Maximizing What’s in Your Wallet Q3 2012


Welcome to the Q3 2012 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 Q3 2012, then read on.

Here’s how you should allocate your spending:

Gas – This is a no-brainer. It’s the same card year round. It is the PenFed VISA Platinum Gas / Cash Rewards Card (a sponsor). You’ll get 5% back all the time on gas purchases. Just make sure you pay at the pump. I used to use this card for a lot more, but the rewards have been really scaled back such that only the 5% gas reward makes sense.  However, as a gas card, it’s a great choice.

Groceries – I have been very pleased with my Blue Cash PreferredSM Card from American Express  (a sponsor) 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 the card carries a $75 annual fee, but it’s worth it.

Restaurants – Use your Chase Freedom® Visa (a sponsor) for 5% cash back this quarter.

Drug Stores/Museums/Department Stores, and Clothing Stores – No special rewards this quarter. See the Everything Else category for a good fallback suggestion.

Home Improvement  – Your best bet is to buy gift cards for your favorite home improvement store using the   Blue Cash PreferredSM Card from American Express  (a sponsor) or use your 2% card.

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 (both sponsors).

Movies –  Discover it Card (a sponsor) is offering 5% the entire year.

Theme Parks – Discover it Card (a sponsor) is offering 5% this quarter.

Gifts – For gifts I use the Amazon VISA year round. When you buy through Amazon with the Amazon VISA you get 3% back and the first time you sign up, they give you $40 off your purchase. It’s well worth the sign up.  I am tempted to use my new  Blue Cash PreferredSM Card from American Express  (a sponsor) to buy Amazon gift cards at a grocery store for the 6% cash back.

Everything Else – I use the  Fidelity Investment Rewards AMEX  and Sallie Mae Signature VISA interchangeably.  They both offer 2% cashback.

Two final thoughts: Please remember to sign up at Chase and Discover to be eligible for their 5% rewards, and remember this advice is ONLY for people who don’t carry a balance…EVER.

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