Cash back credit cards come with three main rewards structures — flat rate, rotating bonus categories and fixed bonus categories. Depending on what kind of cardholder you are, any one of these three types of cards can provide great potential value.
Fixed bonus category cards offer a higher rewards rate on a specific kind of purchase. The most rewarding options are typically groceries, gas or dining.
Cash back cards with fixed bonus categories are best suited for two kinds of cardholders: those who spend a significant amount of their budgets in a particular category, such as groceries or dining, and those who have more than one rewards card and want to boost their combined rewards rate. If either of these situations apply to you, a fixed bonus category card could be a very lucrative addition to your wallet.
Blue Cash Preferred: Best for groceries and streaming
Why we picked it: Not many other cards can boast about 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets ( up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1 percent) like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express can. In fact, now is as good a time as ever to invest in a solid grocery card. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spent $5,259 on food at home in 2021. While the grocery prices went down (by 0.3 percent) from Feb 2023 to March 2023, prices of food at home increased 8.4 percent from March 2022 to March 2023, according to the Consumer Price Index.
The Blue Cash Preferred Card also earns 6 percent cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, such as Audible, HBO Max, Netflix and Spotify. In Nov. 2022, J.D. Power reported that the average household spent $54 a month on streaming subscriptions in July 2022. Though streaming likely takes up less of your budget than groceries, you can still earn decent cash back on another one of your regular categories.
3 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent)$250 statement credit if you spend $3,000 in the first six months0 percent intro APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 12 months (18.74 percent to 29.74 percent variable thereafter)
$95 annual fee ($0 intro annual fee for the first year)$6,000 spend cap on U.S. supermarket, and U.S. gas stations and transit categories
Who should apply: If you spend a lot of time at home, cooking and watching your favorite shows, you’ll enjoy the card’s high cash back rate.
Who should skip: Those who tend to go out, whether you’re eating out or enjoying live entertainment, should steer away from this option.
Costco Anywhere Visa: Best for gas
Why we picked it: Even among gas credit cards, the 4 percent cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases (up to $7,000 per year, then 1 percent) on the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi is quite high. Using the Costco Visa, cardholders can not only earn cash back at Costco gas stations, but also at other eligible gas stations worldwide.
According to the BLS, the average American family spent $2,148 on gas in 2021. If you fall within that average, the card’s $7,000 spending cap should cover your annual gas spending.
3 percent cash back on eligible travel purchases (including Costco Travel)2 percent cash back on Costco purchasesNo annual fee (except for a paid Costco membership of $60)
Must be a Costco member to applyCan only receive cash back once a year, as a certificate, in FebruaryCertificate expires Dec. 31 of the same year
Who should apply: Loyal Costco fans who can’t get enough of shopping at the wholesale club should apply for this card, especially since they’re already paying for the Costco membership. Anyone who drives frequently, whether commuting to work or visiting family in the next town, should consider the Costco Visa as well.
Who should skip: If you work from home or prefer public transportation, you may find it difficult to maximize the rewards from this card. If you don’t make much use of your Costco membership, you should also avoid this card, as you won’t find the single redemption method useful.
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards: Best for entertainment
Why we picked it: Entertainment is a broad category covering concerts, sporting events, movie theaters and streaming. So, it’s a good thing the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card* gives 8 percent cash back on Capital One Entertainment and 4 percent on entertainment and popular streaming services.
The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card also gives rewards on non-entertainment categories. While such categories are common, they are always good to have on your side. These include dining, for which you get 4 percent, and grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target), for which you get 3 percent.
Plus, Capital One recently allowed all of its cash back cards, including the Savor Cash Rewards Card, to access Capital One Travel and earn 5 percent on hotels and rental cars booked through the portal.
$300 if you spend $3,000 in three monthsNo foreign transaction feesUnlimited cash backFlexible redemption options (statement credit, check, gift cards, Amazon.com, etc.)
Who should apply: If you can’t get enough of live entertainment — whether you love watching movies in the theater or going to amusement parks or seeing your favorite music artist perform — the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card is a good choice.
Who should skip: If you only enjoy one aspect of entertainment, such as streaming but not concerts, you could opt for a card with higher rewards in just that category, or you could consider the Savor Cash Rewards Card’s sister, the no-annual-fee Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.
Blue Cash Everyday: Best for everyday purchases
Why we picked it: True to its name, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is a great all-around card for everyday purchases. It covers most of the major everyday categories — U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. online retail purchases — all of which earn 3 percent cash back. In each category, you may earn 3 percent on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, and 1 percent thereafter. Considering that few cards out there reward you for your online shopping habit, this no-annual-fee card is a great choice.
$200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first six monthsNo annual fee$7 statement credit each month on Disney Bundle (enrollment required)0 percent intro APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (18.74 percent to 29.74 percent variable thereafter)
$6,000 annual cap on each 3 percent categories
Who should apply: Anyone who spends significantly on groceries, gas and online shopping (which includes Amazon.com, Wayfair.com and more), will enjoy the reliable cash back from this card. The Blue Cash Everyday is also a good alternative if you like the categories on the Blue Cash Preferred but don’t have the budget for its ongoing annual fee. If you need some time paying off a large purchase, for example that new couch you bought on Wayfair, this is a good card to help you with that.
Who should skip: Cardholders who would rather spend on travel and transit, rather than groceries and gas, should steer away from this card.
Bank of America Customized Cash: Best for starters
Why we picked it: Though technically a flexible category card thanks to its 3 percent cash back on a category of choice, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card also offers other fixed bonus categories. For your choice category, you can choose between gas, online shopping, dining, travel or home improvements and furnishings. As for your fixed categories, you can earn 2 percent cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases. Keep in mind that your 2 percent and 3 percent categories have a combined quarterly spend max of $2,500.
This card is good for starters, thanks to its flexible category that you can change up to once a month and its bonus cash back in two everyday categories. It does, however, require at least a good credit score (670 and above).
$200 online cash rewards if you spend $1,000 in 90 daysNo annual fee0 percent intro APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 18 billing cycles (17.74 percent to 27.74 percent variable thereafter)Preferred Rewards program (up to 75 percent rewards boost)
Who should apply: New grads who want to steadily earn cash back but don’t have only one or two main categories they spend in are good candidates for the Bank of America Customized Cash card. The card’s 0 percent intro APR also gives cardholders with some credit card debt a solid window of 18 months to pay it off.
Who should skip: The $2,500 quarterly cap is ideal for cardholders who spend around $830 a month. Anyone that spends more than that every month should keep shopping.
Comparing fixed bonus category cards
CardRewards rateIntro bonusAnnual feeBlue Cash Preferred Card from American Express6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%)6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%)1% cash back on general purchasesTerms apply$250 statement credit if you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months$95 ($0 intro annual fee for the first year)Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi4% cash back eligible gas and EV charging purchases (first $7,000 in purchases, 1% thereafter)3% cash back restaurant and eligible travel purchases2% cash back Costco purchases1% cash back general purchasesN/A$0 (requires $60 Costco membership)Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment4% cash back on dining, entertainment and popular streaming services3% cash back at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target)1% cash back on other purchases$300 if you spend $3,000 in 3 months$95Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)3% cash back at U.S. gas stations (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)3% cash back on U.S. online retail purchases (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)1% cash back general purchasesTerms apply$200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first 6 months$0Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card3% cash back on a category of choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvements and furnishings)2% cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases$2,500 combined spend limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter1% cash back on other purchases$200 online cash rewards if you spend $1,000 in 90 days$0
How to choose a fixed bonus category card
Of course, choosing the right cash back card is a tough decision. There are multiple factors to consider, so make sure you weigh these before you apply:
Main bonus categories: All the cards we featured offer cash back rates on some of the most popular categories. To easily maximize the card, you should apply for one with bonus categories that you often spend in. For example, if you visit the supermarket every week for your meal prep, a grocery card would be a wise choice.Additional card: Are you shopping for an additional card or your main card? If it’s an additional card, you should choose one that gives bonus cash back in categories you don’t already have covered by your other card. For your primary card, it’s best to opt for a card with bonus categories that you consistently spend in each month.Annual fee: Depending on how much you earn and how much you spend, this factor could decide which card you apply for. For those who spend a lot but also earn a lot in rewards, an annual fee could be easier to justify. For those who are saving up for a new house or car, a no annual fee option probably makes more sense.Intro APR: Do you have big purchases on the horizon — a new laptop for grad school or diapers and formula for a new baby? Or, are you still paying off some card debt you accrued from a high-interest card? If the answer is yes, a card with a 0 percent intro APR offer can give you extra time to pay off those purchases or debt before the regular APR kicks in.
Cash back cards with fixed bonus categories offer a unique opportunity to bring home substantial rewards in an area where you spend more money. By choosing the right cash back card (or cards) that aligns with your budget, you can often bring home more rewards than you would with a flat-rate card.
*All information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
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