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Best 5% Cash Back Credit Cards

Dayana Yochim

Written by Dayana Yochim
Fact-checked by Andrea Coombes
Edited by Carolyn Kimball

February 13, 2024

How do you get 5% cash back on everything? By assembling the perfect mix of rewards cards that pay you the highest cashback rate on your biggest expenses.

While there is no “5% cash back on everything” credit card, you’ve got your pick of rewards cards that pay 5% on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and elsewhere, most of which charge no annual fee. With a few category-specific credit cards that align with your spending habits, earning 5% cash back on almost everything is possible.

We’ve narrowed the list to the best 5% cashback credit cards by category below. There are a few catches, however. As with all bonus-category rewards cards, you’ll earn a lower cashback rate — typically 1% to 3% — on your purchases outside those categories. Plus, keeping an eye on reward spending caps and remembering to activate bonus categories requires more hands-on management than a flat-rate rewards card that pays the same cashback rate on all purchases.

Best 5% Cash Back Credit Cards

Here are investor.com’s picks for the best 5% cashback cards in different spending categories:

  • Gas: Sam’s Club Mastercard
  • Groceries: Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
  • Restaurants: Citi Custom Cash Card
  • Rotating 5% categories: Discover it Cash Back Card
  • Custom 5% categories: U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card
  • Business: Chase Ink Business Cash Card
  • Travel: Via travel reward portals on select cards from Capital One, Chase, Citi and U.S. Bank

Best 5% gas credit card: Sam's Club Mastercard

Most cashback cards pay 2% to 3% on fuel and EV charging purchases. A few pay 4%. (See the PNC Cash Rewards and Costco Anywhere Visa cards if you’re willing to settle for lower octane rewards.) Investor.com found that every fuel-focused credit card paying 5% cash back on gas throttles the rewards rate down to 1% for cardholders that exceed bonus spending caps or don’t meet other qualifications. Our pick for the best 5% cashback gas credit card offers the best overall terms for road warriors.


Sam's Club Mastercard

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Sam's Club Mastercard Logo
Welcome Bonus
$30
Annual Fee
$0
Base Cashback %
1%

😀 Step on it: Earn 5% cash back on gas and at EV charging stations on the first $6,000 you spend each year.

🙁 Slowdown ahead: Sam’s Club membership requirement which costs $50 a year for the standard “Club” membership. The cashback rate on gas station purchases is 1% on amounts that exceed the annual spending cap.

How much can I earn with the Sam’s Club Mastercard?: A cardholder who spends an average of $140 on gas/EV charging per month will earn $84 in cash back annually using the Sam’s Club Mastercard. The card’s high $6,000 annual rewards spending cap on the gas/EV charging bonus category means you could earn up to $300 cash back in a single year.

The Sam’s Club Mastercard’s 5% cashback rate on gas (and EV charging) outguns the 4% its warehouse club rival Costco pays. Although it has a lower annual rewards spending cap in this category ($6,000) than the Costco Anywhere Visa ($7,000), heavy gas users still come out ahead using the Sam’s card: A cardholder who pumps $7K worth of gas (or electricity) into the tank will earn $310 cash back per year versus $280 using the Costco card.

Read our full Sam’s Club Mastercard review.

Best 5% (or more!) grocery store credit card: Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

The standard cashback rate for groceries is just 1% to 1.5% back on a typical bonus category card. Cardholders can earn a slightly more satisfying 2% to 3% using rewards cards that deem supermarket spending a bonus-worthy category. Then there are the rare few — the coveted truffles of rewards cards for home chefs — that dish out 5% (or more!) on groceries.

Best for Foodies

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

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Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express Logo
Welcome Bonus
$250
Annual Fee
$95
Base Cashback %
1%

😀 Load up the cart!: Earn a whopping 6% cash back on the first $6,000 you spend at grocery stores (and on select streaming services) each calendar year. Amex waives the $95 annual fee for new cardholders for the first year.

🙁 Undercooked: Like most rewards cards, groceries from superstores and warehouse clubs are not eligible for the bonus cashback rate. A $95 annual fee applies starting in year two.

How much can I earn on grocery spending with the Blue Cash Preferred card?: Cardholders who spend an average of $199 a month on groceries will earn $143 cash back per year on supermarket purchases alone, and as much as $360 at the 6% cashback rate on up to $6,000 in qualifying purchases per year.

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express’s 6% cashback rate on groceries is double what most competitive bonus cards pay on supermarket spending. The bonus category’s $6,000 spending cap means cardholders can spend as much as $500 per month on average and before the 6% cashback rate drops to 1%.

Amex waives the Blue Cash Preferred Card’s $95 annual fee for the first year. In subsequent years, the 6% rewards rate dips to 4.4% when you factor in the annual fee (which is what we did in the credit card rewards calculator, FYI).

Read our full Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express review.

Best 5% restaurant credit card: Citi Custom Cash Card

Our Best Credit Cards for Foodies guide features a buffet of rewards cards designed for date-nighters and home chefs. But there’s only one card in our extensive database that offers the opportunity to earn 5% cash back on dining, and that is the chameleon of rewards credit cards, the Citi Custom Cash Card.

Best for Rewards Rotators

Citi Custom Cash Card

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Citi Custom Cash Card Logo
Welcome Bonus
$200
Annual Fee
$0
Base Cashback %
1%

😀 Chow down: Earn 5% cash back on up to $500 in purchases per month on restaurant spending.

🙁 Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup: The 5% rewards rate applies only to one bonus category per billing cycle. It also becomes a much less palatable 1% on amounts above $500, as well as everything you buy that’s not covered under that month’s bonus category.

How much can I earn at restaurants with the Citi Custom Cash card?: The average American who spends $145 a month eating out will earn $87 cash back per year with this Citi card. However, those with bigger appetites, more mouths to feed or gourmand tastes — spending $500 a month, or $6,000 a year on dining — will rack up $300 cash back annually.

With its 10 bonus categories eligible for 5% cash back, the Citi Custom Cash Card is a worthy competitor in nearly every spending scenario. But there’s a catch: Cardholders earn the lofty rewards rate on just one category per month, which Citi automatically determines based on your spending. So if you spend $1 more on groceries (also a 5% eligible category) than dining out during the billing cycle, you’ll earn just 1% cash back on your entire month’s restaurant tab.

Read our full Citi Custom Cash Card review.

Best 5% rotating category card: Discover it Cash Back

A rotating-rewards credit card offers the chance to earn 5% cash back on a new bonus spending category every three months or so. It’s great when the bonus roulette wheel lands on a category that aligns with your spending plans. Less great are the quarters when nothing on your shopping list qualifies for the killer cashback rate.

Best for Rewards Rotators

Discover it Cash Back

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Discover it Cash Back Logo
Welcome Bonus
2X Rewards your first year
Annual Fee
$0
Base Cashback %
1%

😀 5% = 10% cash back in year 1: Earn 5% cash back on a new bonus category each quarter on up to $1,500 in qualifying purchases. Discover matches dollar-for-dollar all rewards you earn in the first year of card ownership.

🙁 Dealer’s choice: Discover’s choice of rotating quarterly bonus categories must align with your spending plans for the 5% cashback rate to pay off. Quarterly bonus category activation required.

How much will I earn with the Discover it Cash Back card?: A cardholder who spends $1,500 per quarter in purchases within the Discover it chosen 5% cashback category will earn $75 cash back per quarter, or $300 per year in rewards. Discover doubles the annual rewards earnings in the first year, which means you’ll earn up to $600 on your cardiversary.

Discover it Cash Back Card anoints a different 5% bonus category each quarter that applies to up to $1,500 in purchases. Historically, Discover features broadly applicable bonus categories most cardholders can use. For example, Amazon.com and Target were 5% categories in the fourth quarter of 2023; the following quarter restaurant and drugstore spending were eligible for the bonus rate. (If you prefer a card that doesn’t require the rewards roulette wheel landing in your favor, consider the Citi Custom Cash Card, which applies the 5% cashback rate to your largest eligible monthly spending category.)

We chose the Discover it card for this category because of the value it offers new cardholders in year one: Discover doubles all of your rewards earnings from the entire year, effectively making it a 10% rotating category cashback card, at least for a while. Just remember to activate the bonus feature every three months — bookmark the Discover it cashback calendar — or you’ll earn just 1% cash back.

Read our full Discover it Cash Back Card review.

Best 5% in custom categories card: U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

Restaurant meals, gym membership fees, gas, groceries, [insert spending category here] — the freedom to pick your preferred 5% cashback rewards category offers cardholders maximum flexibility.

Best for Rewards Rotators

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

Read review
U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card Logo
Welcome Bonus
$200
Annual Fee
$0
Base Cashback %
1%

😀 Choices, choices: You get to pick two (out of one dozen) 5% cashback spending categories each quarter as well as one 2% “everyday” cashback category (either groceries, dining or gas/EV purchases).

🙁 Rulebreakers need not apply: The quarterly $2,000 bonus spending cap on combined 5%-eligible purchases is a bummer for big spenders. You’ll earn just 1% cash back if you forget to enroll your bonus category each quarter. Rewards expire after 36 months.

How much can I earn with the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card?: Take full advantage of the card’s 5% earning potential (which applies to up to $2,000 spent per quarter, or a not-ominous-at-all-nosirree $666.66 per month) and you’ll earn $400 cash back. (Note the 5% cashback default categories in our credit card calculator are “Utilities” and “Streaming.” “Dining” is set as the 2% cashback rate.)

The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card lets you pick not one, but two (!) 5% cashback categories each quarter. Before you apply, consider that just a few of the 12 bonus spending categories are typically high-dollar household expenses. The more flattering spin: Here’s your chance to earn 5% back on some less common cashback categories.

Have a seat while you review the list: fast food, cell phone, TV/internet/streaming services, home utilities, ground transportation, gyms, movie theaters, sporting goods stores, electronic stores, department stores, furniture stores, and select clothing stores. (Groceries, gas and dining are 2% cashback options, but you can choose only one per quarter.)

Read our full U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card review.

Best 5% cashback business credit card: Chase Ink Business Cash Card

It’s no coincidence that the credit card that beats out all others in this category based on calculations using the investor.com business credit card rewards calculator offers 5% cash back on an array of spending categories.


Chase Ink Business Cash Card

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Chase Ink Business Cash Card Logo
Welcome Bonus
$900
Annual Fee
$0
Base Cashback %
1%

😀 We’re in business!: Pays 5% cash back on common business-y purchases. Allows cardholders to combine points with other Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning cards.

🙁 Paper jam ahead: $25,000 annual rewards spending cap applies to all 5% eligible purchases combined.

How much can I earn with the Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card?: The average small business that spends $2,580 a month using the Chase Ink card will earn $836 cash back per year. Spend $25,000 in purchases within the 5% spending categories alone, and you’ll earn $1,250.

The no-annual-fee Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card is a standout among its peers thanks to a generous 5% cashback rewards rate on common expenses like internet, cable and phone service costs as well as office supply store purchases. That rate applies to more than $2,000 in monthly combined spending in those categories. Plus, it pays 2% cash back on $25,000 in spending at gas stations and restaurants.

Read our full Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card review.

5% cash back cards for travel

You don’t have to add yet another rewards card to your wallet to earn 5% cash back on travel. Travel perks are baked into the rewards programs on cards from Chase, Capital One, Citi and U.S. Bank, giving cardholders a two-fer — an everyday cashback credit card that doubles as a travel cashback card. Plus, “travel” is sometimes a featured bonus category on cards with rotating cashback rewards calendars.

Unlike traditional travel credit cards where your spending earns points or miles that can be redeemed for travel-related rewards, a cashback card helps you offset the costs of a getaway (or help fund your next one) by putting 5% (or more) back in your pocket when you book airfare, hotels, cruises, rental cars and attractions through the issuer’s travel portal. Some cashback cards even let you redeem earnings for travel, although the cashback value varies based on the redemption option you choose.

5% travel card comparison

Issuer Travel perks Good to know More info
Capital One 5% cash back on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel Charges no foreign transaction fees Capital One Travel portal
Chase 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards Rewards are transferable between Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards Chase Travel portal
Citi Earn 1-10 Thank You Points per $1 spent on hotel, car rental and attractions booked with your eligible Citi Card through the Citi Travel portal Bonus rates on certain travel-related purchases vary based on Citi’s latest offers. Check portal for details Citi Travel portal
U.S. Bank 5%-5.5% cash back on prepaid hotel and car reservations and flights booked through U.S. Bank’s Rewards Travel Center Travel purchases eligible for 5%-5.5% cash back vary by card Go to the U.S. Bank login page or log onto the U.S. Bank mobile app to access the Rewards Center to see travel-related bonus terms
Prime Visa 5% on airline tickets, hotels, car rentals, and cruises purchased through Chase Travel or calling the number on the back of card too book Prime membership required for 5% rate; Non-Prime Amazon Visa cardholders earn 3% Chase Travel portal

Is 5% cash back a lot?

Credit cards that pay 5% cash back are a rare breed among rewards cards. It’s much more common for banks to offer 1% to 3% cash back on purchases. The handful that pay 5% typically limit it to purchases that fall under a specific spending category (like gas, groceries, travel) or when cardholders shop at chosen retail partners.

What credit score do I need for a 5% cash back credit card?

Rewards card issuers typically require “good” to “excellent” credit, which translates to a credit score of at least 670 points on the FICO scale and 661 on the newer VantageScore model. (You can check your own credit score for free without impacting your score.)

A general rule of thumb is that the perkier the card (meaning, the more generous the rewards terms), the higher the approval standards. If a bank states upfront that only applicants with “excellent” credit are candidates for approval, work on improving your credit score and aim for a FICO score above 740 and a VantageScore higher than 781.

Is a 5% cash back credit card worth it?

At investor.com we consider 4% a great cashback rate, which makes a credit card that pays 5% phenomenal in our book. Just know that rewards cards that offer 5% cash back pay it only on purchases within select spending categories. Whether a 5% cashback credit card is worth it to you depends entirely on whether your spending aligns with the bonus categories featuring that stellar rate. Here are some other considerations:

Pros of a 5% cashback credit card:

  • Earning the highest possible rewards rate on offer among cashback credit cards.
  • Makes an ideal companion card when paired with other rewards cards in your wallet.
  • Sign-up promotions — welcome bonuses; 0% introductory APRs on purchases and/or balance transfers — offer added value.
  • Available for no annual fee, including many of the cards featured above.
  • 5% cash back on travel-related purchases from bank partners are included in many rewards programs.

Cons of a 5% cashback credit card:

  • Category activation is often required to earn the 5% rewards rate. This requires more active management than a flat-rate rewards card.
  • Higher APRs than non-rewards credit cards on debt that is not paid in full each month.
  • Limited bonus-earning opportunities. The 5% cash back often applies only to purchases within one or two qualifying spending categories. Plus, watch out for …
  • Reward spending caps (applied annually, quarterly or monthly) limit how much of your spending is eligible for the 5% cashback rate. Purchases that exceed the cap are subject to the card’s low base rate, usually just 1%.
  • Stingier rewards — 1%-3% — on purchases in non-bonus categories.
  • Stricter approval standards mean that those with a FICO credit score that’s less than 670 or a VantageScore of less than 661 may not qualify for a 2% flat-rate cashback card. (Here’s more on credit score ranges.)

How we chose the best 5% cash back credit cards

We chose the best 5% cashback credit cards based on data from the investor.com credit card rewards calculator and our own research into each credit card’s terms and conditions.

The credit card tool calculates the annual dollar value of the rewards each credit card program pays per $1 spent in each “spend category.” It takes into account tiered reward rates, reward spending caps, default reward rates and annual fees to provide the most accurate results.

For this guide, we used average household expenditure data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for each 5% rewards category (gas, groceries, restaurants, travel and business expenses) to estimate how much cash back per year the average consumer would earn. Except where stated otherwise, we zeroed out all spend categories subject to lower rewards rates to illustrate cashback earnings estimates solely on purchases that qualify for 5% cash back.

For a customized cashback rewards estimate, enter how much you spend each month into the credit card calculator (or business card database) to see exactly how much you would earn in rewards for every card we review.

Read next

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About the Editorial Team

Dayana Yochim
Dayana Yochim

Dayana Yochim has been writing (articles, books, podcasts, stirring speeches) about personal finance and investing for more than two decades, focusing on bringing clarity and the occasional comedic aside to what is often a murky, humorless topic. She’s written for NerdWallet, The Motley Fool, HerMoney.com, Woman’s Day, Forbes, Newsweek and others, and been a guest expert on "Today," "Good Morning America," CNN, NPR and wherever they’ll hand her a mic.

Andrea Coombes
Andrea Coombes

Andrea Coombes has 20+ years of experience helping people reach their financial goals. Her personal finance articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, MarketWatch, Forbes, and other publications, and she's shared her expertise on CBS, NPR, "Marketplace," and more. She's been a financial coach and certified consumer credit counselor, and is working on becoming a Certified Financial Planner. She knows that owning pets isn't necessarily the best financial decision; her dog and two cats would argue this point.

Carolyn Kimball
Carolyn Kimball

Carolyn Kimball is Managing Editor for Reink Media Group and the lead editor for content on investor.com. Carolyn has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at major media outlets including NerdWallet, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. She specializes in coverage of personal financial products and services, wielding her editing skills to clarify complex (some might say befuddling) topics to help consumers make informed decisions about their money.

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