The Best Cash Back Credit Cards to Level up Your Life

Collecting coins, stars, and points in video games is a lot of fun.

However, what’s even more fun is collecting those things in real life, which is possible if you are using one of the best cash back credit cards.

Cash back credit cards gamify your spending, and in this case, you’re playing with real cold hard cash. Cash back credit cards do this in two ways:

  1. You can earn rewards through the form of cash back as you spend money.
  2. You can level up your card as your credit improves and you’re able to get approved for more lucrative cards.

It’s important to note, with this game, you need to play responsibly.

That means only open a credit card and spend money with it when you can afford to pay it back on time and in full. Otherwise, if you miss payments and go into credit card debt, it will be game over for you and your credit score.

7 Best Cash Back Credit Cards to Level up Your Life

1. Citi Double Cash Card

  • Bonus Points: 2% cash back
  • Quarters to Play: $0 annual fee
  • Other Fun Perks: Special access to tickets and events through Citi Entertainment

The Citi Double Cash Card offers a somewhat unprecedented 2% cash back rate, given that it’s a no annual fee credit card. The downside is that it does not offer a sign-up bonus to new users.

For someone looking for a consistent card to hold over the long run, you can’t go wrong with the Citi Double Cash Card.

2. Capital One Savor Rewards Card

  • Bonus Points: 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases
  • Quarters to Play: $95 annual fee
  • Other Fun Perks: 8% cash back at vivid seats (current offer)

The Captial One Savor Rewards Card is one of the more premium cards on this list. It charges a $95 annual fee but offers a generous unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment to help offset it. The card is an excellent fit for fun-seekers who love a night out.

Additionally, you can earn a $300 sign-up bonus if you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months from account opening.

3. Discover It Cash Back Card

  • Bonus Points: 5% cash back on a rotating category, 1% on all other purchases
  • Quarters to Play: $0 annual fee
  • Other Fun Perks: CashBack Match

The Discover it Cash Back Card is a rotating reward credit card. This means that every quarter (every three months), you can earn a higher rate in a specific category of spending.

For example, from April through June of 2020, Discover is offering 5% cash back on all purchases made at or through gas stations, Uber, Lyft, and wholesale clubs. These bonus categories rotate every three months, and Discover also offers unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Plus, through CashBack Match, Discover will automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year of using the card. So if you receive $100, Discover will give you another $100!

4. Chase Freedom Card

  • Bonus Points: 5% cash back on a rotating category, 1% on all other purchases
  • Quarters to Play: $0 annual fee
  • Other Fun Perks: Partner benefits at DoorDash and Lyft

The Chase Freedom Card is another rotating rewards card that is almost identical to the Discover it card.

The most significant difference, besides the difference in categories, is that the Chase Freedom Card is offering a sign-up bonus instead of matching cash back. You can earn a $200 bonus if you spend $500 in purchases in the first three months after card opening

5. Chase Freedom Unlimited Card

  • Bonus Points: 1.5% cash back
  • Quarters to Play: $0 annual fee
  • Other Fun Perks: Partner benefits at DoorDash and Lyft

The Chase Freedom Unlimited Card is one of the most popular cash back credit cards. A big bank offers it, it provides a reasonable cash back rewards rate of 1.5%, it has no annual fee, and it is currently offering a solid sign-up bonus.

This card is offering the same sign-up bonus as the Chase Freedom Card – you can earn a $200 cash back bonus if you spend $500 in purchases in the first three months after card opening

6. Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card

  • Bonus Points: 1.5% cash back
  • Quarters to Play: $0 annual fee
  • Other Fun Perks: Fraud protection

The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card is another standard cash back credit card, offering unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. Additionally, you can earn a $150 cash rewards bonus if you spend $500 in purchases in the first three months after card opening.

7. Blue Cash Preferred Card From American Express

  • Bonus Points: 6% cash back at U.S. Supermarkets (limit $6,000 per year), 6% on select U.S. streaming services, 3% at U.S. gas stations and on transit, 1% on all other purchases
  • Quarters to Play: $95 annual fee
  • Other Fun Perks: asdf

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is another premium cash back credit card. It has an annual fee of $95, but strong rewards to offset it.

What makes this card unique is that it heavily rewards grocery store spending. For a frugal shopper who prefers to eat in instead of out, this card could be a great option.

Cash Back Credit Cards Instruction Manual

Cash back credit cards come with a simple, four-step instruction manual. Which is perfect, cause no one likes to read these things anyway.

Here is how to use your cash back credit card the right way:

1. Pick the Right Card

First things first, you need to make sure you pick the right card for you.

That means picking the right type of cash back credit card. Below are your three options:

  • Flat Rate Cards: Provide flat rewards on all spending—for example, 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
  • Tiered Cards: Provide higher rewards for spending on specific categories and a flat rate on everything else. For example, 3% cash on dining purchases and 1% cash back on everything else.
  • Rotating Category Cards: Provide higher rewards for specific categories that rotate every quarter. For example, it may offer 5% cash back on gas for three months, and then 5% on travel for the next three months—all the while offering 1% on every other purchase.

You also need to pick a card that has the right perks and annual fee for you. Obviously, if you don’t travel, don’t get a cash back credit ard that heavily rewards travel spending (easy enough)!

Along with the same lines, if you want to hold onto the card for a long time, it’s wise to choose one without an annual fee.

2. Use the Card

There is nothing worse than a brand new video game sitting in the corner and collecting dust.

It’s the same with credit cards, especially with ones that have an annual fee. To reap the benefits of the card, you have to use it and prioritize using it over cash and debit cards.

3. Pay the Card Back on Time

As we’ve stated already, you need to spend within your budget and avoid going into debt.

When the credit card game ends because you missed payments and went into debt, you can’t just hit “restart” and play from the beginning. You need to dig yourself out of the debt hole you created, which takes time, and is best to avoid from the moment you hit “start.”

4. Redeem Your Rewards!

What’s the point of racking up all those points and rewards if you’re not going to use them? I’m not sure either.

With cash back credit cards, you usually have a couple of redemption options, which are detailed a little further below. Be sure to check them out, and don’t let your rewards go unused!

Cheat Codes To Maximize Cash Back Credit Cards

As mentioned above, using your card is the first step to getting some benefit from it.

However, there is so much more you can do to maximize those benefits. Below are four awesome cheat codes to help you get even more out of your cash back credit card.

1. Get the Sign-up Bonus

Many of the best cash back credit cards offer a sign-up bonus for new users. These bonuses won’t make you rich, but they do typically range anywhere from $100 to $1,000 in value.

However, to receive them, you typically need to spend a certain amount of money with the card within three months of opening the card, for example, spending $500 within the first three months.

Now, should you go on a spending spree to get this sign up bonus? NO!

However, you can strategically spend money and even pre-pay certain expenses like gym memberships and insurance to make sure you get the bonus.

2. Use Multiple Credit Cards

Another great way to maximize credit card rewards is to use more than one credit card.

For example, let’s say you first open a tiered credit card that offers 3% cash back on dining and 1% cash back on everything. You could open a flat-rate credit card that offers 2% cash back on every purchase as your second credit card. Then, you can strategically use your cards always to earn at least 2% cashback!

Just be careful not to open up too many credit cards at once, as it could negatively impact your credit score in the short term.

3. Scavenge for Additional Benefits

Just like there are hidden easter eggs hidden in various video games, the same goes for credit cards.

Credit cards offer a bunch of unique benefits; you just have to know to use them. They include things like:

  • Travel insurance
  • Rental car insurance
  • Discounts at individual online retailers and exclusive partners
  • Fraud protection
  • Concierge services
  • Access to special events
  • Extended warranty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • And more!

4. Level up Your Credit Score (And Your Card)

To level up your credit card, you first have to level up your credit score. Luckily, it’s relatively easy to do. Just pay your card on time every month.

If you were starting with “good” credit, you could likely improve to “excellent” credit over time.

Once your score has improved, you increase your chances of getting approved for even better credit cards. These could be cash back cards or premium credit cards that offer more generous rewards and sign-up bonuses.

Options for Redeeming Your Coins

There are usually a few ways to redeem and use the cash back that you earn. Here are five of the most popular options:

1. Statement Credit

Using your rewards for a statement credit is kind of like buying an extra life in a video game. It’s effective but boring and predictable.

2. Receive a Check or Bank Deposit

You could also opt to get a check sent to your house or deposit made to your bank account.

It’s kind of the same thing as using a statement credit, but some prefer this method.

3. Buy a Gift Card

Some cards give you the option to buy discounted gift cards with your cash back.

I love this option because it takes your dollar a little further.

For example, you could buy a $50 gift card for $45 (or sometimes $40). If you are going to spend money on that merchant anyway, why not get a 5% or even 10% discount?

4. Send a Charitable Donation

If you are feeling generous, sending your cash back as a charitable donation is always a good idea. Most credit cards make this an option, but if not, you could always go with option #2 and then donate the money yourself as well.

5. Shop Online

Last but not least, sometimes credit cards let you shop online directly through their online portal. For example, you could redeem your points or cash back on Amazon.

Summary: The Best Cash Back Credit Cards to Level up Your Life

Using cash back rewards credit cards is a lucrative way to level up your life and get rewarded for your everyday spending.

When you use the best cash back credit cards, you can take advantage of:

  • Cash back
  • Sign-up bonuses
  • Secondary perks
  • Credit building opportunities
  • And much more

Just make sure that you use your credit card responsibly, making your payments on time every month. The key to winning the credit card game is straightforward – avoid going into debt at all costs!


Michael launched Wealth of Geeks to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.