PayPal Cashback Mastercard Review 2023
Why trust us? Investor.com has no financial relationship with any of the credit card providers whose products we analyze and review. Our opinions are based solely on data and our own extensive independent research — that means unbiased guidance for consumers. Rewards cards in our cashback credit card calculator are listed in descending order according to how much money they pay out annually based on the inputs.
With its 2% cashback rate on everything, no restrictions, PayPal’s Mastercard is worth buddying up to, as long as you’re not looking for a friend with benefits.
Two percent unlimited cash back on all purchases (and 3% on PayPal purchases) makes the PayPal Cashback Mastercard BFF material among flat-rate, no-fee rewards cards. Whereas other 2% cashback rewards cards come with strings attached (see SoFi and Citi), the PayPal card, issued by Synchrony Bank, has none. That said, it also lacks additional perks, making this a decidedly friends-without-benefits card pal.
The basics: Earn 3% unlimited cash back on PayPal purchases and 2% unlimited on all other purchases.
PayPal Cashback Mastercard pros and cons
- Very competitive 2% unlimited cash back on everything
- 3% unlimited cash back on PayPal purchases
- No annual fee
- No redemption minimums
- No sign-up bonus
- No 0% intro APR on purchases/balance transfers
- Requires PayPal account to apply and redeem rewards (obvi)
- Where are the perks?
- 3% foreign transaction fee is a bummer
- Those APRs 😬
PayPal Cashback Mastercard cashback rewards spending categories
The following table shows the cashback rewards rate per $1 spent in the six most common spending categories. The “Bonus Rate” refers to the amount you can earn in excess of the card’s standard rewards rate.
Some cashback cards limit the spending amount eligible for the bonus rate (a.k.a. the “Spend Cap”). Once you hit that cap (e.g. $1,500 spending in a particular category during a defined time period), the rewards rate on future purchases in that category reverts to the lower “Default Rate.”
|Category||Default Rate||Bonus Rate||Bonus Spend Cap||Bonus Spend Period (Months)|
Note: In addition to the rewards rates illustrated above, the PayPal Cashback Mastercard pays 3% unlimited cashback on PayPal purchases.
What we like
2% cash back is what most no-annual-fee rewards credit cards pay out on bonus spending categories like groceries or online shopping. The PayPal Cashback Mastercard pays that rate on everything, out-rewarding the standard 1% to 1.5% flat-rate competition. The exception: Wells Fargo's Active Cash Card.
Choose PayPal at checkout to earn 3% cash back. With so many online sellers — and even some in-store ones — offering the option, it's a no-brainer.
Spending caps? Not here! Rotating rewards categories? Nope. You're not even required to use your PayPal account to rack up rewards. Simply swipe, type, click or tap wherever Mastercard is accepted (everywhere, btw) and earn 2% cash back on all of your purchases.
Redemption options — no surprise here — require a PayPal account to access. Rewards can be transferred to the bank account or debit card linked to your PayPal account or, if you have a PayPal Balance account, sent directly to your PayPal account to spend or send to another user or linked account.
The zippy rewards turnaround time is a nice touch. You can transfer earned rewards within three days of making a purchase, and there are no minimum redemption requirements.
» Top competitors: See our other picks for great flat-rate, no-hassle rewards cards.
What we don't like
There are no niceties on offer, like a 0% introductory APR on new purchases or balance transfers. It's like that friend who doesn't even offer you a glass of water when you visit. Don't expect a welcome bonus, either. The PayPal Cashback card can't be bothered to get up off the couch to greet you at the door. Please show yourself in. Or, again, over to Wells Fargo, which has better hosting skills (a la a sign-up bonus and 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers).
That 2% cashback rate, though generous, will only get you so far on the road to rewards riches. If you're more of a rewards ninja, pair the PayPal Mastercard with an additional rewards card that pays higher bonus rates on other spending categories.
You must have a PayPal account to apply and redeem rewards. Again, not a shocker ... but at least it's free. However, you will have to take an added step of transferring rewards cash to a linked bank account to use the money outside of the PayPaliverse.
Be careful: If your PayPal account is closed for any reason or you un-link your credit card from it, your Mastercard will be closed and any unredeemed rewards will be forfeited.
As far as fees and the rest of the fine print, well, don your pith helmet. We practically excavated PayPal's entire website before giving up and just Googling "terms and conditions" to unearth this pdf on the issuer's website.
It seems that Synchrony, PayPal's card issuer, hasn't met a fee it doesn't like. This card charges 'em all, including...
The 3% foreign transaction fee will slow your spending, not just on transactions when traveling outside the U.S., but also buying goods in other currencies.
There's a minimum $2 interest charge in any billing cycle in which you owe interest, which strikes us as kinda petty.
Cash advance fees are a high 5%, or $10 minimum, of whatever amount you're withdrawing.
Don't expect any extra perks with the PayPal Cashback card beyond security standards such as Mastercard's zero liability for unauthorized charges and free identity theft protection (requires enrollment), and PayPal's own purchase protection when you buy via its own platform. So much for friends with benefits.
The bottom line
Is the PayPal Cashback Mastercard the best rewards card for your wallet? The answer depends entirely on your spending patterns. Let the numbers speak for themselves: Use the investor.com Cashback Credit Card Calculator to see which credit card pays back the highest rewards based on how much you spend each month.
PayPal Cashback Mastercard fine print
Does the PayPal Cashback Mastercard charge an annual fee?
No, there is no annual fee for the PayPal Cashback Mastercard.
Roughly 14% of the consumer cashback cards we track in our database charge an annual fee. The average annual fee is $72.60, while the median is $95.
Does the PayPal Cashback Mastercard offer a welcome bonus?
No, the PayPal Cashback Mastercard card does not currently offer a welcome bonus.
Of the more than 60 cashback credit cards in our database, 66% offer a welcome bonus. Currently, the average sign-up bonus on a new cashback card is $210.71, with the median being $200.
How much cash back can I earn with the PayPal Cashback Mastercard?
The average American that spends $1000 per month will earn $240.00 in cash back per year using the PayPal Cashback Mastercard. For comparison, the average annual rewards payout from the cashback credit cards in the investor.com database is $191.26, and $180 is the median.
These calculations are based on average consumer spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the reward payout rates from the providers we track. Of course, you’re so much more than an average data point (aka “consumer unit,” in BLS parlance). The amount you can earn in cashback rewards using the PayPal Cashback Mastercard depends entirely on your unique spending habits.
Find out exactly how much you’ll rake in with the PayPal Cashback Mastercard by tailoring the spending inputs in the calculator above.
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Compare PayPal Cashback Mastercard
The results of the investor.com Credit Card Rewards Calculator are based on the monthly spending amounts you enter and the annual dollar value of the rewards each credit card program pays per $1 spent. Credit card companies often express this payout amount as a percentage (e.g., 1.5% of every dollar spent) or on a points basis (e.g. ,1.5 points for every dollar spent). We converted all of them to a dollar amount (“Cash Back Per Year”) to make comparing offers easier.
To calculate the amount of cash back you could earn per year, we factored in:
- Spend category inputs: The default dollar values for each “Spend Category” in the Best Cashback Credit Cards tool — gas, groceries, travel, restaurant, entertainment, pharmacy, other — are based on average American spending data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We also include additional spend categories (such as streaming services, online shopping, utilities, transit, Amazon and more) to help you see which rewards cards are most closely aligned with your actual spending patterns. We encourage you to customize the monthly spend inputs for the most accurate results.
- Tiered rewards rates: If a rewards credit card pays higher cashback rates on certain spending categories (also called “Bonus Rewards”), that difference is reflected in the total “Cash Back Per Year” tally.
- Rewards spending caps: Some cards impose category- or time-based limits (monthly, quarterly, annually) that affect the amount of rewards you can earn. For example, a card may pay 3% cash back on groceries on up to $1,000 of spending each quarter, then revert to the base/default rewards rate until the following quarter. We accounted for bonus spending caps and timeframe in the calculations.
- Default rewards rates: Purchases that exceed a spending cap are usually subject to a lower default rewards rate (e.g., 1% or 1.5%). We mathed that out too.
- Annual fees: If a rewards card charges an annual fee, we deducted that amount from the “Cash Back Per Year” total to provide a true accounting of a card’s annual rewards payout.
What’s not included in the “Cash Back Per Year” total is the cash value of any sign-up/introductory bonus. We highlight any Welcome Bonus separately. While sign-up bonuses can be the most lucrative part of getting a new cashback rewards credit card, not everyone will want or be able to do what it takes to earn the extra cash. (It usually requires spending a certain amount in a specified time period after the card is activated.)