Posted by William Charles on May 27, 2014
Credit Cards

Published on May 27th, 2014 | by William Charles

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5%+ Cash Back Credit Cards

This post contains a list of credit cards that earn 5% or more in cash back, we’ve broken it down into personal & business credit cards.

Personal Cards

Discover it

Read our full review

One of the most well known 5% cash back cards, the Discover it has rotating 5% categories. You are required to sign up for these categories each quarter and you’re limited to earning 5% back on the first $1,500 spend in participating categories each quarter (maximum of $75 cash back).

 Q1Q2Q3Q4
2018Gas Stations & Wholesale ClubsGrocery StoresRestaurantsAmazon & Wholesale Clubs
2017Gas Stations, Ground Transportation & Wholesale ClubsHome Improvement & Wholesale ClubsRestaurants. Some cardholders targeted for AmazonAmazon and Target
2016Gas and Ground TransportationRestaurants & MoviesAmazon, Home ImprovementSam’s Club, Amazon, and Department Stores
2015Gas Stations & Ground TransportationSummer Spruce Up?Home Improvement Stores, Department Stores, and Amazon.comAmazon, department stores, and clothing stores
2014Restaurants and MoviesHome Improvement Stores, Furniture Stores and Bed Bath & BeyondGas stationsDepartment Stores and Online Shopping
2013Restaurants and MoviesHome Improvement StoresGas stationsOnline Shopping
2012Gas stations, Movie theaters and MuseumsRestaurants and MoviesGas stations, Movies and Theme parksDepartment Stores and Online Shopping
2011Travel and RestaurantsHome and FashionGas, Hotels, Movies and Theme ParksRestaurants and Fashion

This card has two main selling points: it comes with a free TransUnion FICO score & the Discover shopping portal typically has higher than normal cash back rates.

Chase Freedom

Our full review

Chase is another 5% rotating cash back card, you’re required to sign up for these categories every quarter and earn 5% on the first $1,500 of purchases per quarter in participating categories. They usually offer very similar categories to Discover, which is frustrating for those who have both cards.

 Q1Q2Q3Q4
2017Gas Stations, Local Commuter TransportationGrocery Stores & DrugstoresRestaurants & Movie TheatersWalmart & Department Stores
2016Gas and local commuter transportationGrocery Stores & Wholesale ClubsRestaurants & Wholesale ClubsDrugstores, Department Stores & Wholesale Clubs
2015Grocery Stores, Movie Theatres And Starbucks storesRestaurants, Overstock.com, H&M, Bed Bath & BeyondGas stations, Kohl’sAmazon.com, Audible.com, Zappos.com, Diapers.com
2014Gas stations, Movie Theaters, Starbucks StoresRestaurants, Lowe’s home improvement storesGas stations, Kohl’sAmazon, Zappos & select department stores
2013Restaurants & MoviesHome improvement storesGas stationsOnline shopping
2012Gas stations,Amazon.comGrocery Stores, Movie TheatersGas Stations, RestaurantsHotels, Airlines, Best Buy, Kohls
2011Grocery Stores, Drug StoresHome Improvement, Lawn & Garden, Home FurnishingsGas, Hotels, AirlinesDining, Department Stores, Movies, Charity

The main advantage of the Chase Freedom is that you can transfer your cash back into Chase UR points (which can then be transferred to multiple airline or hotel partners) as long as you hold a credit card that offers Chase UR points (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus).

Chase also offers a relationship bonus where you can earn an additional 10% on all cash back earned (making this card earn 5.5% back) when you also have a Chase checking account opened. Chase regularly has sign up bonuses for these accounts, click here to see if they currently do. The Freedom currently comes with a $100 sign up bonus, but this regularly gets bumped up to $200.

U.S Bank Cash+

This card is unique in the 5% cash back category as it allows you to choose two different cash back categories out of a possible twelve. They are as follows:

  • Cell Phone
  • Bookstores
  • Department stores
  • Restaurants
  • Electronic Stores
  • Fast food
  • Furniture Stores
  • Car Rental
  • Charity
  • Movie Theaters
  • Gym/Fitness Centers
  • Sporting Good Stores

These categories sometimes change, you can view an up to date list through the demo found here. You have to choose these categories every quarter (so no setting and forgetting) and it’s limited to the first $2,000 in purchases per quarter (maximum of $100 in cash back).

You also get to choose a 2% cash back category, there are a total of three to choose from: gas stations, grocery stores & drug stores. These 2% categories are fairly worthless as you’re able to get better cash back rates with other cards. All other purchases earn a flat 1% cash back.

[Read: Our list of the best credit cards for gas purchases]

This card doesn’t come with a sign up bonus, although it is possible to sign up for a different U.S bank credit card (e.g FlexPerks) which does come with a sign up bonus and then downgrade to this card. I’ve only seen people do this who have held their previous card for 6 months+, so it’s only worth doing this if you’ll earn less than this from the cash+ card.

You do earn a $25 bonus when you redeem more than $100 in a single redemption, but there is a limit on this of one per year.

PenFed Cash Rewards

This card earns 3% on all gas purchases, but it can earn 5% on gas purchases if you have the Plus version of the card. To get this you need to have at least one qualifying product with PenFed.

Citi Dividend

The Citi Dividend also has rotating categories, but things work a little bit differently. Rather than having a maximum limit of $1,500 in purchases per quarter (max of $75 in cash back per quarter) they instead having a limit of $6,000 per year (max of $300 in cash back per year).

This means if there is a category you spend a lot in, you can take full advantage of it and hit the $300 limit in a single quarter. This gives it a bit more flexibility compared to the other cards with rotating categories and especially useful when there is an opportunity for manufactured spending. It also currently comes with a $100 sign up bonus when you spend $500 within three months.

 Q1Q2Q3Q4
2017Home Depot & Home Furnishing StoresDrugstores & Fitness ClubsAirlines and HiltonBest Buy & Department Stores
2016Drug Stores & Fitness ClubsCar Rentals & Hilton
2015Macy’s & Home Furnishing StoresHilton & AirlinesBest Buy, Department Stores
2014
2013
2012
2012


One downside to this card is that you have to redeem in multiples of $25.

 

Fort Knox Credit Union

This card has no annual fee and earns a flat 5% cash back on all gas purchases. It earns 1% on all other purchases. There is no limits on the amount you can earn which makes it perfect if you have a lot of gas spend. It was rated our #1 card for gas purchases.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred

This card doesn’t actually earn 5% in any categories, but it does 1% better and earns 6% on all grocery store purchases. You’re limited to $6,000 in purchases per year ($360 cash back) and it has an annual fee of $75, which makes it actually earn 4.75% cash back if you max it out every year.

Old American Express Blue Cash

This card isn’t directly available on the American Express website, this link should work (non-affiliate). This card earns 5% in the following categories: U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations & select U.S. drugstores and 1% on all other purchases but only after you’ve spent $6,500 in spend. Before that it earns 1% on gas stations/drugstores/supermarkets & 0.5% on all other purchases. It does not have an annual fee, this makes it one of the most powerful cards for manufactured spending.

NMEFCU 5% Cash Back Card

Read our full review

This card earns 5% cash back on rotating categories like the Discover it & Chase Freedom cards on the first $1,500 in purchases in those categories per quarter. Here are what the categories are this year and were in 2014.

Q1Q2Q3Q4 
2018Groceries + Gas ExpensesMovies, Restaurants & Home ImprovementsGas & Education ExpensesRestaurants, Hotels & Airfare
2017Groceries + Gas ExpensesMovies, Restaurants & Home ImprovementsGas & Education ExpensesRestaurants, Hotels & Airfare
2016Groceries + Gas ExpensesMovies, Restaurants & Home ImprovementsGas & Education ExpensesRestaurants, Hotels & Airfare
2015Groceries + Gas ExpensesMovies, Restaurants & Home ImprovementsGas & Education ExpensesRestaurants, Hotels & Airfare
2014Groceries + Gas ExpensesMovies, Restaurants & Home ImprovementsGas & Education ExpensesRestaurants, Hotels & Airfare

Business Cards

Chase Ink Plus/Ink Bold & Ink Cash

These three cards are business cards offered by Chase, which makes it slightly more difficult but not impossible for individuals to get. These cards earn 5 chase UR points (5% cash for the cash card) on all office supply stores cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services. There is a limit of $50,000 in purchases per year (250,000 points/$2,500 cash).

The Plus/Bold cards currently come with a 60,000 point sign up bonus (usually 50,000 points) after $5,000 in spend they also have a $95 annual fee which is waived for the first year.  The Cash card comes with a $300 cash bonus (usually $200).

American Express SimplyCash

This card earns 5% cash back on U.S based office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchase directly from U.S service providers. It also lets you choose your own 3% cash back category out of the following: 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, and U.S. purchases for shipping. Unlike the Chase business cards there is no annual fee. It’s previously had a sign up bonus of $250, but currently it has no bonus.

Limited Time Cards

The following cards offer 5% cash back, but they only offer it for an introductory period before dropping off.

Wells Fargo Cash Back Card – First Six Months Only

I’m a big fan of the Propel world card offered by Wells Fargo, but their 5% cash back card is quite popular with a lot of people. It offers unlimited 5% cash back on all gas, grocery & drug store purchases. There is a catch though, this is only offered for the first six months. Then it drops to a flat 1% cash back on all purchases.

This card isn’t appealing for the every day consumer due to the 6 month earning limit, but it is appealing to those who do heavy manufactured spending. This was especially the case when you could purchase Vanilla Reloads from CVS.

Citizen’s Bank CashBack Platinum MasterCard – First 90 Days only

This card earns a flat 5% cash back on gas, grocery & drug store purchases. It also earns a massive 10% on all restaurant purchases. Unfortunately all good things come to an end and this is only offered for the first 90 days, it then reverts to earning cash at 1% on all purchases. You must also redeem in increments of $50 which can be frustrating if you’re half way there.

TD Easy Rewards Visa Credit Card – First Six Months Only

This card earns 5% dining, groceries, gas and cable, phone and utility bill payments, but only for the first six months. After that it drops to 1% on all purchases. This card actually earns points which can be redeemed for 1 point = 1 cent for cash or cash equivalents. There is no sign up bonus or annual fee on this card.

Which 5% Cash Back Card Is Best?

This is really going to depend on your spending patterns to determine which categories are the most useful. I’m a fan of the U.S bank card as it allows me to earn 5% on restaurants, I also like the Citi dividend more than the it or Freedom due to it allowing me to hit $300 in rewards in one cycle. Let us know what your favorite 5% cash card is in the comments, also let us know if we missed any.

If you’re not worried about getting cash back, there might be a better card to use. Check out our series “what’s the best card to use when making purchases certain categories” below:



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Alcwj
Alcwj

Well, it really depends on what you use it for. IMHO, the best 5% CB CC just for MS is Old AMEX blue cash which is not in your list. While the best everyday spending CB should be USB Cash+.

Credit Card Joint

Very interesting that you caught on the changes coming to the Discover It card. Our favorite card is the Freedom.
1) It has flexibility of redemption via travel or statement credit, check etc.
2) No annual fee
3) The categories are usually good.

Mark
Mark

I chose the Sallie Mae because I get the 5% back on gas and groceries which I don’t spend a lot on every month.

trackback

[…] are the limits and which bookstores they count for. In addition to these cards you could use a card that earns 5%+ and use it to purchase gift cards for specific […]

Anne
Anne

As of 2/15/16, can you still sign up for the Citi Dividend card? Are there any bonus sign up offer links?

Jason
Jason

I was thinking to use the time limit CC to go to CVS to buy PPMC but read this on the T&C:
The following purchases/transactions do not earn Points: ATM transactions, cash advances of any kind, balance transfers, SUPERCHECKSTM, cash equivalents such as money orders and pre-paid gift cards

Does anyone ever try on it?

BBWhistler
BBWhistler

I guess I’m a little confused. Do you get a check in the mail for cashback earned? The Blue Cash offer said Rewards Points or Statement Credit. Could you explain how/if those are convenient? I’m used to travel rewards cards, but want to learn more about cashback cards.

Chuck

Blue Cash comes as statement credit.

trackback

[…] lot has changed in the two and a half years since DoC’s last post about 5%+ cash back cards. This is a (hopefully) comprehensive survey of the current landscape of high-earning rewards […]

Brandon
Brandon

Any reason this isn’t on the best cards for page?

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon

Your link for the Old Amex Blue Cash card now connects to the Blue Cash Everyday card, so maybe that card is officially dead.

Chuck

Did you try incognito? That used to work sometimes.

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon

Tried incognito. Tried using my VPN. Tried setting VPN to a different country. Still no dice. So, for me, it’s dead, Jim. (er… Chuck)

Tom
Tom

OBC new applications has been officially dead for a few months.

Lrdx
Lrdx

Safe CU (Parts of northern CA) has, quoting:
5% cash back on one revolving bonus category of your choice + 3% when you dine at restaurants, or buy groceries or gas + 1% on all other purchases.

https://www.safecu.org/personal/borrow-money/credit-cards/cash-rewards-credit-card

Unfortunately I could not find what the available 5% categories are.

Brandon
Brandon

https://ficoforums.myfico.com/t5/Credit-Cards/SAFE-CU-Cash-rewards-5-amp-3/m-p/5246046

Seems to be home improvement, charity, utilities, and movie theatres according to the above link. If this was available in my area, I would get it and probably cancel my Amex, Discover, and Freedom cards.

MickeyMouse
MickeyMouse

You should add the Capital One Savor Card for Restaurants 😉

Nickod777
Nickod777

I can’t seem to find the Citizen’s Bank CashBack Platinum MasterCard. All I see is their regular credit card and the World Mastercard that sometimes has deals

Lrdx
Lrdx

Amalgamated Bank of Chicago’s Platinum Rewards Credit Card now has 5% rotating categories: https://www.platinumrewardsnow.com/Rewards-Calendar.aspx

Plus signup of $150 after $1200 spend.

Brandon
Brandon

Is the card allowing anyone to signup for it? Or is there a limited geography to get it?

Lrdx
Lrdx

By the way, this article is not linked from Credit Card Reference Pages

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