rewards for ‘cash equivalent’ transactions like using a cash advance. Some will offer you rewards for completing a balance transfer, but you’re likely to get hit with fees or a less favorable deal than if you use a good card designed for balance transfers..

If you have cash rewards, just send the cash to whomever you want. If you have travel rewards, many cards will let you combine your points with your spouse or domestic partner. Otherwise, you can just book tickets for someone else using your points if you want to make a gift. Airline miles usually can’t be shared with other people unless you want to pay a fee.

You shouldn’t be carrying a balance month to month on rewards cards, because the interest rates on them is sometimes higher than on cards with no rewards. But if you do end up carrying a balance over from one month to another, your rewards won’t disappear as long a you make your payment on time.

5% cards are designed to catch people who aren’t paying attention. So if your card has an enrollment requirement to earn 5% each quarter, and you miss it, you’ll be out of luck for earning 5%.

Yes, many cash rewards cards offer rewards in the form of statement credit, and that reduces the balance you need to pay on your account.

Some cards require you keep your account open for a certain number of months, or else you will lose any sign on bonus you earned. It’s usually best to keep a card open for about a year or more.

Usually authorized users earn rewards in the same account as the primary user.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at nick@magnifymoney.com

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The Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Every Category – 3% and More in December 2018

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

credit card and dollar close-up

Note from the Editor: The information related to SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express credit card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

MagnifyMoney keeps a database of over 2,000 credit cards and their features, including cash back cards you can compare with our tool. We used it to find the absolute highest cash back rewards you can earn in each category, more than the standard 1-2% you usually see.

If you’re ready for cash back there are over 25 categories where you can earn 3% or more in pure cash back on your credit card purchases.

Scroll down and you’ll find links to the best cash back credit cards we’ve found that earn more than 2% cash back in special categories. These are cards that let you get pure cash value, not complicated points that can be used only for travel.

Before you dig into categories, every cash rewards wallet should have one of these cards, with double cash back on everything you spend and $0 annual fee:

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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on Citibank’s secure website

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
Regular Purchase APR
15.49% - 25.49%* (Variable)

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

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on Fidelity’s secure website

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Unlimited 2% cash back on everyday purchases.
Regular Purchase APR
15.99% Variable

Once you have one of these, you can add other cards that earn more than 2% in special categories to really boost your cash rewards.

The best cash back credit cards with no limit rewards

Maybe you don’t want to mess with rotating categories or remembering limits on cash back. If that’s you, there are only a handful of cards that you need to carry to get the most in totally unlimited cash back.

As you’ll learn below, you may be leaving about $500 a year or more on the table by not holding at least some of these cards.

They are all no annual fee cards, and they ensure you will earn more than 2% cash back on your total spending with absolutely no limits. Some cards have higher cash back rates with limits, and you can see those below this list in our review of cards for each category.

Airfare – 3%

Uber Visa Card

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The information related to Uber Visa Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Uber Visa Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
4% back on dining, 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, and 1% on everything else.
Regular Purchase APR
16.99% - 25.99% Variable

The Uber Visa Card* earns 4% back on dining, 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, and 1% on everything else. There are also no foreign transaction fees — great if you travel outside the U.S.

Travel – 3%

AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card

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The information related to AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
3 points for eligible travel & AAA purchases, 2 points on gas, grocery store, and drugstore purchases, and 1 point per $1 for all other purchases.
Regular Purchase APR
15.24%-25.24% Variable

The AAA Member Rewards Visa® Card offers 3 points for eligible travel & AAA purchases, 2 points on gas, grocery store, and drugstore purchases, and 1 point per $1 for all other purchases. You don’t have to be a AAA member to get the card.

Supermarkets – 2.55%

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

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on PenFed Credit Union’s secure website

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5x points on gas at the pump, 3x points on groceries, and 1x points on all other purchases
Regular Purchase APR
11.99% - 17.99% Variable

The card earns 3x points on supermarkets, but the points are worth about 0.85 cents each when you redeem them for a prepaid Visa gift card, so the real unlimited cash back rate is about 2.55%.

If you spend less than $6,000 a year ($500 a month) on groceries, then the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 1% cash back on other purchases. Terms Apply. See Rates & Fees. The $95 annual fee on this card is a better deal vs the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card if you spend about $3,000 a year in groceries (about $250 a month).

Note that if you live in California, you may earn 3% unlimited cash back on groceries with the Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Golden 1 Credit Union.

Gas – 5%

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

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on Fort Knox Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn an unlimited 5% cash back on gas and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Regular Purchase APR
11.25% - 18.00% Variable

You might not have heard of this credit union, but anyone can join. You just need to pay $5 to join the American Consumer Council / Kentucky and you’re eligible.

Another option includes the Sams Club® Mastercard® with 5% at the pump on up to $6,000 worth of gas purchases a year, but you need to be a Sam’s Club member to hold the card.

Dining – 4%

Uber Visa Card

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The information related to Uber Visa Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Uber Visa Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
4% back on dining, 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, and 1% on everything else.
Regular Purchase APR
16.99% - 25.99% Variable

*This card earns 4% back on dining, 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, and 1% on everything else.

Everything else: Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (up to  1% + 1%) or Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card (2%)

If you’re willing to pay an annual fee, the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card card earns Unlimited 3% cash back during the first year; 2.5% cash back afterwards. There is a $59 annual fee, waived the first year This offer is worthwhile if you spend over $1,000 a month on the card. Alliant is targeting this card to people with high income who spend $10,000 or more a month, so it might be tough to get approved.

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card Or if you live in California, the Marukai Premium JCB Card gives you unlimited 3% cash back during the first year; 2.5% cash back afterwards

Just mark each of the cards you pick in your wallet with a sticker for each category so you remember which to use, and you’ll rack up lots of cash with minimal hassle. And afraid to have more than one card? Well if you’re responsible with credit, a few additional inquiries might have less of an impact than you think. See our experience with scores and getting several cards for the rewards.

For unlimited retailer-specific discounts, also consider:

If you want to maximize absolutely everything, read on…

We’ve organized cash back cards for each of the over 25 spending categories that are currently eligible for more than 2% in cash back rewards.

They include both year round and quarterly rotating categories like those on the Discover it® Cash Back. Pick the categories that matter most to you, and you’ll see the opportunities you have to earn 3-5% if you’re willing to keep track of some limits and quarterly changes.

Remember, these are all cards that let you earn cash value rewards, with no restriction on where you spend the rewards, unlike travel points.

You’ll find three flavors of cash back rewards, in the order of hassle factor:

  • Unlimited cash back – This is the simplest form. You usually won’t find the very highest 5%+ rewards this way, but we’ve found some great cards that get you 3% or more in some popular categories.
  • Cash back with limits – This is where a card limits the cash back you earn by putting a cap on the spending which earns the cash back in the specific category, on a combination of categories, or the card as a whole.
  • Quarterly rotating categories – These are the cards with the big headline 5% rates. Don’t be fooled. While you can earn the 5% rate, you may have to opt in to categories each quarter manually and be hit with caps on how much you can earn.

Advertising Services

With Limits

3%: SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express – up to $25,000 in purchases in bonus categories. Terms Apply.

Airfare

Unlimited

With limits

  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – 3X points in one of 10 categories (capped at $2,000 each quarter or 6000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.

Quarterly category in 2018

  • 5%: Nusenda Credit Union Cash Rewards – Oct – Dec 2018 – up to $1,500 – Anyone can join the Nusenda Credit Union (formerly the New Mexico Educators Credit Union) by becoming a member of the La Montanita Food Co-op.

Amazon.com

Unlimited

Quarterly category in 2018

Bookstores

With limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+ up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose

Car Rentals

Unlimited

With limits

Cell phone

With limits

    • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+ up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose
    • 5%: SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express – up to $50,000 in bonus purchases a year. Terms Apply.

Cellular Phone / Landline / Internet / Cable TV

  • 5%: Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card – up to $50,000 in bonus purchases a year

Clothing Stores

With limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+ up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose
  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – 3X points in one of 10 categories (capped at $2,000 each quarter or 6000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.

Commuting, Taxis

Unlimited

Department Stores

Select U.S. department stores. See the list here.

With limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+ up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose
  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – 3X points in one of 10 categories (capped at $2,000 each quarter or 6000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.

Quarterly category in 2018

  • 5%: Citi Dividend – October – December 2018 – up to $300 total cash back on card (no longer open to new applicants)

Discount stores

With limits

  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – 3X points in one of 10 categories (capped at $2,000 each quarter or 6000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.

Drug stores

With limits

  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – 3X points in one of 10 categories (capped at $2,000 each quarter or 6000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.

Education

Quarterly category in 2018

  • 5%: Nusenda Credit Union Cash Rewards – July – Sept 2018 – up to $1,500 – Anyone can join the Nusenda Credit Union (formerly the New Mexico Educators Credit Union) by becoming a member of the La Montanita Food Co-op.

Electronics

With limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+ up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose
  • 3%: Huntington Voice Credit Card® – 3X points in one of 10 categories (capped at $2,000 each quarter or 6000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.

Quarterly category in 2018

  • 5%: (Best Buy only) Citi Dividend – October – December 2018 – up to $300 total cash back on card (no longer open to new applicants)

Furniture

With Limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+ up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose

Quarterly category in 2018

  • 5%: Citi Dividend – April – June 2018 – up to $300 total cash back on card (no longer open to new applicants)

Gas

Unlimited

With limits

Quarterly category in 2018

  • 5%: Discover it® Cash Back – up to $1,500 when you activate – January – March 2018
  • 5%: Chase Freedom® – up to $1,500 when you activate – January – March 2018
  • 5%: Nusenda Credit Union Cash Rewards – July – September 2018 – up to $1,500
  • 5%: Citi Dividend – January – March 2018 – up to $300 total cash back on card (no longer open to new applicants)

Supermarket Spending

Unlimited

With limits

Quarterly category in 2018

Gyms

With Limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+ up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose

Home improvement

No limits

With limits

Quarterly category in 2018

  • 5%: Nusenda Credit Union Cash Rewards – April – June 2018 – up to $1,500
  • 5%: (Home Depot only) Citi Dividend – April – June 2018 – up to $300 total cash back on card (no longer open to new applicants)

Hotels

Unlimited

With limits

Quarterly category in 2018

Movie Theaters

With Limits

  • 5%: U.S. Bank Cash+ up to $2,000 / quarter across two 5% categories you choose

Quarterly category in 2018

Office Supply Stores

With limits

Restaurants

Unlimited

With Limits

Quarterly category in 2018

Shipping

  • 3%: SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express – up to $25,000 in purchases in bonus categories. Terms Apply.

Sporting Goods Stores

With limits

Trains, Cruises, Other Vacation

Unlimited

With limits

Utilities

Walmart

Warehouse Clubs

*The information related to the Uber Visa Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Nick Clements
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Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at nick@magnifymoney.com

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7 Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Dining Out in December 2018

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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If you’re someone who frequently dines out, cash back credit cards that reward you for it are a great way to put money back in your pocket. Cash back cards for dining can earn you rewards for purchases made through restaurants, bars and takeout establishments. This is a great way for foodies to reap extra rewards just by doing what they love — eating!

We picked the following cards because they offer competitive cash back rates above 2% for dining-related purchases, as well as have low or no annual fees. As with most rewards credit cards, you may lose your cash back rewards if your account is not in good standing.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card – 4% cash back

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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on Capital One’s secure website

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
16.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Rewards Rate
4% Cash Back on dining; 4% Cash Back on entertainment; 2% Cash Back at grocery stores; 1% Cash Back on all other purchases

The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card enables you to earn unlimited 4% Cash Back on dining; 4% Cash Back on entertainment; 2% Cash Back at grocery stores; 1% Cash Back on all other purchases. Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. (The card website specifies that the one-time bonus is available by applying through the site, and may not be available if an applicant navigates away from the page. Also, the bonus may not be available for existing or previous accountholders.)

Uber Visa Card – 4% cash back

Uber Visa Card

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The information related to Uber Visa Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Uber Visa Card

Regular Purchase APR
16.99% - 25.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
4% back on dining, 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, and 1% on everything else.

The Uber Visa Card offers unlimited 4% back on dining purchases that will benefit the biggest foodies. Additionally, earn 3% back on hotels and airfare, including vacation home rentals; 2% back on online purchases that include Uber, online shopping and video and music streaming services; and 1% back on all other purchases. Dining purchases include those made at restaurants, fast-food restaurants, bars and UberEATS. Your rewards come in the form of points with a value of $0.01 per point (so 2,500 points can be redeemed for a $25 statement credit, for example). Another cool perk: There is a great sign-up bonus: Earn $100 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days. You can read our full review here.

AARP® Credit Card from Chase Bank – 3% cash back

AARP® Credit Card from Chase Bank

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The information related to AARP® Credit Card from Chase Bank has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

AARP® Credit Card from Chase Bank

Regular Purchase APR
18.24% - 24.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 3% Cash Back rewards on purchases at restaurants, from fine dining to fast food, 3% Cash Back rewards on purchases at gas stations, and 1% Cash Back rewards on all other purchases.

Don’t be led astray by the name: This card isn’t limited to people over 50 — anyone can apply. The AARP® Credit Card from Chase Bank lets you Earn 3% Cash Back rewards on purchases at restaurants, from fine dining to fast food, 3% Cash Back rewards on purchases at gas stations, and 1% Cash Back rewards on all other purchases. Earn $100 bonus cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Marvel Mastercard® – 3% cash back

Marvel Mastercard®

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on Synchrony Bank’s secure website

Marvel Mastercard®

Regular Purchase APR
16.74%-26.74% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 3% cashback on Dining, Select Entertainment, Online at Marvel.com and Marvel's Official Merchandise Booths, and 1% cashback on all other Mastercard purchases.

The Marvel Mastercard® is a great choice for Marvel fans who want to benefit from exclusive Marvel discounts, with the added benefit of earning a high cash back rate on dining purchases. You Earn 3% cashback on Dining, Select Entertainment, Online at Marvel.com and Marvel's Official Merchandise Booths, and 1% cashback on all other Mastercard purchases. Some of the Marvel related perks you earn include 10% off merchandise purchases at MarvelShop.com, free shipping offers and special discounts on Marvel Unlimited or Marvel digital comics. Terms apply.

There is also a new cardmember bonus of a $25 statement credit after your first purchase with your new Marvel Mastercard.

Sams Club® Mastercard® – 3% cash back

Sams Club® Mastercard®

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on Sam's Club’s secure website

Sams Club® Mastercard®

Regular Purchase APR
16.65% or 24.65% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
$5,000 cash back per calendar year and offers 5% cash back on gas (on first $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 3% on dining and travel, and 1% on other purchases.

The Sams Club® Mastercard® offers $5,000 cash back per calendar year and offers 5% cash back on gas (on first $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 3% on dining and travel, and 1% on other purchases. From now until Dec. 31, you can receive a $45 statement credit if you open your card online and make a $45 purchase on Samsclub.com on the same day you open your account. However, you do need a Sam’s Club membership to apply, and current membership fees start at $45 per year.

Take note that you’re limited to earning a maximum of $5,000 in cash back rewards in a calendar year. Checks are issued each February for the cash back earned during the previous calendar year. You will lose any cash back you earned if you end your membership or let it lapse, or if you accumulate less than $5 cash back in a calendar year.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi – 3% cash back

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card from Citi

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on Citibank’s secure website

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card from Citi

Regular Purchase APR
17.24%* (Variable)
Annual fee
$0*
Rewards Rate
4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter, 3% on restaurants & travel, 2% at Costco & Costco.com, 1% on all other purchases

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi requires a Costco membership (currently, annual memberships start at $60) and offers 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter, 3% on restaurants & travel, 2% at Costco & Costco.com, 1% on all other purchases. Take note that purchases made at bakeries and certain restaurants/cafes in department stores, groceries or warehouse clubs will only earn 1%.

Cash back comes as an annual credit card reward certificate in February billing statements, redeemable for cash or merchandise at U.S. Costco Warehouses. You must maintain your Costco membership to receive rewards, and you will also lose rewards if you accumulate less than $1 in cash back or if you don’t redeem them by the end of the year.

Alternative: Rotating cash back categories

Discover it® Cash Back – 5% cash back

Discover it® Cash Back

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Discover it® Cash Back

Regular APR
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

The Discover it® Cash Back offers 5% cash back in different places (on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1%) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases, automatically.Restaurants are slated to be a bonus category from July 1 through Sept. 30, 2018. Set a reminder to activate the bonus category. In addition to a cash back program, Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched (new cardmembers only).

Are these deals the best for you?

Cash back rewards should only be pursued by responsible credit users who have no trouble paying off their balance on time and in full every month. If you’re a credit all-star who also has an affinity for dining out, these cards will provide the best perks.

If you’re apt to carry a balance, check out our picks for the best credit cards that can help you pay down debt faster.

As always, check the fine print on each card before signing up, taking special note of any fees. With those things in mind, decide which rewards structure best serves your typical spending activity and enjoy the cash back benefits — and the good eats.

promo-cashback-wide

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Alexandria White
Alexandria White |

Alexandria White is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Alexandria at alexandria@magnifymoney.com

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Best Cash Back Cards for Grocery Shopping in December 2018

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

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Shopping for groceries can be a painful experience. There are numerous aisles, thousands of items and long checkout lines to contend with. Then there’s one more blow: watching the dollars add up at the register.

But signing up for a solid cashback credit card can be a good way to earn a percentage of your grocery purchases back and take some of the sting out of that shopping trip.

Here are the best cashback cards for grocery shopping.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
14.99%-25.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores. 1% cash back on other purchases.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, offers 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores. 1% cash back on other purchases. It comes with a $0 annual fee. This is a great rate for habitual shoppers so long as you spend up to $3,167 a year at supermarkets. If you spend more than that, then you might be better off with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which comes with a $95 annual fee but higher cashback potential.

The Welcome Offer is a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. This is a good way to maximize your rewards.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

APPLY NOW Secured

on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
14.99%-25.99% Variable
Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 1% cash back on other purchases.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers the highest cashback rate for big grocery spenders — 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). This card does come with a $95 annual fee and you need to spend $1,584 a year on groceries to break even. If you spend $3,167 a year ($264 a month) or more on groceries you will benefit from this card more than the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. You’ll also earn a high 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% back on other purchases. There’s an added Welcome Offer: $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

The information related to Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Regular Purchase APR
16.24% - 24.24% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases.

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card offers a grocery cash back program that is geared toward Whole Foods Market shoppers. You’ll Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases. This is a great rate if you frequently spend at Whole Foods Market and easily rivals offers from competing cards. There is no annual fee, but you will need a Prime membership to benefit from the 5% rate — currently, annual plans cost $99 or $49 for students. If you don’t have a Prime membership, check out the Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card mentioned below.

Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card

The information related to Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Regular Purchase APR
16.24% - 24.24% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 3% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases.

The Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card is similar to the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card, but doesn’t require a Prime membership. This card also has no annual fee but offers a lower rate at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market. You Earn 3% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases. This rate stands out for Whole Foods Market shoppers and can be more beneficial if you primarily shop at Whole Foods Market since there are no caps on the 3% rate (unlike other grocery cards on this list).

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer

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Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer

Regular Purchase APR
15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
3% cash back on gas and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter. 1% cash back on all other purchases

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer has a decent cashback rate for groceries, however it is lower than what you’ll find with competing cards. You’ll earn 3% cash back on gas and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter. 1% cash back on all other purchases. There is a $0 annual fee and you can redeem your cash back directly into a Bank of America checking or saving account for a 10% bonus. People who will benefit most from this card are those who are Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients. As a Preferred Rewards client, you could increase your bonus to 25-75%, making your grocery cash back an effective 2.5-3.5%. If you apply online, you can earn a  $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Huntington Voice Credit Card®

Huntington Voice Credit Card®

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on Huntington National Bank’s secure website

Huntington Voice Credit Card®

Regular Purchase APR
13.99% - 27.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
3X points in one of 10 categories (capped at $2,000 each quarter or 6000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points.

The Huntington Voice Credit Card® has a $0 annual fee and earns you 3X points in one of 10 categories (capped at $2,000 each quarter or 6000 points), and all other purchases earn 1X points. You also have the freedom to change your 3X category every quarter to suit your spending. But be aware that if you switch from grocery stores to another category, you’ll only earn 1X points on grocery spending. Points can be redeemed for cash and 1 point equals $0.01, therefore 5,000 points is equal to $50 cash rewards.

Which card is the right fit for me?

With numerous credit cards available to help maximize your grocery rewards, it can be confusing to know which to choose. Some cards provide unlimited rewards at a high rate, while most have caps on grocery spending.

The table below breaks down which grocery card may be a good fit for you when factoring in annual grocery spending, cashback rate and annual fee. (Sign-on bonuses are not reflected.) Keep in mind: This only factors in spending on grocery purchases and doesn’t consider if you spend in other categories or at the other cashback rates.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • If you spend about $3,000 a year on groceries, you will benefit more from the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card or the Huntington Voice Credit Card®.
  • If you spend around $4,000 – $7,000 a year, you will benefit more from the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.
  • If you spend on average $8,000 or more a year at Whole Foods Market, you will benefit more from the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card.
  • The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer earns you subpar cash back unless you have $100,000 in a Bank of America checking or savings account.
  

Card

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Huntington Voice Credit Card®

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer: without BofA checking/
savings

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer: with $100,000 in BofA checking/
savings

Spending

$1,000

-$49

$30

$30

$30

-$35

$20

$35

$2,000

$1

$60

$60

$60

$25

$40

$70

$3,000

$51

$90

$90

$90

$85

$60

$105

$4,000

$101

$120

$120

$120

$145

$80

$140

$5,000

$151

$150

$150

$150

$205

$100

$175

$6,000

$201

$180

$180

$180

$265

$120

$210

$7,000

$251

$210

$210

$190

$275

$140

$245

$8,000

$301

$240

$240

$200

$285

$160

$280

$9,000

$351

$270

$250

$210

$295

$180

$315

$10,000

$401

$300

$260

$220

$305

$200

$350

*We included the $99 Prime membership fee into our calculations for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card and the $95 annual fee for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Alexandria White
Alexandria White |

Alexandria White is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Alexandria at alexandria@magnifymoney.com

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10 Best 5% Cash Back Credit Cards for December 2018

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

Cash Back Credit Cards for 2017
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Credit card reward programs come in so many varieties that it can be difficult find the best cards for your spending habits. A basic, flat-rate card that earns you a certain percentage cash back on all purchases is probably the simplest bet out there. Typically, rates range from 1-2%. Not shabby, especially if you use that card exclusively. But it’s not exactly something to call home about either.

There are even better cash back rewards offerings out there, some as high as 5%. But with these high rewards cards, there’s almost always a catch. Most of the cards don’t offer 5% cash back across the board. Every few months, they pick a few select shopping categories that can earn 5% cash back. Once those few months are up, the categories change. For example, a card could offer 5% cash back on groceries, gas and airfare from January to March, then switch those categories to whole sale stores, restaurants and gyms from April to June.

Additionally, there are sometimes caps on how much of your spending can qualify for the 5% reward. So if the cap is $1,500, for example, everything past that amount won’t qualify.

The key to maximizing these great cash back card offers is to find the cards that offer cash back in categories you use the most. We can help there.

We dug around and found 10 cards that offer at least 5% cash back in some of the most common spending categories including: gas, groceries and entertainment.

Access to Bonus 5% Categories: Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom®

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Chase Freedom®

Regular Purchase APR
16.99% - 25.74% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

How it works: The Chase Freedom® card lets you Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. This translates to a maximum return of $75 per quarter on the 5% bonus category. You earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases outside of the bonus categories. You can also Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

The 5% categories change every quarter.

Another area where the Chase Freedom® shines is in how it allows customers to redeem their rewards. The cash you’ve earned converts into Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. Every $1 equals 100 points. You can easily use the cash and apply it to your monthly statement. Or you can convert them into points and use them on travel, gift cards, merchandise, and other services through the Chase Freedom® rewards dashboard.

They make it super simple to redeem points on the go through the Chase Freedom® Mobile app. While you’re shopping, you can pick the merchant from the list on of eligible merchants on your app (popular ones include Nike, Regal Cinemas, Lowe’s, Starbucks and Best Buy). Then tell the app how much cash you want to use. You’ll get a custom e-gift card that you can present at checkout to pay for your purchases.

chasefreedommobileapp

Plus, you can stack the points earned on your Chase Freedom® card with your points on other Chase rewards cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. That just increases the spending power of your points.

The Fine Print: You can’t beat 5% cash back for your spending, especially with no annual fee. The downside is you have to remember to activate the category each quarter by subscribing to the program. But, if you set a reminder to do so, you can earn money without too much effort.

The Original 5% Cash Back Card: Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

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Rates & Fees

Discover it® Cash Back

Regular APR
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

How it works: With the Discover it® Cash Back you earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. ($1,500 of spend). You need to activate every quarter to get the 5% cash back rate. All other purchases get 1% cash back.

Earn 5% cash back in these categories through the end of 2018:

  • January to March: Gas stations and wholesale clubs
  • April to June: Grocery Stores
  • July to September: Restaurants.
  • October to December: Amazon.com and Wholesale Clubs

Using your rewards: Cash back from the Discover it® Cash Back is tracked in dollars and cents. You can immediately apply your cash back earnings to your bank account or as a statement credit toward your bill (note: your minimum payment will still be due).There’s also no minimum rewards value if you want to redeem them for charitable donations.

The fine print: You can only earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of spend each quarter you activate. Once you’ve hit that cap, you’ll earn 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases.. This adds up to a $75 maximum return on your rotating bonus categories. There is no annual fee.

Extra perks: As an Intro Offer, Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.

Best for Gas and Restaurants in 2018: Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

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Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

Regular Purchase APR
10.75% - 14.75% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 3 bonus points, or 5% cash back, respectively, for every dollar they spend on purchases for movies, restaurants, and home improvements (up to $1,500 per quarter).

How it works: The Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union lets you Earn 3 bonus points, or 5% cash back, respectively, for every dollar they spend on purchases for movies, restaurants, and home improvements (up to $1,500 per quarter). Notably, it offers both gas and restaurants in two quarters. As a bonus New card holders earn 10,000 bonus points for $500 in purchases during first 90 days.

Earn 5% cash back in these categories through the end of 2018:

  • January to March: Groceries and gas expenses.
  • April to June: Movies, restaurants and home improvement.
  • July to September: Gas and education expenses.
  • October to December: Restaurants, hotels, and airfares.

Using your rewards: This offer stands out as a decent companion card for maximizing cash back. When coupled with the Chase Freedom® or Discover it® Cash Back, you can maximize cash back in different areas during one quarter.

For an example, you can turn to the Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union for 5% on gas and school expenses in Q3. Then pull out the Discover it® Cash Back for dining out for another 5% the same quarter.

The Fine Print: Once again, you’ll need to monitor your spending habits to get the most cash back from a revolving category card. If you choose to use this card along with another one, a good practice would be labeling the cards in your wallet to ensure you use the right one for the right purchases in a given quarter.

One final caveat: While there is no annual fee, Nusenda is a credit union, so you will have to go through the process of applying for membership.

Pick Your Own Cash Back Categories: U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

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U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Regular Purchase APR
15.99%-24.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter on two categories you choose, 2% cash back on one everyday category, like gas or groceries and 1% cash back on all other net purchases.

How it works: The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card has a revolving cash back program that’s unique in comparison to the others above because you get options.

Earning cash back: You can earn 5% cash back in two categories of your choosing each quarter limited to the first $2,000 of spend. Then you can choose another category with no cap to earn 2% cash back. On all other purchases, you earn 1% cash back.

The categories for an unlimited 2% cash back (choose one each quarter) are:

  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants
  • Grocery stores

The categories for 5% cash back up to $2,000 (choose two each quarter) are:

  • Select clothing stores
  • Cell phones
  • Electronic stores
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Bookstores
  • Fast food restaurants
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Department stores
  • Furniture stores
  • Movie theaters

Using your rewards: You can redeem cash back for gift cards, statement credit or a deposit into a U.S. Bank Savings, Checking or Money Market account. The first time you redeem $100 in cash back in a single transaction, you get a $25 Cash+ Bonus.

The Fine Print: Same opt-in revolving category spiel applies here except you must also remember to choose your categories. There is no annual fee. The U.S. Bank Cash+ is another good example of a card you may want to couple with another that gives you higher cash back for necessities i.e. groceries. But, for diverse spenders who can benefit from the 5% category options, the U.S. Bank Cash+ is worth considering.

Ideal for Typical Business Expenses: SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

How it works: The SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express* gives 5% cash back on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores, 3% cash back on the category of your choice from a list of eight, 1% cash back on other purchases. 5% and 3% apply to the first $50,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1% applies thereafter. The eight categories are**:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • Hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels
  • Car rentals purchased from select car rental companies
  • U.S. gas stations
  • U.S. restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

**Terms and Conditions Apply.

Earning cash back: You have to choose your 3% category within two months of signing. If you don’t choose one, the default is gas stations. The combined annual maximum for the 5% and 3% categories is $50,000. On all other purchases, you get 1% cash back.

Using your rewards: Cash back will appear as a credit automatically on your statement. The SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express card has No annual fee, so you’ll earn cash back with a generous annual maximum of $50,000 (see Rates & Fees).

The Fine Print: You must remember to choose your 3% cash back category every year. If you select one this year and forget to do so next year, you’ll be locked into the same 3% category for another 12 months until you make a switch. There is no annual fee.

*The information related to the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

5% Cash Back for the Amazon Prime Enthusiast: Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

The information related to Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Regular Purchase APR
16.24% - 24.24% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases.

How it works: The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card is open to Amazon Prime Members, so it’s somewhat exclusive. Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases. Buying items on other merchant websites that have the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card payment option enabled will not earn you 5% cash back.

Using your rewards: The cash back you rack up will apply as a credit to your statement.

Do the math: If you’re not already an Amazon Prime Member, it’s probably not worth signing up to become one just for the card unless you intend to spend big bucks on the site or at Whole Foods Market. You need to spend $1,980 per year at Amazon.com for the 5% cash back to cover the $99 annual membership fee.

The Fine Print: The fine print of what you can and can’t buy to earn 5% is the only gotcha here. But, if you shop at Whole Foods Market or on Amazon.com often and stick to the rules, you’ll see a nice return from this card. There’s no annual fee for the card, but you must be an Amazon Prime member, which costs $99 a year ($49 for students).

Good Fit for the Regular Target Shopper: Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

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on Target’s secure website

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Regular Purchase APR
24.65% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% at Target & Target.com

How it works: For Target shoppers, there’s the Target REDcard™ Credit Card. It gives you a discount of 5% at Target & Target.com (minus any other discounts or promotions). Purchases that won’t earn 5% cash back include:

  • Target eye exams
  • Target gift cards and prepaid cards
  • Previous purchases
  • Target credit account payments, Target Debit Card cash back and cash advances on the Target MasterCard
  • Gift wrap and shipping and handling on Target.com purchases
  • Wireless protection program purchases and deposits required by mobile carrier

Earning and using rewards: The program is pretty simple as far as how Target gives you money back. Your 5% will apply to eligible purchases in your shopping cart at checkout. In addition to 5% cash back, this program includes free shipping from Target.com and 30 extra days for returns.

The Fine Print: No red flags with the REDcard other than watching out for the purchases excluded from cash back listed above. For faithful Target shoppers, this no annual fee card with the 5% discount may be a no brainer.

Most Straightforward 5% Rewards Card Just for Gas: Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

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on Fort Knox Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

Regular Purchase APR
11.25% - 18.00% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn an unlimited 5% cash back on gas and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

How it works: The Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card makes our list with the most straightforward, no cap rewards program. You can Earn an unlimited 5% cash back on gas and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Using your rewards: Cash back will appear on your statement as a credit.

The Fine Print: This rewards program is offered by a credit union in Kentucky. You’ll have to take a few extra steps to qualify for membership. If you don’t live in Kentucky or have family in Kentucky, membership is open to anyone that joins the American Consumer Council. There is no annual fee for the card, but you will need to become a member of the credit union.

6% Cash Back for the Heavy Grocery Shopper: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
14.99%-25.99% Variable
Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 1% cash back on other purchases.

How it works: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is our top pick for cardholders that want to maximize cash back on groceries. With this card, you get 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 1% cash back on other purchases.

Welcome offer: $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.

Using cash back: Cash back builds as Rewards Dollars you can redeem for statement credit in increments of $25.

The Fine Print: There is an annual fee of $95 per year.

Only Advantageous for Military Service Members Living On-Base: USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

USAA®Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

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on USAA Bank’s secure website

USAA®Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

Regular Purchase APR
13.90% - 27.90% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually on these categories combined. Earn 2% on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

How it works: The USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card lets you Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually on these categories combinedEarn 2% on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per yearUnlimited 1% cash back on all other purchasesUSAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members.

Earning cash back: You Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually on these categories combined. Earn 2% on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. You can redeem cash back in increments of $1 through the USAA Rewards Service Center online or over the phone.

The Fine Print: The USAA® Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card is light on the fine print. Just remember, the 5% category yearly maximum is $3,000 for combined gas and military base purchases per year and not per quarter. There is no annual fee.

The Key to Earning from Any Cash Back Card

In closing, regardless of which cash back card you choose, be sure to pay off your bill in full each month. That’s one underlying trap of any card rewards program. If you carry a balance over time, adding interest into the equation means you may end up paying the credit card company more than what you’re making in cash back.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Taylor Gordon
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Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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Earning Cashback

Target REDcard Credit Card: A Good Deal If You Know How to Use It

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

review-cc-full


When the words “retail store branded credit card” (or some variation of the phrase) are uttered, your response should be to turn and run. Store cards are notorious for being “bad” financial products for a variety of reasons.

The incentive that’s meant to rope you in – like 10% of your purchase – is temporary; the interest rates on the cards are upwards of 20%; the minimum payments are incredibly low, which encourage people to maintain high balances that rack up that nasty amount of interest; and many come with hidden fees (or just high fees) that can cost you even more money.

But there’s one store card that might offer a slight exception to the rule that says avoid store credit cards at all costs: the Target REDcard™ Credit Card. Let’s take a look at this card to see if it can benefit frequent shoppers – or if it’s just another credit trap waiting for uneducated consumers.

How the REDcard Works

The Target REDcard™ Credit Card offers shoppers 5% off in the form of an instant discount on every purchase made in stores or online (some restrictions apply). It’s a store branded card that does not have an annual fee – or a complicated rewards program, as again, the reward is given immediately upon purchase. The card can only be used at Target stores and Target.com.

Target REDcard vs. Target Prepaid REDcard

The Target REDcard™ Credit Card is a regular credit card, not to be confused with Target's prepaid REDcard product.

A prepaid card is loaded with funds each month by the user who can then use those funds as they wish, like a regular debit card. Most people use prepaid cards as a budgeting tool or as an alternative to a checking account. Prepaid cards do not factor into your credit report and, as a result, have no impact on your credit score.

With a credit card, you are borrowing funds from a bank and must pay them back each month or face penalties, fees, and a likely hit to your credit score.

What Do You Get with a REDcard? 

The best thing about a Target REDcard™ Credit Card is that you get your 5% at Target & Target.com discount at every checkout, no gimmicks or strings attached. It applies to everything you can buy in the store, including items already marked down or on sale, and you can use it while applying other coupons to your purchase.

The exception is that you will not receive 5% off the following purchases:

  • Prescriptions, over-the-counter items located behind the pharmacy counter and clinic services at Target
  • Target Optical™ eye exams
  • Target gift cards and prepaid cards, and Stockpile and Gift of College gift cards
  • Certain restaurant merchants in Target stores, such as D’Amico & Sons Italian Kitchen and Pret A Manger
  • Gift wrap and shipping and handling charges on Target.com purchases
  • Wireless protection program purchases and deposits required by a mobile carrier

In addition to the 5% discount, you’ll receive free shipping on any purchase online, an added benefit if you’re an online shopper.

There are no points to earn and redeem, no statement credits to request, no hoops to jump through. Just straight-up 5% off on your purchase – and free shipping if you’re shopping Target.com.

The Pitfalls of Target’s REDcard You Must Avoid

Of course, the benefits quickly evaporate should you make one tiny mistake with your Target REDcard™ Credit Card. The variable interest rate – at 24.65% Variable APR – is high, and makes the 5% savings completely inconsequential if you’re only paying the minimum.

Ultimately, despite the better-than-average perks, the Target REDcard™ Credit Card is a store branded credit card and comes with the typical pitfalls: high interest rate, high fees, low minimum payment requirement designed to encourage people to revolve balances.

Not to mention, most REDcards come with low limits since you can only use them at Target stores. This could hurt your credit utilization ratio – and therefore, your credit score as a whole – if you don’t have many other credit cards. Remember, credit utilization is based on your total credit limit, not per card.

If you’re just starting to build your credit, the REDcard’s 5% may not be worth the downsides of holding the card.

Fine Print

To sum up, here’s what you need to know before considering this credit card:

  • The REDcard grants you a 5% discount on nearly every purchase at Target and Target.com. This discount is immediate upon checkout, so it’s more like a guaranteed discount on your Target purchase than other forms of money back.
  • You’ll receive free shipping online at Target.com when you use your Target credit card.
  • The APR can be as high as 24.65% Variable.
  • Minimum payments are low, which encourages consumers to make small payments on balances over long periods of time – costing an incredible amount in interest fees.
  • Late payment fees run up to $38. Returned payment fees run up to $27.

If you miss a payment, are late on a payment, or only pay the minimum balance, your 5% savings will be automatically negated.

Only use the Target REDcard™ Credit Card if you have established a history of paying your balances in full and on time – and can manage your money so you only purchase what you budgeted for and truly need.

There’s also one more issue that consumers should be aware of, although whether it’s “good” or “bad” is probably a matter of personal preference. In the interest of full disclosure, however, we believe in making note of the fact that Target does use its branded store cards to collect data and information about you and what you buy.

In Conclusion

Target’s REDcard is a great financial product for people who frequently shop at the store for everyday purchases on necessary items like toiletries, household goods, school supplies, and clothing. There’s no annual fee and the automatic 5% discount is an excellent way to save even more money when you do your regular shopping.

However, there are big consequences for missing payments or getting trapped into revolving your balances month to month. The late payment and missed payment fees are high, and the variable interest rate is alarming at 24.15%.

You may want to avoid picking up this card if you’re not a normal Target shopper – and the promise of a “reward” will encourage you to spend money that you would not otherwise. And most certainly avoid this store card like you would any other if you struggle to manage your money and your credit.

Otherwise – if you’re experienced in managing your purchases and your credit, and already have good credit – the REDcard is a great option if you’re looking to save even more on necessary purchases and spending you already do.

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

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Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% at Target & Target.com
Regular Purchase APR
24.65% Variable

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What are miles and points worth? Valuation for airline and hotel programs

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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Assigning a value to the miles and points you earn from your travels or a rewards credit card can be challenging, especially if you’re trying to compare them to cash rewards. What you save on travel will depend on the price in points at the time you travel, which can vary widely, and the amount you’d save in cash by using rewards points for travel. That can depend on your own tastes and preferences, in addition to the prevailing rates at the time you travel.

With that said, here are our estimates for what miles and points in major U.S. airline and hotel programs are worth for travelers willing to be flexible when making a redemption. We assumed the cash value was the cost to take the same flight, or stay in the same hotel as the one you’re booking with miles or points.

The values are in a ‘cents per point’ metric for easy comparison if you’re considering an intro bonus or choosing between programs for a reward. For example, a program where points are worth 1 cent each would require about 10,000 points to get $100 in travel value.

These values are not intended to be cash values, are illustrative, can change at any time, and may not be what you ultimately achieve, so consider them accordingly.

Airline Miles

Alaska MileagePlan – 2.0 cents. If you like to use international awards, Alaska has some of the most lucrative options available, and we value them at over 2 cents each if you save them for big business and first class awards. For standard domestic travel, the value is closer to 1.25 cents each. Alaska charges for awards based on a menu of prices, and has three levels of prices for its own flights, which dilutes value during popular times.

American AAdvantage® – 1.7 cents. Award prices are based on a menu of Saver and Anytime awards, with a separate menu for partner awards. We value AAdvantage miles at about 1.8 cents each, which is about the price you can often buy these miles when American puts on special buy miles promotions. You can sometimes get more value by being flexible and booking Saver or partner awards when cash tickets are expensive. The big drag on value for American miles for international flights are fuel surcharges on British Airways, which often cost more than just buying the cheapest economy fare outright.

If you’re not flexible, expect the miles to be worth closer to 1 cent each.

Delta SkyMiles® – 1.5 cents. There’s no published award chart for Delta miles, and we value them at about 1.5 cents each. Delta tends to tie award prices more closely to the actual cash airfare than American or United, making getting outsized value harder. But there are still decent deals like Economy Class to Europe and some domestic awards for as few as 5,000 miles one way. At minimum, you can get 1 cent per mile in value from Delta SkyMiles if you hold a Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card and use the Pay With Miles feature. That lets you use miles to pay for some or all of the cost of a cash ticket, with 10,000 miles worth $100.

JetBlue True Blue – 1.4 cents. JetBlue prices award tickets based on the cash cost of a ticket, though because of leverage on taxes and fees you can get better value booking cheaper tickets with points. You’ll also find economy class fares on less popular flights have a more favorable value than Mint first class seats on peak flights.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® – 1.3 cents. Southwest awards are priced directly based on the cash price of tickets. Every dollar of airfare requires about 78 points, which works out to a value of about 1.3 cents per point. The actual travel savings you realize will be higher because Southwest calculates the price in points only using the base airfare. It doesn’t charge you points for most of the taxes and fees on award tickets, which boosts your savings. 10,000 Southwest points can get you about $130 – $150 in travel value when the tax and fee savings are factored in.

Spirit FreeSpirit™ – 1.0 cents. Spirit has a complicated pricing structure for awards, and while it advertises some very low point prices that can yield great value if you’re very flexible and patient, more often you’ll end up getting close to 1 cent per mile in value.

United MileagePlus® – 1.8 cents. We value these miles at almost 2 cents each, so if you’re flexible expect to get around $200 in flight value out of 10,000 miles. For example, United’s 60,000 mile Saver Economy award to Europe with no fuel surcharges can often save you around $1,200 in airfare during peak travel season with good availability on Star Alliance partners. International Business Class awards are harder to come by, but can yield a value of 2 to 4 cents per mile. Domestic awards might get you less value, and closer to 1 cent per mile if you’re not flexible and travel at peak times.

Hotel points

Hilton Honors – 0.4 cents. Honors points generally get you about 0.4 cents in value, including when you use the feature that lets you pay in a mix of cash and points on any hotel rate. Some hotels may offer closer to 0.55 cents per point in value, and some luxury properties may offer much less value, but 0.4 cents is the most common value you’ll see.

Hyatt Gold Passport – 1.25 cents. Hyatt doesn’t have as many hotels in its portfolio as Hilton, IHG, or Marriott, so it offers more value with every point. You can often get 1.5 cents per point in value using Hyatt points, but there are also a lot of cases when you end up getting only 1 cent per point or lower in value, so we tend to benchmark them around 1.25 cents each.

IHG® Rewards – 0.4 cents. Most hotels are available at a rate of about 0.4 cents per point, with some getting closer to 0.55 cents per point like Hilton. You can also get much more value via IHG PointBreaks awards, which are available at a rotating list of hotels for 5,000 points a night. The catch is those hotels tend to be in less popular destinations during less desirable times to travel.

Marriott Rewards – 0.6 cents. Marriott points tend to get you a little more value than Hilton or IHG points, especially if you use them when rates are high. That could change as Marriott moves toward a peak and off peak based price chart in 2019, but for now expect to get more out of a Marriott point than an IHG or Hilton point.

Radisson Rewards – 0.5 cents. You can get about a half a cent per point in value out of Radisson points, but beware the hotel footprint is pretty limited in the United States. Europe and Asia are the stronger suits for Radisson.

Starwood Preferred Guest® – 2 cents. Marriott and Starwood are merging, and every Starpoint® will turn into 3 Marriott points as of August, 2018. Until they merge, they’re worth around 2 cents or more, thanks to Starwood’s low award prices, and good opportunities to convert Starpoints to Marriott points.

Wyndham Rewards – 1.3 cents. Every Wyndham hotel is available for one price – 15,000 points a night. That means if you save your points for hotels that cost $200 or more a night in cash, you can get over 1.3 cents per point in value, but if you use them on cheaper hotels you’ll get much less value.

 

 

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Review: The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card now with a standout balance transfer offer

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

The information related to The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is an offer that not only has a longer intro APR period but also a rare $0 balance transfer fee for transfers requested within 60 days of account opening. This feature provides additional value to this card and makes it our top pick for people looking to complete a balance transfer. The other features of the card remain consistent like the rewards program — favoring those who shop at U.S. supermarkets, as well as the offering of Amex exclusive perks like entertainment access and Global Assist® Hotline.

How the card works

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is a rewards card that doubles as a balance transfer card. Beginning with the rewards program, you can earn 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 1x points on other purchases. If you spend $500 a month at U.S. supermarkets, you can maximize rewards at the higher rate. Otherwise, this is an OK program considering this is a $0 annual fee card, but you can find a better rewards rate with the $0 annual fee Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.

What is unique about this card is the balance transfer offer. You can benefit from an intro 0% for 15 Months on balance transfers with a $0 balance transfer fee. Transfers must be requested within 60 days of account opening. This can save you the typical 3% fee that most cards charge on balance transfers. Once the intro period ends, a 14.74%-25.74% Variable APR applies.

There is also an intro 0% for 15 Months on purchases (after, 14.74%-25.74% Variable APR), allowing you to make a large purchase and pay it off during the intro period. This intro period, combined with the balance transfer intro period and rewards program make The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express a unique offering where cardholders have the option to transfer a balance, pay off a large purchase, and earn rewards on new purchases — all with one card.

How to qualify

American Express products are best for people with good or excellent credit.

What we like about the card

Intro BT fee: This card offers a $0 balance transfer fee. Transfers must be requested within 60 days of account opening. Completing a transfer is a great way to save on the typical 3% BT fee most cards charge.

20% More points: When you make 20 or more transactions in a billing period, you earn 20% more points on those purchases. This effectively increases the value of 1 point to 1.2 points.

Transfer points to frequent traveler programs: You can transfer your points to participating frequent traveler programs mostly on a 1:1 basis (some transfers require more or less points).

2x Points on travel booked with amextravel.com: When you book travel at amextravel.com, eligible travel purchases (prepaid hotel stays, vacation packages, cruises, and more) receive double points.

What we don’t like about the card

Low everyday rewards rate: Purchases in categories other than U.S. supermarkets or in excess of the quarterly cap will earn a low rewards rate that can be beat by other cards. We consider 2 points per dollar spent to be the average, so anything below that is subpar.

What are Membership Rewards® points worth?

Membership Rewards® points can be redeemed in many ways. For each option, point’s worth varies, so some redemption options may be better than others. Here are the ways you can redeem your rewards and how much one point is worth for each option:

  • Frequent flyer programs: Points are often worth $0.01 each, with some worth more or less. For example; 1,000 Membership Rewards® points = 2,000 Hilton Honors Points or 1,000 SkyMiles®.
  • Gift cards: Points are worth $0.01 each.
  • Merchandise: Points are worth $0.005 each.
  • Travel: The value of points vary.
  • Pay with points at checkout or via statement credit: The value of points vary and are often less than $0.01.

Alternatives

The Chase Slate® offers the same balance transfer offer as The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, but is a more basic card. There are no rewards or standout perks, so this card is better suited for people only looking for a no-frills balance transfer card, or those who don’t want to be distracted by rewards while they pay down debt.

The information related to the Chase Slate® has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

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on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
14.99%-25.99% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores. 1% cash back on other purchases.
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has a rewards program that is also geared towards U.S. supermarket shopping, but offers higher rates (it also includes U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores in the higher rate). Keep in mind this is a cash back card, so you have different redemption options compared to The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express.

Bottom Line

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is a well-rounded card with a rewards program favoring U.S. supermarket purchases, a standout intro offer, and signature Amex additional perks. Terms apply. If you’re looking to transfer a balance and make a large purchase, this card has the best offer on the market allowing you to benefit from 0% intro periods as well as rewards on new purchases.

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Is the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card or Amazon Prime Store Card Better for Your Amazon Purchases?

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Review - Amazon Rewards Visa Card or Amazon Prime Store

For loyal Amazon shoppers, a credit card that will give you money back for spending only makes sense. There are three options:

  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card (from Chase) – 5% back, and our top choice
  • Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card (also from Chase) – 3% back
  • Amazon Prime Store Card (from Synchrony, can only be used at Amazon) – 5% back

The good news: if you are an Amazon Prime member, it is easy to get 5% cash back from all of your Amazon spending all year long. And if you spend a lot of money at Amazon, the savings can be significant.

Note: The information related to the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card, Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card, and Amazon Prime Store Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card5% at Amazon: The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card

With this credit card, you Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases.

There is no annual fee, no earning caps and no foreign transaction fees.

How the points work

When you use your card, you will actually be earning points.

Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases.

You can choose to redeem those points at Amazon (during checkout) or through Chase.

When you check out at Amazon, you will see your point balance and would be able to apply those points to your purchase. Every 100 points = $1.

But you can also redeem those points through Chase and get cash back, gift cards or travel. If you want cash back or gift cards, the value is the same as using the points at Amazon to shop. Every 100 points = $1.

You will also Get a $70 Amazon.com Gift Card instantly upon credit card approval. The best part is you do not have to spend a certain amount of money in order to get the gift card.

If you are already enjoying the benefits of Amazon Prime, this card is an obvious choice.

But if you are thinking about Amazon Prime, this card is a great way to try it out.

If you spend $99 for Amazon Prime membership and then apply for this card, you will immediately get $70 of it back in the form of an Amazon gift card. You can learn more about the card at Amazon.

Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card 3% at Amazon: Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card

Everything is the same as the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card, except you Earn 3% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on all other purchases..

Just like the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card, cash back is tracked with a point system. 1 point equals $0.01. For example, if you spend $100 on Amazon.com, you’ll get $3 in cash back, which equals 300 points. You can trade in points for statement credit, travel or gift cards. Points never expire unless your account is closed and there’s no rewards cap.

The card doesn’t have a 0% introductory promo period. As a rule of thumb, you should avoid transferring a balance to a card you want to use for rewards. This card has an exceptionally high balance transfer fee (Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.) and no 0% introductory promo period; two major red flags for a balance transfer.

Get a $50 Amazon.com Gift Card instantly upon credit card approval. The Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card has no annual fee and you can learn more about the card at Amazon.

Amazon Prime Store Card 5% at Amazon: Amazon Prime Store Card

The card can be used on Amazon.com and on other merchant sites that have the Amazon Prime Store Card option activated for payment. However, the card can’t be used for the following: textbook rentals, digital and print + digital subscriptions (including newspapers and magazines), cell phones associated with a plan, purchases on Amazon subsidiaries, digital add-on subscriptions (e.g. Starz, Hulu, GameFly, etc.), Prime Now items.

You can redeem cash back for statement credit until instructed otherwise. In the fine print, Amazon reserves the right to change the cash back program into a rewards program where you redeem points for products instead.

If you end your Amazon Prime Membership, your Amazon Prime Store Card will become a regular Amazon Store Card that doesn’t earn 5% cash back. There’s no annual fee on the card, but Prime membership does cost $99 per year.

This card offers special financing on all orders of $149 or more. You will pay no interest if your balance is paid in full within 6, 12, or 24 months as applicable. If you don’t pay off your balance within the promotional period, interest will be charged to your account from the purchase date. Minimum monthly payments are required. Learn more about the terms on here.

Pros and Cons

Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Cards

Pro: Multiple bonus categories. Sure, you shop on Amazon.com, but you probably shop elsewhere too. With this card you’ll get an extra bonus for shopping online plus cash back in other areas that fulfill everyday needs like filling up your gas tank. You also have flexibility to redeem cash back in multiple ways.

Pro: No annual fee. Earning cash back from each category is free, no annual fee.

Pro: A gift card once approved. When you get approved you’ll get Get a $70 Amazon.com Gift Card instantly upon credit card approval (Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card) or Get a $50 Amazon.com Gift Card instantly upon credit card approval. (Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card) gift card right away you can use to shop.

Pro: 3% or 5% cash back when you pay for Amazon Prime Membership. Amazon Prime Membership comes with free two-day shipping and unlimited TV and movie screening with Prime Video. What devoted Amazon shopper doesn’t want that? An added benefit with this card is double-dipping. You get the Prime perks and cash back for paying for them.

Pro: High cash back for Prime members. If you’re a Prime member, you can get 5% cash back. You likely won’t be able to beat that rate.

Con: No intro APR. Since most credit cards have some type of introductory interest rate, a card that doesn’t have one stands out. You’ll need to pay off the balance each month starting from the very beginning to benefit from rewards earned.

Con: Tougher approval. You may need better credit to get these cards from Chase than the Amazon Store Card from Synchrony, which has a much higher interest rate.

Amazon Prime Store Card

Pro: 5% cash back. This is a huge amount of cash back for faithful Amazon shoppers. You’ll get rewarded handsomely for spending. And the redemption process is easy; your cash back is used for statement credit. One thing to keep in mind is it may take up to two billing cycles for the money to appear on your account.

Pro: Easier approval. This is a store card limited to Amazon purchases, so you might find it easier to get approved for this card with less than perfect credit.

Pro: No annual fee. The Amazon Prime Store Card doesn’t have an annual fee.

Con: A very high APR for everyone: This card charges a 26.99% APR for everyone, regardless of credit score. Yes, even an 850 FICO would still get you a horrible 26.99% interest rate. Never borrow with this card.

Con: Fine print. The fact that you can’t use this card for software downloads on Amazon sticks out as a negative. Amazon sells software downloads including TurboTax, QuickBooks and Norton Security. These products aren’t cheap and purchases you would want to get 5% cash back on.

Con: Requires Amazon Prime Membership. To use this card you have to be an Amazon Prime Member so in some respects there is a fee involved even though it’s not an annual fee specifically for the card. Amazon Prime Membership costs $99 per year. If you’re not already a member and want to become one for the card, you must spend enough to pay for membership.

Con: Exclusive to Amazon. A gift and a curse. You’ll have to follow up with another card for cash back on other things like groceries, gas, dining or travel.

Which Card Should You Choose?

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa® Signature Card is a good one to consider if you already have an Amazon Prime account. It’s not worth getting an Amazon Prime account just to get this card unless you plan on spending big in the future on the site. If you spend moderately throughout the year, the basic Amazon Rewards Visa® Signature Card is a better choice between the two. You’ll get rewarded for more diverse spending in addition to your online shopping.

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Taylor Gordon
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I Got My First Credit Card One Year Ago – Here’s How I Already Have a Good FICO Score

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When I moved to the U.S. from my hometown, Hangzhou, an eastern Chinese city, in 2012 to pursue my undergraduate degree, the thought of establishing a credit history wasn’t even on my radar. I was, after all, an international student from China, where day-to-day credit card use has only recently caught on.  

It wasn’t until I returned to the U.S. a few years later to pursue my master’s in Chicago that I realized I’d need to establish credit if I planned to launch my career in the States.  

It’s been only a year since I opened my first card last September, and I already have a solid FICO score – 720, the last time I checked.  That’s not a perfect score by any means, but it lands me safely in the “good” credit range, meaning I probably won’t have trouble getting approved for new credit in the future. I still have work to do if I want to get into the “very good” credit category, which starts at 740, according to MyFICO, but for a credit card newbie I’m not disappointed in my progress so far. 

Here’s how I did it:  

I selected the right card for my needs
 

I wish I could say I diligently researched credit cards to choose the best offer and best terms, but honestly, I just got lucky: 

Shortly before graduate school started, I visited friends in Iowa. When we were about to split the bill after dinner at a Japanese restaurant, I noticed that all my friends had a Discover card with a shimmering pink or blue cover. The Discover it® Student Cash Back was known for its high approval rate for student applicants, and had been popular among international students. 

I thought, “Oh, maybe I should get this one, too.”  

One of the friends sent me a referral link that very night. I applied and got approved quickly. We both received a $50 cash-back bonus after I made my first purchase — an iPhone — using the card through Discover’s special rewards program. I even received 5 percent cash back from the purchase.  

Besides imposing no annual fee, the card has other perks, like rewarding me with a $20 statement credit when I reported a good GPA (up to 5 consecutive years), letting me earn 5 percent cash back on purchases in rotating categories, and matching the cash-back bonus I earned over the first 12 months with my account. For me, it was a great starter card, but there are plenty of other options out there.

Check out our guide on the best credit cards for students. 

I also could have explored other options of establishing credit, like opening a secured card, for example, which would have been a smart option if I hadn’t been able to qualify for the Discover it student card.

I never missed a payment

Despite my very limited financial literacy at the time, I attribute my current stellar credit score to the old, deeply ingrained Chinese mentality about saving and not owing. 

I never missed payments, and I always paid off my balance in full each month, instead of just making the $35 minimum payment. I didn’t want to pay a penny of interest. 

Credit cards carry high interest rates across the board, but student credit cards generally have some of the highest APRs. This is because lenders see students like me — consumers without much credit history — to be risky borrowers, and they charge a higher interest rate to offset that  risk. 

Best Student Credit Cards December 2018

It wasn’t until much later when I learned that payment history is critical to credit establishment. In fact, it is the biggest factor there is. It accounts for as much as 35 percent of my FICO score. Naturally, I felt like I dodged a bullet! 

A Guide to Getting Your Free Credit Score 

I was careful not to use too much of my available credit

My friends with more experience advised me to use as little of my available credit as possible. They warned me that overuse had hurt their credit scores in the past. This didn’t much sense to me, but I followed their advice, for the most part diligently.. 

I later learned this is almost as important as paying bills on time each month. Your utilization rate is another 30 percent of the FICO score. Credit experts urge cardholders to keep their credit utilization ratio below 30 percent.  

That means if you have three credit cards with a total available limit of $10,000, you should try never to carry a total balance exceeding about $3,000. 

A Guide to Build and Maintain Healthy Credit 

I beefed up my score with on-time rent payment 

Keeping in mind the importance of not maxing out my credit card, I never considered paying my rent with the card. In fact, some landlords charge credit card fees for tenants who try to pay with plastic.  

But I did find a way to establish credit by paying rent using my checking account. 

I paid rent to my Chicago landlord through RentPayment, an online service. RentPayment gave me the option of having my payments reported to TransUnion, one of the three major credit-reporting agencies. Because I knew I’d always pay bills on time, I signed up for the program.  

This likely helped me improve my credit mix, another key factor influencing one’s credit score. The more types of accounts you show on your report, the better your score can be — providing you make all your payments on time.  

Yes, I made mistakes. This was my biggest one.

My first foray into the world of credit wasn’t completely blip-free.  

The only thing that hurt my credit, besides my short credit history, was that I had tried signing up for a Chase credit card and other ways to finance my iPhone just a few days before I applied for my Discover card.  

None of the other banks approved my applications, and my score went down from the very beginning due to the number of “hard inquiries” against my report. Hard inquiries occur when lenders check your credit report before they make lending decisions, and having too many inquiries in a short period of time can result in several dings to your credit score. 

I’ve learned my lesson, though. And I haven’t applied for a new credit card since. Today, as I said, my FICO score is a healthy 720, and I am on the lookout for a second credit card now that I’ve graduated and gotten a job. 

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Shen Lu
Shen Lu |

Shen Lu is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Shen Lu at shenlu@magnifymoney.com

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