Credit Card Rewards Thread

entremet

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Oct 26, 2017
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I've been mostly a Debit Card guy. I did own a credit card to keep my credit score up. But wanting to maximize my travel, a huge interest and hobby of mine, I started to look into reward credit cards. So apparently there's a huge travel hacking community online. These are people who min/max credit card rewards for crazy trips and hotel stays, all built on credit card rewards and loyalty points from hotels and airlines.

I started with a Chase Freedom Card, but will start adding more to my rotation.

If you want a primer of this in audio form, listen to this podcast episode:

https://www.kevinrose.com/single-post/chris-hutchins

And here's a blog post from the interviewee if you want something in written form:

https://chrishutchins.com/what-credit-card-should-be-in-your-wallet-e509596609e

As a disclaimer, this is US centric. I have no idea about offers like these in other countries, but if you have any recommendations for your country of residence, please participate.

With wages not growing as fast, housing getting more expensive, and so on, rewards CCs seems to be a great way to stretch your dollar. And if you're not a travel junkie, you can get a simple cash back or points card like Amazon's card.

Moreover, I want to stress that taking advantage of these programs should preclude responsible credit management. Many have been ruined by credit cards. In this discussion, I'm assuming you're paying off your account in full each month. I don't want this thread blamed for someone's financial ruin lol.

How to maximize rewards and points?

Put every bill you can on your reward CCs and as much as can your normal shopping on them. Pay them each month in full. For a primer how to this, while saving for retirement, Ramit Sethi's Automate Your Finance video is great. He has a book, but the video is a good start. The website may comes as super salesly, but he's legit. Most of his content is free.

https://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/automate-your-personal-finances/

Do you use a CC rewards card or program? What has been your feedback on them?

Resources:
NerdWallet
List of reward CC with categories
 
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Maiden Voyage

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
701
Nerdwallet is a good resource too.

We use a Discover IT for the 5% categories and a Venture One for everything else. I might be looking to switch cards next year. I don't think now is a great time since we just got a mortgage.

Edit: I should add that by the end of year 1, we had something like $800-900 in reward monies (including bonus offers during the time of getting the cards).
 

Bigkrev

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,049
I am about as fiscally irrisponsible as a person can be, and I have never seen the reason to use a debit card over a credit card. It's really not that hard to spend more than you can afford to pay in full, unless you are going to nightclubs or casinos all the time.
I use the Amazon Prime Chase Reward card as my everyday card- I do very little travel, so most of the high end cards don't have much appeal for me, it gives 2% on Gas and Dining which is like 50% of my bill each month, and a whopping 5% back on Amazon Purchases, which is like the other 50% of my bill most months.

Plus, it's one of those really thick and heavy metallic cards, which are uncommon enough still that people sometimes comment on it!

I don't ever cancel cards, So I still have the card that I was using from when I was 17, which i believe is now called Citi Forward, though it's changed names like 10 times. It was great when I was younger- it had something like 6% back in points on Fast Food! I don't use it anymore though. Also have Best Buy's and Target's credit cards, which I only use in those stores. The Best Buy one is amazing- it gives you 18 months 0% APR on big purchases. I bought all the parts of my Gaming PC there and paid it off over the course of a year with zero interest.
 

Keyboard

Member
Nov 2, 2017
855
Something that is overlooked is setting up alerts when transactions occur. Send text or email to your mobile device, so you are 100% aware of card usage for when and where and how much. Save the 800 numbers on the back of your cards for speed dial when emergencies occur.

Otherwise if a fradulant transaction posts and settles, then you have to go through a laborous process of filing paperwork and waiting for results that sometimes don't work out.
 
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entremet

entremet

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Oct 26, 2017
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Something that is overlooked is setting up alerts when transactions occur. Send text or email to your mobile device, so you are 100% aware of card usage for when and where and how much. Save the 800 numbers on the back of your cards for speed dial when emergencies occur.

Otherwise if a fradulant transaction posts and settles, then you have to go through a laborous process of filing paperwork and waiting for results that sometimes don't work out.
Good tip. I have alerts for purchases up to a certain threshold.
 

Jibreel

Member
Oct 25, 2017
66
I have the Bank of America cash rewards credit card and I use it exactly the same way as described:

Put every bill you can on your reward CCs and as much as can your normal shopping on them. Pay them each month in full.
Over the course of three years I've accumulated north of $600 for doing nothing other than stop using my debit card. Seems like a no brainer to me if you're financially disciplined enough to pay off your bill in full at the end each payment cycle.
 
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lush

Member
Oct 26, 2017
605
Knoxville, TN
I'm currently rolling with a combination of:
  1. Discover It - My first non-bank credit card, really only use it for the rolling 5% category(Amazon.com and Target right now).
  2. American Express Blue Cash Everday - Use it for the 3% back at grocery stores and 2% back at gas stations.
  3. Citi Double Cash - Use it for everything else as it's a flat 2%.
No annual fees with this lineup and it's really built my credit up quite a bit in just 4 years of history(780 on FICO). I just really dig the security of using CCs over my debit card. I just treat my CCs like my debit card by paying them all in full on statement date.

I plan to upgrade my Amex to Blue Cash Preferred here down the road for the bump in cash back on supermarket(6%) and gas purchases(3%).
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,632
I have the Bank of America cash rewards credit card and I use it exactly the same way as described:



Over the course of three years I've accumulated north of $600 for doing nothing other than stop using my debit card. Seems like a no brainier to me if you're financially disciplined enough to pay off your bill in full at the end each payment cycle.
Yeah, I have Citibank and I have autopay set up for my CC so it's not a pain at all to treat my credit card like a debit card. After a couple years of using it, my score is currently around 750.

I currently use a Citi ThankYou Preferred card, but I'm wondering if there's a better card out there I could be using instead - there's no Citibank branches in my entire state (I got this card before I moved) so I'm wondering if 1. it's worth it to stay with this card, 2. it's worth taking the credit hit by getting a different credit card, 3. what kind of card I would want to get for rewards. Most of my purchases are either the supermarket, Amazon or Best Buy (BB GCU for videogames.)
 

Zoe

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,649
Gas - 5%, Sam's Club
Food - 3%, Sam's Club
Travel - 3%, Chase Sapphire Reserve
Groceries - 3%, American Express Blue Cash
Amazon - 5%, Chase Amazon Prime
Target - 5% off at checkout, Target RedCard
Rotating categories - 5%, Chase Freedom and Discover
Everything else - 1.5%, Capital One Quicksilver

I used to use my Best Buy card under certain conditions, but because I no longer hit Elite Plus status and 99% of my shopping has shifted to Amazon, it's not worth it.

The only drawback with Sam's is it's an annual pay out. For the rest, I take the cash as soon as I can. The exception is Ultimate Rewards because I'm banking that for travel.

Keep an eye out for extra bonuses, right now Chase has 10% back at Best Buy and Walmart through the Chase Pay app.
 

Deleted member 29676

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Nov 1, 2017
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I use the Chase Trifecta for everyday purchases:

Sapphire Reserve for Travel and Dining at 3 points each
Freedom Unlimited for non bonus spending at 1.5 points
Freedom for bonus categories at 5x

Each point is worth 1.5 cents for travel so you never get less than 2.25% back.

I supplement it with the Amex blue cash preferred which give 6% back on grocery stores for hte first $6,000 a year. I use this basically to buy amazon, netflix, spotify giftcards to make sure i hit the 6,000 limit each year.


This strategy has paid for our last 3 international vacations with points alone (flight, car, hotel) and has saved tons basically spending time to maximize the purchase on what we buy anyway.
 
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entremet

entremet

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Oct 26, 2017
16,018
I use the Chase Trifecta for everyday purchases:

Sapphire Reserve for Travel and Dining at 3 points each
Freedom Unlimited for non bonus spending at 1.5 points
Freedom for bonus categories at 5x

Each point is worth 1.5 cents for travel so you never get less than 2.25% back.

I supplement it with the Amex blue cash preferred which give 6% back on grocery stores for hte first $6,000 a year. I use this basically to buy amazon, netflix, spotify giftcards to make sure i hit the 6,000 limit each year.


This strategy has paid for our last 3 international vacations with points alone (flight, car, hotel) and has saved tons basically spending time to maximize the purchase on what we buy anyway.
Nice stack. I think I may just copy this lol.
 

Supha_Volt

Member
Nov 3, 2017
206
I've liked using my Amazon rewards visa. Normally it is 5% back at Amazon, if you're a prime member otherwise it is 3%, 2% at restaurants, gas station, and drugstore, and 1% for everything else. I'm trying to find another card to cover or does better some of the things this one doesn't.

I was happy that the card was giving 20% back from Black Friday through Cyber monday though! Hopefully they'll have it next year and I'll do more of my shopping at that time!
 

lush

Member
Oct 26, 2017
605
Knoxville, TN
I supplement it with the Amex blue cash preferred which give 6% back on grocery stores for hte first $6,000 a year. I use this basically to buy amazon, netflix, spotify giftcards to make sure i hit the 6,000 limit each year.
Damn, this is genius. Never even thought of buying relevant gift cards at the grocery store just for the 6% bump.
 

Keyboard

Member
Nov 2, 2017
855
Damn, this is genius. Never even thought of buying relevant gift cards at the grocery store just for the 6% bump.
Downside is losing warranty protection for physical purchases.

Also if you lose your wallet containing gift cards, then you just threw away money.

Sometimes, you can save more simply by just not purchasing. Reward chasing is great, but if done in excess, then you might be buying a bunch of crap you don't need when you can use that money to save for retirement.
 
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Deleted member 29676

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Damn, this is genius. Never even thought of buying relevant gift cards at the grocery store just for the 6% bump.
It works great. The preferred card has an annual fee and you need to spend more than $3000 at the grocery store in a year to make it worth it. I recommend checking out your stores selection. Ours has Playstation network, steam, xbox live etc so it is a no brainer.
 

konka

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,582
Citi Double Cash is my general use card for 2% everywhere.
Chase Sapphire Reserve for 3 points on travel and dining.
Chase Freedom for the 5% rotating categories.
Discover It for the 5% rotating categories.
Chase Amazon Prime card for 5% back at Amazon all the time.
Target RedCard for 5% off at Target.

That's basically what I'm rocking now.

I use the Chase Trifecta for everyday purchases:

Sapphire Reserve for Travel and Dining at 3 points each
Freedom Unlimited for non bonus spending at 1.5 points
Freedom for bonus categories at 5x

Each point is worth 1.5 cents for travel so you never get less than 2.25% back.
It's a solid strategy. It's ideal in concept if travel is where all the points are going and I'll commit to that someday and replace the Double Cash with a Freedom Unlimited. I need to try to decide by this summer whether the Reserve is paying itself off or not.
 
Oct 25, 2017
976
I use the Chase Trifecta for everyday purchases:

Sapphire Reserve for Travel and Dining at 3 points each
Freedom Unlimited for non bonus spending at 1.5 points
Freedom for bonus categories at 5x

Each point is worth 1.5 cents for travel so you never get less than 2.25% back.

I supplement it with the Amex blue cash preferred which give 6% back on grocery stores for hte first $6,000 a year. I use this basically to buy amazon, netflix, spotify giftcards to make sure i hit the 6,000 limit each year.


This strategy has paid for our last 3 international vacations with points alone (flight, car, hotel) and has saved tons basically spending time to maximize the purchase on what we buy anyway.
I do this too, minus the Amex. Have had a few international trips on Chase already.
 

III-V

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,096
I have recently started getting into this as well. Good thread, will be watching.
 

Figgles

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Oct 30, 2017
2,403
I have a bunch of rewards cards, and if you don’t have an amex blue preferred, you are doing it wrong.
 
Oct 27, 2017
6,974
I have three reward credit cards, each gets used depending on what gives back the most reward points for what I'm buying. And yeah, always pay in full each and every month.
 

Excelsior

Member
Oct 28, 2017
298
I have a bunch of rewards cards, and if you don’t have an amex blue preferred, you are doing it wrong.
tell me more about this

Citi Double Cash is my general use card for 2% everywhere.
Chase Sapphire Reserve for 3 points on travel and dining.
Chase Freedom for the 5% rotating categories.
Discover It for the 5% rotating categories.
Chase Amazon Prime card for 5% back at Amazon all the time.
Target RedCard for 5% off at Target.
this is not a criticism, really just out of curiosity: isn't this a lot of cards to have? Does that hurt your credit at all?
 

SNES Jr

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Oct 26, 2017
2,887
I've gamed the system by maxing out all 10 of my cards every month and only paying the minimum every 60 days.
 

Waffles

The Fallen
Oct 27, 2017
1,420
Another member of the Chase Trinity here. I basically always redeem my points for cash, but my upcoming Hawaii vacation is going to be mostly paid for with my points.
 
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entremet

entremet

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Oct 26, 2017
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tell me more about this



this is not a criticism, really just out of curiosity: isn't this a lot of cards to have? Does that hurt your credit at all?
Not as long as they are current and in use. Your credit score does take a small dinge when you open a new line of credit. But it comes back up in time. It's not that big of an issue.
 
Oct 25, 2017
12,416
I don’t have the patience for credit churning so I just my Citi DoubleCash for everything and then amazon visa for just amazon
 

ItIsOkBro

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
4,092
The No Foreign Currency Transactions Fees benefit of the Amazon Chase card is super convenient.
 

Figgles

Banned
Oct 30, 2017
2,403
tell me more about this
6% back on groceries and 3% on gas. Everyone needs groceries, and if you have a car, you need gas. You will use the card a lot and rack up the cash back. You will blow past the $75 monthly fee in no time.

The bonus offers can be good too. That $25 back on a $250 purchase at Best Buy came in handy on Black Friday.
 

Quixzlizx

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,890
I want to take a trip abroad next year, so I'm thinking of signing up for a Chase Freedom Reserve. $450 fee, but $300 travel credit, free TSA Pre and Global Entry, and 50k free points on signup (after $4k within 3 months) that can be used for $750 on Chase's travel portal.
 

Deleted member 29676

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Nov 1, 2017
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I want to take a trip abroad next year, so I'm thinking of signing up for a Chase Freedom Reserve. $450 fee, but $300 travel credit, free TSA Pre and Global Entry, and 50k free points on signup (after $4k within 3 months) that can be used for $750 on Chase's travel portal.
The 300 resets with the calendar year so i'd wait until like March/April if you can before applying. That way you can get the $300 for 2018 and another $300 in 2019 with only paying the annual fee once (assuming you cancel in 2019.
 

Darryl M R

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,377
I doubled up on my Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred recently. Churning to fund my 2018 trip to Spain and France.
 

Quixzlizx

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,890
The 300 resets with the calendar year so i'd wait until like March/April if you can before applying. That way you can get the $300 for 2018 and another $300 in 2019 with only paying the annual fee once (assuming you cancel in 2019.
Hmm... the only holdup is the $4k I have to spend to get the bonus points I'll want to use toward the ticket. Do you get the points as soon as you hit $4k, or do you have to wait 3 months regardless?
 

Deleted member 29676

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Nov 1, 2017
1,804
Hmm... the only holdup is the $4k I have to spend to get the bonus points I'll want to use toward the ticket. Do you get the points as soon as you hit $4k, or do you have to wait 3 months regardless?
I got it with the billing statement after hitting the required spend. So if i sent the $4000 by the 15 and the statement closed on the 27th i got the points on the 27th.
 

Camp1nCarl

Member
Oct 25, 2017
402
Churning is a tough process and requires quite a bit of research and work. But it can pay big dividends in rewards though if you put in the time. Be warned though card companies are wise to this, and may decline or cancel your cards if they get suspicious of you doing this. Also some cards like Chase Sapphire Reserve will decline your app if you break their 5/24 criteria.

Personally I don’t really dabble into churning. Mostly just stick my my Reserve and IT card. Probably getting another soon though
 

jfkgoblue

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,452
I am about as fiscally irrisponsible as a person can be, and I have never seen the reason to use a debit card over a credit card. It's really not that hard to spend more than you can afford to pay in full, unless you are going to nightclubs or casinos all the time.
I use the Amazon Prime Chase Reward card as my everyday card- I do very little travel, so most of the high end cards don't have much appeal for me, it gives 2% on Gas and Dining which is like 50% of my bill each month, and a whopping 5% back on Amazon Purchases, which is like the other 50% of my bill most months.

Plus, it's one of those really thick and heavy metallic cards, which are uncommon enough still that people sometimes comment on it!

I don't ever cancel cards, So I still have the card that I was using from when I was 17, which i believe is now called Citi Forward, though it's changed names like 10 times. It was great when I was younger- it had something like 6% back in points on Fast Food! I don't use it anymore though. Also have Best Buy's and Target's credit cards, which I only use in those stores. The Best Buy one is amazing- it gives you 18 months 0% APR on big purchases. I bought all the parts of my Gaming PC there and paid it off over the course of a year with ozero interest.
Yeah I’m the same. I haven’t paid any interest this year but have to earned a couple hundred dollars in cash rewards.
 

Darryl M R

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,377
The 300 resets with the calendar year so i'd wait until like March/April if you can before applying. That way you can get the $300 for 2018 and another $300 in 2019 with only paying the annual fee once (assuming you cancel in 2019.
I heard that they changed this and it is from when you receive your card.
 

hitme

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,899
Got Sapphire Reserve when it first came out (+100k points) and it's the best damn card ever.
 

Fitts

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,029
My primary expenses outside of my mortgage are groceries and gas. Still, I’m very frugal and want to avoid annual fees just in case. What card(s) should I go after if I’m only interested in cash back? I was kind of thinking about doing both one with a steady incentive (like Blue Cash) and one with rotating categories that could maximize my rewards a few quarters per year. (like Chase Freedom) Which have the best signup bonuses?

Also, how often can you open credit cards without damaging your credit?
 

gozu

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,377
America
Chase reserve for lyft/restaurants/airfare 3%
Amex blue cash everyday for 3% groceries and 2% gas.
Amazon credit card for Amazon 5%

Everything else goes on the chase reserve for extended warranties, price protection, rental car insurance, etc.
 

konka

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,582
tell me more about this



this is not a criticism, really just out of curiosity: isn't this a lot of cards to have? Does that hurt your credit at all?
On the contrary, my available credit is very high now so it's nearly impossible for me to have a bad usage ratio, it's been quite helpful. The only annoying this is that Discover and Chase have seemingly decided to align their 5% categories.
 

Zoe

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,649
Freedom categories for Q1 are gas stations and phone/internet/cable bills.