Let’s be honest: cashback cards aren’t really a huge thing in Europe. While in the United States there’s always been a wide market for them, in the EU they haven’t really caught on as of yet.
What exactly is a cashback card (or a cash-back card)?
In simple terms, a cashback card is a debit (or sometimes credit) card that gives you back a small percentage when you spend with it. It might be 0.1%, it might be 2%, or even something like 8% (yes, EIGHT PERCENT).
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t like free money?
Why then are there so few and apart offers for cashback cards that can be used in Europe?
One explanation I’ve seen is this: they’re not so common in the EU because our debit/credit card fees are regulated and very low. In the US the price you pay at the store is usually adjusted with the seller card fees and you basically get those back with cashback. The card fees are so low in the EU that there is no margin for high percent cashbacks.
Another way to put it: it's not really a cashback in the US - it's more like you get back the money you should not have been paying anyway (card fees).
The big banks from European countries do sometimes offer cards that have some cashback benefits and rewards, but this differs with each country, and the features of these cards usually never reach the level you see from US banks and their debit/credit card offers.
At the end of 2015, the European Union came out with legislation against credit card companies charging more than 0.3% to merchants on credit card transactions, the result being that European bank credit cards have lost almost all of their cashbacks and rewards.
This is why, for example, the Revolut Metal cashback card offers 1% for purchases outside Europe, but only 0.1% for purchases inside the EU.
This left the field wide open for cryptocurrency cards to come in and sweep the customers left behind by this move. So, while not ideal, you’ll see in this article that some of the best cashback cards give you back a percentage of your spending in cryptocurrency, as opposed to the traditional bank cards which would give back FIAT currency.
Let’s take a look at the best cards that I’ve found and used that offer cashback and rewards, and are also available cross-country in the European Union.
Top 6 Cashback Cards for Europeans
Each one of them has its advantages and disadvantages, you can check them out in detail further down in the article, where I’ve outlined all the pros and cons of using these cards.
Here’s a quick comparison of their fees and cashback perks:
Now let’s get down and dirty and see why you should choose one or the others, by explaining all their features.
1. Curve card
I’ll just quote from my own review of the Curve card:
“Curve offers a card that aims to integrate all your other cards into one. Instead of carrying a bunch of different debit and credit cards, you just add them in the Curve app, verify them, and then you can simply carry around the Curve card and have access to spending from any of your other bank cards.”
Here are the pros and cons of using the Curve card for its cashback benefits:
- Good, consistent cashback rate (1% at up to 6 retailers)
- You can get cashback on top of the cashback from your other cards
- Cashback is in cash (GBP)
- Cashback is only available for 3 or 6 retailers
- There are no other rewards included
Overall, the Curve card is a no-brainer for me, the best card not just for its cashback rewards, but also for its main function, which is to help centralize all your other cards and simplify your financial setup.
2. Wirex card
“In simpler terms, Wirex is a fintech digital platform that offers access to a physical debit card that can be funded with crypto assets. They’re also a cryptocurrency exchange, where you can buy, store, exchange, and spend a plethora of crypto assets.
Their main appeal is their crypto debit card, which can also grow your account, when used, via their up to 2% Cryptoback™ rewards on all your spending (this varies based on the pricing plan you’re on, we’ll get more into all that a bit later).”
Here’s a quick breakdown of the Wirex card pros and cons:
- Has good cashback rates
- Offers cashback for all transactions (on the paid plans, the free plan offers cashback only for in-store transactions)
- Accessible plans (paid in their WXT currency, which can make them cheaper at times, when the crypto market fluctuates)
- Includes nice rewards from retailers and merchants
- Cashback is in their own cryptocurrency (WXT), not in FIAT currency
With their cashback rates between 0.5 and 2%, Wirex is the perfect option to use, and I’d recommend using it in conjunction with the Curve card.
You just add it in the Curve app and this way you can daisy-chain cashback rewards and get some of your spendings back on both cards for some purchases.
Vivid Money is a newer contender on the European fintech market, but they came out with a lot of great features and they seem determined to be a real player here.
In their own words, here’s what their main selling points are:
“Grow your money easily with commission-free and instant investing. Turn your everyday spendings into stock rewards. Get cashback and save more money on fees. Open a free account in minutes and see your savings grow.”
Their free metal debit card earns you stock rewards on your spending. Additionally to the up to 10% cashback you can earn, Vivid Prime customers get up to 3% cashback on all payments.
- Great cashback rates
- Cashback payable in EUR and stocks
- Accesible premium plan
- The larger cashbacks (up to 25%) involve signing up friends to the app, which I don’t really like
- Vivid has kind of a convoluted rewards scheme (you really have to read about all their rewards to understand them)
With access to such large cashback percentages, the Vivid card makes sense for anyone living in Europe - I think they have some of the highest cashbacks, and getting them in stocks is something I haven’t seen in any other fintech apps. Definitely worth a look!
Crypto.com markets itself as “the world’s fastest-growing crypto app”, and they might be right. They’re grown immensely in the last few years, have sponsorship deals with F1 and other major sports brands, and their customer base numbers in 10+ million.
Besides all the cryptocurrency features they have, here’s what interests us here: you can spend with the Crypto.com Visa Card and get up to 8% back. Now that one hell of a cashback percentage!
Also, just like with the Wirex card, you don’t actually have to be invested in the crypto world to use this card. You can just fund the Crypto.com card with your own currency (USD, EUR, GBP) and start paying with it for your daily purchases.
- Amazing cashback rates
- Get cashback for all your transactions
- There’s no monthly fee
- The free card tier offers a good 1% cashback rate
- Larger cashback rates are accessible only through premium plans (which involve “staking”, no monthly fee)
- Cashback is in their own cryptocurrency token (CRO)
- Long wait times for getting a card (since they’re growing so rapidly, it can take a good few weeks before your card is issued)
In conclusion, Crypto.com is a terrific choice for cashback, whether you’re into crypto or not. I would have placed it higher in my cashback cards top were it not for their “staking” feature that is required for accessing the higher tier cashback plans (I don’t like having money stuck in one place, which is what “staking” basically is).
But all and all, Crypto.com has a lot going for it and is a great choice for getting something back on your spending.
5. Revolut card
What can you say about the probably biggest fintech app on the market now (at least in Europe)? They say it best on their website:
One app, all things money
Revolut offers a perfect alternative to the traditional bank account, and so much more. From multicurrency to investing in stocks and crypto, to debit cards, insurance, currency exchanges, and so on. They seem to have a financial product for all needs.
As far as their debit cards, they do offer cashback - the icing on the cake, when using their plethora of products.
- The most complete banking offer overall
- A wide array of financial services available
- Cashback is in cash (EUR)
- Not that big cashback rates (between 0.1 - 1%)
- Only available for their highest tier premium plan
- The higher cashback of 1% is only available for purchases outside Europe, while the 0.1% is for spending inside the EU
In conclusion, if you don’t have a Revolut account you should get one just to experience how a bank should look like in the 21st century, with a wide array of financial things you can try. If the highest, Metal, pricing plan of Revolut makes sense for your financial workflow, then you’ll also enjoy the cashback perks it brings.
6. N26 card
N26 aims to replicate the traditional banking experience but bring it online and in the 21st century. It’s similar to Revolut in many ways, just with a more traditional approach (which means less financial products, but more security and stability).
- The safest online banking solution overall
- Cashback is in cash (EUR)
- Small cashback rates (0.1 - 0.5%)
- Cashback is only available for their Business plans
The N26 account is something you can switch your whole banking life to. For either yourself or your business, there’s probably no better, more stable, online banking solution that you can use. And for your Business plan, if you do get one, the cashback will be a nice addition to your monthly income.
As you can see, there are some good options for cashback cards even in Europe. Some of them warrant an account just for using this feature, others like Revolut and N26 would make a good alternative to your current traditional bank account.
One final suggestion: no matter which one of these cards and accounts you use, I do recommend also getting the Curve card and linking your other cards to it. You get to simplify your financial system and also get a double-dip reward, from both Curve and the linked card, when spending on your daily stuff.
Kind of a cool trick to get some more cash back!