Best Cash Back Credit Card

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kjm
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Best Cash Back Credit Card

Post by kjm »

The recent AmEx thread prompted me to create this one.

Can someone recommend a credit card that returns more than 1% of purchases back to the card-holder? I'm currently using a Charles Schwab "Invest First" card. The card returns 2% of every purchase into my brokerage account. Unfortunately, my personal finance software doesn't recognize the card. So I'd like to find something else. Any suggestions?
pochax
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Post by pochax »

Since you mentioned AMEX:

AMEX Blue Cash

for every dollar less than $6500 within one year:
1% gas/grocery stores/drugstores
0.5% everything else

for every dollar greater than $6500 within one year:
5% gas/grocery stores/drugstores
1.25% everything else

good for big spenders.
tibbitts
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Re: Best Cash Back Credit Card

Post by tibbitts »

kjm wrote:The recent AmEx thread prompted me to create this one.

Can someone recommend a credit card that returns more than 1% of purchases back to the card-holder? I'm currently using a Charles Schwab "Invest First" card. The card returns 2% of every purchase into my brokerage account. Unfortunately, my personal finance software doesn't recognize the card. So I'd like to find something else. Any suggestions?
Rewards have been cut dramatically over the past year. I don't think the fact that your software doesn't recognize a card is a sufficient justification to abandon a 2% reward if you are otherwise happy with the card. If you are referring to categorizing expenses, my software doesn't recognize anything, so every month I manually enter every transaction from every card and categorize it myself.

Paul
mtl325
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Post by mtl325 »

Fidelity also has a 2% card, but the money accrues in 20 dollar increments. Schwab just dumps all rewards cash into the hopper at the end of the month. Frankly, CC issuers can't do much better than 2% on all purchases because merchant fees aren't much higher. Schwab and Fidelity might be losing money on these cards in order to drive retail banking business to their platforms.

I have a grandfathered Freedom card that we use for groceries and cell phone bills that does 3% cash back on certain categories with an extra 50 dollar bonus when cashing out 200. However, a lot of people had this card switched to a much crappier program. I really don't know why mine was saved when so many others got switched.

IMO Schwab is really the best out there.
pochax
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Post by pochax »

For further information:
an AMEX Blue Cash breaks even with a general 2% cash back on everything card at ~$26500 spent per year mark if one assumes you spend 25% of the card on Gas/Groceries/Drugstores.

If you spend > 25% on such items you can break even a bit sooner.

If you spend < 25% on such items you will break even later.
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Sunny Sarkar
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Post by Sunny Sarkar »

PenFed Visa (5% gas, 2% supermarket, 1.25% all else)
https://www.penfed.org/productsAndRates ... dCards.asp

Schawb Visa (2% flat for everything if deposited to Schawb account)
http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/ban ... redit_card

Fidelity Amex (2% flat for everything if deposited to Fidelity account)
http://personal.fidelity.com/products/c ... owcard=all

Fidelity Visa (1.5% flat for everything if deposited to Fidelity account)
http://personal.fidelity.com/products/c ... shtml.cvsr

Chase Visa (used to be 3% top 3 categories, drugstore, 1% else)
http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 1252434138
montesquieu
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Post by montesquieu »

It could be that your Schwab card can be imported into your software. The Schwab Visa is administered by FIA Card Services, which also services Bank of America and many other cards. You can register the Schwab card on FIA's website, which might be compatible with your software.
GammaPoint
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Post by GammaPoint »

I wonder if Vanguard would be willing to have its own Amex or MC. That would be awesome. I recently sold off all of my non-retirement Fidelity positions to convert to my newfound Boglehead philosophy.*

*Yes, I didn't have to transfer to Vanguard, but I had a lot of high-ER funds that needed to be sold in Fidelity anyway.
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modal
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Post by modal »

Sunny wrote:PenFed Visa (5% gas, 2% supermarket, 1.25% all else)
https://www.penfed.org/productsAndRates ... dCards.asp

Schwab Visa (2% flat for everything if deposited to Schawb account)
http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/ban ... redit_card
I agree. :D
GammaPoint
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Post by GammaPoint »

It'd be neat if Vanguard had a similar card. I'll email them as a suggestion and see what they say....
chaz
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Post by chaz »

Chase Freedom card.
Chaz | | “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." Woody Allen | | http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
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tfb
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Re: Best Cash Back Credit Card

Post by tfb »

kjm wrote:The recent AmEx thread prompted me to create this one.

Can someone recommend a credit card that returns more than 1% of purchases back to the card-holder? I'm currently using a Charles Schwab "Invest First" card. The card returns 2% of every purchase into my brokerage account. Unfortunately, my personal finance software doesn't recognize the card. So I'd like to find something else. Any suggestions?
You've got the best already. Wait until the end of the statement period, then download the transactions for the entire month from FIA's web site.
Harry Sit, taking a break from the forums.
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paulob
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Re: Best Cash Back Credit Card

Post by paulob »

tfb wrote:
kjm wrote:The recent AmEx thread prompted me to create this one.

Can someone recommend a credit card that returns more than 1% of purchases back to the card-holder? I'm currently using a Charles Schwab "Invest First" card. The card returns 2% of every purchase into my brokerage account. Unfortunately, my personal finance software doesn't recognize the card. So I'd like to find something else. Any suggestions?
You've got the best already. Wait until the end of the statement period, then download the transactions for the entire month from FIA's web site.
I wasn't able to connect via Quicken. Called Schwab and the rep told me I needed to wait on the set-up until after the first statement was produced. That might be the problem you are having.
Paul
Madd Hatter
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Post by Madd Hatter »

Emigrant Direct Mastercard pays 1.4% on everything, sent to your ED HYS (which needs to average $10k for the full 1.4%) account every 6 months. Already used ED for my emergency fund anyway so this was a pretty painless decision for me.

Use Discover Open Road for 5% cash on gas/maintenance and regular Discover with "get more" programs that have 5% on rotating categories, but capped purchase amounts of $300-$500/qtr. Can be redeemed online in $20 increments.

Off and on use a Citi Driver's Edge card that pays 3% in Thank You Points on gas/groc/drugstores, and also receive matching points for miles driven (so another 3%). 6% back isn't bad while there's still a store or two with $100 gift cards for 10k points that I can shop at. This one takes some administration (submitting mileage updates, converting rebates to TYN or submitting receipts of auto repairs, placing TYN orders, etc). This reward program has gotten less rewarding with time all around.

Occasionally still use a grandfathered Chase Cash Rewards 3% on gas/groc/drugstores, request a $50 check or statement credit online as I hit it.
MrMatt2532
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Post by MrMatt2532 »

Another good one that hasn't been mentioned is the Citi Forward.

It gets 5% back in Restaurants/Movies/Music/Books and 1% on everything else.

The only problem is you get this in points and not direct cash back. In terms of cash back you can at least get 3% quickly/easily directly to statement and up to 5% if you pick the right awards/wait long enough.

Btw, I have the following cards:
Schwab Invest First
Penfed Cashback
Citi Forward
Chase Freedom

Overall, I think this is one of the best combinations available. Though Chase Freedom's future is uncertain. Mine still get's 3% in the top 3 categories.
MnD
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Post by MnD »

Schwab Visa (2% on everything)
Costco Amex (4% gasoline, 3% dining, 2% travel, 1% on everything else)

With these two cards it's not exactly rocket science to determine which card to use when. The only thing I earn less than 2% on is Costco itself, because they don't take Visa/MC.
rayout
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Post by rayout »

Madd Hatter wrote:Emigrant Direct Mastercard pays 1.4% on everything, sent to your ED HYS (which needs to average $10k for the full 1.4%) account every 6 months. Already used ED for my emergency fund anyway so this was a pretty painless decision for me.

Use Discover Open Road for 5% cash on gas/maintenance and regular Discover with "get more" programs that have 5% on rotating categories, but capped purchase amounts of $300-$500/qtr. Can be redeemed online in $20 increments.

Off and on use a Citi Driver's Edge card that pays 3% in Thank You Points on gas/groc/drugstores, and also receive matching points for miles driven (so another 3%). 6% back isn't bad while there's still a store or two with $100 gift cards for 10k points that I can shop at. This one takes some administration (submitting mileage updates, converting rebates to TYN or submitting receipts of auto repairs, placing TYN orders, etc). This reward program has gotten less rewarding with time all around.

Occasionally still use a grandfathered Chase Cash Rewards 3% on gas/groc/drugstores, request a $50 check or statement credit online as I hit it.
What do you use for your brick and mortar bank? If you open a Chase Checking account you get the ability to redeem in $10 increments and can earn in 2 other categories. They usually have a $100+ sign up bonus floating around also.
rwwoods
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Post by rwwoods »

Chase lowered the cash back rate to 1% for the Freedom card.
"I'm not so much concerned about the return on my money as the return of my money" - Will Rogers
manuvns
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Post by manuvns »

penfed is the best option for cash back
CaptMidnight
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about that Fidelity Amex card

Post by CaptMidnight »

I just received my Fidelity Amex card in the mail. When I called to activate it, I noticed that the only prompt to validate my identity before providing balance and credit line info is:
card number
zip code

Seems pretty careless with my confidential information. When you select an option to make actual changes of any kind you do get a person, but she was satisfied with my date of birth and would have changed my mailing address on the strength of that alone.

I found this pretty shocking. Now I know that my liabilities are limited for credit cards, but this is the same Fidelity that has a big chunck of my assets.
The history of thought and culture is ... a changing pattern of great liberating ideas that inevitably turn in suffocating straightjackets... | --Isaiah Berlin
TheEternalVortex
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Post by TheEternalVortex »

Orchard Bank has a 2% cash back MC (they send you checks). I don't have the sign up link handy at the moment...
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tfb
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Re: about that Fidelity Amex card

Post by tfb »

CaptMidnight wrote:I found this pretty shocking. Now I know that my liabilities are limited for credit cards, but this is the same Fidelity that has a big chunck of my assets.
The card is provided and serviced by FIA Card Services, a subsidiary of Bank of America. Fidelity is only the marketing partner.
Harry Sit, taking a break from the forums.
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ElJay
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Re: about that Fidelity Amex card

Post by ElJay »

CaptMidnight wrote:I just received my Fidelity Amex card in the mail. When I called to activate it, I noticed that the only prompt to validate my identity before providing balance and credit line info is:
card number
zip code

Seems pretty careless with my confidential information.
I believe they also use caller ID to make sure you're calling from the phone number attached to the card. Most of the cards I get have activation stickers that stress that I should call from my home phone.
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Re: about that Fidelity Amex card

Post by Ron »

CaptMidnight wrote:...but this is the same Fidelity that has a big chunck of my assets.
Fidelilty does not manage the account. That is done by FIA card services, which also does the Visa account (via Fidelity).

Like the latest poster said, they do have a way to capture your telephone/address when you activate. If you try to do it from another phone, it won't work (trust me on this :roll: )...

- Ron
Ron
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Post by Ron »

Sunny wrote:Fidelity Visa (1.5% flat for everything if deposited to Fidelity account)
http://personal.fidelity.com/products/c ... shtml.cvsr
Just be aware that Fidelity has changed their Visa program to be somwhat equal to AMEX (both administred via FIA card services).

If you charge over $15k on your Visa card, it goes to 2% cash rebate.

I have both Fidelity cards, using AMEX as my primary and Visa for those merchants that don't accept AMEX. My wife insures that we max out the Visa for the 2% rebate :lol: ...

- Ron
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paulob
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Post by paulob »

I did not see a follow-up as to what software you are using. I use Quicken and just completed downloading for the first time. There are a couple of options. FIA and/or Schwab websites allow for downloading a file that can be imported into financial software.

I choose to go the "direct conect" method via Quicken. I did resort to using Quicken chat to do this successfully, so if you are a Quicken user, it probably can be set-up to download.
Paul
INDUBITABLY
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Post by INDUBITABLY »

The Chase Amazon.com Rewards card is effectively 3% Amazon.com purchases, 2% on (I think) gas and restaurants and 1% on everything else. For the first three months that I had the card, these were doubled. The only issue I have with it is that Chase's website for managing the account seems deliberately obscure and I think I may have done something to temporarily decline to receive paper statements -- as a result I got hit with a $40 fee for exceeding my credit limit and a $40 fee for late payment, along with whatever absurd financing charges that they piled on. So if you aren't 100% on top of things at all times, the fees can get very steep. On the other hand, I just got my first $50 cash back check, so it may balance out in the long run.
"Ah ha! Once again, the conservative, sandwich-heavy portfolio pays off for the hungry investor!" - Dr. Zoidberg
CR
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Post by CR »

I second the Chase Amazon card. I am an avid reader and would be spending far too much on books were it not for the automatic "rationing" system this card allows. Now I just buy them when I get those $25 checks. They just come in the mail. You don't have to remember to do anything. (Except pay the bill on time. Late fees *are* excessive.)
uslee2004
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Post by uslee2004 »

Chase Freedom and Discover for me.

However, just received letter from Discover notifying change of terms for the OpenRoad card. The cash back will be 2% instead of current 5% starting from Jan 2010.

I am thinking about opening a PenFed CC. But not sure about the requirement. Especially if there is any charge involved to keep the account open, say from the PenFed CU.

Thanks in advance for those who have that card.

disclaimer, I can only meet the requirement by the NMFA route.
uslee
tim1999
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Post by tim1999 »

For PenFed do you need to have any government employment or military veteran status? Or can anyone apply?
uslee2004
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Post by uslee2004 »

Cherokee,

Check out their website. My reading is that anyone can apply by join NMFA.

http://www.penfed.org
uslee
jbmitt
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Post by jbmitt »

I'm an infrequent poster, but avid reader..

I thought I would add a card. Chase Subaru 3% cashback. This card earns 3% on all purchases, no special categories. Points are redeemed in $100 dollar increments via Subaru Bucks that are treated as cash on purchase/lease/parts/maintenance through the dealers. You can can earn $500 dollars annually.

It is not the same as straight cash back, but valuable enough if you own or plan to own a Subaru. I thought I would toss this out, because it seems like any time a new car thread comes up here, Subarus are highly recommended among the boglehead community.

http://www.chase.com/subaru

jbmitt
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J.Fred.Muggs
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Amazon Card

Post by J.Fred.Muggs »

I also use the Chase Amazon.com card. Since I've had the card, I've discovered all sorts of unusual things you can buy on Amazon at prices cheaper than brick and mortar stores. Here are some examples:

* olive oil
* nutritional supplements
* tea
* salsa
* socks and underwear
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SaturnV
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Post by SaturnV »

Will Pen Fed CC transactions download into Quicken? And if so, will Quicken download directly from Pen Fed, or do you need to log in to Pen Fed's website and download a file manually? Thanks.
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paulob
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Post by paulob »

IlliniGuy wrote:Will Pen Fed CC transactions download into Quicken? And if so, will Quicken download directly from Pen Fed, or do you need to log in to Pen Fed's website and download a file manually? Thanks.
Here is the answer from Pen Fed support:
Quicken may offer to download information for you directly from a financial institution, but direct downloads are not currently available for PenFed accounts. These programs have utilized new techniques that may allow you to automatically download your PenFed transaction history: however, we have not made changes to accommodate these features.
their reply indicated they support QIF but not OFX or QFX for the Mac (therefore, some manual downloading is available).
Paul
BillRogers
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Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Post by BillRogers »

Hello KJM,

I use tthree rewards cards, one AMEX and the two others are MasterCard.

Costco AMEX (requires a Costco membership)
3% on gasoline and restaurants
2% on travel (hotels, airfare, etc.)
1% on everything else

National City Everyday Rewards Credit Card (now PNC)
4% on gasoline
3% on cinema and movie rentals
2% on groceries, restaurants and fast food

Bank of America Cash Rewards Card
1% cash back on all purchases

Since the remaining rewards on the PNC card are less than 1% (i.e., 1/4% on the first $10,000, and 1% on amount above $10,000), I use my AMEX or Bank of America Cash Rewards MasterCard for all purchases that do not have a reward greater than 2%.

The caveat is that Bank of America rewards must be requested by phone in intervals of 2500 points (i.e., $25). PNC rewards are automatically credited to the account in intervals of $100. Costco AMEX are accrued monthly, but paid each February provided you are still a member of Costco.

In the end the best card is based on your spending habits. I use the AMEX card for business travel, the PNC card for the rewards between 2% and 1%, and the AMEX and/or Bank America.

With respect to gasoline, I have noticed that some private label stations that are not oil company stations may record as a regular purchase and not as gasoline with AMEX.

Best wishes,
Bill Rogers
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southerndoc
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Post by southerndoc »

paulob wrote:I did not see a follow-up as to what software you are using. I use Quicken and just completed downloading for the first time. There are a couple of options. FIA and/or Schwab websites allow for downloading a file that can be imported into financial software.

I choose to go the "direct conect" method via Quicken. I did resort to using Quicken chat to do this successfully, so if you are a Quicken user, it probably can be set-up to download.
You were able to get direct connect to work properly? If so, how did you set this up? I can only download statements from the web and import them into Quicken. Would love to be able to do direct connect!
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paulob
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Post by paulob »

geekmedic wrote:
paulob wrote:I did not see a follow-up as to what software you are using. I use Quicken and just completed downloading for the first time. There are a couple of options. FIA and/or Schwab websites allow for downloading a file that can be imported into financial software.

I choose to go the "direct conect" method via Quicken. I did resort to using Quicken chat to do this successfully, so if you are a Quicken user, it probably can be set-up to download.
You were able to get direct connect to work properly? If so, how did you set this up? I can only download statements from the web and import them into Quicken. Would love to be able to do direct connect!
Quicken support walked me thru it. It was a two step process. It sounds like you are finished step one, which is importing the transactions into your Quicken account/file.

To get the direct connect, do the following:
1) go to tools, account list and locate your Schwab CC account
2) under the column labeled "transaction download",
it should say "yes (improve connection)"
3) click on "improve connection"
4) you will have to enter the user ID and password for the website.

By the way, my step one was to download from FIA and not Schwab. If you have been downloading from Schwab, support may have a different solution for your situation.
Paul
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southerndoc
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Post by southerndoc »

Thanks for the quick reply. I'm guessing you're using Quicken for Windows. I'm not seeing a Tools option in the Mac version. :(
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SaturnV
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Post by SaturnV »

paulob wrote:
IlliniGuy wrote:Will Pen Fed CC transactions download into Quicken? And if so, will Quicken download directly from Pen Fed, or do you need to log in to Pen Fed's website and download a file manually? Thanks.
Here is the answer from Pen Fed support:
Quicken may offer to download information for you directly from a financial institution, but direct downloads are not currently available for PenFed accounts. These programs have utilized new techniques that may allow you to automatically download your PenFed transaction history: however, we have not made changes to accommodate these features.
their reply indicated they support QIF but not OFX or QFX for the Mac (therefore, some manual downloading is available).
Please help me understand the difference between QIF and QFX. I'm not sure what the distinction is. Thanks.
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paulob
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Post by paulob »

geekmedic wrote:Thanks for the quick reply. I'm guessing you're using Quicken for Windows. I'm not seeing a Tools option in the Mac version. :(
Correct. I don't know if the MAC version has the "improve connection" feature or not. Just disregard the tools comment and locate the account list from a standard menu. You might want to try their chat support option since you have a MAC.
Paul
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paulob
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Post by paulob »

IlliniGuy wrote:
paulob wrote:
IlliniGuy wrote:Will Pen Fed CC transactions download into Quicken? And if so, will Quicken download directly from Pen Fed, or do you need to log in to Pen Fed's website and download a file manually? Thanks.
Here is the answer from Pen Fed support:
Quicken may offer to download information for you directly from a financial institution, but direct downloads are not currently available for PenFed accounts. These programs have utilized new techniques that may allow you to automatically download your PenFed transaction history: however, we have not made changes to accommodate these features.
their reply indicated they support QIF but not OFX or QFX for the Mac (therefore, some manual downloading is available).
Please help me understand the difference between QIF and QFX. I'm not sure what the distinction is. Thanks.
from Quicken: http://quicken.intuit.com/support/artic ... /3886.html

basically QIF is old technology that Quicken still accomodates, but unless the CC vendor (e.g. whomever Penfed is using) "upgrades", you can still download transactions, but it is a one on one effort with that particular CC (e.g download begins external to Quicken).
Last edited by paulob on Mon Oct 05, 2009 7:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
Paul
Scorpion
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Penfed and Quicken Access

Post by Scorpion »

So does anyone who has the Penfed card also have Quicken 2006 or later, and if so have you been able to download statements? The link to Quicken that paulob posted makes it clear that credit card downloads via QIF won't be supported in Quicken 2006 or later. I have 2007. This Penfed credit card seems best for me, if for no other reason than my local grocery store will not take AMEX blue cash. The $20 NMFA fee should be well worth it, but inputting every transaction from the credit card to Quicken would be a big pain...
grok87
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Post by grok87 »

Ron wrote:
Sunny wrote:Fidelity Visa (1.5% flat for everything if deposited to Fidelity account)
http://personal.fidelity.com/products/c ... shtml.cvsr
Just be aware that Fidelity has changed their Visa program to be somwhat equal to AMEX (both administred via FIA card services).

If you charge over $15k on your Visa card, it goes to 2% cash rebate.

I have both Fidelity cards, using AMEX as my primary and Visa for those merchants that don't accept AMEX. My wife insures that we max out the Visa for the 2% rebate :lol: ...

- Ron
THanks I was unaware of that.
cheers,
RIP Mr. Bogle.
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