When it comes to earning rewards from a credit card, 5x is the gold standard. Think of it this way, for every dollar you spend on these cards you get a nickle back. Not bad, right?
There are the heavily talked about ‘5x earning cards’ and then there are the not so frequently mentioned card options.
Most of these cards mentioned here are non-affiliate cards, meaning that bloggers don’t make money off of them, but offer some of the most generous 5x earning potential among all of them.
For anyone looking to maximize their earnings, here is a compiled list of the top options for 5x earning credit cards. Remember to always do your due diligence when applying for a new credit card and read the fine print.
5x Earning Card Options
1. U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card
Apply at a US Bank branch (Read about the card here)
This seems to be the all-around BEST 5x earning credit card when it comes to straight cash back. Since you’re not earning points, you’re just getting 5% cash back. The best feature of this card is that you can choose and change your 5% and 2% earning categories, plus you earn 1% on everything else.
This is the on of the most flexible 5% earning cards since you can choose the categories all year long. However, on con is that you are only allowed to earn 5% on your first $2,000 purchases each quarter for the chosen categories. This is $500 more than what the Freedom offers, plus you get to choose the what categories earn 5% cashback.
The biggest drawback of this card is that the eligible 5% categories don’t include gas, groceries or drug store purchases (it sounds like they know about VR’s). But you can get 5% in categories such as restaurants, hotels, and department stores.
There is no limit on total cash back earned on the 2% and 1% categories. It sounds like the categories are subject to change each quarter, but I’m not sure how or if this actually happens. Similarly to the Chase Freedom card, you also have to enroll your 5% bonus categories each quarter (they don’t want to make it too easy).
To get this card you have to apply in a US Bank branch (there is no online application available).
2. The Wells Fargo Rewards Visa
Application Link: Wells Fargo Rewards Visa
This card is equally or more rewarding because you’ll earn 5x points on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first 6 months. The points can be redeem for cash back, so essentially you are earning 5% back on these three categories.
This is super valuable because the 5x earning is on major spending categories for most of us, but you only earn 5x for the first 6 months (nothing lasts forever).
The fact that you earn 5x at drugstores is VERY lucrative for manufacture spenders who frequently buy Vanilla Reloads and other gift cards. Since there are no CVS stores up here in the Northwest, that hasn’t really been an option for me.
One other benefit is that the card doesn’t have a limit on the points you can earn in a year, so if you get this card you will want to use it heavily in the first 6 months while earning the 5x points.
There have been some interesting (to say the least) stories about the application process on this card. You can wander over to Travel Summary or Will Run for Miles to read more. If you’re going for this card, it seems that the best recommendation that people who get this card have is to get a Wells Fargo checking account beforehand and fund it.
3. Citizens Bank CashBack Platinum MasterCard
Application Link: Citizens Bank CashBack Platinum MasterCard
With the Citizens Bank CashBack Platinum MasterCard you’ll earn 5% cash back on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases. The catch is that the 5% earning only lasts for the first 90 days, which isn’t nearly as valuable as the first two cards mentioned above.
Still the 5% cash back at drugstores could be tempting for big manufacture spenders, especially so if they have already gone through the other card options.
Similar to the Wells Fargo card, there is no points cap on this card, but remember you only have 3 months to earn. After the first 90 days you’ll earn 1% cash back on all purchases, so it’s really not worth keeping after the 5% earning period is up.
The terms state that you will automatically receive $50 checks for cash back earned.
One major drawback of this card is that the application can take anywhere from two weeks to 30 days to process. I guess if you’re looking to get this card, do it with advanced planning.
4. TD Easy Rewards Visa Card
Application Link: TD Easy Rewards Visa Card
You won’t get 5x earning at drugstores, but another card option is the TD Easy Rewards Visa Card. You’ll earn 5x points on dining, groceries, gas and cable, phone and utility bill payments for the first 6 months. For all other purchases you will only earn 1x points.
The part that caught my eye is the bill payments, I’m not sure how restrictive these are, but if you can potentially send anyone a bill payment it could be very good.
To redeem the points earned for cash back you can simply request a check through the rewards portal. Each point is worth 1 cent in value.
5. Chase Ink Plus® & Ink Bold®
Probably the most well known 5x earning credit cards, and rightfully so. These cards offer 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 within 3 months, which can easily be worth $800 to $2,000 in free travel when transferred to a valuable transfer partner such as United or Hyatt.
The Chase Ink Plus® & Ink Bold® are among my favorite cards because you’ll earn 5X points for cable, internet and telecom, and for purchases from office supply stores. You will also earn 2x points on gas and hotels, and then 1x on everything else.
There is no foreign transaction fee on either card and the annual fee is waived for the first year, but $95 after that.
Your Ultimate Rewards points never expire and can be transferred (in most cases) almost immediately to United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club, Ritz Carlton, Korean Air, Southwest, and Amtrak.
The main difference between the two cards is that the Chase Ink Plus is a traditional credit card whereas the Chase Ink Bold is a charge card. All this means is that you have to pay the balance off in full every month. If you are applying for credit cards to earn miles and points you should ALWAYS be paying off your balance in full every month anyways.
6. Chase Freedom
This has been one of my longest open cards because it earns 5% in rotating quarterly categories and has no annual fee. In my opinion, it’s worth keeping open just to increase the average length of your credit history and also maintain a long relationship with Chase.
On top of that, you can earn 5% cashback on up to $1,500 in combined purchases between January 1 and March 31, 2014 at gas stations, movie theaters and Starbucks stores. The categories change every quarter and you have to enroll to earn the 5x points.
You’ll earn 1% cashback on all other purchases and there are no earning limits on these purchases. Plus your rewards will never expire and as I mentioned, the card does not have an annual fee.
One major perk of having this card along with a premium Ultimate Rewards earning card such as the Ink Plus or Ink Bold is that you can transfer the points earned on your Freedom card into your Ultimate Rewards points account. This allows you to transfer those points to the valuable transfer partners mentioned above.
There is also a $100 cash back bonus after you make $500 in purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
7. Discover It
The last 5% cashback earning card on the block is the Discover It card. Similarly to the Chase Freedom card it offers a 5% earning structure based around rotating bonus categories. This truly is a straight cash back card, so you won’t be able to get any other type of travel from the rewards earned. There is also no annual fee with the card, so if you open one, it’s probably worth keeping it open for awhile.
It’s always nice to have options to earn 5x in different categories, and between these options you can pretty much cover all your bases. However, since most of the offers are limited time 5x earning cards they don’t last forever.
Apart from having a 5x points earning card like the Chase Ink Plus or Chase Freedom in your wallet, these can fill the gaps in the earning categories. With the most long-term earning potential going to the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card.
Either way, if you are a big time manufactured spender, all of the options should be on your radar and in your wallet at some point. Between the various offers mentioned you could easily work around a whole year of 5x earning.
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