The Best Cash Back Debit Cards

December 2, 2010

Cash back debit cards could be a good fit for you if you’d like to earn rewards on your purchases but aren’t a fan of cash back credit cards.  While earning rewards on a credit card is nice, if you carry a balance the interest charges will easily exceed any cash or points you earn.

If you make sure you pay off your balance each month this isn’t an issue but if you’d like to earn cash back without having to ever worry about paying interest, then a cash back debit card could be a good choice. There are several debit cards that reward you on your every day spending just like the cash back credit cards. Your rewards are usually based on your spending, but some cards will boost rewards for certain categories.

Let’s take a look at some of the cash back debit cards that are available nationally. You may be able to find better deals with a local or regional bank, but here’s what some of the big names are offering.

Chase RealCash

  • The Reward: With Chase you can get 3% at select categories of retailers such as grocery stores, gas stations, drug stores, and more.
  • The Fine Print: The card is capped at $500 rewards per year (you’d have to spend $16,000 to reach it). The real kicker is there is a $25 annual fee, just like a debit card. Chase will give you a $10 cash back bonus when you first use the card, but you still start out $15 in the hole to the bank. You’ll have to spend $500 just to earn enough cash back to get out of that hole. Purchases must be non-PIN transactions.

Bank of America Add It Up

  • The Reward: You can earn up to 20% cash back at certain retailers.
  • The Fine Print: You only earn cash back at those retailers. You have to log in to the Bank of America “Add It Up” website before visiting the retailer’s website to receive the cash back. You must earn $5 in cash back before you can receive your rewards.

PerkStreet Financial 

  • The Reward: Earn 2% rewards on non-PIN purchases if your account balance is over $5,000 on the day of the purchases. Rewards can be redeemed for “cups of coffee”, downloaded songs, or cash/gift cards. Rewards can jump to 5% at select retailers.
  • The Fine Print: If your account balance starts at less than $5,000 on the day you swipe your card then you only earn 1% rewards. For a more in-depth look see my PerkStreet review.

US Bank

  • The Reward: Earn up to 25% cash back at select retailers. Earn 0.5% for non-PIN purchases at other retailers.
  • The Fine Print: The really good cash back is limited to whomever US Bank partners with. Otherwise 0.5% isn’t a lot. You must earn $5 to redeem cash back. At 0.5% that would mean spending $1,000 to get $5.

The Best Cash Back Debit Card
The best card is whichever fits your needs the best. If you happened to spend a lot at the retailers Bank of America partners with then that might be the best fit (if you only used the card at those retailers).

For an all-purpose account Chase has higher cash back, but you start out in the hole due to the annual fee and the higher rewards only occur for certain categories. Since PerkStreet offers cashback regardless of where the purchase is made they probably win out for overall best cash back debit card.


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Kevin Mulligan is a debt reduction champion with a passion for teaching people how to budget and stay out of debt. He's building a personal finance freelance writing career and has written for, Discover Bank, ING Direct, and many others.

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5 Responses to The Best Cash Back Debit Cards

  • Janefer

    Which is the best cash back credit card where the full balance is paid by Direct Debit each month?I would require a monthly statement by post. APR is not relevant.


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