Maximizing What’s in Your Wallet Q4 2013


Welcome to the Q4 2013 government shutdown edition of Maximizing What’s in Your Wallet!

As a reminder, this post is for all the credit card deadbeats out there looking to maximize cash back rewards. So, if you never carry a balance on your credit cards, have them set to auto-pay in full every month, and want to make the most of Q4 2013, then read on.

Here’s how you should allocate your spending this quarter:

Gas – Use the PenFed VISA Platinum Gas / Cash Rewards Card, but please note there have been substantial changes to this card over time. You’ll get 5% back all the time on gas purchases, and the rewards are automatically deducted from your current bill statement, but there is an avoidable annual fee.  

Groceries and Gift Cards – I have been very pleased with my Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express which pays me 6% back on all grocery purchases.  It also pays 3% on gas and 1% on everything else, but I only use it at the grocery store.  The downside to the card is it carries a $75 annual fee and the grocery spending is capped at $6k per year, but it’s still a great card when not overly abused.  

Restaurants – For me I’m using my US Bank Cash+ for 5% back in regular and fast food restaurants.   

Department Stores Chase Freedom is offering 5% back at a wide variety of department stores.  This list EXCLUDES Target, Walmart, and the membership warehouses.

Online ShoppingDiscover is offering 5% back.

Home Improvement  –  N/A

Hotels and Airlines – Use your favorite hotel card.  Mine are the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card.

Theme Parks –  Chase Freedom is offering 5% back.

Cell Phone –  I’m using my US Bank Cash+ for 5% back.  It works out to like $7/mth that I get back.

Drugstores – N/A

Amazon – I  use my Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express  to buy Amazon gift cards at a grocery store for the 6% cash back.  I also have the Amazon VISA for when I’m too lazy for that extra layer of work. When you buy through Amazon with the Amazon VISA you get 3% back and the first time you sign up, they give you $30-40 off your purchase depending on the offer at that time.  And, Chase Freedom is offering 5% back this quarter.

Everything Else – I use the  Fidelity Investment Rewards AMEX.  It offers 2% cash back across the board.

Two final thoughts: Sponsors are noted in red, and remember this advice is ONLY for people who don’t carry a balance…EVER.

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  • But everyone has to pay their bills. Why wouldn’t I use a US Bank Cash card to pay my cell phone bill just because I’m carrying a credit card balance elsewhere?

    • You can be the exception, but only because I know your balance is at 0% interest!

  • I’m so psyched Chase Freedom is offering 5% cash back on Amazon this quarter. Just in time for the holiday shopping season!

    • Yeah, that can be dangerous. Remember you can always buy Amazon gift cards at the grocery store or drug store when that is Chase’s 5% category. Then you can do your Amazon spending in any season!