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Find the best cash-back card

Consumer Reports creates free online tool to help your family save money

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Cash-back reward credit cards are very popular. But with so many cards out there and so many rules, you may not be getting as much money as you could. Consumer Reports has a new online tool that makes it easy to find the best cash-back rewards cards.

After a lot of tedious research, Audrey Mosello found three cash-back rewards cards that she juggles to maximize benefits. One is primarily for gas. Another for groceries. And the third gave her a generous sign-up bonus.

“It’s great.  I love it. You know when you’re on a budget it always helps to be able to save wherever you can,” said Mosello.

Consumer Reports’ Mike Saccucci has analyzed more than 50 cash-back cards and says they can be a very good deal.

“It’s like found money. Depending on your particular spending scenario, you could save hundreds of dollars each year, maybe even thousands,” explained Saccucci.

So what are the best cash-back credit cards for the average American household? According to Consumer Reports, if you use the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card for three years, that is your best bet. It pays back 6 percent on groceries for the first $6,000 you spend a year, 3 percent on gas, 1 percent on all other purchases. Although it charges an annual fee, it could save the average household more than $1,300.

Two runners-up: Citi Double Cash Card and the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature. Each pay back 2 percent on all purchases and charge no annual fee. They’ll save the average family around $1,200 in the first 3 years.

Consumer Reports has a new free online tool to help you find the right card for your spending pattern, available at consumerreports.org/cashbackcards.

Once on the site, you just enter your monthly spending for gas, groceries, restaurants, travel, and everything else, and up pop your best cards.

But keep in mind, if you don’t pay the card off in full every month, your cash-back rewards can be wiped out by interest charges. And if you incur a late fee, you could lose your points for that month.

With any cash-back card, Consumer Reports says it’s a good idea to check the card websites regularly to make sure the terms haven’t changed.

Also, once you have the cash-back cards, Consumer Reports says to make sure you are charging the right expenses to the right card. You can keep track of your cards with an app, such as the TOP To Go app. The app is available for both Android and iPhone.