Super Combos Cash Back Credit Cards


Cash Back Credit Cards

It’s time to cover cash back credit cards.  There are many great cash back credit cards available, with repeatable earning rates up to 2.6% everywhere.  But it gets better if you’re willing to carry a few cash back cards.  In that case, you should find one great “everywhere” card, but also add a few cards with up to 5% cash back within your common categories of spend (grocery, gas, restaurants, etc.).  Below you’ll find what I think are the best cash back cards that are widely available.

In previous posts, I covered options to earn oodles (yes, oodles) of transferable points by holding combinations of credit cards:

  • Super credit card combos: This post covered several great combinations of cards to use when you want to earn points that can be redeemed for outsized travel value by paying for travel or by transferring points to airline or hotel programs to book high value awards.
  • Super mixed credit card combo: This post discussed the ideal combination of cards to keep in your wallet if your goal is to earn transferable points, but you’re OK with earning points in multiple programs.

Personally I tend to prefer earning transferable points instead of cash back.  Transferable points give you the opportunity to get far outsized value if you manage to snag just the right awards.  That said, my current transferable points balances currently count in the millions so cash back is looking pretty good until I manage to spend down my point fortune…

The best “everywhere” cash back credit cards

Everyone should have a great “everywhere” card.  Regardless of whether you want just one card for all spend or a George Costanza wallet full of cards so that you can pick just the right card for each situation, it’s great to have a card that earns great rewards everywhere.  What follows are my picks for the best “everywhere” cash back cards.  You should choose the one that works best for you.

Bank of America Premium Rewards with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards

2.6% everywhere. $95 annual fee. $100 annual airline incidentals fee reimbursement.

On its own, this card isn’t much use.  It only earns 2% back for travel & dining and 1.5% back everywhere else.  That said, Bank of America offers their banking customers additional rewards through their Preferred Rewards program.  With this program, the more you have invested with Bank of America banking and/or Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch investment accounts, the more rewards you get.  With $100K invested, you get top tier perks as a Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards member.  It’s like having elite status with the bank.  Note that retirement accounts do count towards this total, so the $100K threshold is not as far of a reach as it may otherwise sound.  It’s often possible to move your investment holdings to Merrill Edge without having to sell any shares.

Once you have Platinum Honors status, you get a 75% rewards bonus on certain Bank of America cards.  You also get free stock and ETF trades, free out of network ATM transactions, waived fees on a number of banking services, etc.

With your 75% rewards bonus, the earnings on this card become significant:

  • 3.5% back for travel & dining
  • 2.62% back everywhere else

Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card

2.5% everywhere. 3% cash back first year. No Annual Fee First Year, Then $59.

Earn 3% cash back first year, then 2.5% cash back everywhere in ongoing years. No foreign transaction fees. $25 minimum redemption.  Note that after the first year, you’ll have to spend approximately $12,000 per year to do better with this card than with a no-fee 2% cash back card.

Paypal Cashback Mastercard

2% everywhere. No minimum redemption.

There are other good 2% cash back cards (such as the Citi Double Cash), but this is the only one I can think of that’s available nationwide and has no foreign transaction fees.

The Cash Back Credit Cards by Spend Category

Once you have a great “everywhere” card, you may be interested in adding in one or more cards to get even more rewards for the type of spend you do the most.  Below are my picks (hyperlinks will take you to more information about each card)…

  • Grocery 4.4%: Amex Blue Cash Preferred: 6% cash back at US grocery stores, up to $6K per year, then 1%. After the $95 annual fee, you can net 4.4% back on $6K of grocery spend.  Alternatively, a few credit unions offer 3% cash back with no annual fee (details here).
  • Dining 4%: Uber Visa Card: 4% cash back for dining, 3% for travel. No annual fee. No foreign transaction fees.  Alternatively, the Capital One Savor card also offers 4% cash back for dining, but its $95 annual fee (after the first year), makes this card less valuable than the Uber card.
  • Gas 5%: Ducks Unlimited: 5% cash back at gas stations & sporting good stores. No annual fee.  There are a number of cards that offer 5% cash back when you pay at the pump (details here), but this one offers 5% at gas stations in general.
  • Travel 3.5%: Bank of America Premium Rewards with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards. $95 annual fee. $100 annual airline incidentals fee reimbursement.  A good alternative is the no annual fee Uber Visa Card which offers 4% cash back for dining, and 3% for travel.
  • Phone/Internet/Cable 5%: Chase Ink Business Cash: 5% back for phone, internet, cable, and office supply store purchases, up to $25K per year.  No annual fee.
  • Rotating categories 5%: Both the no annual fee Chase Freedom card and the no annual fee Discover It Card (or Discover It Student Card) offer different 5% cash back categories every quarter on up to $1,500 spend.

Putting it all together

The best combination for you depends upon how many cards you’re willing to carry, where you tend to spend the most money, and whether or not you can conveniently park $100K with Bank of America / Merrill Edge / Merrill Lynch.  Here are some example combos that I think make sense:

  • One great card: Bank of America Premium Rewards with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards. 3.5% back for travel & dining; 2.62% back everywhere else.
  • Two great cards: Bank of America Premium Rewards with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards + Uber Visa4% cash back for dining, 3.5% for travel, 2.62% everywhere else.
  • The two card no-fee combo: Uber Visa + Paypal Mastercard.  No annual fees. 4% cash back for dining, 3% for travel, 2% everywhere else.
  • The Costanza: Bank of America Premium Rewards with Platinum Honors; Uber Visa; Ducks Unlimited; Blue Cash Preferred; Ink Business Cash; Chase Freedom; Discover It.  Altogether you would get 4.4% grocery (on first $6K US spend per year and after accounting for annual fee); 4% dining; 5% gas; 5% phone, internet, and cable; 5% office supply stores; 5% rotating categories; 3.5% travel; and 2.6% everywhere else.

My take

Personally, I’m ready to move to the Bank of America Premium Rewards card as my “everywhere else” card.  It’s really hard to beat 2.6% cash back everywhere (unless the Zerocard ever really appears).

If I visited gas stations a lot more than I do today I’d consider getting the Ducks Unlimited card too.  Elsewhere, though, I can do just as well or better with transferable points:

  • Grocery: I prefer 4X Membership Rewards on up to $25K per year (then 1X) with the Amex Gold Card.
  • Dining: Soon we’ll be earning 5X with the Citi Prestige card.  Until then, 4X with the Amex Gold Card or 3X with a Sapphire Reserve is excellent too.
  • Gas: I’m happy with earning 3X with my Citi Premier card (or 3X with my Altitude Reserve when the gas station takes mobile wallet payments)
  • Travel: I’m earning 3X with my Sapphire Reserve and will soon earn 5X on airfare with the Citi Prestige
  • Phone/Internet/Cable/Office Supply: The Chase Ink Business Cash card acts both as a cash back card and as a transferable points card when it is paired with a premium Ultimate Rewards card (such as the Sapphire Reserve).
  • Rotating categories 5%: The Chase Freedom card acts both as a cash back card and as a transferable points card when it is paired with a premium Ultimate Rewards card (such as the Sapphire Reserve).
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[…] miles and points — one could easily earn 2% cash back with no annual fee (or even better as Greg showed last week). For that reason, and because I generally tend to look for good sweet spot opportunities, I tend […]


It is true to say that for Alliant that after the first year you would have to spend $12,000 a year to make the extra (2.5%-2.0%) worth the $59 fee.

But I start at day one: I put $30k on this card in year one and earned 3%, which is an extra (1%x $30k) $300 over a 2% card. That’s covers 5 years of fees.

[…] Some Super Combo Cash Back Credit Cards. […]


Hey Greg, is it an oversight that the Citi Premier 60K offer info is missing from your Best Offers page?

[…] that Greg wrote a post yesterday about the best cash back credit card options on the market (See: Super Combos Cash Back Credit Cards). It’s important to remember that the opportunity cost of collecting points over cash […]


How much incremental value do you think a comprehensive solution like this generates, after considering real-world spend and annual fees, when compared to something like Citi Double Cash?

I have a hard time getting excited about optimizing ongoing spend with cash back cards because it feels like a perfect strategy will generate ~$100 incremental per year, in exchange for a lot of work.

Nick Reyes

It totally depends on what “real world spend” is for you. If you spend $1,000 per month ($12,000 per year), earning an extra 0.62% would make a $74.40 difference. If you play the category game and you’re able to average, say, 3.5% overall (by buying GCs at 5% stores, etc), that’s a $180 difference on the same amount of spend.

If you spend $2K per month, double those numbers. Using the $35K number mentioned in comments above brings those numbers up to $217 / $525.

Some people spend a good deal more than those numbers per month, some less. You’re right that you should run your numbers and see what makes sense for you.


Right… before factoring in any annual fees. And buying GCs at 5% stores has other costs (foregoing CC protections, ending up with orphaned GC balances, etc.). This seems like penny-pinching, rather than some of the big wins in the travel CC space.

The real limiting factor is player 2’s patience. I get a bit of leeway for each first class flight I book, but giving her a Costanza wallet would be game over 🙂


Ditto re: player 2


Another great article; I love these types of analysis. BofA Premium is my choice for non-bonus spend.

I forgot about the “free out of network ATM transactions” being part of BofA Preferred Rewards program. Sadly, the no fee is for ATMs in the U.S. and U.S. territories. Guess I got to stick with First Republic Bank’s ATM Rebate Checking for free worldwide ATM transactions; only issue keeping at least $3500 to waive the monthly fee. There is Schwab Checking for free ATMs but want to separate my other Schwab holdings.


For me personally I use Altitude Reserve for all in-person transactions (non category spend). You can also use it for in app, and online with some stores which accept Apple Pay. (4.5% cashback)
For online I use either Amex BBP, Citi AT&T Access More, or Priceline 2x/5x (3.33% cashback)
I would add another few cards into the mix: US Bank Cash+, Vantage West Connect Rewards Visa, where you can chose some interesting 5% categories.
Another interesting card is Nusenda Platinum Cash Rewards.




Is Old Blue Cash still available?


Why the Ducks Unlimited card for gas? If you’re at the top tier of BofA’s preferred customer program, you can get 5.25% back at gas stations with the Cash Rewards card.. You can also get 3.5% back on groceries. All with no fee.

It’s a great complement to the Premium Rewards Card.


No fee? Is this because the $100 travel reimbursement offsets the $95 annual fee or am I missing something?


You’re mixing Cash Rewards with Preferred Rewards


There is also Travel Rewards card with no fee, which is the same as Premium Rewards.


You’re missing that the Cash Rewards card has no fee.


It would have been interesting to see how much cash back a family spending $35K annually (as in your mixed point combo article) using the Costanza method would earn.


If able to qualify for BoA Platinum Honors, the Cash Rewards card can earn 5.25% cash back on gas (up to $2500/quarter), which I believe makes it the best available.


+1 this. Ducks is unnecessary if you are Platinum Honors. Cash Rewards is 3x gas, 2x grocery and warehouse up to $2500/quarter. Unless you spend more than this, which I don’t think most would do without business spend or MS, I’d prefer Cash Rewards to Ducks. Also this sets your floor at Costco and Sam’s at 3.5%.


What do you guys think is the best strategy for household where primary spend is at grocery stores and Costco? And where the annual spend at groceries is easily $12K+ and Costco for groceries and items that don’t need purchase protection could be another $10K? Given that almost all grocery stores and Costco take Samsung pay which also gives another 1% back in rewards.

For example, is it worth dumping Costco exec membership and paying for everything with altitude reserve via Samsung pay (except when purchase protection or extended warranty a factor)?

Does premier rewards factor here when spend is higher than $2500 quarterly cap? Of course maybe one could get more than one premier rewards card, but for the sake of argument, let’s say only one card.

Currently, household has two exec memberships, two Costco cards, two amex cash preferred cards earning 6% on groceries with $6K cap.

Fees are about $430ish. Return is 6% groceries, 4% costco.

Thanks for your thoughts!


For groceries – Amex Gold
For Costco – Altitude Reserve or AT&T Access More (buy Costco cash cards online)
This will give you 6.5% or 3x TYP + 2% at Costco
And 4.5% or 3x TYP at Costco gas station. Ducks Unlimited should also give 5% at Costco gas station, but I just got the card, didn’t try it yet, since I switched to using Exxon/Mobil with Amex offer till end of November.


I use the Square Cash debit card at Whole Foods and Old Blue Cash at groceries. I use Cash Rewards at Costco when it’s not a 5% category with Chase Freedom or Discover. For gas I use Cash Rewards, except for the Blue Business Plus deal at Exxon right now.


Also, the cash rewards is 3.5% cashback at grocery stores which is also useful. I think this and the Premium Rewards is a better two card combo because the Premium Rewards already earns 3.5% back at restaurants. You are then carrying the Uber card for only an extra half percent.


No love for the Citi double cash 2% (no annual fee) card?


Us bank altitude reserve — 4.5% on mobile wallet transactions


They are cash. I cash them out easily.