What’s The Best Cash Back Credit Card?

The American Express Blue Cash Preferred and Navy Federal Cash Rewards are two of the best everyday use cash back credit cards. They can often be brushed aside in favor of their glitzy cousins such as the American Express Platinum or Chase Sapphire. Here’s a dirty little secret, these two everyday cards will make you more money than those other cards. That’s because these are the cards that will reward you for the activities you do the most, such as, grocery shopping, buying gas and eating out.

These two cards are also simple. That’s a major draw compared to having to constantly research the ever changing benefits of more involved travel cards. They don’t deal in points whose value you’ll have to figure out how to maximize. They deal in cash which is both simpler and more tangible than rewards points. Both of these cards are efficient, practical tools that should be part of your financial picture.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card

The annual fee for this card is $95. For service members, their spouses or reservist on Title 10/32 AD orders this fee is waived. It is also structured as a regular credit card with APR between 14-24%. We recommend paying off your entire balance every month. The amount you spend in interest would negate any benefits of this card.

The Perks

  • Spend $1000 in first three months to earn $300 back in the form of a statement credit
  • 6% cash back on groceries (up to $6,000 annually then 1%
  • 6% cash back on streaming subscription
  • 3% cash back on transit (includes uber/lyft)
  • 3% cashback on gas stations
  • 1% cash back on other purchases

Navy Federal Cash Rewards Credit Card

This card is painfully simple. There is no annual fee but you do need to be a Navy Federal member to be eligible. A lot more people are eligible to be Navy Federal members than may be obvious. Membership can extend to civilians/contractors working on DoD installations or family members of a service member (including grandparents!) This card is just one of the many benefits of being part of that bank. Like the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, the Navy Federal Cash Rewards is a normal credit card. Again, We do not advise carrying credit card debt.

The Perks

  • $150 cash back when you spend $2000 in the first three months
  • Cash Back at 1.5% on all purchases
  • APR between 9.65-18%
  • 0% APR for first six months

Which Card is best?

When you look at the perks it is easy to draw the conclusion that the Amex Blue Cash Preferred is the better of the two cards. Looks can be deceiving, and when you actually dig down into the benefits it is a much closer call. First, the Amex Cash Blue Preferred offers 6% on groceries but only up to $6,000 annually. That breaks down to around $500/ month. Not a bad number for an individual, but a family will likely have a much higher monthly grocery bill. Anything past the $6000 mark is only 1% cash back.  The other benefits really highlight how practical this card can be. 6% cash back for streaming subscription is basically giving you cash back for your bills. That’s assuming you don’t just use your parents Netflix.

Cash Back Should Be Cash Back

There is one major difference between these cards. Dollars earned on the Amex are reward dollars. These are essentially redeemed for statement credits to reduce your current or future charges, buy gift cards, or spend on merchandise on the Amex website. These feel alot like Amex points (even though they are valued at $1 no matter what you spend them on.)

The Navy Federal Cash Rewards is actually cash. You can see the balance at any time by logging into the app and instantly deposit the amount into your bank account. For me, this is what I want when I think of a cash reward card. For all the hype around travel cards, I currently have $600 available through the Navy Federal Cash Rewards Card. This money was earned by using my card for everyday purchases. That amount can sponsor a decent weekend getaway a lot more easily than messing around with points. Or I can spend it on whatever I want. To me, that is the advantage of having a cash back card.

Both of these cards are simple (note how much shorter this article is than the travel card review). That is a strength. If you really want to maximize your cash back opportunity then the Amex Blue Preferred Card is probably the best move. It is going to give you hundreds of dollars back on the purchases you’re already making. As long as you are okay with them being reward dollars.

The Navy Federal Cash Rewards card is like the AK-47 of credit cards. No games, no gimmicks, all it does is convert the money you spend to cash. It doesn’t do it as quick as Amex at 1.5% but any and all cash back is actually cash. Including the $150 opening bonus.

Questions about these cards? Contact us.

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