The best cash-back cards

Last reviewed: February 2009

Even if you like your current credit card, you might earn better rewards with a different one. Compare the terms on your current card with those of the best cards we found through our own research and with the help of None of the cards listed here have annual fees or limits on the amount of cash-back rewards you can earn. Note: All rates, rewards, and other terms current as of early 2009. Credit-card rates and terms change frequently.

Card APR Program basics Details
Blue Cash from American Express 11.99% to 17.99% Earn up to 5% cash back at supermarkets, gas stations, and drugstores; up to 1.5% elsewhere. 0% APR on new purchases for 12 months. Offers a fixed 2.99% on balance transfers for the first 12 months (3% transfer fee). You’ll receive 5% and 1.5% back on new purchases only after you’ve spent $6,500 in a year. For purchases below that threshold, you’ll get 1% and 0.5%. This card is best for big spenders.
Capital One No Hassle Cash Rewards 8.15% to 15.15% Earn 2% cash back on gas and groceries; 1% on all other purchases. 0% intro APR for up to 12 months. Cash-back rewards never expire. A $29 annual fee is charged to people with lower credit scores.
Citi Cash Returns Card 8.24% to 16.24% Earn 1.2% cash back on all purchases in the first year; 1 percent after. Earn up to 5% additional cash back on purchases at more than 400 retailers such as Dell, Expedia, Gap, Office Depot, Saks, and Sephora through the Citi Bonus Cash Center. Checks are automatically mailed to you when you earn $50.
Discover More 10.99% to 18.99% Earn 5% cash back in four spending categories on up to $800 in quarterly purchases. On other purchases, earn 0.25% on up to $1,500 in annual spending; 0.5% from $1,500 to $3,000; and 1% after $3,000. Offers 0% APR on new purchases for six months; 0% APR on balance transfers for up to 12 months (3% transfer fee). You can earn 5% to 20% percent cash back for purchases made through ShopDiscover, which includes dozens of retailers like Apple, PetSmart, Sears, and the Wine Enthusiast. You might get a better deal if you redeem points for gift cards from the 100 retailers they partner with instead of taking the cash-back option because you can get double points. You must request cash back. You can have it credited on your statement or deposited directly into an account.
TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express 13.99% Earn 3% cash back at gas and restaurants; 2% on travel; 1% everywhere else, including Costco. Get a $25 credit on your statement after your first purchase.

This article was also published in Consumer Reports Money Adviser. Subscribe now to get more expert financial advice you can trust.

Posted: February 2009