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The Master 2% Back/No AF Thread (Don't Settle for Less!)


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Cash-back cards come with a variety of reward structures, ranging from a flat percentage on all purchases to rotating 5% categories which require advance registration. If you enjoy this game (which I do) this thread is not intended for you.

 

If you don't want to keep track of which cards pay the highest cash back in various spending categories, the simplest way to ensure solid reward returns is to get a card that pays a flat 2% back on all purchases AND has no annual fee.

 

In this thread I will maintain a list of flat 2%/no-AF cards, as well as a list of 2% or "2X" cards to avoid because they have an annual fee and/or redemption requirements that guarantee that you do not receive 2% back.

 

Premise: Getting a 2% card with an annual fee is throwing money away when you can get the same rewards structure with no fee.

 

Premise: Settling for a flat 1.5%/no-AF card like the Capital One Quicksilver when you can get 2% back with no AF instead is silly. 0.5% doesn’t sound like much, but a 2% card earns 33% more in reward dollars than a 1.5% card.

 

To keep this thread on topic I am not going to attempt to track current sign-up bonuses for any of these cards.

 

I also don’t want to allocate space in this thread to cards like the 3% Alliant card with an AF which becomes a 2.5% card with an AF in year two, or the Discovery IT Fake MilesTM card that pays 1.5 fake miles that no airline accepts and then doubles them at the end of the first year. This thread is meant to emphasize choosing one cash-back credit card, emphasizing simplicity for regular use year after year.

 

The next post will contain my initial list, which will probably be incomplete. I will add other cards based on your feedback.

 

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Updated, with thanks to @nemo , who noticed that Alliant just put people before profits by devaluing their "2X" rewards card.  This card is now worse than a Capital One Quicksilver.  💩    

Best I could find:    

Alliant sent out an e-mail officially retracting its point devaluation, and stating that they would issue additional points to make up for reduced-value redemptions from last month.   It was

Cards that Pay 2% on All Purchases with no AF

 

Citi Double Cash - This card pays 1% back per $1 spent + another 1% back when you pay your bill. I'm not a big fan of the 1% + 1% gimmick on this card, but the math works.

 

Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card

 

State Department FCU Premium Cash Back+

 

 

 

Cards That are Disguised as 2% Cards But Are Not

 

Capital One Venture - Not only does this card have an annual fee of $95, but you only get a 2% return when you redeem points against recent past travel purchases. If you haven't made any recent travel purchases your points will only get you 1% back in value. Charging a $95 AF for a card the pays as little as 1% back when you aren’t paying attention is obscene. TURD.

Edited by cv91915
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Not as clear cut as that. I have a Venture. They waive annual fee for me with a 30 second phone call. All you need is 1 travel purchase and you can redeem cash back over and over on that one purchase, in any amount with no restrictions. Sign up bonus is worth $500. Also, they have a 10% return when using the card to book on hotels.com. Turd is a subjective evaluation.

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Not as clear cut as that. I have a Venture. They waive annual fee for me with a 30 second phone call. All you need is 1 travel purchase and you can redeem cash back over and over on that one purchase, in any amount with no restrictions. Sign up bonus is worth $500. Also, they have a 10% return when using the card to book on hotels.com. Turd is a subjective evaluation.

 

You missed several points from my original post.

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Cards that Pay 2% on All Purchases with no AF



Blispay



Citi Double Cash This card pays 1% back per $1 spent + another 1% back when you pay your bill. I'm not a big fan of the 1% + 1% gimmick on this card, but the math works.



Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card Points are redeemable to a Fidelity retirement, brokerage, 529 or checking ["Cash Management"] account)



State Department FCU Premium Cash Back+





Cards That are Disguised as 2% Cards But Are Not



Capital One Venture - Not only does this card have an annual fee of $95, but you only get a 2% return when you redeem points against recent past travel purchases. If you haven't made any recent travel purchases your points will only get you 1% back in value. Charging a $95 AF for a card the pays as little as 1% back when you aren’t paying attention is obscene. TURD.


Edited by cv91915
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PenFed Power Cash Rewards VISA - 2% with Access America checking account (and $500 in it). I...think...it's 2.5% with the checking account and military service.

 

USAA had a 2.5% CB card pilot program recentlyish. I snagged it and use it everyday, but it looks like it's off the site/radar, and I don't remember what hoops were involved.

 

[eta]

 

Called PenFed to verify, and I am incorrect. It's a 2.0% CB card (not 2.5%) if you either get the checking or have military service, but they don't stack. CSR confirmed it in her system, I am at 2%.

 

Some part of my brain might have known this, which is why that card gets no spend, lol.

Edited by brainchasm
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Cards that Pay 2% on All Purchases with No AF (No Strings)

Blispay

Citi Double Cash This card pays 1% back per $1 spent + another 1% back when you pay your bill. I'm not a big fan of the 1% + 1% gimmick on this card, but the math works.

State Department FCU Premium Cash Back+

Cards that Pay 2% on All Purchases with No AF (Other Account Requirements)

Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card Points are redeemable to a Fidelity retirement, brokerage, 529 or checking ["Cash Management"] account).

PayPal Cash Back Mastercard Requires PayPal account.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Has checking account or military service requirements to earn 2% (otherwise a ho-hum 1.5% back)

Cards That are Disguised as 2% Cards But Are Not

Capital One Venture - Not only does this card have an annual fee of $95, but you only get a 2% return when you redeem points against recent past travel purchases. If you haven't made any recent travel purchases your points will only get you 1% back in value. Charging a $95 AF for a card that pays as little as 1% back when you aren’t paying attention is obscene. TURD.

Edited by cv91915
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Cards that Pay 2% on All Purchases with No AF (No Strings)

Blispay

Citi Double Cash This card pays 1% back per $1 spent + another 1% back when you pay your bill. I'm not a big fan of the 1% + 1% gimmick on this card, but the math works.

State Department FCU Premium Cash Back+

Cards that Pay 2% on All Purchases with No AF (Other Account Requirements)

Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card Points are redeemable to a Fidelity retirement, brokerage, 529 or checking ["Cash Management"] account).

PayPal Cash Back Mastercard Requires a PayPal account.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Has checking account or military service requirements to earn 2% (otherwise a ho-hum 1.5% back)

Cards That are Disguised as 2% Cards But Are Not

Capital One Venture - Not only does this card have an annual fee of $95, but you only get a 2% return if you redeem points against recent travel purchases. If you haven't made any recent travel purchases your points will only get you 1% in redemption value. Charging a $95 AF for a card that pays as little as 1% back when you aren’t paying attention is obscene. This card calls its points "miles," which is a term most people know as the unit of currency earned in airline frequent flyer programs, however no airline accepts Capital One's "miles," which are worth 0.5¢ to 1.0¢ each toward particle board or pickled beets or hotel stays. TURD.

Cards That are Disguised as 2% Cards But Are Not AND Have Other Requirements

Navy Federal Flagship Visa Signature You can only get this card if you are currently a member (or can become a member) of this credit union, which is infamous for freezing your bank accounts and preventing you from accessing your own money "for your own protection," and other hijinks that make them unbearable to deal with. The card itself has a flat 2 points/dollar reward structure paired with an indefensible $49 annual fee. BOWL WINDER.

Edited by cv91915
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FNBO Complete Rewards. 2% CB if deposited into a checking account (doesnt have to be FNBO)

 

How certain are you of the last part?

 

The product page says this:

 

Double your rewards: Redeem your rewards into a First National checking, savings, mortgage or NEST 529 account for a higher value of 2% back.

 

I'm happy to list it, I just want to make sure it goes in the right category.

Edited by cv91915
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FNBO Complete Rewards. 2% CB if deposited into a checking account (doesnt have to be FNBO)

How certain are you of the last part?

 

The product page says this:

 

Double your rewards: Redeem your rewards into a First National checking, savings, mortgage or NEST 529 account for a higher value of 2% back.

 

I'm happy to list it, I just want to make sure it goes in the right category.

I have mine deposited to my USAA checking each time for 2%. It is in the T&C in the box at the end under cash redemption.

 

https://www.firstnational.com/dynapp/dynamic.app

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Cards that Pay 2% on All Purchases with No AF (No Strings)

Blispay

Citi Double Cash This card pays 1% back per $1 spent + another 1% back when you pay your bill. I'm not a big fan of the 1% + 1% gimmick on this card, but the math works.

FNBO Complete Rewards Visa Signature 2% back when redeemed into any checking account. The linked product page suggests that you can only get 2% when redeeming to an FNBO account, however the account terms say that you received 2% back when redeeming via ACH to any checking account. CAUTION: Other redemption choices like travel are worth as little as 1%.

State Department FCU Premium Cash Back+

Cards that Pay 2% on All Purchases with No AF (Other Account Requirements)

Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card Points are redeemable to a Fidelity retirement, brokerage, 529 or checking ["Cash Management"] account).

PayPal Cash Back Mastercard Requires a PayPal account.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Has checking account or military service requirements to earn 2% (otherwise a ho-hum 1.5% back)

Cards That are Disguised as 2% Cards But Are Not

Capital One Venture - Not only does this card have an annual fee of $95, but you only get a 2% return if you redeem points against recent travel purchases. If you haven't made any recent travel purchases your points will only get you 1% in redemption value. Charging a $95 AF for a card that pays as little as 1% back when you aren’t paying attention is obscene. This card calls its points "miles," which is a term most people know as the unit of currency earned in airline frequent flyer programs, however no airline accepts Capital One's "miles," which are worth 0.5¢ to 1.0¢ each toward particle board or pickled beets or hotel stays. TURD.

Cards That are Disguised as 2% Cards But Are Not AND Have Other Requirements

Navy Federal Flagship Visa Signature You can only get this card if you are currently a member (or can become a member) of this credit union, which is infamous for freezing your bank accounts and preventing you from accessing your own money "for your own protection," and other hijinks that make them unbearable to deal with. The card itself has a flat 2 points/dollar reward structure paired with an indefensible $49 annual fee. BOWL WINDER.

 

Edited by cv91915
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I don't know how much information you wish to include in this thread, but I think it's worth noting that Blispay also offers 0% interest for 6 months on purchases over $199 and only reports to one credit bureau.

 

I was also curious who the issuers are. Fidelity is Elan (US Bank) and PayPal is Synchrony.

 

For the Penfed card the checking account option to get 2% cash back requires a $500 daily balance or direct deposit to avoid a monthly fee.

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I don't know how much information you wish to include in this thread, but I think it's worth noting that Blispay also offers 0% interest for 6 months on purchases over $199 and only reports to one credit bureau.

 

I was also curious who the issuers are. Fidelity is Elan (US Bank) and PayPal is Synchrony.

 

For the Penfed card the checking account option to get 2% cash back requires a $500 daily balance or direct deposit to avoid a monthly fee.

 

I read that First Electronic Bank is the issuer of Blispay.

 

I am on the fence as to how detailed I want to get with additional info, beyond what is directly relevant to getting 2% back. That's one of the reasons I didn't want to get wrapped up in tracking current SUBs.

 

I appreciate the additional facts and I'll include them for now. If the entries on the list start to get bloated I may have to pare back down.

 

In particular I think the issuer (if not obvious) is useful for searching old CB threads for idiosyncrasies.

 

To which bureau does Blispay report?

Edited by cv91915
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Cards that Pay 2% on All Purchases with No AF (No Strings)

 

Blispay (First Electronic Bank) This card has an ongoing offer of 6 months/no interest for purchases over $199. Reports only to Experian.

Citi Double Cash This card pays 1% back per $1 spent + another 1% back when you pay your bill. I'm not a big fan of the 1% + 1% gimmick on this card, but the math works.

FNBO Complete Rewards Visa Signature 2% back when redeemed into any checking account. The linked product page suggests that you can only get 2% when redeeming to an FNBO account, however the account terms say that you received 2% back when redeeming via ACH to any checking account. CAUTION: Other redemption choices like travel are worth as little as 1%.

State Department FCU Premium Cash Back+

Cards that Pay 2% on All Purchases with No AF (Other Account Requirements)

Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card (Elan) Points are redeemable to a Fidelity retirement, brokerage, 529 or checking ["Cash Management"] account).

PayPal Cash Back Mastercard (Synchrony) Requires a PayPal account.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Has checking account or military service requirements to earn 2% (otherwise a ho-hum 1.5% back)

Cards That are Disguised as 2% Cards But Are Not

Capital One Venture - Not only does this card have an annual fee of $95, but you only get a 2% return if you redeem points against recent travel purchases. If you haven't made any recent travel purchases your points will only get you 1% in redemption value. Charging a $95 AF for a card that pays as little as 1% back when you aren’t paying attention is obscene. This card calls its points "miles," which is a term most people know as the unit of currency earned in airline frequent flyer programs, however no airline accepts Capital One's "miles," which are worth 0.5¢ to 1.0¢ each toward particle board or pickled beets or hotel stays. TURD.

Cards That are Disguised as 2% Cards But Are Not AND Have Other Requirements

Navy Federal Flagship Visa Signature You can only get this card if you are currently a member (or can become a member) of this credit union, which is infamous for freezing your bank accounts and preventing you from accessing your own money "for your own protection," and other hijinks that make them unbearable to deal with. The card itself has a flat 2 points/dollar reward structure paired with an indefensible $49 annual fee. BOWL WINDER.

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Not sure if this technically qualifies to make the list, but the no-AF Alliant Platinum Rewards card awards 2 points/dollar spend, valued at 1 cent per point when redeemed for statement credit or deposit into an Alliant account, minimum $20 redemption.

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Riverset Payback Plus Visa Card is another borderline 2% card.

 

https://www.riverset.com/riverset-payback-plus-visa-credit-card

 

Borderline because it has a restrictive member field consisting of those who live, work or worship in a few western Pennsylvania counties, and because I'm unfamiliar with the terms of the U choose rewards program pertaining to cashing out points.

 

They (Riverset) state repeatedly that 2% cash back is an option, but in the past I haven't seen U Choose terms that indicate 1cpp.

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Riverset Payback Plus Visa Card is another borderline 2% card.

 

https://www.riverset.com/riverset-payback-plus-visa-credit-card

 

Borderline because it has a restrictive member field consisting of those who live, work or worship in a few western Pennsylvania counties, and because I'm unfamiliar with the terms of the U choose rewards program pertaining to cashing out points.

 

They (Riverset) state repeatedly that 2% cash back is an option, but in the past I haven't seen U Choose terms that indicate 1cpp.

 

I think I'm going to limit this thread to nationally-available cards.

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