Everyone knows about credit card benefits, but did you know there are debit cards that offer cash back and other rewards, too?
Many people don’t want to risk overspending on a credit card to get points or cash rewards. Others might not have the credit score to qualify for a rewards credit card. Fortunately, today’s best rewards debit cards offer incredible perks, such as cash back on purchases, reporting payments to credit bureaus, and more.
Today, I’m going to introduce you to the top debit cards available today that offer cash back and other great benefits. Once I’m done with that, I’ll also answer commonly asked questions about cash-back and rewards debit cards.
Table of Contents
Best Rewards + Cash-Back Debit Cards At a Glance
- Best Card for Building Credit: Step
- Best Card With Domestic ATM Fee Reimbursements: Axos Cash Back Checking Account
- Best for Suite of Personal Finance Products and Services: SoFi Checking and Savings
- Best Environmentally Conscious Card: Aspiration Spend & Save
- Best Card for Teens: Greenlight
Best Debit Cards for Rewards and Cash Back
Debit cards are already much more convenient than cash. If you’re going to use a debit card, you might as well get one that rewards you for spending your hard-earned money.
1. Step (Best Card for Building Credit)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free (no monthly fees)
The free Step Visa Card is a unique “hybrid” secured credit card that offers the safety of a debit card, but it functions like a Visa credit card—including the ability to build your credit history.
Simply add money to this FDIC-insured account and you can use your card anywhere Visa is accepted. You can also use your card to withdraw money from more than 30,000 ATMs for free. And you needn’t fear that you’ll overdraft—you can’t spend any money you don’t have.
Step boosts your savings potential with Savings Roundup. With this feature, small purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar figure, and that extra money is put toward a Savings Goal. For instance: Let’s say you buy a cup of coffee for $2.75; Step rounds up to $3.00 and puts 25 cents toward a Goal.
The Step Visa Card also has a de facto cash-back system—that is, users earn points that can be redeemed for cash. Step offers up to 3% cash back at select brands, chosen monthly; 2% cash back on dining and delivery, as well as charitable donations; and 1% on gaming and entertainment purchases. (Just note that this isn’t an automatic feature for all users. To earn cash-back rewards, you must receive a direct deposit of at least $500 from an employer or payroll provider within each 30-day period of using the rewards.)
Receiving those qualifying direct deposits unlocks other benefits, too—including fantastic earnings on savings. Users earn a high-yield annually—compounded and paid monthly—on up to $250,000 saved in their Savings Goals. Like with your average savings account, Step’s savings yield can change depending on movements in the Federal Funds Rate, but if that happens, Step will give you 30 days’ notice before it happens. You can also get paid up to two days early with a qualifying direct deposit.
One of the most unique and powerful features of the Step card is its ability to build your credit history. With this optional feature, Step will report the past two years’ worth of information—transactions, payment history, and more—to the credit bureaus. That can greatly improve your chances of building a better credit score, which can help lower the cost of things such as auto insurance or a mortgage.
Lastly, Step is absolutely free: No monthly fees, no subscription fees, no account minimum fees, and no ATM fees within Step’s network of 30,000-plus ATMs.
Related: Best Credit Cards for Teens
2. Axos Cash Back Checking Account (Best Card With Domestic ATM Fee Reimbursements)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free (no monthly fees)
The Axos Cash Back Checking Account’s debit card earns you 1% cash back¹ on every single transaction that requires a signature. It also reimburses all domestic ATM fees when you use your cash-back debit card, so you can grab cash guilt-free at any time.
Similar to Venmo, you can send peer-to-peer payments to friends and family using just a phone number or email. And users have unlimited check-writing privileges.
If you choose to turn on alerts, you can get activity updates as text messages, emails, or push notifications (your choice). This is a great way to detect any potential fraud right away.
In the event you lose your debit card, you can activate, deactivate, or reactivate it from your banking dashboard. You can also use the dashboard to put in a travel notice.
Additionally, Axos offers online bill pay. Through its Bill Pay feature, you can pay bills automatically from your checking account.
You do have to muster a small ($50) minimum balance to open an account, but you don’t have to worry about a monthly maintenance fee cutting into the cash back that you earn.
3. SoFi Checking and Savings Account (Best for Personal Finance Products and Services)
- Available: Sign up here
- Platforms: Web, mobile app (iOS, Android)
- Promotion: Earn $50 to $250 in free cash
The SoFi Checking and Savings Account sounds like your run-of-the-mill bank account, but it’s more: It’s also a high-yield savings account that earns 10 times the national average percentage yield (APY) and more than the average high-yield account. Better still, it boosts your ability to save right off the bat by rewarding you with $50 to $250 upon sign-up. It even offers competitive cash back on debit card purchases with local retailers and includes round-ups to pocket those savings into your “Vault.”
SoFi Checking and Savings covers all of the basics: no monthly account fees, no minimum balances, and website and mobile app access. But it also has several perks that match or top the competition. Features include:
- Early paycheck reception when you sign up for direct deposit
- FDIC insurance of up to $2 million (vs. $250,000 for most accounts)
- Up to 15% cash back when you spend with local retailers
- No-fee overdraft coverage up to $50
- Round-ups on debit card purchases, which are deposited into your savings “Vault”
4. Aspiration Spend & Save (Best Environmentally Conscious Debit Card)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Aspiration: “Pay What Is Fair.” Aspiration Plus: $5.99/mo.*
The Aspiration Spend & Save debit card is the hands-down best choice for environmental enthusiasts.
Aspiration Spend & Save is a Mastercard debit card that offers unlimited fee-free cash withdrawals across more than 55,000 ATMs in the Allpoint network. It also allows you to get paid up to two days early if you have direct deposits sent to your account, interest on your savings¹, identity theft protection and alerts, and up to $2 million in FDIC insurance.
But where Aspiration really shines is in its environmentally related perks:
- Users receive between 3% and 5% cash back on purchases made at merchants within the Conscience Coalition.
- Aspiration will provide you with a personal sustainability score that shows you how the companies treat the environment (and their employees).
- Aspiration will plant a tree for every purchase you make.
- Your debit card is made out of recycled plastic.
All of the aforementioned perks are part of the Spend & Save Aspiration plan, which allows you to pay whatever you think is fair (which includes the option of paying nothing). However, if you upgrade to the Aspiration Plus monthly paid subscription plan, you’ll also receive a higher APY on savings, 10% cash back on Conscience Coalition purchases, carbon offsets based on your gas station purchases, 90-day coverage for damaged or stolen items, and one monthly out-of-network ATM reimbursement.
Note that there is a minimum opening deposit, though it’s minimal at $10. Learn more or sign up here.
5. Greenlight (Best-Rated Debit Card for Teens)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free 1-month trial. Core: $4.99/mo. Max: $9.98/mo. Infinity: $14.98/mo. (All plans include cards for up to 5 children)
Among many other things, the Greenlight prepaid debit card offers savings and cash-back rewards. These former features encourage kids to save, while the latter ensures that even when kids are spending, they’re saving, too.
Greenlight’s Savings Reward provides a monthly reward, similar to an APY, on up to $5,000 saved in users’ General Savings and Savings Goals. The Reward rate varies based on plan: 1% per annum for Core, 2% per annum for Max, and 5% per annum for Infinity.
Greenlight Max and Infinity subscribers can also earn 1% cash-back rewards (which is distributed to Savings) when they use their card to spend.
An alternative way to get cash-back rewards with Greenlight is by signing up for the cash-back Family Cash Card. Parents can add their teenagers as authorized users to this Mastercard to help them learn how credit cards function and establish a credit history. This credit card offers the following cash-back rewards:
- 3% cash back when you spend at least $4,000 in a billing cycle
- 2% cash back when you spend at least $1,000 (but less than $4,000) in a billing cycle
- 1% cash back when you spend less than $1,000 in a billing cycle
There is no limit to the cash back that can be earned, and users can also auto-invest the cash-back rewards.
What Features Do Cash-Back + Rewards Debit Cards Offer?
When I’m reviewing debit cards, the top products typically offer several of the features below:
One of the best features of rewards debit cards is the ability to earn cash back on purchases. Cash back is like getting an automatic discount, albeit a delayed one.
Typically, the debit card cash back amount is a percentage of the overall money spent on eligible purchases. For instance, you might earn 1% cash back with some cash back debit cards. The more money you spend, the more cash back you receive.
Debit card users are protected by the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA). Let’s say your debit card is lost or stolen. You can immediately report this to your debit card provider. Later, if fraudulent purchases are made with the debit card, you are not liable for those costs.
Besides earning cash back on debit card purchases, some debit cards have additional rewards programs for points you can use on products from popular brands or other merchandise.
Many rewards debit cards don’t require you to go to a physical bank. You can access an online savings account and checking account from a website browser or user-friendly mobile app.
Banks and credit unions usually have mobile apps for online banking. Everything can be done on the app, on any device, from anywhere.
Mobile Check Deposit
Are you still paid with physical checks or receive checks as gifts? The bank account that issued your debit card can receive check deposits from your mobile app. Simply take a photo of the check and fill in a few blanks. Your bank will deposit the check amount into your checking account.
Direct deposit is even easier than mobile check deposit. Give your employer your account number and bank routing number, and they can start sending payments directly to your checking account.
Once the money hits your account, you can start spending it with your debit card and earn debit card rewards for your purchases. Some debit cards have early direct deposit to get your paychecks faster.
No Minimum Balance
The best rewards or cash back debit cards have no minimum balance requirement. You can transfer small amounts of money or set up direct deposit, and there is no need to worry if you dip below a certain balance.
A debit card with overdraft protection helps cover payments when your balance falls below the amount coming out of your account. This service moves funds from a different bank account to make your balance positive.
Link to a Venmo or PayPal Account
Linking your debit card to a Venmo or PayPal account means you don’t need to have cash on hand every time you’re splitting a bill. If your friend pays for you, you can easily use Venmo to send your share of the costs. The money will come directly out of the checking account connected to your debit card.
Most debit cards don’t help you build credit. However, some rewards debit cards do. There are Visa debit card options that report on-time payments to credit bureaus. They will be a prepaid debit card you add funds to, or money will come right out of your account.
Do Debit Cards Offer Rewards?
Typically, debit cards don’t offer rewards, but some do. Rewards debit cards may pay cash back on eligible purchases, points you can spend on rewards, or other perks.
Rather than getting a debit card that only lets you make purchases and pull out cash, opt for a dit card that rewards your spending. Sign-up bonuses can add even more rewards.
Some reward debit cards have a monthly maintenance fee, but if you spend enough, the cash back or other rewards can offset these costs.
How Do You Earn Points on Your Debit Card?
You earn cash back or points on your debit card by making purchases. Depending on the card and rewards checking account, your purchases may earn a flat rate or more points at certain merchants. You won’t earn points by pulling cash out of an ATM, so make sure to use your card whenever possible.
Are Cash-Back Debit Cards Worth it?
A cash-back debit card is usually worth it, but not always. If the debit card requires no monthly maintenance fee or annual fee, it is definitely worth it. Even if you earn minimal cash rewards, you come out ahead.
For debit cards that charge a monthly fee, whether or not the card is worth it depends on how much you use it and the features it offers. If you only plan to use your debit card for emergencies or once a month for a small purchase, you likely won’t earn more than you spend on the monthly fee.
However, if you use your debit card regularly, your rewards will likely outweigh any fees. Even if you don’t earn much cash back, some cards may be worth it for the other benefits. For example, some debit cards help you build credit.
Related Questions on the Best Debit Cards for Cash Back and Rewards
Does applying for a debit card impact your credit?
No, applying for a debit card doesn’t impact your credit. These cards don’t require a hard credit check, so your credit score won’t be negatively impacted.
Do debit card transactions get reported to the major credit bureaus?
Usually, debit card transactions are not reported to the major credit bureaus. However, the Step Visa Card stands out from competitors because it will report your debit card transactions to credit bureaus, helping you build credit.
Do debit cards offer access to other banking products?
Yes, debit cards are tied to checking accounts, which provide you access to other banking products. For example, you may be able to pay bills, send peer-to-peer payments, earn cash back, invest money, and much more.
You can also have a debit card that acts like a cash-back credit card or prepaid card for building credit. Other banking products you may have access to include rewards credit cards and personal loans.
Are there debit cards that give cash back?
- 9 Best Credit Cards for No Credit History: Starter Credit Cards
- 10 Best Debit Cards for Teens [Reviewed by a Father + CPA]
Disclaimer: Step is a trademark of Step Mobile, Inc.
Axos Bank Cash Back Checking
¹ Earn up to 1.00% cash back on signature-based transaction purchases. Earn up to $2,000.00 per month in cash back on your signature-based transactions. Maintain a $1,500.00 average daily collected balance to earn 1.00% cash back on signature-based transaction purchases. If your average daily collected balance falls below $1,500 you will earn .50% in cash back for the month.
Aspiration Spend & Save
¹ Users earn APY on their savings every month they make at least $500 in qualifying debit card transactions.