Home » Cashback » 4 Ways to Earn 5: Credit Cards with 5% Cash Back Programs

4 Ways to Earn 5: Credit Cards with 5% Cash Back Programs

4 Ways to Earn 5: Credit Cards with 5% Cash Back Programs

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Apr 01, 2019, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

Are you looking to maximize cashback rewards? Cards with 5% cashback programs can be some of the most lucrative on the market. These cards can allow you to put some money back into your wallet on purchases in rotating categories or the categories of your choice, on business expenses or on retail purchases.

It can be easy to just stick with a basic cashback card that offers 1% to 2% on everyday purchases, but with a little extra work, you can boost that to 5%. In fact, both types of cards pair nicely and can provide great benefit when used together.

For example, you can use a rotating 5% cashback card, like the Discover it® Cash Back, for purchases in the bonus categories each quarter. Then, all other purchases could be made with a flat-rate cashback card, such as the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer. By using the two cards in unison, bonus category purchases benefit from the high 5% cashback rate, while all other purchases earn a competitive 2% cash back. If you had just used the Discover it® Cash Back or the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, you’d be leaving some money on the table.

We’ll review four ways you can earn 5% cash back, as well as some terms you should be aware of prior to using a 5% cash back card. Plus, as an added benefit, all of the cards mentioned below have no annual fee.

Here are four ways you can earn 5% cash back:

1. Rotating 5% cashback categories

If you don’t have a clear spending goal, and want to benefit from a variety of bonus 5% cashback categories, you should consider a rotating 5% cashback card. These cards offer 5% cashback in select categories, such as grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants, that rotate each quarter. Compared to using a flat-rate cashback card on all purchases, a rotating 5% cashback card allows you to earn a little bit more in these categories every quarter.

What to watch out for

  • Activation is required. In order to earn 5% cash back in the bonus categories, you must activate that quarter’s categories through your card’s online portal. You should sign up email or text alerts or set a calendar reminder so you don’t forget.
  • Cashback earning limitations. A potential setback is hitting the limit on the amount of cash back you can earn at the 5% rate. Generally, issuers limit you earning 5% cash back on the first $1,500 in combined purchases in that quarter’s bonus categories. That’s a maximum of $75 cash back each quarter in the bonus categories. Once you hit the quarterly maximum, the cash back drops to 1%.

Best rotating 5% cashback credit cards

Discover it® Cash Back

  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically*

  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter up to the quarterly maximum, when you activate*

  • Any amount, any time. Cash back rewards never expire*

Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts - Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Discover it® Cash Back

More Info

How to earn cash back: Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

Here are Discover’s 5% cashback categories for 2019:

  • January to March: Grocery stores
  • April to June: Gas stations, Uber and Lyft
  • July to September: Restaurants
  • October to December: Amazon.com

New cardmember offer: Discover will automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.*

How to redeem cash back: Redeem for a statement credit, gift cards (starting at $20), charitable donations, deposit into a bank account, or to pay at select merchants.

Read our review of the Discover it® Cash Back. In addition, the Discover it® Balance Transfer and the Discover it® Student Cash Back offer the same rewards program.

Chase Freedom®

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

  • 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months

  • 17.24% - 25.99% Variable

Highlights
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee

See additional details for Chase Freedom®

More Info

How to earn cash back: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Chase doesn’t release its full cashback calendar in the beginning of the year like Discover, but here are the 5% cashback categories for 2019 that we know so far:

  • January to March: Gas stations, tolls, drugstores
  • April to June: Grocery stores (excluding Target & Walmart) and Home Improvement stores.
  • July to September: TBA
  • October to December: TBA

New cardmember offer: Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

How to redeem cash back: Redeem for a statement credit, direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts, gift cards, travel, or shop with points at Amazon.com. There are no minimum redemption amounts, so you can redeem rewards starting at a penny.

Read our review of the Chase Freedom®.

2. 5% cash back in the spending category of your choosing

If you’re looking for a more flexible 5% cashback card, there are select cards allow you to choose a particular category of spending. These cards provide several bonus categories and may allow you to select multiple categories to earn 5% cash back.

What to watch out for

  • Bonus category selection required. In order to earn 5% cash back, you’ll need to select the bonus categories of your choosing each quarter. If you don’t, you may completely miss out on 5% rewards. Set a reminder so you don’t forget.
  • Cashback earning limitations. These cards often set limits on the amount of cash back you can earn at the 5% rate. After you hit the quarterly maximum, the cashback rate drops to 1%.

Best card offering 5% cash back in the category of your choosing

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in eligible net purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose. 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores. 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.

  • $150 after you spend $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

  • 0% for 12 billing cycles on Balance Transfers*

Highlights
  • New Cardmember bonus: $150 after you spend $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. 
  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in eligible net purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose. 
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores.
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases. 
  • No limit on total cash back earned.  
  • 0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 16.24% - 25.74% 
  • No annual fee*  
  • Great Offer from U.S. Bank, a 2019 World's Most Ethical Company® - Ethisphere Institute, February 2019

See additional details for U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

More Info

How to earn cashback: Earn 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in eligible net purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose. 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores. 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.

Choose one of these categories to earn an unlimited 2% cash back each quarter:

  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants
  • Grocery stores

Choose two of these categories to earn 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter:

  • Home utilities
  • Ground transportation
  • Select clothing stores
  • Cell phone providers
  • Electronics stores
  • Car rentals
  • Gyms/fitness centers
  • Fast food
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Department stores
  • Furniture stores
  • Movie theaters

New cardmember offer: $150 after you spend $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

How to redeem cash back: Redeem cash back as a statement credit, deposit made to your U.S. Bank savings, checking or money market account, or for gift cards ($20 minimum redemption amount). Beware, cash rewards expire 36 months after the billing cycle in which they are earned.

Read our review of the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card.

3. Earn 5% cash back on business expenses

As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate from making purchases to paying bills. If you use a business card, you can streamline that process and potentially apply any rewards earned to offset some of your monthly statement. There are cashback cards that offer 5% back on common business expenses, such as office supply store purchases.

What to watch out for

  • Bonus category selection is required. You may need to select a category in order to earn the higher cash back. While there’s often a default category, it may not suit your spending habits, so be sure to make a selection.
  • Cashback earning limitations. There may be an annual maximum amount of spending that qualifies for the higher cashback rate. Once you hit the maximum, you’ll only earn 1% cash back for the remainder of the year. Note: the definition of a year varies by card, with some defining it as a calendar year and others as an account anniversary year. Refer to your cardmember agreement for the exact terms.

Best business cards offering 5% cashback

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

  • 0% on Purchases for 15 months, then 14.49% - 21.49% Variable*

  • 5% and 3% bonus cash back categories of spending*

  • With Expanded Buying Power you can spend beyond your credit limit*

Highlights
  • Special offer: save on interest with a 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; after that your APR will be a variable rate, currently 14.49% - 21.49%
  • No annual fee
  • Reinvest in your business with automatic cash back in the form of a monthly statement credit. Plus take control by choosing the 3% category that best fits your business
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $50,000 spent at wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores.
  • Earn 3% cash back on the first $50,000 spent in the category of your choice from a list of eight and 1% cash back on other purchases
  • With Expanded Buying Power you can spend beyond your credit limit* to make bigger purchases for your business plus earn cash back on those purchases too
  • *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors
  • Terms apply
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

More Info

How to earn cash back: Earn 5% cash back on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores, 3% cash back on the category of your choice from a list of eight, 1% cash back on other purchases. 5% and 3% apply to the first $50,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1% applies thereafter. You need to select the 3% category within the first two months of card membership, if not, the default is gas stations. After you select a category, you can change your selection once a year between Dec. 1 and Jan. 31.

Choose one of these eight categories to earn 3% cash back:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • Hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels
  • Car rentals purchased from select car rental companies
  • U.S. gas stations
  • U.S. restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

How to redeem cash back: There’s no action needed on your part — each billing period, cash back is automatically credited to your account as a statement credit.

Read our review of the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express .

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

  • 0% for 12 Months

  • $500 bonus cash back

  • Earn 5% cash back in select business categories

Highlights
  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No Annual Fee

See additional details for Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

More Info

How to earn cash back: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.

New cardmember offer: Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

How to redeem cash back: Redeem cash back for a statement credit, electronic deposit into an eligible checking or savings account, gift card, or travel.

Read our review of the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card.

4. 5% cash back on retail purchases

If you shop frequently at a particular retailer, it can be a good idea to consider a store card. These cards reward you for shopping in-store or online and can offer up to 5% cash back. Just know, most store cards can only be used at the issuing store and any other brands they own. However, if your card is backed by Mastercard, Visa, or American Express, it can be used anywhere those cards are accepted.

What to watch out for

  • High interest rates. Store cards are known to have higher than average interest rates, so it’s important you always pay on-time and in full. A recent CompareCards study found that on average, a new store card has a 24.97% APR; that’s 8% higher than the average credit card at 16.91% APR.
  • Select purchases don’t earn 5%. Depending on the terms of your card, not all purchases made at the retail store earn 5% cash back. Some items and fees, such as gift cards and shipping costs, may be excluded.
  • Potential membership costs. While the cards mentioned below have no annual fee, they may require a membership to benefit from the high 5% cash back.

Best store cards offering 5% cashback

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

How to earn cash back: Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, 1% back on all other purchases. Just know, a Prime membership (currently, $119 per year or $12.99 per month) is required to earn these rewards rates. If you’re not a Prime member, you’ll earn 3% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, 1% back on all other purchases with the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card.

New cardmember offer: $70 Amazon.com gift card upon approval.

How to redeem rewards: Redeem rewards for a statement credit, electronic deposit into an eligible checking or savings account, gift card, or to cover purchases at Amazon.com. Points can be redeemed at any time and for any amount.

The information related to the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.  Terms apply to Chase credit card offers. See chase.com for more information.

Read our review of the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card.

Target REDcard Credit Card

How to earn cash back: 5% discount on Target and Target.com purchases.

There are some exclusions to the 5% cashback earnings:

  • Prescriptions, over-the-counter items located behind the pharmacy counter and clinic services at Target
  • Target Optical™ eye exams
  • Target gift cards and prepaid cards, Stockpile and Gift of College gift cards
  • Previous purchases
  • Certain restaurant merchants in Target stores, such as D’Amico & Sons Italian Kitchen and Pret A Manger
  • Target credit account payments, Target REDcard Debit Card cash back and cash advances on the Target Mastercard
  • Gift wrap and shipping and handling charges on Target.com purchases
  • Wireless protection program purchases and deposits required by mobile carrier
  • Where otherwise prohibited by law

How to redeem rewards: There is no redemption option since you receive the 5% discount instantly at checkout.

The information related to the Target REDcard Credit Card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Read our review of the Target REDcard Credit Card.


Recommended Posts:

Read More

Chase Freedom 5% Bonus Category Calendar 2019

Chase Freedom® cardholders can now activate their bonus 5% cashback categories for the first quarter of 2019 — gas stations, tolls, and drug stores. Activation is available until March 14 to benefit from the higher rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. We’ll review the first quarter bonus cashback categories for the Chase Freedom®, what you need to know to earn […]

Read More

April 10, 2019

Read More

How to Earn Yelp Cash Back

If you thought you needed a credit card to earn cash back, you’re wrong. Yelp offers a cashback program where you can earn up to 10% cash back at participating businesses like restaurants, florists and salons. The program is a simple and free way to earn cash back from shopping at some of your favorite […]

Read More