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Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Posted By Jim On 08/28/2009 @ 12:01 pm In Credit | 64 Comments

A few years ago, cash back credit cards were everywhere. Today, the offers are harder to find as company hunker down and deal with the financial crisis we’re facing. Despite the economic climate, cash back credits are still out there and you can still get a little cash back on your purchases.

How do cash back credit cards work? Each credit card company does it differently but the basic idea is the same. Every time you make a purchase with the credit card, your cash back or rewards account goes up in value. When you reach a certain threshold, you can cash out your cash back. Some companies will write you a check (Citi), while others will directly credit your account balance.

Is cash back worth the hassle? The answer is it depends. Some cards offer high cash back percentages on certain purchases and you can optimize your cash back by using several cards. Many of the best credit cards [3] have rewards. I don’t recommend using more than two or three cards because the return on your time will decrease as you get more cards (you may find it helps to write down the cash back categories on the card itself).

Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Citi FORWARD Visa Card [4]

The Citi FORWARD Visa Card [4] is offers 5 points per dollar on books, movies, music and restaurants, 1 point per dollar on everything else. You get 6,000 points once you make $250 in purchases within the first three months, 100 points each pay period when you pay on time and stay under your limit, plus 2,500 points when you sign up for paperless statements within 3 months of opening. If you satisfy all those requirements, you can get 8,600 points in the first month, worth ~$86.

Citi mtvU Platinum Select Visa Card [4]

The Citi mtvU Platinum Select Visa Card is my second favorite credit card because you get 5 points per dollar on books, movies, music and restaurants, 1 point per dollar on everything else. You also get up to 2000 points for having a good GPA and 25 points a month when you pay on time and stay under your credit limit.

TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express [5]

The TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express [5] is my favorite credit card because you can get up to 3% Cash back at US gas stations and on gasoline at Costco up to $4,000 per year in purchases, then 1% everywhere with no annual limit, and you get a $25 bonus after your first purchase. It is also accepted at Costco, which makes their already affordable products even cheaper. The best part? There are no cash back games or gimmicks, they send you a check.

Schwab Bank Invest First™ Visa [6]

Finally, the Schwab Bank Invest First™ Visa, much lauded by readers in the comments, offers a 2% cash rebate credited directly into a Charles Schwab brokerage account every month. There are Schwab brokerage accounts with no minimums and fees so if you’re willing to take an extra step, having the cash back deposited into a brokerage account, then you can be rewarded with 2%. 1% is the standard cash back percentage so 2% is really good.

Some of the cards listed offer the cash back in the form of reward points and they are included only if you are able to convert those reward points into a statement credit or a check.


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[3] best credit cards: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/best-credit-cards

[4] Citi FORWARD Visa Card: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/cards/citi-mtvu.php?tag=bestCashbackCards

[5] TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/cards/trueearnings-costco.php?tag=bestCashbackCards

[6] Schwab Bank Invest First™ Visa: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/cards/charles-schwab.php?tag=bestCashbackCards

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