The first, and most important reality of the cash-back universe is that a card that offers rewards of any kind is utterly worthless if the full balance isn’t paid down every month. Interest rates on borrowed money can erode an otherwise well-developed financial plan, and the same is true for cash-back credit card usage. The average American spends over $6,000 per month, all told (including housing, car payments, and the like). If half goes on a credit card, there’s the potential to introduce a not insubstantial stream of rewards cash back into the typical credit card account. But the interest on $3,000 or even just a part of that monthly outgoing figure will be enough to wipe away any positive momentum that cash-back offers provide.
The truth is that these types of programs act as a small incentive to use one card over another, but the only way to extract value from that capital is by eliminating any negative drain on the account at the same time. Otherwise, the cash-back rewards will only be overshadowed by additional charges on the account borne specifically through those efforts to accrue them.