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By Eric Rosenberg, WCI Contributor

Cash back credit cards can turn every purchase into money back in your bank account, essentially providing a discount on everything you buy with it. Whether at the grocery store, shopping online, or filling up at the pump, using the right card can give you maximum rewards on each purchase. Here’s a look at some of the best cash back credit cards of 2022, focusing on the needs of the typical medical professional.

 

Best Cash Back Credit Cards for 2022

 

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card is an easy-to-use card with competitive cash back rewards. The card features 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% back on dining and restaurant delivery, 3% at drugstores, and 1.5% everywhere else. As of this writing, the card includes a $200 cash back signup bonus and a higher 5% rewards rate on gas for the first year—up to $6,000 in purchases.

This card has no annual fee and offers bonuses in popular categories—notably restaurants, drugstores, and travel bought through Chase. Earning 1.5% everywhere else isn’t the top rate for “everywhere else” purchases, but it’s pretty good and pairs well with the bonus categories offered.

The card includes purchase protection for new purchases, extended warranty protection, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, and auto rental insurance. These are extremely valuable in many situations and usually come with higher-tier cards with an annual fee of around $100 or more.

Pro tip: Like other Chase-branded cash back cards, this card pairs well with either of the Chase Sapphire cards. You can convert cash back into travel rewards using the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred for the potential to get more value when redeeming.

 

American Express Blue Cash Preferred®

American Express Blue Cash Preferred®  (Rates and fees) is a premium cash back rewards card. The Amex Blue Cash Preferred includes 6% cash back on your first $6,000 per year in purchases at U.S. supermarkets; 6% back at eligible streaming services; 3% back on transit, including taxis, rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, and busses; 3% back at U.S. gas stations; and 1% back everywhere else. This is an impressive package of cash back rewards.

The big drawback is the $95 annual fee. However, this is waived for the first year. If you look at your typical spending habits, you may find it’s very easy to get more than $95 per year in cash back, netting yourself a nice profit. If you spend $150 monthly on groceries, you’ve already earned enough cash back from this card to pay the fee. Everything else is gravy.

Amex is known for its benefits, and this card delivers. Users get up to $7 back per month for eligible Disney, ESPN, or Hulu subscriptions and up to $120 per year in credits for Equinox gyms, rental car insurance, and return protection.

 

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

SavorOne is a credit card from Capital One with top rewards for food and entertainment. It features 3% back on dining, eligible streaming services, entertainment, and grocery store purchases. For travel booked through Capital One, it pays an impressive 5% on hotels and car rentals. You get 1% back everywhere else. The card has no annual fee.

Benefits include travel accident insurance, extended warranty coverage, and no foreign transaction fees. Travel and purchase protections are not the best around but rank reasonably well compared to other cards with no annual fee.

If you’re looking to crank up your rewards further, the Savor Rewards card from Capital One comes with higher rewards but also requires a $95 annual fee. If you spend around $1,000 per month or more on dining and entertaining, the Savor card is worth the annual cost.

 

PayPal Cashback Mastercard

The PayPal Cashback Mastercard is a unique credit card that requires a PayPal account to earn rewards. However, with a flat 2% cash back on all standard purchases and no annual fee, it is a good choice for someone who wants a simple cash back rewards system that’s easy to understand. When you use the card to check out with PayPal, you earn a higher 3% rewards rate.

If you’ve never used PayPal, it’s an online account used primarily for payments and online checkout. But it also has features similar to a checking account. You can redeem rewards for cash to your bank account or for purchases anywhere PayPal is accepted.

Benefits are provided by Mastercard. Unfortunately, those benefits are sparse, offering virtually no purchase or travel protections. This card is all about the cash back. If you use it for shopping with PayPal, you are protected by PayPal’s features but not your credit card.

 

Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi

The Costco Anywhere Visa is a credit card exclusively for Costco members. The card has no additional annual fee beyond the cost of a Costco membership. It’s convenient, as it can double as both your membership card when shopping and a credit card to use at Costco and anywhere else Visa is accepted. So, just about anywhere.

best cash back credit cards

The Costco card includes 4% cash back on gas and EV charging station purchases, including at Costco, and up to $7,000 in annual purchases. It pays 3% back on restaurant and travel purchases, 2% at Costco and Costco.com, and 1% everywhere else. There’s no foreign transaction fee when using the card abroad.

Rewards are sent as an annual reward certificate with your February billing statement. You can redeem for cash or merchandise at Costco stores. The card includes purchase protection for damage and theft for the first 120 days (90 days in New York) but no other purchase or travel insurance benefits.

 

There are other excellent cash back credit cards out there. However, they often require membership in a particular credit union or a particularly high credit score to obtain, limit how much spending per month is eligible for rewards, or don't exist any longer. The ones listed in this post are available to the vast majority of white coat investors.

 

Summary of Best Cash Back Credit Cards

When you swipe, dip, tap, click, or do whatever else they come up with next to complete a purchase, it’s a good idea to use a credit card that offers the best rewards for your spending habits. Obviously, you should only use a credit card if you can pay off the balance in full by the due date every month. Otherwise, interest costs often outweigh the benefits. As Dr. Jim Dahle has said, credit cards aren't really for credit; they're for convenience, and if you've carried a balance on a credit card more than once, they're probably not for you. Studies are clear that, on average, people spend more when they spend with plastic. So, if you're struggling with getting your savings rate as high as it should be, consider cutting up your credit cards. But if that's not an issue for you, you might as well get a “discount” on all of your purchases by using a cash back credit card.

Overall, any of these cards is a great choice for doctors and other high-income professionals looking to earn top cash back rewards on their spending. If you are torn between two, it’s OK to mix and match several cards to optimize your cash back and maximize your rewards.

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The White Coat Investor has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. The White Coat Investor and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, see this page.