Finding the Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Most Americans have several credit cards, but is yours doing the most it can for you? Some cards allow you to earn up to five percent cash back, while others offer travel rewards. If your credit card isn’t doing any work for you, then it may be time to look into finding a new one. By doing a little research on which to use, you can find the best cash back credit card for your lifestyle.

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[Read: The Best Cash Back Credit Cards]

Where to Start

There are an overwhelming number of credit cards to choose from. Knowing where to start is half of the battle. Some of the easiest ways to find the best cash back credit cards are:

  • Direct mail advertising
  • Credit card websites
  • Local/national banks
  • Affinity cards – retailers that offer cash back for shopping at their specific retail stores
  • Bankrate.com– this website compares credit card rates for you, allowing you to customize your search based on what you hope to get out of your credit card.

Take your time to look at each credit card’s positives and negatives. This will help you to determine which card maximize the amount of cash back you can earn based on your spending habits. It is important to know that some credit cards require a monthly or yearly fee for use. Although this may be a deterrent for some, these cards are still worthwhile if the benefits outweigh the membership fee. To understand this better, compare your rewards credit card to a membership to a wholesale club. Calculating how much you would earn back after paying the fees will help you accurately determine whether or not this style of credit card is right for you.

Although finding the best cash back credit card will require a bit of time and research on your end, it will pay off in the long run.

Determining How Much You Get Back

We all want the most cash back possible. The amount you can earn varies based on the card, as different banks and credit card companies return varying amounts of cash back. Some of the best cash back credit cards allow you to earn five percent back on rotating categories, such as groceries, travel, gas, etc. each quarter. If most of your charges tend to be in those areas, then this may be the right card for you. As an added perk, some credit card companies even allow you to earn more than 5% during special bonus periods. This system enables you to earn up to $1,500 cash back each period, which is very enticing. Other credit card companies provide a flat percentage back each month or quarter. Although these do not rotate based on category, the amount you earn back may be more consistent. Choosing between these two options is a matter of personal preference. No matter which selection you make when shopping for the best cash back credit card for your lifestyle, keep in mind that many credit cards also offer a sign-on bonus.

Looking Beyond Cash Options

There are a multitude of options beyond earning cash back through your rewards credit card. Some of the best cash back credit cards provide options such as cash gift card choices or purchases in a shopping portal. These shopping portals often offer goods in return for using points earned. The amount of points used per item generally equates to less than you would spend in cash on the exact product in a retail store.

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Many people find that the best cash back credit cards give them the freedom to travel more often. If that appeals to you, then a credit card that offers travel rewards may be the best option for your lifestyle. Such rewards cards generally carry a higher redemption value than cash back alone. If you love to see the world, then this may be the best choice for you. In spite of the higher reward value, this card is not superior to traditional cash back or reward points cards. The best value depends on what you personally want to get out of your credit card.

Don’t Forget

It’s important not to fall into the trap of using credit cards to pay off debt or while establishing new spending habits. Although the rewards from the best cash back credit cards are enticing, they should not be used as a reason to take on new or additional debt.

[Read: Avoiding Credit? 6 Reasons This May Be Costing You!]

Remember that opening a new credit card also impacts your credit. Applying for cards too frequently can negatively affect your credit. This is especially important to keep in mind while making large purchases, such as cars or homes. The lure of cash back should not result in debt and a negatively impacted credit score. Remember to exercise caution and not to alter your normal spending habits to increase your cash back rewards.