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 Shopping – Discover 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.