BEST CREDIT CARDS FOR CASH BACK

Since there are more credit cards than anyone can count, I’ll be shortlisting the top 3 contenders for each category using certain criteria or guidelines.

I’ll also take into consideration various factors that are important to me when I look for credit cards and give these factors a weightage.

Then, I’ll score the credit cards from 1 – to 5, with five being the best.

Finally, I’ll tabulate the weighted scores to obtain the final scores out of 5 and crown the best credit card for the category.

What Is A Cashback Card?

This refers to cards that earn cash back at low rates (< 2%) but have little constraints relating to monthly minimum spending, particular methods of payment, spending categories, and/or other criteria.

These cards are well known as “no-frills” cards because of the lack of restrictions and limitations surrounding them.

Shortlist Criteria

Entry-level

I’ll only be considering credit cards that are entry-level, i.e., have an annual income requirement of S$30k.

This is because most fresh grads won’t earn high enough incomes to qualify for more affluent cards that have higher income requirements.

This eliminates cards like CIMB World Mastercard.

No Minimum Spending

I’ll also only consider credit cards that have no monthly minimum spending requirements so that they make good alternatives for high cashback cards.

No Cashback Cap

Finally, only credit cards with no cashback cap will be considered in order to stay true to the no-frills nature of these cards.

This eliminates cards like HSBC Advance.

Contenders

Even after the three shortlist criteria, there are still several credit cards that are eligible to contend for the crown.

But after doing some research, I’ve narrowed it down to the following three cards.

  1. AMEX True Cashback
  2. UOB Absolute
  3. Citi Cashback+

Citi cashback plus

Double-Dipping with GrabPay

When it comes to credit card rewards, double-dipping refers to stacking another reward program on top of the card’s regular rewards program.

Grab’s GrabRewards program is one such example.

Topping up mobile wallets like GrabPay is typically excluded from credit card rewards.

However, AMEX True Cashback and UOB Absolute do include mobile wallet top-ups in their rewards program.

In other words, topping up your GrabPay wallet with either of these cards will earn cashback.

And since Grab has their own debit card in the GrabPay Mastercard (GPMC) that earns GrabRewards points for expenses made with the card, you’ll be able to double-dip on rewards.

You’ll first earn cashback on your credit card for the GrabPay top-up, then GrabRewards points on your GPMC for your expenses.

Depending on your GrabRewards membership status, you’ll earn 0.6% ~ 1.2% cashback in terms of GrabRewards points on your expenses.

This is calculated assuming that GrabRewards points are earned at a rate of 3x ~ 6x points/$1 spent and are used to redeem a $5 voucher for 2500 points.

There are three significant advantages of this.

Higher overall rewards earn rate

Wider card acceptance

Earn rewards on almost any expense

The first is obviously a higher reward earning rate.

Double-dipping means that you’re able to earn up to 1.2% more in rewards than you normally would if you just put your expenses on your credit card directly.

Amex GrabPay Rewards

Next, both AMEX True Cashback and UOB Absolute are AMEX cards that aren’t as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercard cards.

Using the GPMC for payments instead of the AMEX cards directly allows you to benefit from this wider card acceptance.

Furthermore, some smaller merchants like hawker stalls don’t typically accept card payments but do accept QR payments like GrabPay.

This allows you to earn rewards on an even wider range of expenses than credit cards.

Finally, this also allows you to earn rewards on almost any expense – if the GPMC or GrabPay QR can be used to make payment.

This is because topping up your GrabPay wallet with your credit card will always earn cashback.

So, you’re guaranteed to earn some cash back on the expense even if no GrabRewards points are earned on the actual transaction.

The only exception is for transactions that do not accept the GPMC as a method of payment, like the AXS mobile app.

The inclusion of GrabPay top-ups in AMEX True Cashback’s and UOB Absolute’s reward programs gives them a decisive edge over Citi Cashback+.

Grading Criteria & Weightage

Earn rate – 40%

The first criterion is the cashback earn rate, which refers to how much cashback is being awarded for spending on the eligible categories.

This has the highest and most direct impact on how much cashback you’ll end up earning, so it’s the most important criterion.

The total earn rate considers the effect of double-dipping with GPMC.

Categories – 40%

The next criterion is categories, as in what categories of expenses can the credit card earn high cashback.

Those of you who are savvier with credit card rewards will refer to these as merchant category codes (MCCs). I explained what MCCs are in my beginner’s guide to credit card rewards.

This is the second most important criterion because having a wide variety of eligible categories will allow you to earn cashback on more of your expenses.

Again, this considers the effect of double-dipping with GrabPay.

Cashback Crediting – 5%

Next, this criterion refers to how the cashback that you’ve earned is awarded to you.

I included this criterion in order to account for the terms and conditions that the cashback reward is subject to and how easy it is for you to realize it.

Annual fee – 5%

This criterion refers to how much the annual fee for the respective credit cards is.

While this doesn’t directly affect the cashback you earn, it’s a cost that you’ll likely want to account for if you’re not able to get it waived.

Card Benefits – 5%

This criterion refers to the inherent benefits that credit card entails. These could be benefits that are provided by the issuing bank or the card provider.

This also doesn’t directly affect the cashback you earn, but it’s a way to account for other tangible benefits that you can get out of using credit cards.

Promotions – 5%

Finally, this criterion refers specifically to signup promotions that are available for new-to-bank customers. This could include promotions offered by the issuing bank itself or by financial partners like SingSaver.

Again, this doesn’t affect the cashback you earn and simply takes into consideration other tangible benefits of the credit card.

Other best credit cards for cash back include:

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card

Cashback rewards rate: 2%

Unlimited? Yes

Other Rewards/Offers: New enrollees can earn a $200 cash reward by spending at least $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of getting the card.

Pros:

$0 annual fee

No confusing category restrictions to worry about

Cash rewards never expire if you keep your account open

0% APR for the first 15 months

Cons:

The rewards rate is lower than many specialties cashback cards

Need a credit score of at least 690 to qualify

The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card is one of the finest cashback credit cards on the market today. What makes it special is how easy it is. Users don’t have to worry about category restrictions or their rewards expiring. They can simply use the card and get cash back on their purchases — no matter what they are. The downside is that the rewards rate isn’t as high as many specialty cards.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Cashback rewards rate: 1.5% – 5%

Unlimited? Yes

Other Rewards/Offers: New users can earn a $200 bonus by spending at least $500 within the first three months of account opening.

Pros:

Introductory offer of 5% cashback on up to $12,000 spent on groceries in the first year

Earn 5% on Chase travel and 3% on dining and drugstores

No annual fee

$0 introductory APR for the first 15 months

Cons:

3% foreign transaction fee

APR goes up to 14.99 – 23.74% after the first 15 months

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is another great option. It offers opportunities to earn extra cashback on specific purchases and has solid introductory offers for new users. The biggest downside is its 3% foreign transaction fee, which means you won’t want to use it abroad.

It’s also worth mentioning that your APR will increase dramatically after your introductory 15 months are complete. But keep in mind as you’re reading through these that this is true of every cashback card with a low APR introductory offer.

Citi Double Cash Card

Cashback rewards rate: 1-2%

Unlimited? Yes

Other Rewards/Offers: N/A

Pros:

Rewards available for all purchases

0% APR for 18 months

$0 annual fee

Earn 1% on purchases and another 1% when you pay it back

Cons:

No introductory reward offers

Must pay at least the minimum amount on time every month to earn rewards during that time

The Citi Double Cash Card stands out by providing a unique way to earn cashback. Users get 1% when they make a purchase and another 1% when they pay it off. It’s also simple, and you don’t have to worry about categories or product restrictions. The downside is that there are no introductory cash reward offers with this card.

Get the Aspiration Zero credit card! Plant trees with every swipe and earn rewards.

Citi Custom Cash Card

Cashback rewards rate: 1-5%

Unlimited? Yes

Other Rewards/Offers: $200 introductory offer for spending at least $750 on purchases within the first three months of opening the account.

Pros:

$0 annual fee

Automated rewards (you don’t have to worry about any activations)

Boosted 5% rewards in your top spending category each billing cycle

0% APR for the first 15 months

Cons

Boosted 5% rate is capped at $500 monthly spending (meaning the maximum you can earn from it is $25 each month)

You can only get one Custom Cash Card from Citi per account

The Citi Custom Cash Card is another cashback credit card that should be on your radar. Its best feature is its boosted 5% interest rate for your top spending category each month. The downside is that this higher rate is capped, so you can only get a maximum of $25 back with it each month.

Discover It CashBack

Cashback rewards rate: 1-5%

Unlimited? Yes

Other Rewards/Offers: Discover will match all the cashback you’ve earned at the end of your first year with no minimum spending requirements or maximum rewards.

Pros:

Excellent introductory offer

5% cashback on up to $1,500 in spending each quarter on certain categories

$0 annual fee

Rewards never expire

Can redeem cashback at any time in any amount

Cons:

Activating bonus categories to earn 5% can be annoying

Must wait a full year before getting your introductory bonus

The Discover It CashBack card offers a unique introductory offer that stands out as one of the best in its class. The card also offers up to 5% cashback in the categories you activate. It can just be a hassle to remember to activate these rewards.

Another potential annoyance with this option is the fact that you don’t get your bonus right away as you do with other cards. You may end up getting a bigger bonus with this card; eventually, you’ll just have to wait a full year to get it.

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Cashback rewards rate: 1-8%

Unlimited? Yes

Other Rewards/Offers: $200 cash bonus after spending $500 within the first three months of account opening

Pros:

High rates on both dining and groceries

3% back on streaming and entertainment

One of the highest top-end rates for a cashback card on the market

No need to activate anything to earn rewards

No foreign transaction fees

Cons:

The highest rates are reserved for very specific purchases

You may be able to get higher rewards with another card if you spend heavily in a single category

The SavorOne card from Capital One offers great rates on dining, groceries, and entertainment. You also don’t have to worry about activating anything to get these rewards. The downside is that Capital One reserves its highest rates for only very specific purchases.

Chase Freedom Flex

Cashback rewards rate: 1-5%

Unlimited? Yes

Other Rewards/Offers: $200 bonus for spending $500 in the first three months.

Pros:

$0 annual fee

Rewards as high as 5% in certain categories like groceries

0% introductory APR for the first 15 months

No minimum amount requirements for redeeming cashback rewards

Cons:

Must opt into bonus categories each quarter to get the best rates

Bonus categories shift each month, which means they may not always align with your spending

The Chase Freedom Flex is another solid cashback option. It offers a great introductory bonus and doesn’t require you to earn any minimum amounts to claim your rewards. The downside is that you must activate bonuses each quarter, and the categories change each month.

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