While paying for dinner today, the conversation of credit cards came up and both Tekman and I use our Amex Costco card because it gives us 3% back. I was shocked to hear there were a few in the group that don’t even get 1% back, the bare minimum reward most credit cards come with nowadays. I brought up the fact I have 4 credit cards I use on a daily routine and people were shocked at how many I use. They were curious if I used it to keep track of purchases which I guess is a side effect of what I do, but it was mainly due to the fact different credit cards have different reward levels for different purchases.
My current arsenal includes the following:
– Chase Cash Plus Rewards Card –
Your Chase Cash Plus RewardsSM card earns rewards 5 times faster on everyday purchases.
With your Cash Plus Rewards card, you earn 5 points for every eligible dollar spent on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases. Plus, you earn 1 point for every eligible dollar spent on purchases made elsewhere.
You can redeem 5,000 points for:
* $50 check
* $50 gift card from popular stores & restaurants
Buy the things you need and get the rewards you want with your Cash Plus Rewards card!
5 points for every dollar translates to 5% cash back. I’m limited to a maximum of 30,000 points annually, which translates to a max of $300 in cash back. I don’t think I’ve ever reached that amount, probably due to the fact I’m single and no kids. There was even a $50 or $100 bonus when I signed up for this card. However, this card is no longer available to sign up for.
This card came out to compete against the Citi Dividend Platinum Select card which had the similar rewards program with 5% back on the same 3 categories. I also have the Citi Dividend card, but have retired it due to the fact the reward program has dropped to 2% from 5%. You can still sign up for the Citi Dividend card, which now also includes convenience stores and utilities and gives 5% cash back for the first 6 months, but drops to 2% afterwards.
According to this FatWallet thread, it appears that this reward program maybe ending soon. People have been getting letters from Chase stating the program will be changed to 3% cash back on the 3 categories you spend the most money in. I personally haven’t received the letter yet and my online rewards program details still shows what I pasted above.
I basically use this credit card only for gas, supermarket, and drug stores.
– Advanta BusinessCard –
Automatically earn 5% Cash Back on gasoline, office supplies, utilities, computer equipment, cell phones and Internet services, and 1% on all other purchases.
This one has a limit of $25 cash back per month, so I don’t use it for gas since I have the other card. There’s already been a couple times where I surpassed the $25 limit, seeing how I purchase a lot of computer equipment. I also stack my cable internet/tv bill and my garbage bill on this card. Any time I make a purchase at Office Depot or Staples, it also goes on this card. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to put my energy bill (electricity and gas) since Puget Sound Energy doesn’t accept credit cards. I don’t have a phone bill and my dad pays for my cell phone bill, so that isn’t applicable to me either, but may to you. They automatically mail you a check when you accrue $50 in cash back and I hit that amount pretty much every 3 months.
You can still apply for this card. There is one caveat for this card, and that’s the fact you do need to provide a business name. The name of your business gets printed on the Credit Card itself in italicized Times New Roman font, but besides that I don’t believe they verify if you’re the real owner of this business or if it even exits. I am not suggesting you lie and provide fake information just to get this card. I’m just providing as much details as possible.
A very similar card is the American Express SimplyCash Business Card which also has 5% cash back on gas, office supplies, and wireless services and 1% cash back on virtually all other purchases. However, the fact the SimplyCash card is an American Express while the Advanta card is a Mastercard means the Advanta card would be accepted in more places.
– American Express TrueEarnings Card –
Eligible Purchases earn a rebate of 1, 2 or 3 percent, as follows: 3% at restaurants, 2% for travel purchases from airline, lodging, car rental, cruise line, travel agency and tour operators; and 1% on all other Eligible Purchases. The rebate is issued annually in your Cardmember billing statement as a coupon redeemable at Costco. See your Cardmember Agreement for eligibility requirements and complete terms and conditions.
This is the card I save for restaurants and of course Costco, since that’s the only credit card they accept. There is no annual or monthly limit like the other cards I’ve mentioned, so you can earn as much cash back as you want with this card.
Unfortunately, to be applicable for this card, you need to be a Costco member, which automatically means the $50 membership fee.
Another thing about this card is that they mail you the cash back in the form of a Costco check. Don’t be fool that this is a gift certificate that has to be fully used at Costco. You are always allowed to opt to get the entire check in cash at any Costco register. However, if I’m at Costco already, I don’t really see myself ever walking out of there empty handed, though I have done that before.
– Discover Cashback Bonus Card –
Sign up to get 5% Cashback Bonus on gas, hotels and summer fun with the Get More program.
Only Discover Card offers 5% Cashback Bonus on Get More purchases in categories like travel, home, gas, restaurants, movies and more. Watch your e-mail alerts and Account statements to see which categories will give 5% Cashback Bonus next.
5% to 20% Cashback Bonus at top online retailers through ShopDiscover
Get up to 1% Cashback Bonus on all your other purchases automatically.
The Discover card has always been a toss up. Their 5% cash back program changes every quarter (3 months) and some times you get really good categories like restaurants and movies, but other times you get stuck with home and apparel which I hardly make purchases in. The worst part of the program is they make you click the sign up link in order to activate the new quarter’s 5% bonus program. Therefore if you forget to do so every quarter, you won’t be getting the benefits of the program. Plus the fact that about half the places I go don’t accept Discover really limits its usage. It appears this card also doesn’t have any cap on the amount of cash back you can get back.
They also often have specific stores which give you 5% cash back. I took advantage of it when they had Amazon.com, Circuit City, Lowes, and Linen ‘n Things.
This card is available for anyone to sign up for.
– Fidelity Investments Rewards Card –
Unlimited rewards; earn one point for every dollar in net retail purchases
Every time you accumulate 5,000 points, convert them to a $75 deposit into your eligible Fidelity Account2, a 1.5% redemption rate
Redeem points for travel on major U.S. airlines with no blackout dates or for brand-name merchandise, gift certificates, and more
MyConciergeSM Personal Concierge Service offers customized services 24/7, including dining arrangements and reservations, gifts and personal shopping, tickets for sporting events, concerts and shows, unique transportation, and more
This is the newest card in my arsenal and is what I consider to be my fall back card. Why settle for 1% cash back which all these other cards are already providing, when you can settle for 1.5% cash back. If something doesn’t fall into any of the categories that gives me over 1.5% cash back with the credit cards above, I’ll end up using this card. This latest statement shows that I’m currently at 4500 points. So $500 more, and they’ll be depositing $75 into my Fidelity account.
Unfortunately, to benefit from this credit card, you’ll need a Fidelity investment account. As a Microsoft employee, I have one by default, but not many people do and Fidelity isn’t the cheapest stock broker out there. However, it probably is one of most reliable stock brokers around, having great customer service and research information available. After you deposit the $75 into your Fidelity account, I’m pretty sure you can immediately withdraw if you want, but I’m guessing they’re hoping you’ll be investing that amount.
For more information, you can visit Fidelity’s site.