Matt is a professional painter and freelance writer, sharing his knowledge, house-painting tips, and product reviews.
Why Use A Cash Rebate Credit Card?
The only credit cards I use are rewards cards that provide cash back on my purchases. If your credit score is high enough to qualify for a cash back credit card, it's foolish, in my opinion, not to get money back on things you're buying anyway. With simple planning and discipline, you can strategically use these cards to earn extra money on a monthly basis and get big discounts on purchases.
Sign-up Bonuses Equal Big Savings
Most credit card companies provide a cash bonus when you sign up and spend a certain amount of money within a certain time period, which is typically $500 in the first three months of opening the account. Most bonuses range from $100 to $300. If you plan out your purchase with a card offering a bonus, you can put that money towards the balance to get a huge discount.
I ordered a $500 heater for my garage, using the Quick Silver rebate card and got rewarded with a $250 bonus. I applied the bonus to the statement balance and got the heater for half off, plus the purchase rebate. Not bad. Typically, when I have a larger purchase like that, I will find a new card with a sign up bonus and make the purchase using that card to get the bonus.
Earn Money from Your Purchases
I charge most of my monthly expenses on my rebate card including gas, groceries, supplies for my business, and my cell phone bill. If the bank allowed it, I would even charge my mortgage payment on my card to get a rebate. The rebate percentage on my primary card is 2% and averages out to around $50 per month in cash back.
Use Cash Back Cards Responsibly
Rebate cards typically require a higher credit score to qualify. With a credit score of at least 600, preferably 700, you're more likely to qualify. The key to using these cards responsibly is to avoid spending more money to get bigger rebates. Use the card only to pay for things you're already buying anyway.
Pay the statement balance in full and on time to avoid paying interest and late fees that eat away at any money earned from the card. Most cash back cards include a zero percent introductory period on purchases for the first year, but when that period ends, the interest rate is usually pretty high. I've never paid interest on any of my rebate credit cards because I've always paid the statement balance in full every month.
Citibank Double Cash Credit Card
I use the Citibank Double Cash card for the majority of my purchases, including groceries and gas. Citibank rewards a total of 2% cash back on all of your purchases year round once you pay your bill. You earn the cash back on every purchase without having to worry if it qualifies or not.
The rebate is processed at the end of your billing cycle and posts to your account monthly, typically on the fifth day of the month. You have the option of direct depositing the cash into your checking account, applying it to your balance, which is what I usually do, or request a check in the mail.
In addition to earning money back, you also get zero percent on balance transfers, not purchases, for eighteen months. Not getting a zero percent intro period, or a sign up bonus, are two drawbacks, but this is one of the only cards that gives you a total of 2% back once you pay your bill. There is no annual fee. If you're responsible and pay your statement balance on time, you won't pay any interest using this card.
Discover It Rewards
Discover It gives you a nice return of 5% cash back on certain purchases that change each quarter. The four rotating categories are gas and wholesale clubs, home improvement stores, restaurants, and Amazon and Target.
I mostly use this card to get the 5% back on gas, which typically runs from April through June. Use their rewards calender to get the most out of the card.
Like the Double Cash card, there is no annual fee with Discover It. But unlike Citi, you get zero percent on purchases and balance transfers for the first fourteen months, which gives you the freedom to pay any amount you want towards your balance at zero expense.
This card also has a matching perk for new members, which provides additional cash at the end of the year. After the first twelve billing cycles, purchases are matched and added to your rebate balance. Rewards can either be applied to your charge balance or direct deposited into your bank account.
Discover is great if you take advantage of the 5% category and confirm the store you're shopping at is eligible, otherwise the card only gives you 1% back. Since Discover offers one of the highest percentages back on purchases, the best strategy is to rotate your rewards cards to maximize your rebates on eligible purchases.
Chase Freedom Unlimited Card
The main advantage of the Chase Freedom Unlimited card over the Double Cash card is the nice bonus you get if you meet the minimum purchase requirement. If you know you will definitely spend at least $500 in the first three months of opening your account, using this card for the $150 bonus alone is a no-brainer. That is exactly what I did when I bought my new TV.
You also get an additional $25 bonus when you add an authorized user to your account in the first three months. You can add any authorized user you want and you'll still get the $25 bonus. In total, you can get $175 in bonuses with this card, simply for signing up and buying the things you're going to buy anyway.
Beyond the sign-up bonus, there is zero percent on purchases for the first fifteen months. The rebate percentage for Chase Unlimited is 1.5% of every purchase. You can direct deposit the cash into a separate bank account or apply it to your balance.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Matt G.