Reward Points

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

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

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

Why Choose Credit over Debit

Credit Over Debit

Most Americans have both a debit card and a credit card in their wallet.  But which one is the better option when making a purchase?  In the purchasing battle, credit comes out on top in almost every situation.  Read on to find out why you should choose credit over debit.

Protection Against Fraud

Credit cards offer protection on fraudulent charges so if someone stole your credit card number, you would be reimbursed for the charges you didn’t make. Banks don’t offer unlimited protection on fraudulent charges or offer protection on a limited amount.  Any money spent or withdrawn using a debit card is cash lost almost instantly.  Most credit cards also offer a no liability policy in the event that fraud occurs.  Online shopping offers increased opportunity for fraud, which makes using a credit card the wiser choice.

Restoring and Building Credit

If you have no credit history or have a history of bad credit, using a credit card responsibly is a good way to establish good credit.  Debit card purchases are seldom reported to credit reporting agencies, and thus will have no effect on your credit history. 

No Overdraft

When using a debit card, there is always a danger of spending more than you have in your bank account, which usually results in expensive fees each time the account is over-drafted.  With credit cards, you’re not spending money in “real time” so overdraft isn’t an issue.  There is always the possibility of going over your credit limit, if you’re not mindful of your purchasing.  However, this is easier to avoid since the limit is static and there are precautions you can take  (like email or text notifications) to warn you when you approach the limit.

Perks

Many credit cards offer perks such as extended warranties, roadside assistance, and insurance on purchases.  The only catch is that you have to use your credit card to make the initial purchase in order to get the perk. (You should contact your credit card company to find out the specific perks your credit card offers, which differ from card to card.)

Rewards

In our opinion this is the #1 reason to choose a credit card over a debit card.  What other form of currency allows you to actually make money while making purchases? Using a reward credit card consistently and responsibly allows you to  rack up tons of reward points good towards travel, airlines, goods, services, and actual cash.  Thus, using a reward credit card always trumps a debit card, when used responsibly.

To make sure you’re reaping the full benefits of using your credit card over your debit card, pay your credit card balance in full each month and use the Reward Summit app to make sure you are racking up the most reward points with every purchase.  

 

By : Kelly Davis /October 28, 2013 /Reward Points /Comments Off Read More