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Plenty of us love using our hard-earned credit card points for travel rewards, but for many an affluent credit card holder, cash back trumps a free airline ticket. All the major players in the luxury credit card sphere offer cash back options in the form of a statement credit, purchase eraser, or direct deposit. However, redemption rates vary significantly between cards. Here, we look at the best—and worst—cards for those who prefer the cash back option.

*BEST* 2% Cash Back: MasterCard® Gold Card™

The MasterCard® Gold Card™ is the clear frontrunner for cash back redemption value in the luxury credit card market. Points are redeemed at a value of 2% and cashed out in the form of a statement credit or direct deposit to a checking account. As an example, a 100,000-point redemption equates to $2,000 cash back. Compared to its principal highest-of-high-end competitors, this is double the redemption value of the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ and more than 3 times that of The Platinum Card® from American Express.


1.5% Cash Back: MasterCard® Black Card™

In second place is the MasterCard® Black Card™, which allows points to be redeemed at a value of 1.5% and cashed out in the form of a statement credit or direct deposit to a checking account. In this case, 100,000 points equates to $1,500 cash back. Compared to its principal competitors in the affluent market, this is 1.5 times the redemption value of the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, more than double that offered by The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, or the Gold Card from American Express, and triple that of the Citi Prestige® Card‎.

 

1% Cash Back: Chase Sapphire cards, MasterCard® Titanium Card™, and U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

Cash back on the Chase Sapphire cards and the MasterCard® Titanium Card™ can be redeemed in the form of a statement credit or direct deposit to a checking account while the U.S. Bank card’s cash back must be redeemed as a statement credit. At 1%, 100,000 points equates to $1,000. It’s important to note, however, that these Chase cards and the U.S. Bank card have spending category bonuses and earn a greater number of points on specific purchases. So while it takes $100,000 in spending to get 100,000 points on the MasterCard® Titanium Card™, it takes only $50,000 when spending on travel with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or $33,333 when spending on travel with the Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 100,000 points (effectively making the cash back bonus 2% and 3%, respectfully).


0.6 % Cash Back: American Express Platinum and Gold Cards

Membership Rewards® are great for many things, but cash back isn’t one of them. All of American Express’ premium cards—The Platinum Card, the Gold Card, and the Premier Rewards Gold Card—offer the option of statement credits in the form of purchase erasers at a value of 0.6 on your Membership Rewards® points. So to erase a $60 purchase of your choice requires 10,000 Membership Rewards®. At this 0.6% cash back redemption rate, 100,000 points translates to a value of $600. Like Chase cards, American Express cards do have spending bonuses within certain categories so it may not take $100,000 in purchases to get 100,000 points.

 

*WORST* 0.5 % Cash Back: Citi Prestige® Card

Round-outing our countdown in last place for cash back redemptions is the Citi Prestige® Card‎, which returns just a half-percent when opting for a statement credit. Erasing a $50 purchase of your choice requires 10,000 Citi ThankYou® Rewards. At this 0.5% cash back redemption rate, 100,000 points translates to a value of $500.

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Award-winning travel writer and economist Paul Rubio is a credit card enthusiast, whose sophisticated use of points and rewards has helped him travel to 132 countries for free. Paul is a Harvard graduate with a master’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in economics. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University with a double major in economics and environmental policy and a minor in conservation biology. He attended both undergraduate and graduate schools on full scholarships. Paul worked in the field of wildlife conservation before embracing his writing talents full-time in 2008. Since then, he has won more than two dozen national awards for his exemplary work in travel journalism. The prolific writer contributes to a number of top-tier international, national, and regional publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Florida Design, Fodors.com, Palm Beach Illustrated, and Robb Report.