Credit Card

Best 2% Cash Back Credit Cards for October 2023

Plenty of reward credit cards let users earn cash back for purchases, but not all of them offer the best cash-back rate. You’ll want to be intentional as you compare cash-back credit cards and look for options that put the most money back into your pocket.

Credit cards that give you 2% cash back on all purchases offer one of the highest flat-rate rewards out there. Other cards offer just 1.5% cash back or 1% cash back on regular spending. Many cards in this category also come with generous welcome bonuses, no annual fee and introductory APRs for purchases and balance transfers. Here are some of the best.



CNET’S PICK


CNET Rating



CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards


Intro Offer


$200 cash rewards



Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months


Rewards Rate


2%



Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases


Rec. Credit



Recommended Credit: A credit score is used to indicate an applicant’s credit worthiness and may provide guidance about account eligibility. It does not necessarily guarantee approval for any financial product.


670 – 850

Good – Excellent

APR


20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% variable APR

The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card earns 2% cash rewards for your purchases with no annual fee. New cardholders can also earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases within three months of account opening. 

The card even comes with an introductory 0% APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 15 months from account opening, followed by a variable APR of 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99%. Rewards can be redeemed for statement credits, transfers to an eligible Wells Fargo bank account or loan, cash at an ATM with a Wells Fargo debit card or gift cards.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers
Intro Purchase APR
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening
Regular APR
20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% variable APR
Balance Transfer Fee
up to 5%; min: $5

2%

Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases



The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card earns 2% cash rewards for your purchases with no annual fee. New cardholders can also earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases within three months of account opening. 

The card even comes with an introductory 0% APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 15 months from account opening, followed by a variable APR of 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99%. Rewards can be redeemed for statement credits, transfers to an eligible Wells Fargo bank account or loan, cash at an ATM with a Wells Fargo debit card or gift cards.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers
Intro Purchase APR
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening
Regular APR
20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% variable APR
Balance Transfer Fee
up to 5%; min: $5

2%

Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases


CNET Rating



CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards


Citi® Double Cash Card

Rewards Rate


2%



Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.


Rec. Credit



Recommended Credit: A credit score is used to indicate an applicant’s credit worthiness and may provide guidance about account eligibility. It does not necessarily guarantee approval for any financial product.


580 – 850

Fair – Excellent

APR


19.24% – 29.24% (Variable)

The Citi® Double Cash Card lets cardholders earn 2% cash back on everything they buy: 1% when a purchase is made and another 1% when it’s paid off. There’s no annual fee, and cardholders get an intro 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months (followed by a variable APR of 19.24% to 29.24%). Balance transfers must be completed within the first four months of account opening.

The card earns rewards as ThankYou points, which have more redemption options than standard cash back. You can have your rewards sent to you as a check in the mail, redeem them for direct deposits into a bank account or as statement credits, as well as use them for travel.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
0% intro for 18 months on Balance Transfers
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
19.24% – 29.24% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee
There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. A balance transfer fee of 5% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies if completed after 4 months of account opening.

2%

Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.



The Citi® Double Cash Card lets cardholders earn 2% cash back on everything they buy: 1% when a purchase is made and another 1% when it’s paid off. There’s no annual fee, and cardholders get an intro 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months (followed by a variable APR of 19.24% to 29.24%). Balance transfers must be completed within the first four months of account opening.

The card earns rewards as ThankYou points, which have more redemption options than standard cash back. You can have your rewards sent to you as a check in the mail, redeem them for direct deposits into a bank account or as statement credits, as well as use them for travel.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
0% intro for 18 months on Balance Transfers
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
19.24% – 29.24% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee
There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. A balance transfer fee of 5% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies if completed after 4 months of account opening.

2%

Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.


CNET Rating



CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards


PayPal Cashback Mastercard®

Rewards Rate


2%
– 3%



Earn 3% cash back on PayPal purchases; Get 2% cash back* every day, every purchase, every time you use your card. No exceptions. No rotating categories to keep track of


Rec. Credit



Recommended Credit: A credit score is used to indicate an applicant’s credit worthiness and may provide guidance about account eligibility. It does not necessarily guarantee approval for any financial product.


580 – 850

Fair – Excellent

APR


20.24%, 29.24%, or 32.24% Variable

The PayPal Cashback Mastercard®* doesn’t have an annual fee, and users earn 3% cash back on purchases made using PayPal and 2% cash back on everything else. This means you’ll earn a minimum of 2% back on every purchase made, and an even better rate when you choose PayPal as your method of payment when shopping online or in stores that accept PayPal.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
N/A
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
20.24%, 29.24%, or 32.24% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A

3%

Earn 3% cash back on PayPal purchases

2%

Get 2% cash back* every day, every purchase, every time you use your card. No exceptions. No rotating categories to keep track of



The PayPal Cashback Mastercard®* doesn’t have an annual fee, and users earn 3% cash back on purchases made using PayPal and 2% cash back on everything else. This means you’ll earn a minimum of 2% back on every purchase made, and an even better rate when you choose PayPal as your method of payment when shopping online or in stores that accept PayPal.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
N/A
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
20.24%, 29.24%, or 32.24% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A

3%

Earn 3% cash back on PayPal purchases

2%

Get 2% cash back* every day, every purchase, every time you use your card. No exceptions. No rotating categories to keep track of


CNET Rating



CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards


Apple Card

Rewards Rate


2%
– 3%



Apple Card gives you unlimited 3% Daily Cash back on everything you buy at Apple; With every purchase you make using your Apple Card with Apple Pay, you get 2% Daily Cash back


Rec. Credit



Recommended Credit: A credit score is used to indicate an applicant’s credit worthiness and may provide guidance about account eligibility. It does not necessarily guarantee approval for any financial product.


N/A


APR


19.24% to 29.49% Variable

You need an Apple device to get the most from the Apple Card*, but if you use Apple Pay often, this could be a rewarding choice. It earns 3% cash back at Apple and at select merchants when you pay with Apple Pay, 2% on other purchases when you use your card with Apple Pay and 1% cash back on other purchases. It also doesn’t charge an annual fee, late fees or foreign transaction fees.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
N/A
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
19.24% to 29.49% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A

3%

Apple Card gives you unlimited 3% Daily Cash back on everything you buy at Apple

2%

With every purchase you make using your Apple Card with Apple Pay, you get 2% Daily Cash back



You need an Apple device to get the most from the Apple Card*, but if you use Apple Pay often, this could be a rewarding choice. It earns 3% cash back at Apple and at select merchants when you pay with Apple Pay, 2% on other purchases when you use your card with Apple Pay and 1% cash back on other purchases. It also doesn’t charge an annual fee, late fees or foreign transaction fees.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
N/A
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
19.24% to 29.49% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A

3%

Apple Card gives you unlimited 3% Daily Cash back on everything you buy at Apple

2%

With every purchase you make using your Apple Card with Apple Pay, you get 2% Daily Cash back


CNET Rating



CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards


Capital One Spark Cash Plus

Intro Offer


$1,200 cash bonus



Earn a one-time cash bonus of $1,200 once you spend $30,000 in the first 3 months


Rewards Rate


2%
– 5%



Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; Earn unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase, everywhere–with no limits or category restrictions


Rec. Credit



Recommended Credit: A credit score is used to indicate an applicant’s credit worthiness and may provide guidance about account eligibility. It does not necessarily guarantee approval for any financial product.


800 – 850

Excellent

The Capital One Spark Cash Plus* is a charge card for businesses that offers unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases, although cardholders are required to pay the balance in full each month. New cardholders can even earn a $1,200 cash bonus after spending $30,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. 

A $150 annual fee applies, but it’s refunded for cardholders who spend at least $150,000 on purchases each year. You’ll want to be sure your business spending is high enough to take full advantage of the card.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
N/A
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A

5%

Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel

2%

Earn unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase, everywhere–with no limits or category restrictions



The Capital One Spark Cash Plus* is a charge card for businesses that offers unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases, although cardholders are required to pay the balance in full each month. New cardholders can even earn a $1,200 cash bonus after spending $30,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. 

A $150 annual fee applies, but it’s refunded for cardholders who spend at least $150,000 on purchases each year. You’ll want to be sure your business spending is high enough to take full advantage of the card.

Intro Balance Transfer APR
N/A
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A

5%

Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel

2%

Earn unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase, everywhere–with no limits or category restrictions

What is a flat-rate credit card?

A flat-rate credit card is a rewards credit card that offers the same rate of cash back or other rewards for everything you buy. This makes them unique from other rewards cards that might offer more points or cash back in popular spending categories like dining out, travel or groceries.

Pros

  • Earn a higher overall rewards rate on all purchases

  • Simple rewards with no bonus categories to keep track of

  • The best 2% cash-back credit cards don’t have an annual fee

  • You can pair them with another card to maximize your return

  • Some feature introductory APR periods

How to choose a 2% cash-back credit card

As you compare cash-back credit cards, you should keep more than just the rewards rate in mind. Here are some additional factors to consider.

Welcome offers

If your preferred credit card has a welcome offer, be sure you can earn it without spending beyond your budget. Any overspending can eat into the value you’d get from the offer.

Welcome offers, like the one offered by the Wells Fargo Active Cash, can add significant value, but only if you can reach it through your standard spending habits.

Perks

Some cash-back credit cards come with valuable benefits that can include purchase protection against damage or theft, cellphone protection or extended warranties. If you’re planning to use your card for online shopping, furnishing a home or buying new tech pieces, consider a card that offers one or all those benefits.

APR and fees

If a card comes with an introductory APR offer, consider how long it lasts and whether it applies to purchases, balance transfers or both. Also, pay attention to the regular variable APR, and remember that the high interest rates on credit cards make carrying a balance very expensive over time.

Also compare cards based on whether they charge foreign transaction fees, late fees and cash advance fees. If you plan to use your card for debt consolidation, you’ll also want to compare cards’ balance transfer fees. Most balance transfer fees run from 3% to 5% of the amount being transferred, which is automatically added to the debt you’re responsible for paying down.

If you do choose to use a balance transfer credit card, make sure you can pay off the balance within the given time frame.

How to get the most from your flat-rate credit card

Applying for a cash-back credit card can lead to earning rewards for your most frequently bought items, but that’s just the start. Follow these tips to maximize your card:

  • Use your card for everyday spending and bills: Earning more rewards with a flat-rate card is easiest when you use it for groceries, gas, dining out, utility bills and other purchases you would normally make throughout the month.
  • Only charge what you can afford to pay off each month: The high APR of most credit cards make carrying an outstanding balance expensive. You can avoid interest completely by paying your credit card statement balance in full each month.
  • Avoid paying late: Avoid damage to your credit score and credit card late fees by paying your bill early or on time each month. You can even set up autopay for your credit card accounts to make sure you never miss a payment.
  • Pair your 2% cash-back card with another rewards card: You can always pair your 2% cash-back credit card with another card that offers more cash back or points in other spending categories.

Alternatives to 2% cash-back credit cards

If you like the idea of earning rewards with 2% cash-back credit cards, but you’re still not sold on the idea, there are a few alternatives to consider. The first is rewards or cash-back credit cards that offer more rewards in popular spending categories and a lower rate on everything else you buy. 

One example is the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card, which has a $0 annual fee. For a limited time, this card gives new members 30,000 bonus points worth a $300 cash redemption value when they spend $1,500 in purchases within three months of account opening. It also earns 3X points at restaurants and on travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services and phone plans. Other purchases earn 1X points per dollar spent.

There are also a few debit cards that earn rewards, although not many do. One option is the Discover® (Member FDIC) CashBack Debit Card account, which gives you 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month with no annual fee required (see website for details).

How to apply for a credit card

Once you have your mind set on a 2% cash back credit card or any other rewards credit card, take the following steps to apply:

  1. Check your credit score: Knowing your credit score can help you figure out which credit cards you’re eligible for. Consider getting a free credit score through programs like Capital One CreditWise or Chase Credit Journey, or once a year from the three credit bureaus.
  2. Fill out an application: You can apply online, in person or even over the phone. Plan to share information like your full name, address, phone number, monthly housing payment, household income and Social Security number.
  3. Get approved and use your card carefully: If you’re approved for the card, you’ll want to have discipline when using it. This means charging only what you can afford and paying your balance on time and in full each month.

FAQs

The best flat-rate cash rewards credit card is the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card since it gives you unlimited 2% cash rewards for your purchases with no annual fee. Other notable benefits include a welcome offer and an introductory APR for purchases and qualifying balance transfers.

Redemption options vary by card, but the best ways to redeem cash back are either statement credits that lower your balance or cash back via a check in the mail.

The best flat-rate credit cards offer 2% cash back with no annual fee. Also keep an eye out for other benefits like generous welcome bonuses and introductory 0% APR offers for purchases and balance transfers.

*All information about the PayPal Cashback Mastercard, Apple Card, and Capital One Spark Cash Plus has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.