Credit Card Rewards - Free Money

Nick1994

$100 site donor 2022
Joined
Feb 19, 2013
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Phoenix, AZ
Last year in July I posted for recommendations on a credit card that offers good rewards. The Citi Costco card seemed to be the best. I applied and was approved, and I think it's the best card out there for me and my spending habits. 4% back on gas, 3% back on restaurants and travel, 2% at Costco, and 1% everywhere else.

I started using the card for all of my purchases starting last August. I think I've used my debit card twice this year, one at a grocery store that doesn't take credit cards and another time at a vending machine or something. I've never carried a balance or paid interest. My initial limit was $9k, so I have it set to send me an alert when my balance hits $900 (10%) and I submit a payment and pay it off a couple times a month. It's also on autopay incase I forgot to. Limit is $12k now.

In the last 12 months, I'm happy to say I've gotten $666.57 of free money. But to be honest, $160 of that isn't mine, my grandpa got a new air conditioner through Costco (best deal we found, $8,000) and if we used my Costco credit card we got $160 back on my card (2%) and $160 more back because I have an Executive membership. I gave him my cash back earnings. So $506 of it was from my purchases.

I also had my standard Bank of America card that had no rewards turned into a CashRewards card and I use it now on online purchases, 3% back online. In 6 weeks I've got $28.73 earned on it.

Anybody else have some good cash back rewards?
 
Joined
Aug 20, 2003
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Location
NE,Ohio
discover IT and chase freedom both with 5% categories if used right will beat that for some things.. but its work.

citi doublecash is ez mode 2% everything.. dentist bill.. whatever
 

gathermewool

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New England
We have several cards. Free money is free money. I don’t always distribute my purchases perfectly, but each card’s benefit makes it worth having and trying To.

1. Amex Blue
- 6% supermarkets (except Walmart)
- 6% streaming services (this many have expired)
- 3% gas (not connected to store, so no Costco)
- 3% select department stores

2. Wells Fargo: 1.5% all

3. Chase Amazon: 5% Amazon

4. Apple
- 3% Apple stuff (we have online storage, etc.)
- 2% Apple Pay (this may have expired)
 
Joined
Aug 20, 2003
Messages
17,002
Location
NE,Ohio
We have several cards. Free money is free money. I don’t always distribute my purchases perfectly, but each card’s benefit makes it worth having and trying To.

1. Amex Blue
- 6% supermarkets (except Walmart)
- 6% streaming services (this many have expired)
- 3% gas (not connected to store, so no Costco)
- 3% select department stores

2. Wells Fargo: 1.5% all

3. Chase Amazon: 5% Amazon
1.
Thats is the amex preferred blue the annual fee is now $95 makes it much less attractive.
you can get 5% from chase freedom and discover 6 months out of the year.
another good option is the no fee 3% back @grocery store amex blue card

I complained this year and they gave me half my fee back.. as a courtesy bonus.. will probably cancel/product change next year.
I use that one a ton but the numbers dont work vs regular amex blue and chase+discover(for 6months at 5% back)

the 3% gas works at sams club gas stations.

2.
I have wells fargo propel amex but 2% city doublecash > 1.5% always and not everyone takes amex.
I only use it for cell phone bill now because it provides smartphone insurance.

3.
I get 5% back amazon from discover it and chase freedom for half the year.
but sometimes there is prime card only deals on amazon.

Some random thoughts.
I have a ton of CC, but they are all paid off every month. only one I carry a balance on has 0% until next april.. free loan.

Its very easy to mis-step and end up with 20k on credit cards eating your wallet alive if you dont have discipline.

A good first card would be 1.5% or 2% back on everything(visa or MC) and pay it off every month.
 

gathermewool

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More than makes up for the difference using the fee Amex.

No Sams around here.

We JUST got a Costco. I should look into that.
 
Joined
Mar 2, 2004
Messages
3,196
Location
Kentucky
Wife isn't good (or too lazy) at matching up which credit card will get the best reward, so we use Citi Double Cash Back for most things-- 2% back on everything is about as easy as it gets.

I use my Discover IT for the 5% back on the rotating categories.

I need to look into that card OP mentioned that gives 3% back for online purchases. I'd say 75%+ of our spending is done online as of late.

Pretty sure we made a few hundred last year in rewards-- I put literally everything on a cash-back card except the house payment. Cards get paid off a few days before the statement closing date so it keeps the balance/utilization % reported to the credit bureau as low as possible.
 
Joined
Dec 13, 2004
Messages
3,320
Location
Chicago Area
I have the original GM Card where you can only accumulate $500/year in rebate credits, which expire after 7 years if not used, but when you do use them, you can use everything you have available, up to $3500. That's the first card I use when a new accrual period starts, and stop using it once I hit the $500 max for the year.

After that, in no particular order, I have a Visa from my credit union that accumulates points on purchases and, since I use it to pay my cell phone bill, provides me coverage on the device (with a $50 deductible I think). I also have Chase Freedom and Discover and take advantage of the 5% earnings each quarter.

Every one of them is paid off monthly, and I don't buy things I don't need just to get the points, so this is truly free money.
 
Joined
May 31, 2002
Messages
3,692
Location
St. Charles County, Missouri
Use the Costco card at Costco and for extra percentage deals but think their site is clunky, always locking my passwords making me go through challenge routines. Love the Discover card, it gets 75 percent of my use. Have an AmEx clear card that I use enough to keep active.
 
Joined
May 31, 2002
Messages
3,692
Location
St. Charles County, Missouri
I have the original GM Card where you can only accumulate $500/year in rebate credits, which expire after 7 years if not used, but when you do use them, you can use everything you have available, up to $3500. That's the first card I use when a new accrual period starts, and stop using it once I hit the $500 max for the year.

After that, in no particular order, I have a Visa from my credit union that accumulates points on purchases and, since I use it to pay my cell phone bill, provides me coverage on the device (with a $50 deductible I think). I also have Chase Freedom and Discover and take advantage of the 5% earnings each quarter.

Every one of them is paid off monthly, and I don't buy things I don't need just to get the points, so this is truly free money.
Back in the mid 90's I had the GM card. Last one I used without online access. I got totals to about $12k no limits back then. They would lose mail payments even if I sent in the day I received it. Bought a 97 Cavalier on balance and that was the end of that card AND using the mail for payment.
 

Nick1994

$100 site donor 2022
Thread starter
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Phoenix, AZ
I need to look into that card OP mentioned that gives 3% back for online purchases. I'd say 75%+ of our spending is done online as of late.
It’s the BofA CashRewards cars. You get to choose what category the 3% back goes toward

Link
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2002
Messages
48,221
Location
Everson WA - Pacific NW USA
I have a BofA business card. If a supplier takes credit cards, then absolutely. I collect a NICE chunk of change once a year. 3% on select, 1.5% on all other

We have a Costco card for the family. Nice annual check there. Embarrassed - I think it's 4% on gas, Costco.....3%

And lastly I have a Paypal card that I don't used much, but I get $50 in my Paypal account every couple months. 3% on gas and food.

Of course we always pay our cards off fully, to not do that would be foolish.
 
Last edited:

Ws6

Joined
Mar 7, 2008
Messages
4,288
Location
South Central US
Last year in July I posted for recommendations on a credit card that offers good rewards. The Citi Costco card seemed to be the best. I applied and was approved, and I think it's the best card out there for me and my spending habits. 4% back on gas, 3% back on restaurants and travel, 2% at Costco, and 1% everywhere else.

I started using the card for all of my purchases starting last August. I think I've used my debit card twice this year, one at a grocery store that doesn't take credit cards and another time at a vending machine or something. I've never carried a balance or paid interest. My initial limit was $9k, so I have it set to send me an alert when my balance hits $900 (10%) and I submit a payment and pay it off a couple times a month. It's also on autopay incase I forgot to. Limit is $12k now.

In the last 12 months, I'm happy to say I've gotten $666.57 of free money. But to be honest, $160 of that isn't mine, my grandpa got a new air conditioner through Costco (best deal we found, $8,000) and if we used my Costco credit card we got $160 back on my card (2%) and $160 more back because I have an Executive membership. I gave him my cash back earnings. So $506 of it was from my purchases.

I also had my standard Bank of America card that had no rewards turned into a CashRewards card and I use it now on online purchases, 3% back online. In 6 weeks I've got $28.73 earned on it.

Anybody else have some good cash back rewards?
Capital One. Horrible horrible bank and interest and all, but the 1.5% cash back on every purchase anywhere of any kind is nice.
 

JHZR2

Staff member
Joined
Dec 14, 2002
Messages
47,364
Location
New Jersey
We have a Costco and Amazon card. Use them exclusively for those two stores. Was thinking of cancelling Costco all together, but they’re opening one up very close so I’ll hang onto it for another year. I suspect we will buy gas, salmon, etc there more now. I have an old Pentagon Federal card that gives 5% on gas. If we start buying a lot more Costco gas I will have to see if there’s a scheme that nets more (executive membership + Costco card?). If so I might drop it.

I also have a chase sapphire reserve card. It has a very hefty fee, $450/yr iirc, but our first $300/yr in travel is comped, my wife gets precheck free, and we use it enough for stuff like restaurants and whatnot that we’ve done pretty well with free travel. Their travel system is about 50/50 with good deals or not. Not all carriers are on there (eg spirit if you’re so inclined). But overall a good and easy system for booking travel and redeeming rewards.
 
Joined
Mar 4, 2017
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I have never considered this free money. It’s your money that you spent and the CC company is giving it back to you.
 
Joined
Nov 17, 2003
Messages
428
Location
New Hanover, PA
I have never considered this free money. It’s your money that you spent and the CC company is giving it back to you.
I like to think of it as a rebate. You can use your debit card and not be eligible or one of these credit cards with rewards and get back as much as you can... We have a family of 6, so the Costco card is our choice...
 
Joined
Dec 13, 2004
Messages
3,320
Location
Chicago Area
I like to think of it as a rebate. You can use your debit card and not be eligible or one of these credit cards with rewards and get back as much as you can... We have a family of 6, so the Costco card is our choice...
This is how I look at it too. I know Dave Ramsey would not approve ;) but I don't buy anything I wouldn't otherwise so this is no different than sending in a SOPUS rebate or getting a credit check from Menards IMHO.
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2002
Messages
48,221
Location
Everson WA - Pacific NW USA
It's a hand me down rebate the card issuer collects in fees from the merchant who raises prices and collects from you and I. I obviously am not living in a glass house here. I'll take it thanks!

I have zero fee cards and frankly didn't shop for high rewards. Just cards we/I have held a long time.
 
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