The Chase Freedom Credit Card gives 5% cash back on up to $1,500 quarterly in restaurant, gas station, and Amazon.com purchases and 1% cash back on all other purchases with no cap and no expiration. You'll also get $100 back on the first $500 spent in the first 3 months. There's no annual fee for this card. It has a 0% APR for the first 15 months, but subsequently rises from 13.99% to 22.99%.
You may think that you have to be age 50 or older in order to qualify for AARP membership, but there's no age restriction on qualifying for the AARP Visa Signature Card. It offers 1% cash back on purchases -- 3% cash back when those purchases are made at gas stations or restaurants (with no cap on earnings or expiration on rewards) -- and another $100, if you spend $500 in the first 3 months. This card also offers a 60-day price protection for a difference of up to $250, a 60-day limited purchase protection, and a 60-day limited return protection, and it doubles the manufacturer's warranty repair period up to one additional year. It has no annual fee and a 0% APR for the first 12 billing cycles, but it rises to 16.24% after that.
The American Express Blue Cash credit card can help cut down on your grocery and gas bills with its 3% cash back for supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 in purchases per year) and 2% cash back at gas stations. There's no annual fee, and there's 0% APR for the first 12 months, which turns into a variable rate of 12.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness, among other factors.
Capital One's Spark Cash Business credit card gives you 2% cash back on purchases, and another $100 if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. There's no cap on the amount of money you can earn back, and there's no expiration for redeeming points. You'll have no liability for fraud, a 90-day purchase protection, extended protection on manufacturers' warranties, up to one year, car rental coverage and emergency and travel assistance. It's free for the first year, and $59 annually thereafter. However, it has a 13.9% to 20.9% APR.
As always with credit cards, you'll need to read the fine print.
--S.Z. Berg is the author of College on the Cheap.