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PayPal Cashback Mastercard Review

Dayana Yochim

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

April 01, 2024

Why trust us? 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 the Citi Double Cash Card, Fidelity Rewards Visa and PenFed Power Cash Rewards), the PayPal card, issued by Synchrony Bank, has none.

It's only when comparing the PayPal Cashback Mastercard to its closest competitor — the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card — that you notice its lack of additional perks. Where's the welcome bonus, PayPal? Why no 0% intro APR on purchases or balance transfers? However, the opportunity to earn 3% back on PayPal purchases and lack of reward redemption minimums earns PayPal a few extra attractiveness points, which is why it got an "honorable mention" in our roundup of Best 2% Cash Back Credit Cards.

The basics: Earn 3% unlimited cash back on PayPal purchases and 2% unlimited on all other purchases.

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Best for Low-Hassle Rewards

PayPal Cashback Mastercard

PayPal Cashback Mastercard Logo
Cashback Per Year
Annual Fee
Welcome Bonus
Want to compare more cards? Use our full calculator.

PayPal Cashback Mastercard pros and cons

thumb_up_off_alt Pros

  • Competitive 2% unlimited cash back on everything
  • 3% unlimited cash back on PayPal purchases
  • Cash back available to use within three days of earning it
  • No reward redemption minimums
  • Offers pre-approval (no impact to your credit)

thumb_down_off_alt Cons

  • 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 (aka 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)
Gas 2.00% - - -
Travel 2.00% - - -
Dining 2.00% - - -
Entertainment 2.00% - - -
Pharmacy 2.00% - - -
Groceries 2.00% - - -
Other Purchases 2.00% - - -

Note: In addition to the rewards rates illustrated above, the PayPal Cashback Mastercard pays 3% unlimited cash back 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. Cardholders are allowed can transfer earned rewards within three days of making a purchase.

There are no reward redemption minimums. Unlike the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card, which doesn't pay out rewards until cardholders have racked up $20-$25 in earnings, the PayPal Cashback Mastercard lets cardholders cash in after accruing as little as one penny in earnings.

Offers pre-approval, which allows consumers to apply for the PayPal Mastercard without impacting their credit if they are not approved.

» 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. Check out credit cards that offer 5% back to really up your earnings game.

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 if you un-link your credit card from it, your Mastercard will be closed and any unredeemed rewards will be forfeited.

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 take a bit out of your earnings, not just on transactions when traveling outside the U.S., but also buying goods in other currencies. FYI: The Bread Cashback American Express Card is one of the few no-annual-fee 2% cards that charges no foreign transaction fees.

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 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

See the PayPal Cashback Mastercard terms and conditions and the reward program rules.

Does the PayPal Cashback Mastercard charge an annual fee?

No, there is no annual fee for the PayPal Cashback Mastercard.

tips_and_updates Trivia time!

How common are annual fees? Roughly 17% of the consumer cash back cards we review charge an annual fee. They range from $39 to $99, with an average annual fee of $67.

Does the PayPal Cashback Mastercard offer a welcome bonus?

No, the PayPal Cashback Mastercard card does not currently offer a welcome bonus.

tips_and_updates Fun fact

More than half (55%) of the consumer cash back credit cards we track in the database offer a welcome bonus, ranging from $30 up to $300. The average sign-up bonus for new cardholders is $197, 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 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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The results of the 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.)

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,, 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.

Carolyn Kimball
Carolyn Kimball

Carolyn Kimball is Managing Editor for Reink Media Group and the lead editor for content on 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.

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.