[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Picking out the perfect rewards credit card is an important decision. You want to make sure the card you choose is going to get good use and provide value. Someone that doesn’t do very much traveling, probably won’t have a lot of use for a credit card that rewards airline miles or hotel points. If this sounds like you, then you are likely going to be looking for a card that will earn cash back.
That “likely” is because people prone to carrying a balance may want to skip rewards credit cards entirely. They tend to carry higher interest rates than cards with no-frills, so if you’re paying interest on purchases, you’d basically be losing out on those rewards anyway — and potentially costing yourself in interest. You might be better off looking into a low-interest credit card. (You can see how your credit card use is currently affecting your credit by viewing your free credit report snapshot, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.)
With that in mind, here are four rewards credit cards that are perfect for the not-so-frequent flier. (Note: for the full fine print of these cards, please turn to their agreements.)
1. Discover it — Cash Back Match
If you love earning cash back and don’t mind doing a little work, then the Discover it cash back credit card (see full review here) may be a great match for you. You will earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 within rotating categories each quarter. For example, through the end of 2016, the 5% bonus categories are Amazon.com, department stores, and Sam’s Club. There is one catch to earning the bonus: You need to opt in each quarter. For some, this might be a deal breaker, but for others, it’s worth the rewards. All other purchases that you make will receive 1% cash back. The cash back that you earn will never expire, and you can redeem your earnings at any time for either a statement credit or directly with Amazon.com for purchases.
While this card does not have a traditional signup bonus, it does offer something that no other card does: Discover will match the cash back you earn for the first 12 billing cycles at the end of that year. That means if you earn $500 cash back, you will actually receive $1,000. Not a bad perk for a card that has no annual fee, no late fee on the first late payment, and no foreign transaction fees. Your variable purchase annual percentage rate (APR) will between 11.24% to 23.24%, after a 12-month 0% introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases expires. You’ll pay a 3% fee to transfer a balance.
2. Chase Freedom Unlimited
If earning cash back is your preference, but keeping track of bonus categories isn’t something you want to do, then you should look into the Chase Freedom Unlimited card (see full review here). You will earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase that you make. Your cash back earnings will never expire as long as your account stays open and active.
When you sign up for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you can receive a $150 signup bonus after spending $500 within the first three months. You can also add an authorized user to your account and earn an additional $25 after they make a purchase during the same three-month period.
If you have a large purchase coming up or need to transfer a balance, then you will like the 0% introductory annual percentage rate (APR) for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. Once the introductory period has ended, the rate will shift to a variable 14.24% to 23.24%, depending on your creditworthiness. There is no annual fee with this card, but you will have a 5% balance transfer fee and a 3% foreign transaction fee.
3. Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
Most of the top credit cards have a feature or two that really make them stand out from the rest. For the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express (see full review here), it’s the ability to earn cash back on purchases made at grocery stores. You will receive 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 each year. Purchases made at U.S. gas stations and select department stores will earn 3% cash back and everything else will be 1%.
When you sign up for the Blue Cash Preferred Card, you can receive a $150 statement credit after spending $1,000 within the first three months. The variable APR is 13.99% to 24.99% depending on your creditworthiness. There is a $0 intro annual fee for the first year of Card Membership, then a $95 annual fee with this card, but on top of the high earnings potential, you will also get other benefits like purchase protection, extended warranty, a free ShopRunner membership and more.
4. BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card
Bank of America customers particularly may want to look into the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card. This card offers 3% cash back on gas, 2% cash back on grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% back on every other purchase. Each quarter there is a combined limit of $2,500 for the gas, grocery and wholesale club bonus categories.
If you are a current Bank of America customer, however, your earning potential will go up even more. Any customer that is not a Preferred Rewards client will receive a 10% bonus. If you are a Gold Preferred Rewards client, then you will receive a 25% bonus on all cash back earned. Platinum clients will receive a 50% bonus and Platinum Honors will receive a bonus of 75%.
When you sign up for the BankAmericard Cash Rewards credit card, you can receive a $100 bonus after spending $500 within the first 90 days. Plus, in addition to not having an annual fee, you will also receive an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. After that, the APR will change to a variable 13.24% to 23.24%.
At publishing time, the Discover it, Chase Freedom Unlimited and American Express Blue Cash Preferred credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.