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Top Credit Cards with 2% Cash Back

Author: Andrew Davis

If you're going to have a credit card, you might as well get paid to use it, right? There are plenty of cards that have cash to give you just for using it. Here are some of our favorites.

Chase Freedom

How does 5% cash back sound? You earn the normal 1% cash back on everyday purchases on a quarterly basis. Chase Freedom gives you 5% on up to $1,500 in purchases in select categories. You'll also earn an extra $100 when you spend $500 in the first 3 months of opening your account.

You get 0% APR for the first 15 months on balance transfers and purchases and a variable APR of 13.99% to 22.99% after the introductory rate (See Why do some credit cards offer introductory APRs?) expires. And if one person using the card isn't enough, Chase will give you a $25 bonus after you add your first authorized user who makes a purchase. Normal balance transfer fees of 3% of the transferred amount or $5 apply.

Blue Cash Preferred from American Express

If 5% isn't enough, how about 6%? If a lot of your money goes to major supermarkets, you need to look at this card. Blue Cash Preferred offers 6% cash back on the first $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets, 3% at U.S. gas stations and some department stores and 1% on everything else.

As another one-up to the Chase Freedom, Amex will give you $150 cash back after you spend at least $1,000 in the first 3 months of holding the card. You also get 0% APR for the first 15 months and a variable rate of 12.99% to 21.99% after that. The card does have a $75 annual fee and not all supermarkets qualify. Check with American Express before applying if you're mostly interested in the supermarket rewards.

Discover it

The Discover it card offers a rewards structure much like the Chase Freedom card. You get 5% back on certain categories that change throughout the year along with 1% back on everything else. For new members, Discover will double all of the cash back you earned throughout your first year of holding the card. The card has no annual fee and a 0% APR for 12 months. After that, a variable rate of 10.99% to 22.99% kicks in. Balance transfers hold the normal 3% fee.

The Fine Print

Cash back isn't exactly cash back in most cases. Rewards come in the form of a statement credit. If you were thinking that you would get a check in the mail, that's not likely to happen. Next, for cards that have revolving rewards (See How Is Cash Back Profitable For Credit Card Companies?) categories, check with the company to see if you need to register for the rewards. The Discover it card requires that you sign up for them each time.

Finally, no amount of cash-back rewards can make up for the interest you pay if you hold a balance. In order to see the reward of rewards points, you have to pay the balance in full. For cards like the American Express card above, the $75 annual fee will take a serious bite out of your cash back. If you aren't maxing out the rewards, that might not be the best card for you.

The Bottom Line

For cards with revolving rewards, go to the card's website and check out the calendar that shows which categories will offer extra rewards. Then, do some math to make sure the card offers real benefits to you. Pick a card that fits your spending style. If you generally hold a balance, a low interest rate card is probably better than one with high cash back.

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