Author Topic: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta  (Read 9567 times)

chucklesmcgee

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Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« on: January 19, 2013, 10:52:33 AM »
So I'm quite the fan of rewards credit cards and have assembled a burly armory of cash back cards. Here's what my lineup currently gets me:

Restaurants, fast food, takeout, delivery-5% back (Citi Forward/Discover More)
Amazon.com, book stores, movies, movie rentals, Netflix, music, iTunes, ?Spotify?- 5% back(Citi Forward)
Gas- (5% back from Chase Freedom now) 3.3% from BankAmericard otherwise
Drug stores-5% back, Chase Freedom
Target-5%- Target Card
Office supply stores, internet, cable, phone services (5% back, Chase Ink, business card)
Grocery Stores- 2.2% back- BankAmericard (I spend so little at traditional grocery stores with Target and Amazon that Amex BlueCash doesn't make since)
Everything else- 2%- Fidelity Amex
Anything that doesn't take Amex and isn't one of the above categories...(almost never)-1.1% back, BankAmericard

Q: Isn't it hard to remember to pay all those bills, all those credit limits, all those logins?
A: No, everything's set on autobill. The spending on a lot of the cards isn't that enormous, so I'm never close to some cards modest limits. I have my logins saved in an encrypted keepass file and can see all of the accounts in Mint.

Q: Doesn't this take a lot of time?
A: Well sure, initially it's a few hours of searching and preparing. But finding good cards kind of feels like hunting big game- it's a lot of fun. And once you have your setup, you're talking about 3 seconds of thought while you're opening up your wallet anyway. I'm getting a few thousand back a year doing this for less than an hour of logging in and cashing out rewards. And depending on your spending habits, you don't even need to get this complicated. If you're just a standard Mustachian, the Fidelity Amex alone, maybe with the Chase Freedom or Citi Forward (5% at Amazon!) Visa will let you get great savings.

People get so excited and determined to find 10-50% off discounts for the occasional miscellaneous item through craigslist or ebay and that's great, but being able to knock at least 2% off of almost anything and everything you're spending for the year can be another big boost.

Q:Don't you feel tempted to spend more just to get the rewards?
A: No, I'm a Mustachian and not stupid enough to equate spending more with increasing my stache. I do smirk a bit when people talk about gas prices (because that's the one price people think about regularly) and say I pay a price 10-20 cents less. I don't use any tiered cards (and would check the math before I do) so I'm not too concerned about misusing a card.

Q: Isn't it hard to remember what card to use?
A: Not really. The Fidelity Amex is my go-to card, so if I "mess-up" I'm still getting 2% back. A lot of the cards are just set as the default option on recurring bills or online services, so I don't even have to think about that. It's hardest to remember the rotating categories in the Discover More and Chase Freedom categories, but these 5% categories usually overlap either with each other, are already covered as 5% back somewhere else or are some category I just never use.

Q: Doesn't having all those cards hurt your credit score?
A: Nope. Applying for all these cards certainly did ding my score, temporarily, a little bit. But keeping up on the payments for so many cards and building a history, getting a large amount of credit and not using much of it has been pretty good to me. Also it's very easy to get credit limit increases as CC companies will pull my history, see that I have a large amount of credit and then be willing to have their card with a much larger credit line. All of the inquiries disappear after 2 years as well, so if you have the cards and limits you want, get loads of rewards, and have no intention of applying for a mortgage in the next two years, who cares if your credit score goes from "incredibly perfect" down to "pretty good"? My Equifax score was 787 as of a few weeks ago, I have a $25k limit on my biggest card and only 7 years of credit history, with most cards being opened in the last 4.

So what's your lineup?

ketchup

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2013, 12:57:36 PM »
I just last week assembled my army of cashback cards.

Sallie Mae Mastercard - Always 5% back on gas, groceries, and "bookstores" (includes Amazon).
Citi Dividend - 5% rotating categories, currently drug stores and fitness clubs.
Chase Freedom - 5% rotating categories, currently drug stores and gas.
Discover It - 5% rotating categories, currently restaurants and movie theaters.
Fidelity Amex - 2% back on everything else.
Priceline.com Visa - 2% fallback on everywhere else that doesn't take Amex.  Has William Shatner on the front, so it also wins the "most amusing credit card in my wallet" prize.

Of the ones you have (and I don't), the Chase Ink card looks the most nifty. Is applying for a business card the same as applying for any other card?

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2013, 07:11:01 PM »
I just last week assembled my army of cashback cards.

Sallie Mae Mastercard - Always 5% back on gas, groceries, and "bookstores" (includes Amazon).
Citi Dividend - 5% rotating categories, currently drug stores and fitness clubs.
Chase Freedom - 5% rotating categories, currently drug stores and gas.
Discover It - 5% rotating categories, currently restaurants and movie theaters.
Fidelity Amex - 2% back on everything else.
Priceline.com Visa - 2% fallback on everywhere else that doesn't take Amex.  Has William Shatner on the front, so it also wins the "most amusing credit card in my wallet" prize.

Of the ones you have (and I don't), the Chase Ink card looks the most nifty. Is applying for a business card the same as applying for any other card?

That Sallie Mae Mastercard is pretty nice, though it's limited to $250/month on gas and groceries. Still, pretty close to what I spend. Why have both the Fidelity Amex and the Priceline Visa? The Priceline Visa looks better, unless it's tough to redeem points for cash or something.

It's basically the same applying for a business card, assuming you have a business! You just throw in your company's EIN in addition to your SSN on an otherwise standard application. Even though I have a corporation, they ran a credit check under me and the card shows up on my credit report. It shows both my corporation name and my name on the card. I think you can get it for sole proprietorships as well. Look for a $100-$300 signup bonus...not sure if it's still running.

ketchup

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2013, 11:40:11 PM »
It's useful for me to have both the Priceline Visa and the Fidelity Amex because some places don't take Amex, and Costco only takes Amex.

I think I might try out that Chase Ink card at some point then. I don't have a business or anything, but I might be able to still wrangle it out.

Will

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2013, 08:55:01 AM »
Have you looked into walla.by?  They are making what is essentially a "smart card" which is cloud-based so that you can carry one card and get the benefits of all the cards you have.  It will decide (based on what it knows about your cards and what you tell it) and decide which card is best for each situation, so you don't have to remember any promotions or categories.  I am on the waiting list for the card now, and they are only waiving the fee for the first year you have it.  In the meantime, they do have an app for smartphones which will essentially tell you which card to use (you tell it what cards you have, but don't enter any account info, so it is safe).  You might want to check it out, or you might not.  Whichever.  Here's a link to the site if you do.  I get nothing out of it, so no worries either way.  (Okay, I do have a referral link, so if you are interested, please use this link:  www.walla.by/sign-up/?ref=eelly6 )

http://www.walla.by/

http://youtu.be/HQfvCLcMIkA
« Last Edit: January 20, 2013, 09:05:05 AM by Will »

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2013, 02:36:21 PM »
Have you looked into walla.by?  They are making what is essentially a "smart card" which is cloud-based so that you can carry one card and get the benefits of all the cards you have.  It will decide (based on what it knows about your cards and what you tell it) and decide which card is best for each situation, so you don't have to remember any promotions or categories.
http://www.walla.by/


It's a good idea. The card seems a lot more handy than the app and makes a lot of sense. I'm wondering how they've worked out compatibility so the card works with anyone's ordinary card reader. Is the card a branded Visa or MasterCard so it'll work almost anywhere? If so, how are they able to process a card for one provider but then ensure the merchant gets charged for another? Not sure if I'm too hot about the $50/year fee. If I were them, I'd try to have the card process as a compatible higher-fee card, then hold on to the difference between the low-fee card and the high-fee card. That could could get them way more than $50 a year and would let them offer their product for free to the consumer.

Right now I'm trying out Google wallet feature for my smartphone, which lets you use any card to pay for your things when you're out about.  It uses NFC, so you can just hover it over any credit card terminal with an NFC reader (lots of chain grocery, drug and food stores) and it'll automatically pay for you with whatever card you've selected- no need to login, open an app or even turn the phone's screen on. Mostly just a novelty right now, but as NFC readers becomes more prevalent it might be possible to ditch most of your cards soon.

Pollyanna

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2013, 12:53:22 PM »
You really have it down to a science.  Hubbie and I share a joint Visa that gives rewards and has no annual fee.  I've been tracking the past three years what my rewards are for this -- 2010 it was $520, then 2011 $450 and 2012 $420 (my spend is going down -- in previous years we were actually able to charge our son's tuition).  I love it because it is free money!  We charge just about everything, nice for record keeping and we pay it off each month.  If I am buying something pricey, I will try to charge it just after the closure of my prior period, so I actually get to ride on "their" money for almost 2 months. 

bo_knows

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2013, 02:34:03 PM »
We only use Amex BlueCash. It's tiered, but right now we're getting 5% on Gas, Groceries, and Drug Stores. 1% on everything else.

We do use Amazon.com an awful lot for our "other" shopping, so a card that gives 5% back on that might be interesting.

unitsinc

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2013, 03:13:22 PM »
I somehow never thought of this. I've got one(Chase Freedom) but having one for each category is pure genius! I'm gonna have to sit down and do some research this weekend.

Are you pretty sure yours are the best in each category?

Rangifer

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2013, 03:35:25 PM »
What about just getting airline cards for the rewards. Seems like a lot better deal to get one or two flights for speinding $1500 than to get 2 or 3 percent cash back.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2013, 03:52:54 PM »
I somehow never thought of this. I've got one(Chase Freedom) but having one for each category is pure genius! I'm gonna have to sit down and do some research this weekend.

Are you pretty sure yours are the best in each category?

ketchup's got some pretty interesting cards. I think combined they pretty much represent a pretty wide range of the best no-fee rewards cards currently available. It does depend on your spending habits. If you spend a lot on gas or groceries or travel you might want to look at some other cards.

You also have to consider the various redemption programs- some cards are very hard to cash out until you reach a fairly substantial level of rewards or don't offer any good cash back options. If you're only using the card for an occasional expense it might take a while to realize those gains.

If you're only going to apply for one card besides the Freedom, I'd go with the Fidelity Amex. 2% back on EVERYTHING means you'll rack up tons on every purchase including Costco without having to do much juggling or memorizing categories. Nerdwallet.com is a good starting point, but it seems they haven't been keeping updated as of late.

MooreBonds

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2013, 09:18:59 PM »


PenFed's Visa Rewards - 5% on gas, 2% on groceries in the form of a prepaid Visa gift card
Discover - changing category, but biggest rewards is their on-line shopping mall**
Chase Freedom - changing categories (I hardly buy anything at drug stores, their standard 2% rewards)
Fidelity Visa - 1.5% cash on everything (1% rewards, with 50% cash bonus when deposited into a Fidelity investment account)
Southwest Chase Visa - I have purchased some reimbursed business trips on Southwest, where you get 2% back from tickets, along with 50,000 bonus miles with your first purchase (accumulated 100,000 miles in short order).

**I'm still trying to understand the benefit to the retailer, but some retailers have partnered up with credit cards to offer bonus rewards by logging into your credit card, then shopping the credit card's on-line mall which forwards you to the retailer's website to get extra cash/rewards points. The benefit? Sometimes INSANE:
15% ADDITIONAL back from Groupon
5% ADDITIONAL back from Home Depot (and in December, HD even ran a special where you got 10% rewards back from online purchases)

Each credit card has different extra rewards, so check yours out. It kicks all ass when you score a Groupon for 50%-75% off the regular price, and then get an additional 15% cash rewards back plus your standard 1% or 2% cash back from the Groupon price!

Or the last business trip I took and booked a Holiday Inn Express reservation through the Fidelity Visa website:
Standard Fidelity Visa rewards: 1%
Holiday Inn extra rewards: 4%
Fidelity 50% bonus by transferring points to Fidelity investment account: 2.5%
Total rewards: 7.5%!

Hell, at that rate, I could put all of the company's expenses on my credit card and rock on the tax free rewards! :)

Jack

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2013, 05:05:21 AM »
Could you guys start posting the fees associated with these cards? If two cards both give 5% off a given category but one has a $0 annual fee and the other has a $100 one, it needs to be mentioned in order to make a fair comparison.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2013, 03:42:58 PM »
Could you guys start posting the fees associated with these cards? If two cards both give 5% off a given category but one has a $0 annual fee and the other has a $100 one, it needs to be mentioned in order to make a fair comparison.

No annual fees for mine or most of these others posted. Nerdwallet is a good place to quickly compare credit card terms. I don't think I'd ever pay an annual fee for a card unless the benefits were simply insane.

Quote
**I'm still trying to understand the benefit to the retailer, but some retailers have partnered up with credit cards to offer bonus rewards by logging into your credit card, then shopping the credit card's on-line mall which forwards you to the retailer's website to get extra cash/rewards points.

The online cashback bonus benefits for the retailer are pretty obvious- here the site is acting as a referrer to nab them a sale. The trick is that you HAVE to go through the credit card site to get to the store website and the bonus. This encourages people to shop at the sites and discourages comparison shopping. Here people are going to be encouraged to look at some stores just because they're offering big discounts, or assume that they'll be getting a good price just because there's a large discount attached. Most of the sites offering big bonuses are typically the sites that are selling non-essentials with large markups, like designer clothing, flowers, jewelry, etc.  I guess they run occasional promotions for really good sites, but that's few and far between.

If you can comparison shop on your own for the lowest price and then check to see if it's listed on your credit card site, good for you. For me, it's never been too successful. Most of the big stores I shop at, like Amazon, Target, Walmart, Newegg, etc tend to offer tiny cashback bonuses, which we combined with the card I forced to use, is less than or just on par with my 2% Amex, 5% target card, 5% rotating category card or 5% Amazon/bookstore/music/movie card. Most of the other stores I buy from online are too small and boutique to offer any sort of cashback. I generally haven't found it to be worth the 5-15 minutes logging in to the various credit card sites to see the online bonus sites.

anastrophe

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2013, 08:14:02 AM »

Sallie Mae Mastercard - Always 5% back on gas, groceries, and "bookstores" (includes Amazon).

I'm thinking about getting this one. It says you can redeem points to redeem principal on Sallie Mae student loans, do you know if it has to be YOUR loan? Like, do both accounts have to be under the same SSN or can you redeem them to any eligible SLMA loan?

Debbie M

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2013, 11:15:33 AM »
Just Chase Freedom (1.1% since I have a checking account with them).  And the Target debit card.

I used to have a Handyman card for 3% off at hardware and home improvement stores, another one with 5% off groceries, gas, and something else, and another similar one, but they all turned into Chase Freedom.  So, I'm no longer excited about the multiple-card thing.  Plus I don't spend much; I get less than $200 in rewards per year.  Most of the things I spend money on can't go on the credit card (at least not without paying a fee even bigger than the reward) such as property taxes (big fee), IRA contributions (uh), car repairs (I negotiate a better cash price), and ballroom dance classes (nonprofit doesn't take credit cards).

So, I'm going a more minimalist route.

ketchup

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2013, 12:19:53 PM »

Sallie Mae Mastercard - Always 5% back on gas, groceries, and "bookstores" (includes Amazon).

I'm thinking about getting this one. It says you can redeem points to redeem principal on Sallie Mae student loans, do you know if it has to be YOUR loan? Like, do both accounts have to be under the same SSN or can you redeem them to any eligible SLMA loan?
I don't know the specifics of that. I don't have a loan, so I just redeem for statement credit.

anastrophe

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2013, 12:57:44 PM »

Sallie Mae Mastercard - Always 5% back on gas, groceries, and "bookstores" (includes Amazon).

I'm thinking about getting this one. It says you can redeem points to redeem principal on Sallie Mae student loans, do you know if it has to be YOUR loan? Like, do both accounts have to be under the same SSN or can you redeem them to any eligible SLMA loan?
I don't know the specifics of that. I don't have a loan, so I just redeem for statement credit.

I don't have one either but my partner does, I kinda like the idea of gaming them to pay off even a little bit of that stupid loan. But it's a pretty good deal even if you just get statement credit--I definitely eat less than $250 on groceries so that might work out well.

Done by Forty

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2013, 06:08:27 PM »
I'm a rewards card user as well (and generally hunt for sign up bonuses more than rate) but here's some food for thought:

http://pocketmint.net/2012/10/the-credit-card-rewards-system-is-gaming-you/


needmyfi

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Re: Rewards Credit Card Perfecta
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2013, 08:05:04 PM »
My DH is the rewards scout, I just use the cards he hands me-he keeps up with the best promos.  When comparing our budget to the average American's just for shits and giggles I realized I had no category for clothes.  I realized our entire clothing budget is covered by our rewards, usually when they offer 50 bucks for 40 dollars of rewards and then I order clothes out of season online.. Everyone and everything that will take a card as payment without a fee is put on one of 6 different reward cards. (property taxes are a no go, but insurance on my house and rental property get charged)  One exception-I LOVE Aldi and they only take debit not credit.  Is there a debit rewards card?  Someone mentioned a Target debit.  Any info ?