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Review: Ultra-High Paying Cash Rewards Cards

2015 was the year most of the major credit card companies upped the ante with their cash rewards cards. It used to be that a cash reward card paid a standard 1%, but recently launched cards are offering far more for 2016. We thought it was high time to round up and review the best, and break down the pros and cons. It may be that you can substantially increase the amount of rewards you earn on your credit card spend by checking out one of the cards below. Because why should anyone be using a cash rewards card that doesn't reward them with the most cash possible?

Capital One ® Quicksilver ® Cash Rewards Card

0% on Balance Transfers until January 2017, 1.5% Cash Back Rewards Program. $100 Bonus. No annual fee.

Why We Like It : Capital One's Quicksilver card makes things simple: you earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases, with no limit and no category restrictions or games. Unless you want to play the game where you have many cash back cards, each paying a high rate in a specific category, the Quicksilver's simple 1.5% cash back program may be your best bet. You don't have to worry about what you are using which card on, or go through repayment hoops. You charge, you earn 1.5% cash back. Very simple. If you're looking to transfer a balance and make some purchases, you can use this card to avoid paying interest during the intro period AND earn cash rewards.

Caveats : If you spend most of your money in certain categories, like gas or groceries, it may pay to take a look at one cards offering higher cash back rates for specialized categories.

Credit Required: Good to Excellent

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BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card :

Highlights: 2% Cash Back on groceries and wholesale clubs, 3% cash back on gas, no changing categories or expiration on rewards. No Annual Fee.

Why We Like It: They could have called this one the "Family Cash Rewards Card" since it pays the highest constant cash rewards rate in the two most common spend categories for families: 3% on gas and 2% on grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined gas/grocery purchases each quarter. It also pays a constant 1% on all other spend. So if you are a family which spends a lot of money on gas and groceries (and which family doesn't?!) it may pay to take a hard look at getting the BankAmericard. We really like the idea of having both the Freedom and the BankAmericard, since between the 2 cards we can almost always earn 2% to 5% on just about any purchase we make. The two combined become a sort of cash rewards "super card."

Caveats: Make sure you spend a lot of money each month on gas and groceries, since the card gains most of it's value from the high cash back in those categories.

Credit Required: Good to Excellent

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Chase Freedom ® :

Highlights: Up to 5% Cash Back, A $150 Cash Bonus, 0% Intro APR for 15 months. No Annual Fee .

Why We Like It : We really like the Freedom card because of it's 5% cash back program. Every quarter, it takes popular categories like restaurants, gas, department stores and grocery stores, and pays a hefty 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in spend in the category. That's the highest cash rewards rate we've seen on a no-fee card. You'll also earn a flat 1% on all spend outside the category, plus the $150 intro bonus offer. The Freedom is also quite interesting if you know you're going to have to spend a large amount in the near future: say on an event or a large purchase, due to the 15 month 0% intro APR period on all purchases. That means you won't pay any interest at all during the first 15 months of getting the card, no matter how much you put on it. If you were considering a personal loand for example, this could be a much better deal. Plus you'll earn the cash rewards. One last item we like about the Freedom; it requires good but not perfect credit to get it, unlike some of the other high-paying cash rewards cards, so it's available to more of us.

Caveats : Not great to use for balance transfers, as it charges a 5% fee while offering no more 0% intro APR term than the Slate (which has no transfer fee)

Credit Required: Good to Excellent

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