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What is a cash back credit card?|

A cash back credit card is a type of rewards card that gives the cardholder a percentage of their spending back as a reward. If you use your card frequently, you could accumulate a decent amount of cash back, but it's important to make sure you aren't overspending just to get these rewards.

~How do cash back credit cards work?|

Cash back credit cards are fairly straightforward—making them a favorite among users. A cash back card can be a little easier to use than travel reward points cards because the value of your rewards is clear. For example, if your cash back credit card offers 3% back on purchases, then you will receive $3 in rewards for every $100 you spend when using the card. How cash back cards work depends on the card, the rewards can be flat-rate, tiered or rotating. When it's time to redeem your rewards, you may have a lot of options or just a few.

~What are the different types of cash back credit cards?|

The most common types of cash back credit cards are:

  • Flat rate: These cards will give you a set percentage of cash back no matter what you're buying with the card. Aim to earn 1.5% cash back or more with a flat-rate cash back card.
  • Rotating categories: Credit cards with rotating bonus categories will offer a high cash back rate in specific categories that will change periodically. The rates on these bonus categories are usually 5% or higher and capped at a certain amount of spending per quarter.
  • Tiered: Tiered cards will earn the cardholder a higher cash back rate when used for specific categories such as dining out or groceries and will earn a lower rate for everything else.

~What are common cash back categories?|

Depending on your card and the rewards program, there can be higher rewards for certain purchases in different categories. The most common categories include groceries, restaurants, gas and travel.

~What credit score do I need for a cash back credit card?|

In general, you need a good to excellent credit score to get a rewards credit card. The exact credit score you need for a cash back credit card varies based on the credit card issuer's requirements. There are cash back cards geared toward applicants with bad credit, fair credit, good credit and excellent credit. The higher your credit score, the better cash back card you'll qualify for, which means you'll benefit from a better rewards program.

~How can I redeem my cash back rewards?|

Depending on your card, you may have several options to redeem your rewards. Some common redemption options include:

  • Direct deposit
  • Statement credit
  • Paper check
  • Gift cards
  • Travel
  • Charitable donations
  • Merchandise

Some cards have a minimum balance for redeeming your cash rewards, which is often $25.

~Does cash back expire?|

The cash back you earn with your credit card generally doesn't expire while your account remains open. However if you close your card, you will likely forfeit any rewards. However, you'll often have a small window of time when you can redeem your rewards after closing your card—it depends on the card issuer's rules and card's terms.

~How to maximize cash back rewards|

Maximizing your cash back rewards can be easy with the right approach. Here are some tips to help you get started with your strategy:

  • Meet the minimum spend requirement to earn the card's intro bonus.
  • Use your card for everything—as long as you can pay off your purchases each month.
  • Open multiple credit card accounts that complement each other's rewards rates, so you can earn more on your top spending categories.
  • Pay your bills on time and in full every month to avoid credit score damage and interest charges.
  • Avoid redemption options that give you less value than others—merchandise, for instance, usually doesn't offer much.