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New 5% Cash Back Categories for First Quarter

The new 5% cash back categories for Discover cards with rotating categories , Chase Freedom, and Citibank Dividend Platinum were announced for the first quarter of 2014, which is January through March.  These cards allow you to get 5% cash back on categories that rotate every quarter of the year in addition to their regular cash back rewards.

These card have the potential to help you reap tons of rewards with absolutely no annual fee.

discover IT discover more

Discover More and Discover It

  • 5.0% on Movies and Restaurants on up to $1500 in combined purchases*

*Movie ticket and movie rental purchases are those made at merchants classified as movie theaters, video rental stores, and online movie ticket and movie rental services. Restaurant purchases are those made at merchants classified as full-service restaurants, cafes, cafeterias and fast food locations. Purchases made at warehouse clubs, wholesale distributors, and discount stores are not eligible. Purchases made using Near Field Communication (NFC), virtual wallets, or similar technology may not be eligible. Rewards are added to your Cashback Bonus account within 2 billing periods. See Cashback Bonus Program Terms and Conditions for further detail. (source)

Card users will get 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Chase Freedom

Chase Freedom

  • 5.0% on Starbucks*, Movies, and Gasoline on up to $1500 in combined purchases

*Offer limited to purchases at participating Starbucks® locations, at StarbucksStore.com, and through the Starbucks mobile phone application (including Starbucks Card purchases and reloads). (source)

Users will get 1% back on all other purchases.  Additionally, new card users will get $100 cash back if they spend $500 in their first three months of owning the card.

 

Citi Dividend Platinum

Citi Dividend Platinum

  • 5.0% on Macy’s, Gyms/Fitness Clubs, and Drug Stores

There is an annual $300 cap on rewards with this card. Open this car now and take advantage of their limited-time promotion to receive $100 cash back after $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening the card. Users will also get 1% back on all other purchases and your rewards will never expire given that there is activity on the card every 12 months.

It’s important to note that cardholders must manually “opt in” for the 5% cash back rewards by logging into their online credit card account.

To determine if these credit cards are the optimal cards for you, download the Reward Summit app now and start logging your credit card purchases right away!

By : Kelly Davis /January 13, 2014 /Reward Points /Comments Off Read More

2014: The Year for Mobile Wallets

This will be the year mobile wallets get traction, and this is positive for consumers. A couple of the bigger mobile wallets are already starting to make a splash (e.g., Google Wallet, Isis, Merchant Processors) While there have been technical and industry-specific obstacles to adoption over the past few years, most of those barriers are being mitigated.  As a result, consumers should see mobile wallets take off in 2014. Mobile wallet users can expect to save money and earn more rewards, not to mention the convenience of paying with your phone.

What Mobile Wallets Mean to You

Anyone who uses credit or debit cards has something to gain from mobile wallets. First, it means you can make purchases with your phone, even if you don’t have a wallet with you.  And you will be able to make those purchases more often – many stores already accept mobile payments,  and many more will be getting this capability this year. Second, you can conveniently carry all your payment cards with no fear of looking like George Castanza.  Your smartphone is the same size whether you have no payment cards on the phone or ten.  Third, the mobile wallet will make it easier to receive discounts from merchants and other offers / features without clipping / saving a bunch of coupons.

These benefits are particularly important for Reward Summit users.  You are already actively working to maximize your rewards.   But, if you’re like most people, carrying all those payment cards around can be a hassle. With mobile wallets all those cards can live conveniently in your smartphone without taking up extra space in your wallet or purse. And, if you’ve been reluctant to add cards to your reward optimization repertoire, you may have missed out on some earnings potential. Mobile wallets make this much easier!

What We Recommend for Reward Summit Users

Here are 4 things you can do right now to optimize the 2014 mobile wallet trend:

1. Pay attention.  When you are out shopping, see which stores already accept mobile payments. Often times you’ll see a logo for Google Wallet, MasterCard PayPass, or and Isis logo on the point-of-sale terminal where you normally swipe your credit card.

2. Check out the available mobile wallets.  If you have an Android phone with NFC (like the Nexus 5, the Moto X, or the Samsung Galaxy S3 or S4), you have a wide range of options, including Goggle Wallet and potentially Isis.  You can check out the Isis wallet or Google Wallet apps from the Google Play Store and try out paying by tapping on your phone.

If you have an Android phone without NFC, don’t despair.  The Google Wallet application is still worth checking out because you can get money-saving offers in the app. If you have an iPhone, you can check out the Square Wallet which is very nice if you shop at merchants who use Square for their credit card processing. More wallets may be on the way for iPhone.

3. Consider adjusting your credit card strategy. Would you add existing cards to your mobile wallet that you don’t normally carry with you? Should you consider applying for additional cards now that you wouldn’t have before because you were out of space in your purse or wallet? (If you haven’t looked recently, Reward Summit has recently reviewed several great new cards like the US Bank Cash+ Visa.)

4. Think about your next phone purchase.  Right now Android is the clear winner in having the widest array of options and most new Android phones coming on the market in the United States now support NFC. Technology changes quickly, so do a little research before signing another two-year agreement for your next phone.  If you love your iPhone, keep alert to apps that provide mobile wallet capabilities.

By : Chris Hart /January 02, 2014 /How To /Comments Off Read More

Best Credit Cards for Holiday Shopping

Looking to get the most rewards and benefits from your holiday shopping? We’re here to help! There’s not one card that fits all.  The best card for you depends on how you shop, where you shop, and whether you need added benefits like an extended return period and warranties.

While the Reward Summit app is the only way to truly determine the best card for each purchase and the best card(s) for your wallet, we can recommend three reward credit cards to get you started.  Here are our recommendations for the best credit cards for holiday shopping.

Discover IT

Discover IT
Perfect for shopping online until the end of December, the Discover IT card offers cardholders 5% cash back during the fourth quarter for all online purchases.  Similar to the Chase Freedom, this card offers 5% cash back on select categories each quarter, with 1% cash back on all other purchases.  We recommend getting the most benefit out of this card by shopping online during Black Friday for specials that are available online and for Cyber Monday.

Benefit Highlights: 
Discover IT also offers an extended warranty of up to one year on all on all items purchased with the card, with a warranty of 36 months or less.  An even greater benefit to holiday gift recipients, Discover cardholders enjoy an extended return period within 90 days of purchase for up to a $500 refund.  Cardholders can also earn an extra $100 if they spend $500 within the first three months of using the card.

Redemption Options: 

  • Cash back - Cardholders can receive cash back through direct deposit, check by mail, or statement credit.
  • Merchandise - Cardholders can cash in their reward points for merchandise at a 1 cent to 1 point ratio at the 200 retailers in the Shop Discover credit card mall.  Purchases at Shop Discover earn cardholders 5-20% cash back.
  • Pay with Cash back –  Cardholders can pay certain retailers directly with rewards points, including Amazon, Facebook, and iTunes.
  • Gift Cards - Cardholders can redeem reward points with cash back partner gift cards at a better than 1 cent to 1 point ratio.  For example, a $50 gift card may only cost you the value of a $40 gift card (4,000 points).
  • Travel - Discover IT cardholders can choose among tour deals, resort deal, and cruise deals and get 5% cash back on these exclusive deals only available to Discover customers.

 Chase Freedom
Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom was meant for holiday shopping offering 5% cash back on Amazon purchases as well as select department stores during the fourth quarter (October 2013 – December 2013).  The credit card offers 5% back throughout the year on select categories and 1% cash back on all other purchases.   The 5% cash back can be applied to the following top department stores: JCPenney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, NORDSTROM, and Sears.

Benefit Highlights: Right now, new cardholders can get a $200 bonus if you spend $500 within the first three months.  We recommend using this car for in-store Black Friday specials at the department stores listed above and Amazon, as well as for Cyber Monday specials at Amazon.

Redemption Options: 

  • Cash back - Cardholders can receive cash back through direct deposit, check by mail, or statement credit.
  • Merchandise – Cardholders can cash in their reward points for merchandise at a 1 cent to 1 point ratio.  So if an item costs $100 in the store, it will cost 10,000 points in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards credit card mall.
  • Gift Cards – Much like merchandise rewards, cardholders can cash in reward points toward gift cards at a 1 cent to 1 point ratio, so a $100 gift card will cost 10,000 points.  However, through seasonal sales and promotions, cardholders can save 10-20% on gift cards from select retailers. For example, cardholders can currently get a $25 gift card to Lands End for the point equivalent of $20 (2,000 points) for a savings of 500 points.
  • Experiences – Cardholders can redeem rewards toward one-of-a-kind experiences such as wine tastings, movie premiers, sporting events, and VIP access to concerts.
  • Travel – Travel is easy to book with Chase Freedom reward points because there are no blackout dates and no restrictions on travel. Chase offers a 1:1 point transfer ratio.  Cardholders can use their Chase Freedom credit card, their accumulated points, or a combination of both when booking.

AmEx Blue Cash Preferred

American Express AmEx Blue Cash Preferred
This card is geared toward credit card users who spend a lot at grocery stores with 6% cash back up to $6,000 in a year. But this card also gets cardholders 3% back on gasoline and select department stores and 1 % back on all other purchases.  But the real highlight for shoppers is American Express’ extended return policy which may prove very valuable when gifting during the holidays.  Additionally, shoppers can get $10 cash back when they use any American Express Card to shop at participating retailers on Small Business Saturday, when they spend $10 or more. And of course, you’ll benefit if you’re in charge of the family’s holiday dinner when you checkout at the grocery store.

Benefit Highlights: 
Cardholders can get up to $300 per eligible returned item, for a maximum of up to $1,000 annually per card account with the extended return period benefit. Purchase protection covers items purchased with the card from accidental damage or theft for up to 90 days. Cardholders can also take advantage of an extended warranty up to one year on all items purchased with the card. New cardholders can earn a free $100 credit toward their statement when they spend $1,000 in the first three months with their card.  Additionally, upon approval, cardholders get a free year of Amazon Prime.

  • Cash back - Cardholders can receive cash back through a statement credit.
  • Merchandise - Cardholders can purchase merchandise directly from the Member Rewards catalogue. Nerd Wallet estimates that card holders get anywhere from .5 to .9 cents per reward point.
  • Gift Cards -Cardholders can purchase gift cards directly from the Member Rewards catalogue at a 1 cent to 1 point ratio.
  • Travel - Points can be transferred to purchases hotel or airline reward points typically at a ratio of 1 point to 1 point, but redemption options differ with each partner so it’s important to read the fine print before transferring points.

 

By : Kelly Davis /November 27, 2013 /Credit Card Review, Reward Points /Comments Off Read More

5 Tips for Getting the Most Rewards on Black Friday

blackfriday

1. Set a budget.
Spending more than you can afford might mean making a minimum payment.  Any time you don’t pay your credit card bill in full, you are depleting the value of the rewards you’ve earned by paying interest.

2. Shop at a credit card mall.
Besides the benefit of being able to shop without crowds in your pajamas, you can get major rewards by shopping at a credit card mall.  Not only will you get the Black Friday deals that are available online, but you’ll also get cash back from your purchases because you shopped through your card’s mall. One of the best credit card malls for getting cash back is ShopDiscover, at which you can get up to 20% cash back.  Also, Chase Freedom is offering 10% cash back when card users shop at select department stores through their Ultimate Rewards credit card mall.

3. Research your credit card to find out about time sensitive deals. 
Some credit card deals have special reward offers during this particular time of the year. Discover IT card has 5% cash back on online purchases October through December, so if you use this card it’s probably in your best interest to wait for Cyber Monday. The Chase Freedom card’s eligible 5% cash back categories for this quarter are Amazon and select department stores. Using this card to shop at Amazon on Cyber Monday is a great way to get the most from your rewards, as well as targeting the specific eligible department stores on Black Friday.

4. Wait until Cyber Monday for browsing
There may be deals on Black Friday that are just too good to pass up so by all means, fight the crowds to get the best deal.  However, after you purchase these items that you “must have”, wait for Cyber Monday to browse for other items. The online deals on Cyber Monday are often comparable to that of Black Friday.  And a lot of reward credit cards offer valuable reward deals for shopping online. Check with your credit card company to determine if  online shopping is rewarded at a higher rate.

5. Use Reward Summit with every Black Friday purchase.
To truly get the most rewards with every Black Friday purchase, make sure you log every purchase with your Reward Summit app, so we can tell you which of your reward credit cards will benefit you most. Our app makes getting the most rewards so easy!

By : Kelly Davis /November 22, 2013 /How To /Comments Off Read More

Get The Most From Your Travel Rewards Credit Card

Travel Reward Credit Card

Being a savvy travel rewards credit card user means more than just racking up tons of rewards to use towards travel.  It means knowing how to get the most from these rewards and how to get the most rewards that you actually want.  Read on for our six tips to get the most out of your travel rewards credit card.

1. Weigh credit card costs against your rewards and benefits.
To truly get the most out of your travel rewards, you need to benefit more from the rewards than annual fees and interest rates are costing you.  You can nullify the effect of interest rates by always paying your credit card bill in full every month, thus paying no interest rate.  Next, decide if the value of the rewards and benefits (elite status and other perks) you’re getting annually from your travel reward credit card is greater than the annual fee of the credit card. If not, it’s time to look for a new credit card.

2. Don’t let travel rewards expire.
Read the fine print of your travel rewards credit card to determine if and when travel rewards expire and use them before the deadline.  Some credit cards will keep your rewards active if you make a purchase from one of their partners.  

 

3. Apply rewards to the biggest expense.
If you could walk into a jewelry store and take anything for free, you’d pick out the biggest most expensive diamond, right?  The same should go when cashing in travel rewards.  Use those miles for longer, more expensive flights and that free hotel night at the nicest hotel possible. For example, if you have to travel to both Seattle and San Francisco next month and both flights require the same amount of points, but the Seattle flight is less expensive if paid out of pocket, use your points toward the San Francisco flight.

4. Choose a card that works for you.
If you always fly American Airlines, then you need a Citi AAdvantage World MasterCards, but if you fly on a variety of airlines, choose a card that allows you to apply points toward multiple airlines. Similarly with hotels, choose a card that allows you to earn free nights towards your favorite hotel or the hotel group that is present where you travel most. Reward Summit can help you choose the right card by analyzing your spending habits.

5. Consider flying a partner airline when cashing in rewards.
Being flexible is key when cashing in travel rewards, but sometimes you can find the flight you want with a partner airline.  For example Delta has 20 worldwide airline partners, toward which rewards can be applied. Know your options to get to the places you want to go.

Also, some airlines will charge you taxes and fees for redeeming your miles.  You can avoid this by transferring to a partner airline that has a lesser redemption cost.

6. Redeem miles during off-peak times.
Generally, your miles will get your further during off-peak times. Flights are both more expensive and require more points during high travel times like spring break and holidays.  Plan your trips in advance so you can avoid flying during these more expensive times, when possible.

7. Pay attention to benefits as well as rewards.
Often hotel credit cards will offer benefits such as one free night after you pass a certain threshold of dollars spent with the card which is for many people, just as important as the rewards themselves.  The Chase Marriott Rewards Premier will grant you a free night as soon as you’re approved for the card, as well as a free night every year on your anniversary date. If you spend $1,000 in the first three months, you earn 50,000 reward points which can be used for as many as six free additional nights at a hotel.  If elite status is important to you, check with your credit card company to find out if free nights count toward elite status.

8. Know what it takes to get elite status.
It is also important to know the threshold of spending required to reach elite status at your hotel of choice. For example, the American Express HHilton Honors grants card users silver status upon credit card approval and requires a minimum of $20,000 spent annually to achieve gold status. However, the American Express HHilton Honors Surpass grants card members gold status in their first year of using the card with no minimum spending requirement.

 

By : Kelly Davis /November 21, 2013 /How To /Comments Off Read More

The Best Reward Credit Cards

Best Reward Credit Cards

While there are some reward credit cards that are all around good cards, the best card for you is the one that meets your spending and rewards needs.  While you may get a lot of rewards from a “best in show” type card, if you’re a world traveler, you would really benefit most from a card that rewards you for your travels.

The only way to truly find the best card for your spending habits it to use the Reward Summit app.  However, here are the best reward credit cards  to get you started on racking up rewards, divided into categories, based on your spending habits.

Flexible Rewards
For an all around great rewards card, we recommend the US Bank Cash+ Visa, especially if you love flexibility in spending categories. This card  allows you to choose two different categories each quarter in which to earn 5% cash back. 

The rewards:

  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 on the combined two categories you choose
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category
  • 1% cash back on All Other Purchases

Other features include travel accident insurance, concierge service, roadside dispatch, and many more benefits.

Travel
The Chase Marriott Rewards Premier is hands down the best card for those who spend a lot on hotel travel.

The rewards are paid in point, but we express them as % to make it easier to compare to cash back options:

  • 5.0% on Marriott Hotels
  • 2.0% on Car Rental
  • 1.0% on All Purchases
  • 2.0% on Airlines
  • 2.0% on Restaurants

If you spend $1,000 in the first three months of opening your account, you will receive a 50,000 point bonus.  Other features include no foreign exchange fee and a host of Marriott rewards including 15 credits each year towards elite status and one credit towards elite status for each $3,000 spent.  This card is also EMV enabled.

Groceries and Gas
The American Express AmEx Blue Cash Preferred is the card to get if you spend a lot on groceries and/or gas.  Don’t let the annual fee deter you from this card.  When we crunched the numbers for our customers, in almost every case, the benefits more than outweigh the fee.

The rewards:

  • 6.0% on Supermarkets up to $6,000
  • 3.0% on Gasoline
  • 3.0% on Department Stores
  • 1.0% on All Other Purchases

Other features offered include roadside assistance, $150 bonus if $1000 spent within three months, as well as both primary rental card and travel accident insurance.  Extended warranty and return guarantee are included on purchases made with this card.

Airfare
We recommend the CapOne Venture Rewards if you spend a lot of money on airfare and don’t generally purchase from a single airline. In other words, this is a great general airfare card.

The rewards:

  • 2.0mi/$ on All Purchases

Some of the many features of this card include 10,000 mile bonus after you spend $1,000 within 3 months of opening your account, free travel upgrades, concierge service, rental car and travel accident insurance, and extended warranty.

US Airways
For credit card users who consistently fly US Airways, we recommend a US Airways Mastercard to get the best rewards and upgrades. Three different cards are offered, based on approval, and range from 1.0mi/$ spent to 2.0mi/$ spent on US Airways. Please see the US Airways MasterCard website for specifics for each card.

American Airlines
For loyal American Airlines flyers, we recommend one of the three Citi AAdvantage World MasterCards.  All three cards earn 30,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases within first 3 months of card membership. And all three cards earn 2.0mi/$ spent on all eligible American Airline Purchases.  You can find out more by going to their website.

By : Kelly Davis /November 17, 2013 /Reward Points /Comments Off Read More

Debunking Reward Credit Card Myths

debunking reward credit card myths

There are a lot of people out there that don’t believe in using credit because they’ve found themselves in a bad situation by misuing credit. They don’t think rewards credit cards are worth it because they have never realized the benefit of using one.  We’re here to set the record straight and prove that reward credit cards are valuable, easy-to-use, and most important, rewarding.  Read on to learn about five reward credit card myths and why they are false.

1. Reward credit cards always come with fees

There are many great reward credit cards that come with no annual fee.  Take for example the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card, which is a widely popular reward credit card with lots of perks and no annual fee. Other popular no fee cards include the American Express Blue Cash Everyday card, and the Discover IT card.

3. Rewards earned aren’t very valuable

Whether it’s a virtually free trip to London or free holiday gifts for friends and family, people who use reward credit cards wisely and consistently find a lot of value in the rewards they earn. Reward credit cards literally have something for everyone. If the merchandise offered isn’t your thing, who doesn’t like cash back or a credit toward your bill?  Of course, the more valuable a reward, the more points it requires, which is why we recommend using your reward credit cards as much as possible and paying your bill in full each month.

5. Carrying a balance won’t hurt my rewards

Carrying a balance means that you’re paying interest and accumulating more interest charges each and every month your bill isn’t paid in full.  This means that the value of any reward points you do have are negated by the loss of money from owed interest.  In other words, if you earn enough reward points to get $20 cash back one month, but have racked up $30 in interest charges, you’re at a loss.  Your reward points are still in tact, but you have nothing to show for them.

4. Benefitting from reward cards take a lot of time and energy

This was true a few years ago, but since then Reward Summit was created to maximize your reward points every time you make a purchase with your reward credit card. Using Reward Summit is easy, takes very little time, and tells you which credit card in your wallet will get you the most rewards.  Over time, Reward Summit can even recommend a credit card that you don’t have to get even more reward points. With the click of a few buttons, getting the most from your reward credit cards is simple and easy.

5. Reward credit cards aren’t worth it

If you set a budget for yourself and live within this budget, putting most or all of your purchases on your rewards credit card, you’re basically getting something for nothing.  If you had paid for the exact same things with cash or a debit card, you would be out the exact same amount of money, but you would have nothing to show for it.  Over time, reward credit cards compensate you just for using their card.  For us and we think for you too, that’s very worth it.

By : Kelly Davis /November 14, 2013 /Reward Points /Comments Off Read More

Technology Makes Credit Cards Easy

Technology Makes Credit Cards Easy

Using technology in conjunction with your credit card is a great thing.  Not only can technology help you be a responsible credit card user, but it can also help you get the most rewards with every credit card purchase, and make the most sound financial decisions with lots of relevant data about your spending habits. Here are our top six technology tips to help make using credit cards easy. 

Tip #1:  Sign up for automatic bill payment. 
One of the fastest ways to mess up your credit is by not paying your bills and/or not paying them on time.  You can ensure this never happens with automatic bill payment.  However, if overdraft of your checking worries you, make sure you follow tip #2 and #3.

Tip #2: Sign up for paperless billing. 
Paperless billing means no more envelopes in the mail that may or may not get misplaced by you or your mailman.  Instead, your bill is delivered to your email inbox each month along with the ability to receive email notification for bill available, bill due, and payment posted.  Sign up to make sure you receive all of these notifications so you are notified of important credit card information in real time.

Tip #3: Check your credit card account online regularly.
By signing into your credit card account on a regular basis, you will be more mindful of charges you incure throughout the month so you don’t spend beyond your means.  Also, regular checking will guard against credit card fraud.  When checking your account, be mindful of charges that look unfamiliar or are outside your regular spending habits.  Additionally, for real-time credit charges information, don’t just look at your total charges.  Take into account the past few charges, which will be listed as pending because they have not been processed and thus, will not affect the total charges until later.

Tip #4: Sign Up for Instant Notifications
Signing up for instant notifications allows you to be notified of any changes to your account which you preset.  These notifications can be delivered to you via text message and/or email.  Most credit cards offer notifications for charges over a certain amount that you set and when you approach your credit limit.

If your credit card does not have instant notifications, services like Mint.com can notify you with similar information for all credit cards.

Tip #5: Use Reward Summit
Figuring out which reward card is best for your spending habits and choosing the card in your wallet that gets you the most rewards with a particular purchase is extremely time consuming.  Not to mention, determining the optimum reward credit card  is a moving target as your spending habits change. Reward Summit figures this out for you. Our easy-to-use app recommends a credit card in your wallet each time you make a purchase and will also recommend a new card that will get you even more rewards after analyzing your spending habits. If you’re going to use a credit card, you might as well get rewarded for it with a rewards card.  And if you’re going to use a reward card, why would you not want to use the one that would get you the most rewards?

Tip #6: Use Intuit in Conjunction with Reward Summit
Reward Summit is integrated with Intuit for more privacy and efficiency when using the app. Once users link their cards via Intuit, Reward Summit is instantly able to make the best possible recommendations. The app automatically knows if users have maxed out their 5% category on their Discover card for the quarter, or their 3% back on gas for their Bank of America card. Additionally, the app can send users detailed reports that analyze how well they use their cards and tag exact dollar values to other cards they may be considering. For instance, a user may have earned $750 this year with his current mix, but by adding a Cap One QuickSilver card, he could earn an additional $272.

By : Kelly Davis /November 11, 2013 /Reward Points /Comments Off Read More

Redeeming Your Reward Points

Redeeming Reward Points

You are a responsible credit card user.  You put all purchases on your reward credit card(s) for maximum rewards.  You pay your credit card bill in full every month.  And you use Reward Summit to make sure you are choosing the best reward credit card with every purchase.  As a result, you’ve racked up a ton of reward points!

Now, what are you going to do with them? Read on to learn about your options and some tips to determine if you’re getting the best value from each reward when redeeming your reward points.

1. Cash Back
Typically, credit cards companies offer users an easy-to-understand 1 cent for 1 point exchange for cash back redemption.  This option is flexible because you can spend the cash anywhere.  Also, sometimes there is an additional incentive to use the card issuer’s bank.  For example, Bank of America card holders can earn an additional 10% for depositing cash back rewards into a Bank of America checking account.

Tip: Double-check the fine print or call your credit card company to find out if there is an incentive for opening a checking account with the card issuer’s bank.  Unless there is a fee for the account that negates the benefit of the incentive, open up a checking account to get the additional percentage incentive.

2. Statement Credit
Like cash back rewards, statement credits are often very transparent because most credit cards offer a simple 1 cent to 1 reward point exchange. There is often a minimum point requirement before you can begin applying this reward to your statement.  

3. Travel
Travel rewards typically include airline miles, nights at hotels and resorts, car rentals, cruises, and vacation packages.  Some credit card users set a goal for themselves to rack up enough points to have entire vacations completely paid in full with reward points.  Usually, these card holders get more benefit from a travel credit card that specialize in these types of rewards than a general rewards credit card.  Also for consideration, these rewards are often limited by eligibility restrictions, expiration dates, and limited award seats on airlines. 

Tip: The credit card user who is able to take an entire “free” vacation on reward points doesn’t rack up enough reward points by accident, but instead strategically makes large purchases or all purchases on a travel rewards card to work towards this goal.  Before going to such lengths, check the fine print of your credit card or contact your credit card company to learn more about restrictions and limitations on rewards.

4. Goods
Many online retailers allow credit card users to pay for merchandise with their reward points.  For example, Discover Card has over 200 retailers that users can access via the Discover website and pay with their credit card reward points. In addition, purchases made with Discover card reward points at these retailers, earn users an additional 5-20% cash back bonus. However, weigh your options before purchasing goods with reward points.  If cash back is a 1 cent for 1 point exchange and the item you are purchasing requires more points per cent, the better option is to take the cash back, unless a cash back bonus sweetens the deal. You have to do the math to fully understand which is your best option.

Tip: To get the most benefit for your rewards, use reward points at retailers for items you would buy regardless of whether you have reward points.  Also, do your homework to make sure you are getting a good deal by purchasing directly from the retailer as opposed to discount sites like Amazon (which you can also shop at via Discover Card).

5. Experiences
Experience rewards cover the gamut from concerts to wine tours and everything in between.  Like merchandise goods, it is often difficult to determine whether you are getting the best deal possible because of no clear exchange rate between value of the experience and your reward points.  However, experiences are sometimes offered at discounts and are a unique way to cash in your hard earned rewards.

6. Gift Cards
Gift cards are a great option when you opt for a gift card to a retailer at which you typically shop.  Also, some credit cards will offer discounted gift cards, like 2,500 points for a $30 gift card.  In this case, the gift card value is higher than the simple 1 cent to 1 reward point exchange rate and is a better deal. 

Tips: To get the most bang for your buck, only opt for gift cards if they’re discounted at a better exchange rate than your cash back rewards and only choose retailer at which you already shop.

7. Charitable Contributions
When donating reward points to charities, card users are restricted to the charities offered by their credit card company,which may or may not include their favorite charity.  Charities also typically have to pay a transaction fee of 2-3% so they aren’t receiving the full amount of your charitable donation.  However, if the exchange rate is better than that of your cash back reward, this reward might be worth it. 

Tips: Do the math to determine if the charitable contribution reward is a better value than cash back, also taking into account the transaction fee. If not, you can simply opt for cash back and then make the donation directly to the charity of your choice.

By : Kelly Davis /November 07, 2013 /Reward Points /Comments Off Read More

Credit Card Usage in October

Have you ever wondered which credit card or bank is most popular among customers? Are you curious about how other credit card customers stack up against you? As we look back on credit card usage in October we’ll reveal these and other interesting trends as we look at the trends from the last month.

it-card-art

Discover It Makes Waves
The #1 card in October was the Chase Freedom – the same position it held in September. The big change happened in the #2 spot with the Discover It card rocketing in popularity. It makes sense that these two cards are so dominant among our users: both are great cards to carry. They also compliment each other well – while both cards have 5% categories that change each quarter, those categories rarely overlap. If you have room in your wallet to carry a few cards, you’d be well served to have both the Chase Freedom and the Discover It.

American_Express_logo

American Express Makes a Strong Showing
Chase was also the #1 card issuer in October with it’s position driven by the popularity of the Freedom card but also a myriad of compelling airline and hotel reward cards. It’s not surprising that Chase would be in the top spot, so we were more interested in how other issuers stacked up.

American Express came in at the second spot this month with their performance driven by the extremely popular TrueEarnings Costco card and their Blue line of cards. We think these cards are a great complement to your wallet if you already have a rotating category card and now we know Reward Summit customers agree!

Rounding out the rest of the top 5 issuers this month were:

#3: Discover, driven mostly by the popularity of their now retired More card and the new It card
#4: Citi, who offers a wide variety of reward cards
#5: Bank of America, driven mostly by their heavily marketed BankAmeriCard Cash Rewards card offering 1% on everything, 2% on groceries, and 3% on gas

The “Power Customer” Trend
The average U.S. credit card customer carries 3-4 credit cards and many of our customers fit in to that demographic. What is more interesting to us is the continuing trend of the “Power Customer” who carries many cards and works to optimize their transactions. In October, 28% of new Reward Summit customers carried five or more cards. The Reward Summit app works well for anyone interested in earning more rewards since it can be difficult to keep track of just one or two reward programs. For the power customer who carries five (or in some cases, as many as 10 or 15!) cards, it’s virtually impossible to know which card is best without some assistance. We’re thrilled to see people using Reward Summit to maximize their rewards.

Looking Ahead
November and December are typically big months for spending: holiday travel offers lots of opportunities for earning airline and hotel points, families get together for big dinners, and gift giving goes into high gear. With that in mind, here are a couple trends we anticipate for November:

  • We expect to see continued popularity of the Discover It card with its 5% cash back for online purchases this quarter. If you’re shopping online for gifts, this is the absolute best way to save money this quarter. You can learn more here.
  • The Huntington Voice card offers great flexibility in configuring reward points. We reviewed the card before and believe consumers will find it extremely compelling. While it doesn’t have the same marketing power behind it as the Chase Freedom, the American Express Blue family of cards, of the Bank of America BankAmeriCard Cash Rewards card, it is one of the most impressive new cards.
  • Chase Freedom will continue to dominate this quarter. Offering 5% cash back at Amazon.com and select department stores, it’s hard to go wrong with this card.

 

By : Chris Hart /November 04, 2013 /Uncategorized /Comments Off Read More