About Cash Back Credit Cards
What is a cash back credit card?
Cash back credit cards offer cash back rewards instead of points or miles for your purchases. Some of the biggest cash back credit cards offer a flat percentage on your purchases while others offer tiered rewards on your “eligible” purchases. For example, you may have a card that pays 3% cash back at supermarkets and 2% cash back for dining at restaurants, or a card that offers cash back in spending categories up to a quarterly limit in categories that change each quarter and that you need to activate. Some cash back cards may have quarterly or annual spend limits on your earnings.
Like airline and hotel co-branded cards that offer a bonus to new Card members, many cash back credit cards offer a cash rewards bonus to qualifying new Card members. To earn the bonus, you usually have to spend a certain amount on purchases with your card in the first few months after opening your account. Some cash back credit cards charge an annual fee.
Why choose a cash back credit card?
Cash is cash. You’ll always be able to spend it. Some consumers prefer the simplicity of cash back to points systems that are tied to a particular brand or group of brands. While you might not know whether you’ll be able to use a night at a particular hotel chain, you can be confident that you’ll find a use for cash.
What kind of cash back card can I get?
Cash back credit cards don’t come in a one-size-fits-all package. Some offer a flat rewards rate and others vary cash back rates with the type of purchase or the time of year. If you don’t want to think about spending categories, a flat rate might be a better type of cash back card for you. If you are willing to maximize your use of a card for certain types of purchases, plenty of cash back cards are available for different kinds of spenders.
Some cash back cards are designed for people with good credit while others are reserved for people with excellent credit scores. Reviewing your credit score and credit report can give you an idea of which category you fall into. Understand that card issuers look at a variety of factors, including your credit score, to determine if you are eligible for one of their cards.
What are the pros and cons?
Cash back credit cards may be a fit for many individuals, especially those who prefer cash to other types of rewards. Depending on the card, you may be able to apply cash rewards as a statement credit, redeem your cash back rewards for gift cards or have the money deposited into your bank account. In fact, some banks offer a customer bonus when you redeem your cash back rewards into an eligible account with the same bank.
You might get more value from your rewards if you choose a card that offers redemptions other than cash back. Point and mile values are often higher when you redeem them for tangible goods like travel and merchandise. Remember that annual fees and other costs diminish the value of the rewards you earn. For example cash back rewards cards typically have higher interest rates than non-rewards cards so if you tend to carry a balance any interest charged can cancel out any rewards earned. Make sure you stay within your means and don’t spend more just to earn rewards.