Many rewards cards offer a higher rewards rate on a specific kind of purchase, making them fixed bonus category cards. Here’s how to decide which fixed bonus category card is right for you.
The Bank of America content was last updated on January 3, 2023.
Cash back credit cards come with three main rewards structures — flat rate, rotating bonus categories and fixed bonus categories. Depending on what kind of cardholder you are, any one of these three types of cards can provide great potential value.
Fixed bonus category cards are those that offer a higher rewards rate on a specific kind of purchase. The most rewarding options are typically groceries, gas or dining. And since fixed categories offer the most cash back for one type of purchase, you should choose a card based on where you spend the most money — and therefore can earn the most cash back.
Cash back cards with fixed bonus categories are best suited for two kinds of cardholders, those who spend a significant amount of their budgets in a particular category, such as groceries or dining, and those who have more than one rewards card and want to boost their combined rewards rate. If either of these situations apply to you, a fixed bonus category card can be a very lucrative addition to your wallet.
Blue Cash Preferred: Best for groceries and streaming
Why we picked it: Not many other cards out there can boast about 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express can. In fact, now is as good a time as ever to invest in a solid grocery card. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average American family spent $4,942 on food at home (essentially groceries) in 2020. And that number will likely increase as prices on food at home continue to surge, which the Bureau stated in its Consumer Price Index increased 12.2 percent over a 12-month period until June 2022.
You’ll also get 6 percent cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions like Audible, HBO Max, Netflix and Spotify. The average consumer spent $273 a month on streaming subscriptions in 2021, reported ZDNet. And since the Blue Cash Preferred doesn’t have a cap on streaming like it does on groceries, you can earn around $197 cash back annually on streaming alone.
- 3 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit
- $250 statement credit if you spend $3,000 in the first six months
- 0 percent intro APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 12 months (18.24 percent to 29.24 percent variable thereafter)
- $95 annual fee ($0 intro annual fee for the first year)
- $6,000 spend cap on U.S. supermarket category
Who should apply: Cardholders with families and who spend primarily on groceries every month should apply . If you also spend a lot of time at home, cooking and watching your favorite shows, you’ll enjoy the card’s high cash back rate.
Who should skip: Those who tend to go out more often, whether you’re eating out or attending live entertainment, should steer away from this option.
Costco Anywhere Visa: Best for gas
Why we picked it: Even among gas credit cards, the 4 percent cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases (on up to $7,000 per year, then 1 percent) on the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi is quite high. Not only can cardholders use the card at Costco gas stations, they can also use it on eligible gas worldwide. Considering the Bureau said in 2020 the average American family spends $1,568 per year on gas, the $7,000 spending cap should cover your annual gas spending.
- 3 percent cash back on eligible travel purchases (including Costco Travel)
- 2 percent cash back on Costco purchases
- No annual fee (except for paid Costco membership of $60)
- Must be a Costco member to apply
- Can only receive cash back once a year, as a certificate, in February
- Certificate expires Dec. 31 of the same year
Who should apply: Loyal Costco fans who can’t get enough of shopping at the warehouse club should apply for this card, especially since they’re already paying for the Costco membership. If you drive a lot while commuting to work or visiting family in the next town, you should consider it as well.
Who should skip: Anyone who works from home or does not spend much on gas should skip this one. If you also don’t want a Costco membership you should avoid this one because the redemption options are so limited.
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards: Best for entertainment
Why we picked it: Entertainment is a broad category covering concerts, sporting events, movie theaters and streaming. So, it’s a good thing the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card* gives cash back on many, if not all these activities, such as 8 percent cash back on tickets through Vivid Seats and 4 percent on entertainment and popular streaming services.
The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card also gives rewards on non-entertainment categories, though common, are always good to have on your side. These include dining, for which you get 4 percent, and grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target), for which you get 3 percent.
Plus, recently Capital One allowed all of its cash back cards, including the Savor Cash Rewards Card, to access Capital One Travel and earn 5 percent on hotels and rental cars booked through the portal.
- $300 if you spend $3,000 in three months
- No foreign transaction fees
- Unlimited cash back
- Flexible redemption options (statement credit, check, gift cards, Amazon.com, etc.)
- $95 annual fee
Who should apply: If you can’t get enough of live entertainment — whether you love watching movies or going to amusement parks or seeing your favorite music artist perform — the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card is a good choice.
Who should skip: If you only enjoy one aspect of entertainment, such as only streaming but not concerts, you could opt for a card with higher rewards in just that category, or the Savor Cash Rewards Card’s sister, the no-annual-fee Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.
Blue Cash Everyday: Best for everyday purchases
Why we picked it: True to its name, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is a great all-around card, perfect for most everyday purchases. It covers most of the major everyday categories — U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. online retail purchases — all earning 3 percent cash back. In each category, you may earn 3 percent on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1 percent. Considering that few cards out there reward you for your online shopping habit, this no-annual-fee card is a great choice.
- Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first six months
- No annual fee
- $7 statement credit each month on Disney Bundle (enrollment required)
- 0 percent intro APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (18.24 percent to 29.24 percent variable thereafter)
- $6,000 annual cap on 3 percent categories
Who should apply: Anyone who spends significantly on groceries, gas and online shopping (which includes Amazon.com, Wayfair.com and more), will enjoy the reliable cash back from this card. It’s also a good alternative if you like the categories on the Blue Cash Preferred but don’t have the budget for its ongoing annual fee. If you need some time paying off a large purchase, like that new couch you bought on Wayfair, this is a good card to help you through paying that off.
Who should skip: Cardholders who don’t spend much on groceries and gas, but instead on travel or transit, should steer away from this card.
Bank of America Customized Cash: Best for starters
Why we picked it: Though technically a flexible category card thanks to its 3 percent cash back on a category of choice, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card also offers other fixed bonus categories. For your 3 percent cash back, you can choose among gas, online shopping, dining, travel or home improvements and furnishings. As for your fixed categories, you get 2 percent cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases. Keep in mind that your 2 percent and 3 percent categories have a quarterly spend max of $2,500.
This card is good for starters, though it does require at least a good credit score (670 and above), thanks to its flexibility category that you can change up to once a month and its bonus cash back in two everyday categories.
- $200 online cash rewards if you spend $1,000 in 90 days
- No annual fee
- 0 percent intro APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 18 billing cycles (18.24 percent to 28.24 percent variable thereafter)
- Preferred Rewards program (up to 75 percent rewards boost)
- 3 percent balance transfer fee
- $2,500 quarterly spend limit on 2 percent and 3 percent categories
Who should apply: New grads who want to steadily earn cash back but don’t have only one or two main categories they spend in are good candidates for this one. If you have some credit card debt, the 0 percent intro APR period will help you pay it off, while the card’s lower cash back rates won’t entice you to overspend.
Who should skip: The $2,500 quarterly cap is ideal for cardholders who spend around $830 a month. If you spend way more than that every month, you should keep shopping.
Comparing fixed bonus category cards
|Card||Rewards rate||Intro bonus||Annual fee|
|Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express||$250 statement credit if you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months||$95 ($0 intro annual fee for the first year)|
|Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi||N/A||$0 (requires $60 Costco membership)|
|Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card*||$300 if you spend $3,000 in 3 months||$95|
|Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express||Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first 6 months||$0|
|Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card||$200 online cash rewards if you spend $1,000 in 90 days||$0|
How to choose a fixed bonus category card
Of course, choosing the right cash back card for you is a tough decision. There are multiple factors to consider, so make sure you weigh these before you apply:
- Main bonus categories: All the cards we featured offer killer cash back rates on common fixed bonus categories. As we’ve said, you should apply for card with bonus categories that you often spend in. So, if you visit the supermarket every week for your meal prep, a grocery card is a good idea.
- Additional card: Are you shopping for an additional card or your main card? If it’s your primary card, you should go for one with bonus categories that you consistently spend in each month. For an additional card, choose one that gives bonus cash back in categories you don’t already have covered by your other card.
- Annual fee: Depending on how much you earn and how much you spend, this sole factor could sway your preferred card. For those who spend a lot but earn a lot in rewards, an annual fee could be easier to justify. For those who budget tightly or are saving up for a new house or car, a no-annual-fee probably makes more sense.
- Intro APR: Are big purchases on the horizon — a new laptop for grad school or diapers and formula for a new baby? Or, are you still paying off some card debt you accrued from a high-interest card? Either way, a card with a 0 percent intro APR can give you some extra time to pay off those purchases or debt before the regular APR kicks in.
Cash back cards with fixed bonus categories offer a unique opportunity to bring home substantial rewards in an area where you spend more money. By choosing the right cash back card (or cards) that aligns with your budget, you can often bring home more rewards than you would with a flat-rate card.
*All information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.