Mid-tier credit cards offer cash-back rewards

Matthew Nunez

Credit card companies will offer rewards when you build your credit score up to at least 670, which is considered “good” on the FICO scoring model.

In this issue, Credit Fundamentals will focus on “mid-tier” rewards cards, which are decent but not the cream of the crop in terms of credit cards.

These cards offer respectable cash-back rewards at a normal rate and are perfect to pick up when you are ready to graduate from student cards.

1.  Fixed-Rate Cards

Fixed-rate cards, also known as “flat-rate cards,” offer the same cash-back rate on purchases, regardless of what is purchased. They are perfect for people who cannot be bothered to keep up with rotating cash-back categories.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is an example of a fixed-rate card. It has an earnings rate of 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

There are also cards with higher earnings rates, such as the Citi Double Cash Card. It earns 1% cash back on the initial purchase and another 1% cash back when you pay off your balance, giving a total of 2% cash back.

While this category of cash-back cards will not offer you the most rewards, it is the most consistent option. You’ll never have to make a strategy to maximize your points.

2.  Tiered-Reward Cards

Tiered-reward cards are for strategists who have particular shopping habits and like to plan their spending. With these types of cash-back cards, you will earn an elevated rate of cash back as compared to a fixed-rate card.

For instance, the American Express Gold Card earns 4% cash back on restaurants and supermarkets. If you’re a “foodie” and are into UberEats credits, this card is for you.

If you prefer grocery over takeout, then go for the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card, which earns 6% back on the first $6,000 spent in grocery stores in a year.

There are also options, such as the Apple Card, that earns 3% cash back when shopping from Apple Inc. — sorry, Android users. Another option is the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card, which earns 5% cash back on purchases from Amazon.com Inc. with Prime membership.

There are many tiered-rewards cards intended to be used for specific purchases, and some people may hold multiple cards to try maximizing the value of their everyday spending.

3.  Rotating Category Cards

These cards are meant for adventurous people who like surprises. A rotating category card will usually change the retailers it offers bonus cash-back from during every fiscal quarter, or three months.

A popular rotating card is the Discover It, which currently offers 5% cash back on purchases at restaurants and through PayPal Holding Inc.’s services. This is powerful because restaurants offer delivery services through platforms such as UberEats, and many merchants offer PayPal as a payment option.

Another popular option is the Chase Freedom Flex, which has categories for 5% cash back this quarter. These categories include gas stations, rental car agencies, movie theaters and select live entertainment.

By pairing these two cards together, you have a wide net of categories with which you will earn more bang for your buck. They also tend to shift with seasonal spending habits, so expect to be rewarded for buying from big box retailers in the last quarter of the year.

These cards are great to pick up once your credit score allows it, but there is an even higher echelon of credit cards. Check out the elusive, high-tier travel credit cards in the next issue.