Best Flat-Rate Cashback Credit Cards: Low Hassle, Easy Money
Swipe, earn, redeem, lather, rinse, repeat. If you like to keep your financial life simple, a flat-rate rewards credit card is a no-hassle way to earn cash back on everything you purchase. You barely have to lift a finger to find a no-annual-fee credit card that pays a minimum of 1.5% cash back — but you can do even better.
This guide provides a rundown of cashback credit cards that make it easy to eke out the most rewards with every swipe.
What is a flat-rate cashback credit card?
A flat-rate rewards credit card pays the same percentage of cash back on every purchase you make, typically 1% to 2%, but there are issuers that pay more if certain conditions are met. It’s a simpler rewards structure compared to tiered rate (or “bonus category”) credit cards that apply different rates to different spending categories (e.g., 3% cashback on groceries, 2% on gas, 1% on everything else).
The best flat-rate cashback credit cards
Low hassle, no fee, high rewards rates, and sign-up incentives: Those were our criteria for the best flat-rate cashback credit cards. The rewards math — the amount of money an average consumer could earn using each credit card — helped us narrow the list of options. Then we considered sign-up bonuses and other card features to hone in on the top five no-hassle cashback credit cards:
- Wells Fargo Active Cash Card: Best no-hassle 2% cashback with a welcome bonus
- PayPal Cashback Mastercard: Best 2% flat-rate card + 3% on PayPal purchases
- Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card: Best for automated monthly rewards + 0% intro APR
- Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards: Best flat-rate card for high net worth cardholders
- Alliant Cashback Visa Signature: Best cashback card for Alliant fans
Why trust our best-in-class credit card picks? Our editorial decisions are independent, impartial, and never influenced by affiliate partner relationships. (Translation: No provider can buy its way onto a recommendations list or pay for more flattering coverage). We crunch numbers, scour fine print and rely on our on-staff topic experts to deliver guidance that enriches readers. See How We Make Money for more on how we roll.
See a credit card that’s worthy of a slot in your wallet? Take a moment to confirm card details on the issuer’s site before you apply.
1. Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
😀 Ka-ching!: On top of a competitive 2% unlimited cashback rewards rate, Wells Fargo tosses in a $200 sign-up bonus and 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers.
🙁 Ka-chunk: NBD for some cardholders, but the 3% foreign transaction fee wipes out cashback earnings — and then some — when using the card overseas or buying from non-U.S.-based sellers. $20-$25 reward redemption minimum, depending on how you redeem.
How much can I earn using the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card?: Put $1,000 a month on this Wells Fargo card and you’ll earn $240 cash back per year.
Although the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card isn’t the only issuer that offers unlimited no-strings 2% cashback, the sign-up extras make it one of the most compelling picks among flat-rate rewards cards.
Most notable is the welcome bonus — $200 after you spend $500 in the first three months. Nab that, and the $440 you’ll earn ($240 cashback if you spend $1K a month + $200 welcome bonus) turns the 2% cashback rate into a 3.6% one for the first year.
Other benefits include 15 months of interest-free purchases (you still have to pay the minimum), 0% interest on balance transfers, Visa Signature card amenities, and lots of reward redemption options. (Pro tip on balance transfers: Do it within the first 120 days, before the 3% balance-transfer fee jumps to 5%.)
The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card is best for: A truly no-hassle, 2% flat-rate card with lots of glow-up features, including a $200 welcome bonus and more than a year of 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers.
» Read our full Wells Fargo Active Cash Card review.
2. PayPal Cashback Mastercard
😀 BFF material: Unlimited 2% cashback on everything, and 3% when you use it with the PayPal app (brand loyalty can pay off); zippy reward redemptions.
🙁 Ghosted perks: PayPal is stingy on the extras — there’s no welcome bonus or 0% intro APR on purchases or balance transfers, and the 3% foreign transaction fee might be a turnoff for some. Authorized users on the account earn only 2% cash back.
How much can I earn using the PayPal Cashback Mastercard?: The average consumer who spends $1,000 monthly on the PayPal Cashback Mastercard will earn $240 cash back per year at the 2% rewards rate. That number increases if you make the card your linked payment method on PayPal, which gets you 3% cashback when you check out using the app.
No one is accusing the PayPal Cashback Mastercard of being a try-hard. This is your basic flat-rate cashback card, minus nice-to-haves like a welcome bonus or 0% intro APR period.
Why bother? Because the PayPal Mastercard, issued by Synchrony Bank, offers a competitive 2% cash back on all purchases, without pesky things like an annual fee or any rewards earning caps. Plus, play your cards right, and you can earn 3% cash back whenever PayPal is a payment option.
investor.com Quick Tip: Pony Up, PayPal
Sure, 2% cashback is nice; 3% is even better. To eke out the highest rewards rate possible, we recommend pairing the PayPal Cashback card with your PayPal account. (Simply add the Mastercard as your linked account in the app and make it your preferred payment method.) Whenever you’re given the option to pay via PayPal (at stores that offer a QR code or online), take it and you’ll earn an unlimited 3% cash back on purchases instead of 2%.
The PayPal Cashback Mastercard also provides nearly instant rewards gratification. Cashback earnings are transferable within three days of making a purchase, with no minimum redemption requirement. (For comparison, the majority of rewards cards make you wait until the next statement cycle to redeem.) That said, there’s an extra step required if you want to use the cash outside of the PayPal universe: You’ll need to transfer the cash you earned from your PayPal account into a linked bank account.
The PayPal Cashback Mastercard is best for: Those who at least sometimes shop at places that accept PayPal (which gets you the higher 3% cashback rate). Otherwise, you’ll still earn a satisfying 2% back on all purchases.
» Read our full PayPal Cashback Mastercard review.
3. Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card
😀 No math required: Earn at least 1.5% cashback on all purchases, and 2% on your two biggest monthly spending categories (tons of stuff qualifies); 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers.
🙁 Limited payoff: The card’s 1.5% base rewards rate cost Sallie some attractiveness points when compared to cards that offer 2% unlimited cash back on everything (see above). The $25 minimum rewards redemption requirement, lack of a welcome bonus and 3% foreign transaction fee will be bummers for some cardholders.
How much can I earn using the Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card?: You’ll earn a minimum of $180 cash back per year using the Sallie Mae Evolve card if you spend $1,000 a month at the base 1.5% rewards rate. Adding to your earning potential, your largest monthly purchases may be eligible for 2% cash back. (Note: The investor.com credit card rewards calculator uses just the base cashback rate.)
The Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card isn’t technically a flat-rate credit card. But it’s definitely a no-hassle one, hence its inclusion on this list.
The card pays an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. But it bumps up the rewards rate to 2% (also unlimited) on purchases in your two biggest eligible spending categories each month. Don’t worry about figuring out what those are: Sallie Mae does the calculations automatically. (See? We told you it’d be no hassle.)
The long list of purchases that qualify for the Evolve card’s 2% cashback tier includes traditional rewards card bonus categories (gas, dining, groceries, entertainment, retail stores) as well as less-common ones like healthcare, professional services (e.g., lawyers, real estate agents), schools and government (property taxes, tuition), utilities, and wholesale club purchases.
Speaking of no-hassle tiered-rate rewards cards …
The Venmo Credit Card has a similar setup, automatically paying 3% and 2% on your top two spending categories each month. But you’ll earn only 1% cashback on everything else, versus 1.5% with the Sallie Mae Evolve Card. See how the chips fall in our Sallie Mae Evolve Card vs. Venmo Card comparison.
The Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card is best for: Those looking for a no-hassle tiered-rate rewards card that guarantees you’ll at least earn 1.5% cash back, and a bumped-up 2% rate on some purchases.
» Read our full Sallie Mae Evolve card review.
4. Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards
😀 Quid pro whoa!: Opportunity for B of A/Merrill Edge customers to amp up the 1.5% rewards rate by 25% to 75% (that’s up to 2.62% unlimited cash back). Also on the table: A solid sign-up bonus and intro 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers.
🙁 Upfront investment required: Qualifying for the rewards booster requires maintaining a minimum $20,000 bank or brokerage account balance. And here, too, worldly cardholders should beware of the 3% foreign transaction fee.
How much can I earn using the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards card?: At the very least you’ll earn $180 cash back annually if you charge $1,000 a month on the B of A Unlimited Cash Rewards card. Customers who qualify for B of A’s Gold Tier Preferred Rewards status will earn $225 in a year. Platinum Tier members will make $270, and Platinum Honors Tier cardholders will rake in $314 in annual rewards.
The standard cashback rate on the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards card is a ho-hum 1.5%. (At least it applies to all purchases and, as the card name promises, is unlimited.) So why are we still talking when there are other 1.5% flat-rate rewards cards?
Cue B of A’s Preferred Rewards program theme music. Membership is granted to those who maintain a not-insignificant minimum balance in a Bank of America deposit account or a Merrill Edge Investment account or both. Based on your bank/brokerage balance, that buys you a 25% to 75% rate boost on the card’s standard 1.5% rewards rate:
- Gold Tier: $20,000 minimum = 1.87% unlimited cash back
- Platinum Tier: $50,000 minimum = 2.25% unlimited cash back
- Platinum Honors Tier: $100,000 minimum = 2.62% unlimited cash back
The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards card is best for: High net worth individuals (existing or wannabe B of A/Merrill Edge customers) who qualify for the 2.25%-2.62% cashback rates offered with the bank’s Platinum or Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards tiers. Everyone else: Although you’ll have to settle for 1.5% cash back, the card’s $200 welcome bonus pads the payoff in Year One. After that, reevaluate and come back here to shop around.
» Read our full Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards card review.
5. Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card
😀 Score!: Earn 2.5% cash back on the first $10,000 you spend per month … if conditions are met; it’s the only card in the Top 5 list without a 3% foreign transaction fee.
🙁 Screech!: Those conditions: Opening a checking account at Alliant and making one monthly deposit into the account (explained in more detail below). WIthout the commitment, it’s a 1.5% unlimited cashback card.
How much can I earn using the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card?: At the 2.5% cashback rate, Alliant will dole out $300 in rewards cash if you put $1,000 a month on the Cashback Visa Signature Card. At 1.5%, you’ll earn $180 back in a year.
The 2.5% cashback rate on the first $10K in purchases each month would have made the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card our No. 1 flat-rate cashback card pick, no questions asked. Then we considered the catch.
Only cardholders who maintain a $1,000 average daily balance in an Alliant high-rate checking account and complete one monthly direct deposit qualify for the 2.5% rewards rate. Without that deeper banking commitment, you’ll take a 40% rewards rate haircut, earning just 1.5% instead of 2.5%.
In lieu of a welcome bonus, Alliant offers a temporary taste of the good life with 100 days of 2.5% cashback to new cardholders after sign-up and approval. Those with big purchases on the horizon should take the opportunity to cash in. Another plus: You’ll pay no foreign transaction fees when using the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card to pay for foreign fare.
The Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card is best for: Shoppers willing to take the extra steps to qualify for the highest cashback percentage (2.5%) offered by the no-annual-fee flat-rate rewards cards we track. If you’re not up for that, we recommend the no-catch unlimited 2% cashback flat-rate cards from Wells Fargo or PayPal.
» Read our full Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card review.
These 1.5% flat-rate cashback credit cards also carry no annual fee. They didn’t quite make the final cut, but we think they’re also worth considering because of the sign-up goodies they offer new cardholders:
- Capital One Quicksilver Rewards pays 1.5% cash back on all purchases and kicks up the rewards rate to 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. The sign-up bonus and 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers is a strong value proposition. Plus, Capital One charges no foreign transaction fees.
- American Express Cash Magnet offers a spending category-agnostic unlimited 1.5% rewards rate. Plus there’s a welcome bonus (note the spending requirement to earn it is higher than the Quicksilver Rewards card’s) and 0% APR on purchases (not balance transfers) deal on the table.
Best no-hassle rewards card FAQs
Is flat-rate cash back better?
The answer depends on how actively you want to manage to maximize your rewards and the types of purchases you most frequently make.
Compared to tiered-rate or rotating-rate rewards credit cards, a flat-rate cash-back card is a better choice if you don’t want to bother with keeping track of which card in your wallet offers the best rewards rate depending on what you’re buying or where you’re shopping.
Three Types of Rewards Credit Cards
- Flat-rate rewards cards pay a single, set percentage rate on all purchases.
- Tiered-rate (bonus category) credit cards pay a higher rewards rate on purchases that fall under specific spending categories (e.g., dining, groceries, gas, travel, etc.). All other purchases earn a base rewards rate, usually 1% - 1.5%.
- Rotating rewards credit cards pay a higher rewards rate on certain spending categories, some or all of which may rotate monthly or quarterly.
The pros of flat-rate cashback cards:
- No shuffling cards at the cash register to figure out which card offers the biggest payout. You know exactly how much money you’ll get back with every swipe, regardless of what you’re purchasing. It’s basically a cashback card in “easy mode.”
- No active rewards management required, like picking a bonus category, opting into an issuer’s monthly or quarterly rotating roster of bonus categories (looking at you, Chase Freedom Flex), or keeping up with ever-changing rewards structures.
- No pesky spending caps that limit how much cashback you can earn. All but one of the top flat-rate cards we recommend above provide unlimited cashback potential. Even then, the outlier — the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card — has a pretty heady $10,000 monthly rewards spending cap.
- All purchases are eligible for cashback. Tiered-rate cards pay a lower rewards “base rate” — 1% to 1.5% — on purchases that don’t fall neatly under their bonus spending categories. (Bill payments, campground fees and exorcisms are a few purchases that come to mind.) Flat-rate cards pay the same rate on everything you charge.
The drawbacks of flat-rate rewards cards:
- Lower rewards earning potential. Most flat-rate credit cards offer a 1.5% to 2% cashback rewards rate. And that’s it, unless you’re willing to jump through a few hoops (such as maintain a bank account with the issuer) to qualify for a higher rate. (We describe those hoops above.)
- No bonus rewards categories. Unlike tiered-rate cards that offer 2%-5% cashback rates on dining, gas, travel, groceries and entertainment purchases, a flat-rate card applies one cashback rate to everything. Depending on your spending habits, you could be leaving potential cash back on the table.
- Higher rates require better credit. If you have less-than-stellar credit, you’re unlikely to qualify for a 2% flat-rate cashback card. There are, however, issuers that offer no-annual-fee rewards cards for credit builders, such as the Petal 2 Visa (1%-1.5% cashback on all purchases, depending on your payment history) and the Credit One Platinum Rewards Visa (2% cashback on groceries, gas, and cell/’net/cable bills and 0% on everything else).
The bottom line: The answer to the flat-rate vs. bonus-category card question comes down to money (how much you could earn) and your personality (how actively you want to manage your cards). Use the credit card rewards calculator to see which cashback cards are most profitable based on your spending habits, then decide how much work you’re willing to expend maximizing your rewards.
investor.com tip: Get the best of both worlds
Pairing a flat-rate credit card with a tiered-rate card can amp up your rewards. And it might not be as big of a hassle to juggle cards as you think.
Here’s how it works: Use the flat-rate card for all purchases except in the specific spending categories where the tiered-rate card pays a higher cashback rate. (Typical bonus categories are groceries, dining, gas, entertainment and travel.)
Affix a “Use Me for [spending categories]” Post-it note on the tiered-rate card as a reminder to use that card for certain purchases.
Is 2% cash back worth it?
A 2% cashback card is definitely worth it if you pay off the balance in full each month. Otherwise, the 2% you earn in rewards will be canceled out many times over by the interest charged on the amount you owe.
There are other benefits and drawbacks of 2% cashback cards:
Pros of a 2% cashback card:
- Makes it easy to earn extra money on the things you’re going to buy anyway.
- Requires little-to-no rewards management — no rotating bonus categories to track or opt into each month or quarter.
- Available without paying an annual fee. For example, the Wells Fargo Active Cash card highlighted above offers unlimited 2% cash back, a sign-up bonus and an intro 0% APR deal, all for no annual fee.
- Makes a good supplemental rewards card. Use your bonus category card to earn higher rewards rates on specific purchases (like gas, groceries, travel) and whip out the 2% cashback card for everything else.
- May offer a sign-up bonus or balance-transfer deal which can pad your wallet even more.
Cons of a 2% cashback card:
- Higher APR than non-rewards credit cards on debt carried over from month to month. General rule-of-thumb: The sweeter a card’s rewards, the worse the terms on debt.
- Can be less rewarding overall than a tiered-rate (or bonus-category) card that pays a higher cashback rate on certain purchases, especially if the bulk of your spending falls into those buckets.
- May charge an annual fee. There are plenty of no-annual-fee 1.5% cashback cards, the pickings are slimmer when it comes to issuers offering 2% cashback.
- 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.)
Compare credit cards
Select and compare two credit cards head to head to see which offers the most bang for your buck.
Select Credit Cards↓×
- Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card
- American Express Cash Magnet
- Apple Card
- Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards
- Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards
- Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards (Gold Tier)
- Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards (Platinum Honors Tier)
- Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards (Platinum Tier)
- Blue Cash Everyday from American Express
- Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
- BMO Harris Bank Cash Back Mastercard
- Capital One Quicksilver Rewards
- Capital One Quicksilver Rewards for Good Credit
- Capital One QuicksilverOne
- Capital One Savor Rewards
- Capital One SavorOne Rewards
- Chase Freedom Flex
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Citi Custom Cash Card
- Citi Double Cash Card
- Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi
- Credit One Bank American Express Card
- Credit One Platinum Rewards Visa
- Credit One Platinum Rewards Visa with No Annual Fee
- Credit One Platinum X5 Visa
- Discover it Cash Back
- Discover it Chrome
- PayPal Cashback Mastercard
- PenFed Power Cash Rewards
- Petal 2 Visa Card
- PNC Cash Rewards Visa Credit Card
- Sallie Mae Accelerate
- Sallie Mae Evolve Credit Card
- SoFi Credit Card
- TD Cash Credit Card
- Truist Enjoy Cash Credit Card
- U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card
- Upgrade Cash Rewards
- Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards
- USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card
- USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card
- Venmo Credit Card
- Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
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How we chose the best flat-rate cash back credit cards
We chose the Best Flat-Rate 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.
Here are six things we looked for to determine which cards made the cut:
The biggest payouts. Our credit card tool calculates the annual dollar value of the rewards each credit card program pays per $1 spent. The investor.com cashback earnings estimates used in this Guide are based on what a cardholder who spends $1,000 per month ($12,000 annually) would earn back in a year using the credit card. For a bespoke cashback result, enter how much you spend each month into the credit card calculator to see exactly how much you would earn in rewards from every rewards card in our database.
The fewest rewards earnings hindrances. The algorithm automatically adjusts the Cashback Per Year total to account for annual fees, reward spending caps (limits placed on the amount of your spending is eligible to earn rewards), default rewards rates, and different cashback rates on different spending categories. Because we were looking for flat-rate cards, we excluded tiered-rate rewards cards, except when they offered ….
No-hassle rewards boosts. We set out looking solely at flat-rate rewards cards. But if an issuer ponied up a bonus rate on our biggest monthly purchases without making us lift a finger, we took notice. That’s how the Sallie Mae Evolve card (with its truly no-hassle automatic 2% cashback on your two largest monthly spending categories) earned its spot on our recommendation list.
Low fees. None of the investor.com Best Flat-Rate Credit Card picks charge an annual fee, because an annual fee is the very definition of a hassle. Although all but one of the cards we feature — the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature card — charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, we didn’t disqualify them since it doesn’t automatically affect all cardholders. It’s your call whether a card’s foreign transaction fee is a dealbreaker for your situation.
None of the investor.com Best Flat-Rate Credit Card picks charge an annual fee, because an annual fee is the very definition of a hassle.
Money-making/saving features. Sign-up/welcome bonuses offer a near-immediate boost to your earnings. In instances where the annual cashback rewards rates were equal, we favored those that offered a sign-up bonus because: ka-ching. Same with introductory no-interest periods on purchases and balance transfers, which can save you some serious coin over time. (Fun fact: The competition is crowded among 1.5% flat-rate cards. To cull the herd, look for those that offer sign-up bonuses and 0% intro APR offers.)
Easy rewards redemptions. The lowest hassle — and fastest — way to cash in on the cash back you earn is to redeem the money as a statement credit. Click a few buttons on the card’s app or website, and your rewards will reduce any outstanding balance or offset future purchases. All of the cards we reviewed offer this option at a minimum. The PayPal Cashback Mastercard earned bonus points for allowing cardholders to redeem rewards before the billing cycle ends, which is what most cards do. Sallie Mae’s Evolve card earned side-eye, however, for requiring cardholders to rack up at least $25 reward dollars before letting you have at it.
Check out the individual flat-rate cash back card reviews we link to for more details on each offering.
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