Clark Howard

5 Cash Back Credit Cards Clark Readers Love in 2024

When it comes to credit card rewards, any long-time Clark Howard fan knows that he often says cash back is king.

Clark is so resolute in this because the simplicity of many cash back rewards programs can put meaningful money back in your wallet without gimmick or spending requirements.

In that spirit, Clark has long recommended the Citi Double Cash® Card because of its path to 2% back on every purchase you make with no rewards caps and no annual fee. It's basically a 2% discount on every purchase you make, provided that you pay the bill in full each month to avoid interest charges.

And if you've read my reviews on cash back and rewards credit cards, you may have seen some of my favorites as well.

But this time we decided we wanted to feature some of YOUR favorite picks!

We ventured over to the Clark.com community (a free resource where Clark listeners and readers gather to share financial tips) to see what Clark readers are saying about the best cash back credit cards in their lives.

Submissions included insights on things like rotating category cards, finding a way to pay for utilities with credit cards and simplifying rewards with one everyday spender rather than carrying a bunch of different cards.

There are many good thoughts there! Let’s look at five cards that caught my eye in the discussion:

The Most Talked About Cash Back Card: Citi Double Cash® Card

Why This Card Is a Clark Reader Favorite

After years of Clark recommending this card, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that the Citi Double Cash® Card is the most talked about card in our community discussion on best cash back credit cards.

And it seems most everyone who has the card is happy with it.

Several mention that they signed up for the unlimited 2% cash back (1% back when you spend, 1% back when you pay the bill.)

“I have had the Double Cash card for years and love it. An additional benefit is that this card supports the Virtual Account Number functionality from Citibank.”

– Community member “butler”

The community discussion includes some healthy debate on whether or not this card is still better than some of its newer 2% cash back rivals, but the consensus seems clear that the card gets the job done. Even users who have opted for a different card as their everyday spender after carrying the Double Cash still seem to hold it in high regard.

An Alternative To Clark’s Favorite: Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Why This Card Is a Clark Reader Favorite

Anyone who has listened to Clark for a while probably knows that he sometimes takes issue with the practices of Wells Fargo as a financial institution. But that isn’t stopping some of our readers from loving their credit card offerings.

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card is a 2% cash back credit card that rivals the Citi Double Cash® Card that Clark loves so much.

In particular, the Active Cash Card received a lot of love in the Clark.com community for offering an easy-to-earn welcome bonus on top of its unlimited 2% cash back.

Users “ratbert2k” and “JohnRT” also mentioned switching from the Double Cash to the Active Cash thanks to some more user-friendly redemption policies.

Even with all of Clark's valid critiques, we should also acknowledge that Wells Fargo has done a really nice job of reshaping their no-annual-fee credit card offerings in recent years, which also include the Wells Fargo Autograph Card.

Mixed Feelings on This Type of Cash Back Card: Chase Freedom Flex®

Why This Card Is a Clark Reader Favorite

The community had some pretty mixed feelings about "rotating cash back" credit cards, so I wanted to call this one out as a means of discussing them here. The Chase Freedom Flex, as well as the Discover it® Cash Back, are two popular cards in this sector.

If you’re not familiar, this is how they work: Each quarter, you opt into receiving 5% cash back on a certain spending category. These are usually on popular spending items, like grocery shopping, gasoline or purchases with retailers like Walmart or Amazon.

But once your spending is capped in that category, you’re waiting for a new, unknown bonus category the next quarter. And many of the other purchases you make with the card in the meantime may receive a subpar 1% cash back.

Some community members, such as user “shoanwebb,” have the Freedom Flex card to take advantage of the boosted 5% back.

Others, like users “butler” and “mjross,” say they would prefer to skip the hassle associated with remembering which spending categories are rewarded on which dates.

“I want a card that offers the best rate without having to deal with the rotating category nonsense.”

– Community member “butler”

Personally, I side with “shoanwebb” and enjoy the rotating 5% back categories as well as the 3% on dining from the Freedom Flex. But this is not an everyday spender. And I understand that’s not for everyone.

A Potential Utility Bill Hack: U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

Why This Card Is a Clark Reader Favorite

A few Clark.com community members called out the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card as a great asset in their wallets.

The common theme seems to be that they are able to maximize rewards by using the card to pay their utility company for their electric bill each month.

If cardholders select “home utilities” as one of their 5% categories and can use the card as a method of payment with their electric company, there may be serious rewards to be earned.

“US Bank card is great – even having to pay a $1.50 fee to Duke Energy to pay via CC is worth it to earn 5% back on a $200 monthly electric bill.”

– Community member “mjross”

Keep in mind that you may be subject to a convenience charge (or something similar) for paying your utilities with a credit card, so you may want to examine their credit card policy prior to applying for this card.

The U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card isn’t a rotating cash back card, but it does have some “pick and choose” elements that may frustrate some users. You do have to assign your 5% back categories for the upcoming billing period on the U.S. Bank site or app before making your purchases.

A Winner for Online Shopping: Paypal Cashback Mastercard®

Why This Card Is a Clark Reader Favorite

If you love the unlimited 2% cash back concept and want to take it a step further, a few of our community members suggest you might want to consider the PayPal Cashback Mastercard®.

This card gives you the 2% back on all purchases with a chance to earn more.

If you’re already plugged into PayPal as an online payment method, you can boost your cash back rewards to 3% back on every purchase you make through PayPal with this card.

“My Double-Cash card from Citibank used to be my go-to card, but since I do a good deal of my shopping online I got a Paypal card which is managed by Synchrony. It gets me 3% for purchases through Paypal and 2% everywhere else.”

– Community member “Susan_Maneck”

However, to really enjoy this one you must be happy with your cash back rewards being deposited into your PayPal balance.

Community user “OU812” expressed some frustration with not being able to use rewards as a statement credit directly:

"You can't apply it directly to the card balance. You have to transfer it to Paypal or link your bank account which I don't want to do. They will send you a paper check for $1.50. So I don't use it except for Paypal purchases."

I have this card and enjoy it as an everyday spender. It is worth noting that you can redeem your rewards towards your PayPal balance and then immediately apply that balance towards your next credit card payment if you would like.

Do you have strong feelings about one of the cards mentioned here? Or do you have a recommendation for a card not mentioned? It’s not too late to join the discussion in the Clark.com community here to make your voice heard!

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