I've Been Writing About Credit Cards for 8 Years. Here's the Type of Card I Recommend the Most

There are so many credit cards available that it can be hard to choose. One of the best ways to narrow down your options is to start by deciding which type of credit card you want.

I write about credit cards for a living, so I’m familiar with the market. And while the right type of card depends on your financial goals, there’s one type I recommend most often: cash back credit cards.

Why cash back cards are my top recommendation

After years of covering credit cards, I’m convinced that cash back cards are the best fit for the largest portion of consumers. The data supports this conclusion. Cash back cards are the most popular type of card, and 56% of Americans have one, according to a credit card study by The Motley Fool Ascent.

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What makes cash back cards so special? There are a few reasons I highly recommend them.

They’re great for saving money

With cash back cards, you earn money back on your purchases. Cash back rates can be pretty impressive, too. Many cards earn anywhere from 3% to as high as 6% back in bonus categories.

These bonus categories also tend to be everyday-type spending. Gas and groceries are a popular combination — and those are two of the biggest expenses for Americans overall. There are also cards that earn more on dining, entertainment, streaming, and many other categories.

If you’d rather not keep track of bonus categories, you could go with a card that earns 2% back on all types of purchases. Whatever you choose, cash back can add up to serious savings. If you spend $40,000 a year on a card that earns 2%, you’d earn $800 in annual cash back.

They’re easy to use

Cash back cards are probably the most user-friendly card type. There’s not much you need to learn when you get one. You just use your card and redeem your cash back, either through your online account or by calling the card issuer.

Other types of credit cards are more complicated. Take travel credit cards, for example. I love them, and they can help you save on travel. But I realize that most people don’t want to spend their free time learning the ins and outs of a travel rewards program. They’d rather keep it simple with cash back. That’s likely why only 16% of Americans have travel cards.

They could encourage good payment habits

There’s one important thing you must do to save money with a cash back card: Pay your credit card bill in full every month. If you don’t, your card issuer can charge interest on your purchases. You’ll still earn cash back, but with the average credit card interest rate being 21.59%, that’s a battle you won’t win.

Because of how much credit card debt can cost, it’s better to avoid it whenever possible. A cash back card gives you extra motivation to do that — you don’t want that cash back you’re earning to go to waste.

There are cash back cards available for people with any credit score

Your credit score is one of the main factors in the credit cards you can get. The best credit cards are generally only available to people with good credit or better, meaning a score of 670 or higher.

But cash back is a common feature, and you can find cards that earn cash back no matter how high or low your credit score is. For example:

  • Don’t have any credit history yet? No problem. There are starter credit cards that earn cash back.
  • Need to rebuild your credit because of some previous issues? Secured credit cards are designed for this, and some offer cash back rewards.
  • Are you a college student? Student credit cards can help you start building credit, and many are also cash back cards.

Is a cash back card right for you?

No single type of card is right for everyone, but it’s hard to go wrong with a cash back card. Here are a few signs that a cash back card will be an excellent fit:

  • You want to earn cash back so you can build your savings or investments.
  • You always pay your credit card bill in full.
  • You’re looking for a card that’s easy to use and can seamlessly fit into your life.

Since cash back cards are so popular, you have plenty of options. What’s most important is choosing one with cash back rates that fit your spending habits. If you do that, you’ll be able to save as much money as possible.

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