5x Quarterly Categories

All these cards require you to be comfortable with remembering to enroll in the respective 5% cash back category. There's an argument to get all 3 of them (since their quarters can vary) but if you were to pick one, it really depends on the ecosystem you're in.

If you're entrenched with Chase and have cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it makes a lot of sense to get the Freedom. Your 5x can easily turn from 5% cash back to 7.5-10% in travel. The Discover is a great alternative since it gives you 10% back in the first year (via cashback match) and an amazing shopping portal (i.e., you can get 10% cash back on Apple!).

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Discover it

The basics:

  • No annual fee
  • Sign up bonus: $100 ($50 bonus + $50 cashback match)
  • 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter
  • Love online shopping? Earn more cash back by shopping through the Discover portal (like 10% from Apple)

What we like:

  • Unlimited sign up bonus with Cashback Match your first year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Best price protection among ALL credit cards (price matching for Black Friday, price drops, etc.)

What we hate:

  • Discover is not accepted everywhere
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Chase Freedom

The basics:

  • No annual fee
  • Sign up bonus: $150 after $500 in spend within 3 months
  • 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter, up to $1,500 in combined purchases

What we like:

  • Redeem points for 1.25x in travel if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred (making 5% really 6.25%)
  • Redeem points for 1.5x in travel if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (making 5% really 7.5%)

What we hate:

  • Foreign transaction fees
  • Secondary collision damage waiver

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

The basics:

  • No annual fee
  • 5% cash back every quarter on you choice of 2 categories, up to $2,000 in combined purchases
  • 2% cash back every quarter on an everyday category of your choice, like gas, restaurants, or groceries
  • 1% cash back on everything else

What we like:

  • 2% and 1% cash back is unlimited
  • Choose your own adventure! Flexibility to select categories. 

What we hate:

  • No signup bonus
  • Categories have a lot of rules/limitations on stores
 

 

Cash back, straight-up

Don't want to deal with the hassle of enrolling in 5% cash back categories each quarter? Welcome to flat-rate cash back earning.

The Citi Double Cash earns a flat rate 2% — 1% on purchases, and another 1% when you pay the bill. Perfect for those who want to redeem points for cash.

Have the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Preferred? Earn 1.5% on every purchase with the Chase Freedom Unlimited. The best part? You can transfer Ultimate Reward points from the Freedom Unlimited to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. 

Want to mix it up? The US Bank Cash+ lets you choose new 2% and 5% categories each quarter — pretty neat right?

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Citi Double Cash

The basics: 

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on every dollar you spend
  • Earn an additional 1% on payments based on those purchases
  • Redeem cash back for a statement credit, gift card, or a check

What we like:

  • Unlimited cash back, no category restrictions
  • Simple, no hassle, if you don't want to stress out about optimizing

What we hate:

  • No sign up bonus
  • Bad travel redemption value

 

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Chase Freedom Unlimited

The basics:

  • No annual fee
  • Sign up bonus: $150 after $500 in purchases within the first 3 months
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase

What we like:  

  • Redeem points for 1.25x in travel if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Redeem points for 1.5x in travel if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (making 1.5% really 2.25%)

What we hate:

  • If you don't have the Reserve (a $450 annual fee card), you're only getting 1.5% back
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U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

The basics:

  • No annual fee
  • 5% cash back every quarter on you choice of 2 categories, up to $2,000 in combined purchases
  • 2% cash back every quarter on an everyday category of your choice, like gas, restaurants, or groceries
  • 1% cash back on everything else

What we like:

  • 2% and 1% cash back is unlimited
  • Choose your own adventure! Flexibility to select categories. 

What we hate:

  • No signup bonus
  • Categories have a lot of rules/limitations on stores
 

 

Sign up bonus

These cards offer the best cash back sign up bonuses. Discover gives you $50 but has a cash back match in their first year, making $50 into $100. Cash back match is UNLIMITED in the first year. Sebby got a check for $1,800 from his cash back!

Both the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited come with $150 after $500 in spend.

Want something straightforward? The Freedom Unlimited is the card you're looking for.

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Discover It

The basics:

  • No annual fee
  • Sign up bonus: $100 ($50 bonus + $50 cashback match)
  • 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter
  • Love online shopping? Earn more cash back by shopping through the Discover portal (like 10% from Apple)

What we like:

  • Unlimited sign up bonus with Cashback Match your first year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Best price protection among ALL credit cards (price matching for Black Friday, price drops, etc.)

What we hate:

  • Discover is not accepted everywhere
Chase_Freedom.png

Chase Freedom

The basics:

  • No annual fee
  • Sign up bonus: $150 after $500 in spend within 3 months
  • 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter, up to $1,500 in combined purchases

What we like:

  • Redeem points for 1.25x in travel if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred (making 5% really 6.25%)
  • Redeem points for 1.5x in travel if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (making 5% really 7.5%)

What we hate:

  • Foreign transaction fees
  • Secondary collision damage waiver
Chase Freedom Unlimited.png

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The basics:

  • No annual fee
  • Sign up bonus: $150 after $500 in purchases within the first 3 months
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase

What we like:  

  • Redeem points for 1.25x in travel if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Redeem points for 1.5x in travel if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (making 1.5% really 2.25%)

What we hate:

  • If you don't have the Reserve (a $450 annual fee card), you're only getting 1.5% back