UR points are valuable for people that like to play the mileage transfer game. They transfer at 1:1 into United, BA, Hyatt, amongst other partners. If you’re looking to avoid airlines (which I think is smart, since cash fares are low right now and offer a poor redemption value), the transfer into Hyatt might not be so bad. Their points are generally worth more than Marriott, IHG, and certainly Hilton. The blogs say you can get 2 cents per point, or an effective 2% cash back. If you want to do a few road trips from your home in the summer, this might be a decent option.
You can alternatively get 1.5 cents per UR point if you redeem using their travel portal… so if you don’t want to play the game of finding a Hyatt that offers a solid redemption value, this isn’t a bad option, either.
Cashing out is 1 cent per point… and I think you can do better than that. I agree with you though in terms of preferring cash back cards to loyalty point schemes. You can probably squeeze more value out of the loyalty programs, but it takes a lot of effort and you’re always at the mercy of the program not to devalue their points. I’ve been sticking with the legacy Barclays Priceline Visa for the last seven years or so, and have been getting 3.3% back. I hate Barclays though, their customer service is awful to deal with.
Citi Double Cash is a good card. If you’re a higher spender, the Alliant Signature isn’t bad, either. I’d also take a look at your spending habits and see if a bonus category card might pay off (like the Costco Citi Visa, or Chase Freedom).