Best Cash Back Credit Cards – 2010

Note: This is an old article. The cards featured in this post here are no longer available or have since changed drastically.

Not all cash back cards were created equal. And not everyone has the amount of time that we do to sift through and analyze which ones are the best. To help our readers out, we’ve identified the best general purpose cash back cards on the market and reviewed them below:

Blue Cash from Amex

Pros: Excellent cash back rebates for bigger spenders
Cons: Amex not accepted everywhere, rebate received annually vs. monthly

The Amex Blue Cash card offers a tiered reward structure: For your annual purchases of less than $6,500, you’ll receive 1% cash back on “Everyday Purchases” and 0.5% cash back on all other puchases. For spending that exceeds $6,500, you’ll receive 5% cash back on “Everyday Purchases” and 1.25% cash back on everything else. American Express defines “Everyday Purchases” as those made at supermarkets, gas stations and drugstores.

Provided that you spend enough annually to make up for the substandard cash back at the lower tier of spending, this card is hard to beat. There are no other cards currently available on the market that can offer a 5% rebate on everyday purchases and 1.25% for everything else, especially as a non-promotional rate. Another advantage is that its rewards are uncapped, meaning that there are no limits to the amount you can earn–the more you spend, the more your rebate.

You will receive your rebate annually as a statement credit, rather than monthly, which is a minor negative. Another downside to the card is that it is an American Express, which means you won’t be able to use it in as many places as a Visa or Mastercard-branded credit card. Overall, however, we feel that these shortcomings are more than made up by its superior rebates.

The bottom line: The Blue Cash from American Express is our top choice for bigger spenders.

Pentagon Federal Visa Platinum Gas Cash Reward

Pros: Good rate of cash back on gas
Cons: Requires membership in Pentagon Federal Credit Union

PenFed’s cash back credit card offers 5% back on gas, 2% back on groceries and 1.25% 1% back on everything else. It has no tiers or caps, and your rebate is credited monthly automatically.

In order to get a card, however, you must be a member of the credit union. If you are not eligible to join through various military affiliations, you can become eligible by joining the NMFA with a one-time fee of $20.

The bottom line: Anyone who is a Penfed member or is looking to join can benefit from the PenFed Visa.


A final general note: Cash back cards are only valuable for consumers who pay their balance in full every month. If you carry a balance, you are better off finding a low-interest rate card, since the interest you are paying will more than offset any cash back you might receive.

Editor’s Note: This section needs to be updated. Recently, the following 2% cash back credit cards have been introduced: The Fidelity Retirement Rewards Amex and the Schwab Bank Visa Card.

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