Which reward type credit cards is everyone using?

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canucknyc
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Post by canucknyc » Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:44 pm

If you travel / take vacation a decent amount, then the Starwood Amex is the card you want!

I used to have an Amex Blue Cash, then Platinum, now been using the Starwood card for a little while.

You get 1 Starpoint for every dollar you spend, 2 Starpoints for every dollar you spend at a Starwood hotel (Sheraton, Westin, W, etc.). Upfront, that sounds a lot like most other rewards cards - 1 penny / point per dollar spent. The difference is the bang for your buck on Starpoints. You typically need 25,000 miles on major airlines for a domestic flight (and that's if you book far enough in advance, have some flexibility, etc.). Call the flight $300. Conversely, 10,000 Starpoints will get you a night at a pretty nice hotel (could easily be in the $250-300 range). So the Starpoints end up being about 2.5x as valuable - and you can actually do better if you're smart about using your points :)

Of course, if you don't travel very much or have use for hotel points, then this is all moot...

tj
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Post by tj » Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:38 pm

This Pen Fed card is unbelievable - I applied for it for the gas & grocery rebate....but very surprised that they want to give me a large credit line.

I currently have a couple chase cards with 4k limit each as well as a Discover from college that i never use, which has a 1k limit....I applied for the PenFed Visa right after getting my mortgage loan in place and not having to worry about credit score in the near future, and PenFed gave me a 9.5k limit! I guess because my income is significantly higher than the monthly mortgage payment? I just think it's crazy that the credit union wants to give me a higher limit than the rest of my cards combined. :)

Not complaining - I highly doubt I'd ever charge that much in a month, but I just thought it was pretty awesome and very interesting.

comptalk

Post by comptalk » Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:47 am

I have it down to a science. :)

Amazon.com purchases - 3% Chase Amazon card
Fuel purchases - 5% Penfed card
Grocery and drug stores - 4% Chase Freedom
Restaurant, movies and books - 5% Citibank Forward
International purchases - Penfed Promise 0% cash back but 0% exchange fee.
Everything else - 2%/1.5% Fidelity Investment rewards. 2% For all AMEX purchases. 1.5% for all Visa purchases.

TheEternalVortex
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Post by TheEternalVortex » Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:57 am

comptalk wrote:I have it down to a science. :)

Amazon.com purchases - 3% Chase Amazon card
.
You can get 5% at Amazon using the mtvU or Forward cards.

comptalk

Post by comptalk » Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:10 am

Yes, I am aware, however, with Chase Amazon, the points needed to redeem $$$ is more than half. $100.00 with Chase is 10,000 pts. $100.00 with Citibank is 16,000 pts.

RabbMD
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Post by RabbMD » Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:48 am

comptalk wrote:Yes, I am aware, however, with Chase Amazon, the points needed to redeem $$$ is more than half. $100.00 with Chase is 10,000 pts. $100.00 with Citibank is 16,000 pts.
Unless you get gift cards and happen to shop at the places that have 10,000 points for $100 GC. I use the sears ones, my wife likes pottery barn for the outlets (that have good prices on certain things if you catch them correctly).

The science I have got changed once they yanked the Citi Driver's edge I was churning every year to take advantage of the 6-12% on gas/grocery/drug I used to be able to get, but I think I will just change it to the penfed.

Citi Forward = Amazon/movies/restaurants/books 5%

Drivers Edge (Mine just lost 6-12% in Feb, so still spending down the service bonus) = Gas/Grocery/Drug 3-6% Now

Discover 5% Revolving Bonus = Currently Grocery/Travel to be Home Improvement/Fasion April-June

Penfed = Sock Drawer may bring back for Drivers

Starwood Amex 1-2 pts/$ = Use for Hotels for $2-4/point. I use this for any tax deductible or business reimbursed expense (plus Costco and starwood hotels/restaurants) as the IRS clearly ruled that points are ok, but technically you should include cash rebates on your taxes

Expedia Citi PremierPass MC = 2-3% TY points if you have flown miles you bought with this credit card. I only use at Sams and other places that do not accept VISA or AMEX (or expedia) This is one of my wife's oldest cards opened for a AA milage bonus then converted to avoid annual fee so kept for credit history as well.

BOA world points = Excellent Billpay, used to float my second mortgage and pay student loans and now BOA add it up cash back online occasionally, one of my oldest cards.

Schwab 2% Visa = Everything else/everyday, Also no foreign transaction fees, associated with a checking account that has free worldwide ATM withdrawals and no foreign transaction fees, and a brokerage that always sits at 0% after transferring out my rewards monthly. If only quicken would download this card daily it would be perfect.

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KDP
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Post by KDP » Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:45 pm

Wow those are some great deals! Thanks everyone!

(and here I was thinking my cards were good) :D

tj
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Post by tj » Sun Mar 14, 2010 6:31 pm

comptalk wrote:Yes, I am aware, however, with Chase Amazon, the points needed to redeem $$$ is more than half. $100.00 with Chase is 10,000 pts. $100.00 with Citibank is 16,000 pts.

But you get 5 points from Citi instead of 3 from Chase..

Thus, you are going to spend $3200 at amazon to get 16,000 citi points or you are going to spend $3333.33 at amazon to get 10,0000 chase points.

If you're already using the CITI for other things, it makes sense to use it for the amazon purchases too.

As soon as I hit the next $25 gift card on the Amazon visa, i'm switching to the Citi...

smackfu
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Post by smackfu » Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:39 pm

TheEternalVortex wrote: You can get 5% at Amazon using the mtvU or Forward cards.
Thanks for the tip, I signed up for the Forward card. Yes the $25 minimum to redeem the Amazon card was a bit better but I don't mind earning TY points. Plus Forward gives 5% on restaurants, so it's less of a single-tasker than the Amazon card.

D Newton
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chase freedom

Post by D Newton » Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:45 pm

I have the Chase Freedom card and I enjoyed the monthly cash rewards. However, they switched the card to the SAPPHIRE Card...all points. I am not thrilled with it so stopped using it.

Can you still get a Chase Freedom card with 4% rewards?
Doug
Regards, | Doug

mediahound
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Re: chase freedom

Post by mediahound » Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:57 pm

D Newton wrote:I have the Chase Freedom card and I enjoyed the monthly cash rewards. However, they switched the card to the SAPPHIRE Card...all points. I am not thrilled with it so stopped using it.

Can you still get a Chase Freedom card with 4% rewards?
Doug
I've sorta had it with Chase. One problem after another with their customer service. AMEX is such a better company. I'm switching back to the AMEX Blue Cash card.

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Post by tj » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:45 pm

Ive had no problems with Chase. The branch (which used to be WAMU) is very friendly and I dont even have to get out of my car for the ATM. No problems at all with the credit cards, sure they try to sell you protection plans and stuff when you activate cards, but other than that -- I am very happy with them.

MnD
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Post by MnD » Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:04 pm

Costco Business Amex - 4% cash on gas, 3% cash on dining
Schwab Visa - 2% cash on everything

I like this combo as it only requires having two cards to get 2% or better on everything and the fact that one is a Visa, the other Amex.

Analystic
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Post by Analystic » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:27 am

wish2bCFP wrote:I use the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Visa. You can earn credits redeemable for tickets with regular purchases as well as earn credits for using their car rental and hotel partners. It takes just 16 credits for a free ticket. There are blackout dates and limited "award seats" for each flight. If you earn 100 credits in a 12 month period, you get a companion pass which allows your named companion to fly free with you whenever you fly for a whole year, even if you are using a free ticket to fly!! Since I travel a lot,it's been nice for my wife to fly free with me. You can even give a free flight award to someone else.
Check it out on the Southwest website.
Me too! (I dumped Amex Platinum when they cut off the companion ticket program and the Continental made using their miles impossible.)

The trick is to have all cards linked to the same Southwest Airlines number. I use one for my purchases, another in my name issued to my wife for her purchases, and another in my name for business purchases. Yes, that's a lot of fees but we get a companion pass and fly free three-fourths of the time.

The whole family is headed to Florida tomorrow for spring break - all on free tickets. That's worth the annual fee for all cards for just one ticket one-way.
Disclaimer: I am making all of this up.

mediahound
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Post by mediahound » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:07 pm

I realized that the Amex Blue Cash gives a pretty high all purchases rebate after you hit $6500. annually, it's 1.25%. I get up to $6500 in about 5 months so I think this card works out best for me when I average the percentage earned out over a year and compare it with other cards.

Plus, I get the benefit of their better customer service and security.

Yes, I realized I could get 2% cashback on everything with the Schwab card, but I'm unwilling to open a brokerage account with them in order to do so (which is a requirement).

vshun
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About that Chase card

Post by vshun » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:37 pm

Chase Freedom has $30 annual fee, waved for the first year. Also for those of us who used to get 5% rebate on food/gas, it is now only 3%. Still decent, except for the annual fee which I refuse to accept.
Once it kicks in in June for me I will cancel the card, unless others found some way to beat the fee and can share the story.
Other 2 cards I have is Citi Reward card (2% gas/food and 1% else) and Costco Amex card (needed to pay in Costco and higher rebate for travel/restaurants).

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sperry8
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Post by sperry8 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:55 pm

I also use my cards for specific things to optimize redemption:

PenFed: Gasoline (5%) and cell phone bill (they offer free cell insurance when you pay your bill using their card). Saves a few dollars per month vs buying cell insurance.

Starwood Amex: I travel a lot and get approximately 3.5% cash back. No blackout dates. $45 annual fee (but I the 3.5% cash back includes this fee).

Capital One Rewards: Foreign transactions only (better than PenFed because you earn rewards). PenFed gives 1% cash back but takes it away on foreign purchases via a 1% exchange fee.

American Airlines Mastercard: Backup card when Amex isn't accepted. Again, I travel a lot so this one makes sense for me. If you don't travel - I suggest your backup card is one of the 2% cash back cards (Fidelity or Schwab). Normally an $85 fee - but I get it fee waived as a CitiGold customer.
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tj
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Re: About that Chase card

Post by tj » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:16 pm

vshun wrote:Chase Freedom has $30 annual fee, waved for the first year. Also for those of us who used to get 5% rebate on food/gas, it is now only 3%. Still decent, except for the annual fee which I refuse to accept.
Once it kicks in in June for me I will cancel the card, unless others found some way to beat the fee and can share the story.
Other 2 cards I have is Citi Reward card (2% gas/food and 1% else) and Costco Amex card (needed to pay in Costco and higher rebate for travel/restaurants).
my chase freedom doesnt have an annual fee. As soon as it does, I'm switching it to another type.

TO
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Post by TO » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:11 pm

duplicate post.
Last edited by TO on Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TO
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Post by TO » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:14 pm

I use the Merrill+ Rewards card - a Visa Signature card. 1 point per dollar, 25,000 points for domestic flights with no blackout dates. No annual fee.

On a standalone basis, these rewards are not dissimilar to other offerings. However, if you are a heavy user ($50k+ annually), the card offers a lot of perks that add up. For me, the one that makes this card really worth it is the free Admiral's Club membership - a $400 value that requires no point redemption.

If the Admiral's Club membership was not important to me (it is - only because I travel a lot), there would be nothing out of the ordinary about the card. If I ever stop traveling, I will switch to the richest cash-back card I can find (probably Amex Blue or PenFed Visa).

This card is also undefeated at credit card roulette, which is worth a lot to me.
:D

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Post by letsgobobby » Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:24 am

Citi Plat Amex, 5% back on gas/grocery/drug store, 3% on everything else for years 1 and 2, $125 fee after 1st year. Earns thank you points which I redeem for travel 100 points = $1. I'm in year 2 and will cancel this at the end of the year.

Schwab Visa, 2% cash back on everything and no forex fees. This is my backup card, and my international card. I no longer need my Cap One card.

Hilton AMEX - at Hiltons for the 6% HHonors points.

vshun
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Re: About that Chase card

Post by vshun » Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:49 am

[/quote]

my chase freedom doesnt have an annual fee. As soon as it does, I'm switching it to another type.[/quote]

It did not have till last year. In spring 2009 Chase sent letters about "improving credit card experience" by reduging rebate % and instituting annual fees. There was a lot of discussions on this forum about people calling Chase CSRs and cutting the card with scissors near the phone, etc.
Some of us stayed for a year since rebate is still there and fees are waved.
I would double check your assumptions that you will not be charged fees in June with Chase CSRs.

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Post by FCRnyc » Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:06 am

General: Starwood AMEX (and/or credit card for whichever airline we are currently building up points/status with) -- We generally prefer travel rewards to cashback, as we can usually get more bang for the buck on hotel rooms and/or first class flights. Redemption is pretty good with Starwood, and we found that use of their cash + points redemption option is often a better value than use of points alone. You can also convert 20,000 Starwood points into 25,000 airline miles, but we like Starwood properties and have found that redemption for hotel rooms often represents a better value (particuarly for international travel and especially when the dollar was weaker).

International Travel: Schwab Visa (no forex fees, monthly 2% back to Schwab brokerage account) -- Replaced old Fidelity MBNA card after it started adding forex fees. Excellent service, good website, very pleased thus far.

Fuel: PenFed Visa (5% back on gas) -- Jury is still out on this one. Longtime and very satisfied member of NFCU, and PenFed seems very disorganized by comparison. Application process dragged on for months (very good credit, requested low credit line). Required constant phone calls to follow up on status of application, and information had to be resubmitted multiple times after they seemed to have lost paperwork or other verification previously provided. However, phone representatives were very pleasant and helpful. Problems generally seem to be confined to submission of information/communication via their website and/or email. Hoping these issues do not extend customer service with the actual card itself.

mediahound
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Re: About that Chase card

Post by mediahound » Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:40 pm

vshun wrote:
It did not have till last year. In spring 2009 Chase sent letters about "improving credit card experience" by reduging rebate % and instituting annual fees. There was a lot of discussions on this forum about people calling Chase CSRs and cutting the card with scissors near the phone, etc.
Some of us stayed for a year since rebate is still there and fees are waved.
I would double check your assumptions that you will not be charged fees in June with Chase CSRs.
I haven't heard anything about an annual fee with my Chase Freedom card but certainly if they try to charge me one, I would cancel immediately.

It's a bit strange how different people have different deals for the same Chase Freedom card, they aren't very consistent are they. I now use my Chase Freedom card only as a backup to my AMEX Blue Cash card.

Something to also be aware of is that Chase caps your monthly bonus cash back. So, if you buy something that is more than $600. in one of the 3% bonus categories, they will only give you 3% on $600., and 1% on the remainder per month.

AMEX Blue Cash does not have any such restrictions on the cash back.

Also, note that Chase's calculation of which purchases qualify for the 3% can be strange. Example, the grocery store I normally shop at does not come through as 'grocery' with Chase. They are sneaky that way. Nor does the gas station I go to come through as gas! This could also happen with AMEX though I suppose.

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Post by Sunny Sarkar » Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:12 pm

Chase Freedom is slowly taking away the 3% reward deal (see... http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=37424).

I'm using Pentagon Federal VISA now. 5% gas, 2% Target/Walmart/etc., 1% all else - the best part being the rewards are automatically applied to the statement, no further action required on my part.

I'm a huge fan of reducing action points. As such, I charge as many recurring expenses/bills as possible to a Citi MasterCard that gives me "Thank You points". This is because it is my oldest credit account opened when I first came to this country - it defines the length of my credit history. Also, I get 1200 "Thank You points" from Citi every month for being their "Gold" customer which I qualified due to my mortgage with them. This arrangement gets me a $25 gift card every other month. So Citi is essentially paying me approx $10/month for being their customer - nice!

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Post by mediahound » Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:15 pm

Sunny Sarkar wrote:I'm using Pentagon Federal VISA now. 5% gas, 2% Target/Walmart/etc., 1% all else - the best part being the rewards are automatically applied to the statement, no further action required on my part.
AMEX does this too, but annually.

I agree, that's a big plus. It can be a hassle to have to request a check then wait for it, then drive your bank to deposit it, etc.

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DaveTH
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Post by DaveTH » Wed Mar 17, 2010 6:32 pm

I'm using Pentagon Federal VISA now. 5% gas, 2% Target/Walmart/etc., 1%
Their website says 2% for supermarkets. Does Target/Walmart qualify as supermarkets?

RabbMD
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Post by RabbMD » Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:58 pm

Yes, I have never heard the penfed got 2% on walmart and target. Where did you find this, and have you confirmed it personally?

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Hat
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Post by Hat » Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:46 pm

PenFed Visa 5% gas (and 1% at places that don't take AMEX)
Fidelity AMEX 2% elsewhere

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Post by mediahound » Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:18 am

PS,

One tip to get up beyond AMEX's $6500 tier quickly is to buy something expensive (or more than one) that you can return for cash or sell for what you paid for it (or for more).

Examples are expensive electronics that you can turn around and sell on eBay without even opening the box. Such as, the soon to be released Apple iPad (which could even sell for higher than retail if Apple runs out of their first batch) also, video game systems, etc.

It may be worth it to do this just to get up over $6500. fast so you can begin earning 5%/1.25% quickly, if you know of something you can buy and either return for cash or sell for what you paid for it (including eBay fees, etc).

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Sunny Sarkar
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Post by Sunny Sarkar » Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:26 am

DaveTH wrote:
I'm using Pentagon Federal VISA now. 5% gas, 2% Target/Walmart/etc., 1%
Their website says 2% for supermarkets. Does Target/Walmart qualify as supermarkets?
I might be mistaken about the 2% at Target/Walmart part. I assumed they are supermarkets. What are they classified as?

Also, it's 1.25% for everything else, not 1%.

I calculated that I got between 2.7% to 3.4% cash back from the Penfed card over the last several statement periods.

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Evac
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Find the best reward credit card

Post by Evac » Fri Mar 19, 2010 11:34 am

NERDWALLET,COM

This site combs thru 400 cards to find the best one for you. Enter the amount you generally charge each month, what kinds of things you buy, and your estimated credit score. Presto: a list of cards, for the best low-rate or balance-transfer cards.

Coolest Feature: Filter results by the kind of rewards you prefer - say, airline miles or cash back.

Developed by: Stanford-educated hedge fund analyst.

Source Info: Money Magazine article

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Post by ted123 » Fri Mar 19, 2010 11:39 am

Sunny Sarkar wrote:
DaveTH wrote:
I'm using Pentagon Federal VISA now. 5% gas, 2% Target/Walmart/etc., 1%
Their website says 2% for supermarkets. Does Target/Walmart qualify as supermarkets?
I might be mistaken about the 2% at Target/Walmart part. I assumed they are supermarkets. What are they classified as?

Also, it's 1.25% for everything else, not 1%.

I calculated that I got between 2.7% to 3.4% cash back from the Penfed card over the last several statement periods.
After this reading this thread, I got an AMEX Blue Cash card (I want to be able to use it at Costco). Reading the fine print, and I wouldn't be surprised if other cards carry similar disclaimers, the cash back for grocery stores doesn't include grocery departments of "warehouse stores or department stores." I'm guessing Target and Walmart are both department stores.

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Evac
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To Sunny Sarkar - credit cards

Post by Evac » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:33 pm

I have a AMX -Costco Card and can tell you that you get 3%gas & restaurant /2% travel-Airlines,hotels car rentals / 1% everything else.
The AMX web site does not classify retailers - Club warehouse and superstores as grocery stores or supermarkets. I think AMX site classes Target and Walmart as Superstores.
I am also looking at second credit card and did not go to the Blue Cash card from AMX for that reason and wanted a VISA or M.C. as not all retailers accept AMX.
I am also looking at the "Pentagon Federal VISA" but i can not find on the Visa web site if they have the same restrictions as AMX ? Would you know by any chance as the "Pentagon Federal VISA" states to refer to the Visa web site?
The"penfed,org" website state now states 1% for everything else, maybe because you already have card and are grandfathered in?

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sperry8
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Post by sperry8 » Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:31 pm

Sunny Sarkar wrote:
DaveTH wrote:
I'm using Pentagon Federal VISA now. 5% gas, 2% Target/Walmart/etc., 1%
Their website says 2% for supermarkets. Does Target/Walmart qualify as supermarkets?
I might be mistaken about the 2% at Target/Walmart part. I assumed they are supermarkets. What are they classified as?

Also, it's 1.25% for everything else, not 1%.

I calculated that I got between 2.7% to 3.4% cash back from the Penfed card over the last several statement periods.
It changed and its 1% for everyone for everything else. No one is grandfathered. Check your last statement and you'll see it as 1%.
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Post by mptfan » Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:31 pm

RabbMD wrote: Schwab 2% Visa = Everything else/everyday, Also no foreign transaction fees, associated with a checking account that has free worldwide ATM withdrawals and no foreign transaction fees, and a brokerage that always sits at 0% after transferring out my rewards monthly. If only quicken would download this card daily it would be perfect.
Schwab has stopped issuing this card.

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Sunny Sarkar
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Post by Sunny Sarkar » Wed Apr 14, 2010 4:27 pm

The PenFed Visa card is giving me, on average, approx 3% back.

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KDP
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Post by KDP » Tue May 18, 2010 1:01 pm

The Associated bank Visa that I have recently dropped from 5% cash back on all drugstore, gas, and supermarkets (Wal-mart not included) to 3%.

My Chase Freedom went from 3% to 5% in the categories above.

Does anyone know of a Card that gives 2-5% back on grocery purchases made at Wal-mart?

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