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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012

Best cash-back reward credit cards

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By Clark Howard


A new tally from Consumer Reports  has named the top 3 cash-back credit cards in the country.

The November 2012 issue of Consumer Reports  lists the Fidelity Rewards American Express as just about the best card out there. There's no annual fee and you get 2% straight cash back, no games and no gimmicks.

This could be a good place to look if you're a refugee from the defunct 2% cash-back Charles Schwab credit card. With the Fidelity card, you can either take the cash, or the money can be deposited into a Fidelity IRA, 529 college-savings plan, or brokerage account.

The next one on the Consumer Reports  list is the American Express Blue Cash Preferred. This card has an annual fee of $75, and it's skewed to favor those who spend heavily on groceries and gas.

If you don't want AMEX, the third contender here is the Capital One Cash Rewards card. This one effectively gives you 1.5% back on all purchases. And if you travel overseas, you get the benefit of this card having no foreign currency transaction fee.

What's missing from the Consumer Reports  list is the very popular Starwood hotel chain American Express card.

I love the idea of you having a short list like this to work from. You can earn up to $1,000 or more a year on credit card purchases if you're a high volume charger.

But you must know that cash-back cards work best for those who always pay their bill off in full every single month. If you tend to carry a balance, try a credit card from a credit union because they typically have lower interest rates. Find cards with the lowest interest rates using our new widget.

Meanwhile, if you want to drill down to your specific spending pattern in your search for a cash-back card, try using CreditCardTuneUp.com or our handy tool. You put in your exact charge pattern and what you're looking for, and the website will give you choices.

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