I only have two credit cards. A personal cash back rewards credit card and my Chase Ink Business Cash credit card. Any more cash back credit cards and my wallet starts getting too fat. When the wallet gets too fat, it’s hard to sit and type Financial Samurai articles. Then my world would start crumbling down.
There used to be a time when I was young, dumb, and broke. I’d buy a lot of things on a 0% introductory interest credit card. I’d then transfer the balance to a new 0% introductory interest credit card a month before the old card’s new usurious rate kicked in.
Getting an interest-free loan for a year felt great and I kept on doing the balance transfer routine until I started making money. Once I was no longer poor, I realized spending all this time opening up new credit cards, keeping track of expiration dates, and purchasing things to get points was a suboptimal use of my time. So I stopped around age 24.
Focus On The Best Credit Cards
Once I started traveling a lot for work, I also cancelled my travel rewards credit cards. Why bother when I was already traveling a fair amount to the coolest places in Asia paid for by my company. The AMEX points racked up into the hundreds of thousands, just waiting for me to buy something I didn’t really need from their selection of goods online.
To demonstrate how much I didn’t care about redeeming my reward points, I made a grave mistake by cancelling my corporate card before redeeming over 400,000 points when I negotiated my severance!
It was only after I had cut up my card and left the office for good did I realize my mistake. Thankfully, I called up AMEX to explain what I did and they let me redeem. I ended up getting a bunch of gas cards and some gifts for my in-laws.
Just Give Me A Cash Back Rewards Credit Card
As a busy parent now, I don’t have much spare time to go shopping anymore. Nor do my wife and I have a desire to travel by plane before our boy turns five.
Traveling long distances with kids is no fun, no matter what your latest Instagram influencer tries to tell you. There are already enough amazing places to visit within a four hours drive of San Francisco.
Give me the credit card with the highest percentage of spending towards cash back as possible. I’ll simply use the cash back as credit to pay down my upcoming credit card bill.
Cash Is The Best Reward
A cash back credit card is the most efficient use of the rewards points because I know I’ve got a credit card bill due every month. I put as much as possible on my credit card due to the rewards points, one-month interest-free loan, and insurance.
Although it sounds alluring to redeem points for miles, nowadays I only average about two plane rides a year (round-trip). The other common allure is using your points for electronics, which everybody loves.
My wife and I probably use our laptops and mobile phones more than 90% of users out there because we have Financial Samurai.
Despite operating a busy site, I’ve still got an absolutely fine laptop I’ve owned since 2015. My iPhone 7+ is from 2016. I changed the battery in early 2019 and don’t plan to change my phone for another couple years.
As older folks now, we just don’t desire the latest and greatest things anymore. We’re fine with continuing to use everything we have until they break. What we always want most is time, followed by more energy.
The Best Cash Back Credit Cards
Financial Samurai has partnered with QuinStreet, a local firm in the Bay Area, to offer the best selection of credit cards on the market today. They analyze the latest and best credit cards for consumers.
Here are the top three cash back credit cards from their menu of cards in addition to my Chase Ink Business Cash credit card I’ve currently owned for the past five years.
1) Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Simple and straightforward, the Capital One Quicksilver offers flat rate cash back rewards. Cardholders earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases without any spending caps.
- 1.5% cash back on every purchase
- Rewards are unlimited, ie no spending caps
- Zero foreign transaction fees
- No annual fee
- Get a $150 cash bonus reward if you spend $500 in the first 3 months
2) Chase Freedom Unlimited
If you’re looking for a flexible cash back rewards credit card that isn’t complex, this is it. The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card offers great flat rate rewards.
- Earn 3% cash back on every purchase the first year ($20,000 cap)
- Get unlimited 1.5% cash back for year 2 and beyond
- Introductory 0% APR for first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (3% balance transfer fee applies)
- No annual fee
- Redeem cash back with no minimums
3) Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
This is a tiered cash back rewards credit card by Capital One that offers an impressive 4% on dining and entertainment without any spending caps.
- Unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment
- 2% cash back on groceries with no spending caps
- Unlimited 1% cash back on gas and all other purchases
- Get a $300 cash rewards bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
- $0 waived annual fee for the first year
I hope everybody has at least one cash back credit card in their wallet. Just make sure to never carry a revolving balance. Use credit cards to your advantage for the rewards points, insurance protection, and one-month interest-free balance. Never let credit cards take advantage of you.
Anybody currently a holder of the Capital One Quicksilver, Chase Freedom Unlimited, or Capital One Savor credit card? I’m planning on upgrading my personal cash back credit card to one of these. Feel free to recommend other great cash back cards and their respective terms.
It looks like Citibank (currently in the penalty box for baiting and switching my mortgage refinance) and Fidelity have great ones too based on reader feedback.
About the Author
Sam worked in finance for 13 years. He received his undergraduate degree in Economics from The College of William & Mary and got his MBA from UC Berkeley.
In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $250,000 a year in passive income. He spends time playing tennis, taking care of his family, and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom too.
Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 and has grown it to be one of the largest independently owned personal finance sites in the world. You can sign up for his free private newsletter here.
Disclosure: Financial Samurai has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Financial Samurai and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.