Tag: CASHBACK

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Credit Cards, Earning Cashback, Reviews

Ally CashBack Credit Card Review: Is it Worthwhile if You Don’t Bank with Ally?

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Last year, Ally Bank rolled out the Ally CashBack Credit Card with a rewards program that offers 2% cash back on gas and groceries with no cap.

In addition to the cash back you earn from spending, Ally gives you a special 10% Ally Deposit Bonus when you deposit cash back earned into an eligible Ally Bank account.

Ally CashBack Credit Card

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Ally CashBack Credit Card

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Cashback Rate
2% on certain categories, 1% on everything else
APR
13.74%-23.74%

Variable

Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent

  • No annual fee
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and grocery stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Receive a $100 bonus when you make $500 in eligible purchases during the first 3 billing cycles
  • Get a 10% Ally Deposit Bonus when you deposit your cash rewards into an eligible Ally Bank account
  • 13.74%-23.74% purchase APR
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months from account opening on balance transfers, then a variable APR of 13.74%-23.74%. Balance transfer fee is 4% of the amount transferred, $10 minimum
  • 3% foreign transaction fee

The Ally CashBack Credit Card Offer

1. Earn up to 2.2% cash back at gas stations and grocery stores.

Factoring in the 10% Ally Deposit Bonus, you have the potential to earn a total of 2.2% cash back in the gas and groceries category.

You have to deposit cash back earned into a qualifying account to get the 10% bonus. Qualifying accounts include:

  • Ally Money Market accounts
  • Non-IRA Online Savings accounts
  • Interest Checking accounts

Fine print alert: Discount stores, superstores, and warehouses are not included in the groceries category. Stores like Target, Walmart, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club specifically may be off limits for 2% cash back.

Ally Bank qualifies your purchases for cash back using merchant codes. You can call up a store directly to see if it has a merchant code within one of these eligible 2% cash back categories:

  • Grocery
  • Bakery
  • Dairy
  • Service stations
  • Automated fuel dispensers
  • Fuel dealers

2. Earn up to 1.1% cash back on all other purchases.

Purchases outside of groceries and gas earn 1% cash back. You can earn a total of 1.1% if you add in the 10% Ally Deposit Bonus.

3. Earn an introductory incentive.

There’s an introductory bonus of $100 if you spend $500 within the first three months of having this card.

How to Redeem Cash Back

You can redeem cash back in two ways. As mentioned, you get the extra 10% bonus if you deposit cash back into an eligible Ally Bank account.

The second option is redeeming cash back for statement credit. You need to build a balance of at least $25 before you can redeem cash back.

What We Like About the Ally CashBack Credit Card

You guessed it — we think the most attractive feature of the Ally CashBack Credit Card is the 10% Ally Deposit Bonus. We also like that this card has no spending cap for the 2% categories.

Other benefits are that there’s no annual fee and the interest rate range is reasonable.

The card even has a 0% APR introductory deal on balance transfers, although the 4% balance transfer fee is something to consider before moving your money.

The Ally CashBack Credit Card Fine Print

One of the major drawbacks of this card is the merchant code restrictions.

Don’t get us wrong — the Ally CashBack Credit Card isn’t the only cash back rewards program that uses merchant codes to qualify purchases. Pretty much every niche category card has some fine print related to what you will and will not earn bonus cash back on.

Before shopping at a warehouse or specialty food store with this card (or any category card for that matter), double-check the merchant code to see if the purchase will be eligible for 2%.

One more spot where the Ally CashBack Credit Card has fine print is the program termination policy. If your account is canceled for any reason, by you or Ally Bank, you forfeit the cash back balance. Ally Bank also reserves the right to change terms or cancel the cash back program. If this occurs, you may give up your balance.

To avoid losing out on money, keep the card in good standing and cash out whenever you hit the $25 mark just in case Ally Bank should change terms in the future.

Who the Ally CashBack Credit Card Is For

This card is best suited for current Ally Bank customers, but even people who bank with Ally should explore other options.

For non-Ally Bank customers, the 2.2% on gas and groceries is not worth opening two new accounts (the credit card account and a qualifying savings or checking account) to earn maximum cash back.

There are too many other category cards to consider ahead of this one that can give you more than 2.2% on gas and groceries.

There are even a few cards that offer you 2%+ cash back on all spending with no pesky category restrictions to keep up with.

We’ll share two alternatives with you in the next section.

But first, here’s an example to give you an idea of how much you can earn with the Ally CashBack Credit Card:

Say you spend $4,000 per year on groceries and $2,000 on gas. You can earn up to $132 in cash back for the year. (This includes the 10% Ally Deposit Bonus.)

Keep this scenario in mind because we’ll reference it next when reviewing a competitor.

For eligibility criteria, Ally Bank doesn’t get specific about the type of credit history or score you need to get approved.

However, some applicants have reported getting declined because of too many recent inquiries or new accounts. These are factors to be mindful of that could hurt your chances of getting approved.

Cash Back Alternatives

We have a list of the top cash back cards for all categories in this post. Here are two alternative cards from that roundup to take a look at:

Amex Blue Cash Preferred

The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card is one of our top picks for gas and grocery shopping rewards. This card gives you a huge 6% cash back on groceries and 3% cash back on gas. You get 1% cash back on all other purchases. The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card has a $95 annual fee.

Back to our example scenario from above:

If you spend $4,000 annually on groceries and $2,000 annually on gas, you earn $300 in total cash back from the Amex Blue Cash Preferred. Subtract the $95 annual fee, and you still net $205 in cash back. Remember — the Ally CashBack Credit Card only gives you up to $132 in this same spending scenario. The moral of the story is, rewards cards that have an annual fee can still outperform cards with no annual fee. So don’t let a fee deter you from reviewing an offer.

Alliant Visa Signature

If you do most of your shopping at wholesale stores or you prefer a non-category card, the Alliant Visa Signature card is another option we recommend. The Alliant Visa Signature card gives you an unlimited 3% cash back for the first year with no fee. After the first year, you earn 2.5% cash back on all purchases with a $59 annual fee. If your spending is all over the map, an unlimited cash back card like the Alliant Visa Signature can give you more flexibility than the Ally CashBack Credit Card.

Rewards Cards: Frequently Asked Questions

No, Ally cash back does not expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing. There is no limit to the amount of cash back rewards that may be earned.

Anything over 1.5% cashback is a good deal. There are some cards that offer more — as much as 5 or 6% cash back on purchases. But sometimes those offers are too good to be true. Banks don’t like to lose money, and will pepper the fine print with all sorts of limitations. For example, they may offer 5% cash back on only purchases at certain types of retailers and only for certain periods of time. And those categories may change every quarter, which can make it hard to keep track.

Don’t let those cash back promises pressure you into spending more than you can afford. If you don’t pay your statement balance in full each month, you could get slapped with sky high interest charges. That would totally negate any benefit you might get from earning cash back. Cash back cards are only valuable if you can pay your bill in full and capture the entirety of your cash back rewards.

It depends on the card. Some cards allow you redeem cash back dollar for dollar as a statement credit, which can help lower your total balance. Just keep in mind that applying cash back to your card statement does not count as a monthly payment. Other cards will increase the value of your cash back if you spend on certain categories, like travel. Review your terms carefully to be sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Find the card that fits your day-to-day spending needs best, beyond the flashy sign-up bonus offers and cash back promises. Pay your bill in full each month (spend only what you can afford to pay off).

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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Credit Cards

Review: PenFed Launches 1.5% – 2% Power Cash Rewards Credit Card

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

PenFed, a credit union that anyone can join (more on that later) has just introduced a new cash back rewards credit card. The card pays a high, flat cash back rate and brings a credit union approach to fees (low and not many of them) and simplicity. Here are the details on the cash back that you can earn:

  • Anyone with military service earns 2% cash back on all spending, with no limits or restrictions. That is the highest flat cash back rate in the market.
  • Anyone with a PenFed checking account (restrictions apply) earns 2% cash back on all spending, with no limits or restrictions. (If you keep $500 in the checking account, there is no fee and you earn 0.20% APY on the money).
  • If you do not have military service or a checking account, you can earn 1.5% unlimited cash back. At 1.5%, the card matches Chase Freedom Unlimited or Capital One Quicksilver, but it is still beat by Citibank’s Double Cash.
  • There is a minimum redemption amount of $5 for the cash back that you have earned.
  • There is a bonus offer: get $100 of cash if you spend $1,500 during the first 90 days.

In addition to the cash back, here are some additional features:

  • Chip with pin functionality: if you travel overseas, you might find chip + signature limiting. For example, trying to use a card with only signature functionality at kiosks across Europe (like the London Underground) can be challenging.
  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fee.
  • Variable APR range of 9.24% – 17.99%. If you have excellent credit, the lowest APR at Citi (on the Double Cash product) is 13.49%. For people who revolve occasionally, this could be a better option. (Although our advice remains to pay your balance in full and on time. If you need to borrow money, personal loans and balance transfers remain cheaper options).

Our Verdict

Best Cash Back Credit Card for Military: 2% is the gold standard for a flat rate cash back credit card, and PenFed delivers for men and women who have served. This is better than any competing flat-rate cash back credit cards because of the lower APR and lack of foreign transaction fees.

Best Cash Back Credit Card for Spending Abroad: If you use Citi Double Cash, you would be hit with a foreign transaction fee of 3%. So, you would earn 2% but be forced to pay 3% in fees. Before this card, Capital One Quicksilver was our top choice because of a 1.5% earn rate and no foreign transaction fees. PenFed’s card now wins because (a) if you put $500 into a PenFed checking account you can earn 2% on this card, and (b) the card offers chip and pin functionality. If you spend $1,000 overseas this year, you would pay $10 to Citi, (2% cash back – 3% fees = -1%), would earn $15 with Capital One and would earn $20 with PenFed.

Tie: Best Flat-Rate Cash Back Credit Card: With both Citi Double Cash and PenFed you can earn up to 2%. Each card has its own unique differences, which is why they are tied for best flat-rate card in the market.

  • PenFed: You need to join the credit union, open a checking account and fund the account with $500 (or sign up for direct deposit) to ensure you get the full 2% and avoid fees. Financially it will make sense, but there are a number of obstacles to get the full rewards (unless you are military).
  • Citi Double Cash: It is easy to apply and get the card (no credit union membership or Citi checking account required). However, the card is actually 1% as you earn and 1% as you pay, so it takes longer to get the full 2%. The interest rates are higher and there is a foreign transaction fee.

There are still options to earn higher cash back rates in certain categories. You can find the best cash back credit cards by every category here. For example, you can earn 5% unlimited on gas with Fort Knox Credit Union or 6% (with limitations) on groceries at American Express.

If you want to learn more or apply, you can visit PenFed’s website.

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Requirements To Earn 2%

Here are the details on how to ensure you get the full 2% earn rate:

Military: You are eligible to earn 2% if the primary or joint applicant is in military service, the National Guard, the Reserves, an honorary discharged veteran or retired from the United States military. Military members receive the 2% upon completion of the application – no further action is required.

Checking Account: If you do not meet the military requirements, you would need to open a checking account with PenFed. The account is called the “AccessAmerica Checking Account.” There are some decent benefits to the account (you can earn 0.20% APY interest on balances up to $20,000 and 0.50% APY on balances between $20,000 and $50,000). If you shift your monthly direct deposit of at least $500 to this account, you will not have a monthly fee. However, if you do not want to shift your direct deposit, you can deposit $500 and keep it there to meet the required minimum balance. This is actually the easiest way to earn the 2%, cash back rate and, given the 0.20% interest on the checking account, it can be financially worthwhile.

Join the Credit Union: There are multiple ways to join the credit union. If you are active or retired military, you are eligible to join for free. If you work for the US government or are a relative of a member, you can also join for free. But don’t worry if you are unable to meet those requirements. You might belong to an eligible organization (check here). You can also join an organization to become eligible for credit union membership. You can pay $17.00 (one time and non-refundable) to join Voices for America’s Troops or the National Military Family Association. By supporting a good cause, you become eligible for credit union membership. In addition to the credit card, PenFed is known for low rates on auto loans and mortgages.

Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at nick@magnifymoney.com

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10 Best 5% Cash Back Credit Cards for 2017

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Cash Back Credit Cards for 2016

Updated April 3, 2017

Credit card reward programs come in so many varieties that it can be difficult find the best cards for your spending habits. A basic, flat-rate card that earns you a certain percentage cash back on all purchases is probably the simplest bet out there. Typically, rates range from 1-2%. Not shabby, especially if you use that card exclusively. But it’s not exactly something to call home about either.

There are even better cash back rewards offerings out there, some as high as 5%. But with these high rewards cards, there’s almost always a catch. Most of the cards don’t offer 5% cash back across the board. Every few months, they pick a few select shopping categories that can earn 5% cash back. Once those few months are up, the categories change. For example, a card could offer 5% cash back on groceries, gas and airfare from January to March, then switch those categories to whole sale stores, restaurants and gyms from April to June.

Additionally, there are sometimes caps on how much of your spending can qualify for the 5% reward. So if the cap is $1,500, for example, everything past that amount won’t qualify.

The key to maximizing these great cash back card offers is to find the cards that offer cash back in categories you use the most. We can help there.

We dug around and found 10 cards that offer at least 5% cash back in the three most common spending categories: gas, groceries and entertainment.

Chase Freedom®: Access to a Special Option 5% Category

How it works: The Chase Freedom® card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. This translates to a maximum return of $75 per quarter on the 5% bonus category. You earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases outside of the bonus categories. You can also earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

The 5% category changes every quarter.

Another area where the Chase Freedom shines is in how it allows customers to redeem their rewards. The cash you’ve earned converts into Ultimate Rewards points. Every $1 equals 100 points. You only need to have earned $20 (or 2,000 points) in order to redeem your reward. You can easily use the cash and apply it to your monthly statement. Or you can convert them into points and use them on travel, gift cards, merchandise, and other services through the Chase Freedom® rewards dashboard.

They make it super simple to redeem points on the go through the Chase Freedom® Mobile app. While you’re shopping, you can pick the merchant from the list on of eligible merchants on your app (popular ones include Nike, Regal Cinemas, Lowe’s, Starbucks and Best Buy). Then tell the app how much cash you want to use.  You’ll get a custom e-gift card that you can present at checkout to pay for your purchases.

chasefreedommobileapp

Plus, you can stack the points earned on your Chase Freedom card with your points on other Chase rewards cards, like the Chase Sapphire. That just increases the spending power of your points.

The Fine Print: You can’t beat 5% cash back for your spending, especially with no annual fee. The downside is you have to remember to activate the category each quarter by subscribing to the program. But, if you set a reminder to do so, you can earn money without too much effort.

Chase Freedom<sup>®</sup>

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Discover it: The Original 5% Cash Back Card

How it works: With the Discover it you can earn 5% cash back in rotating categories on up to the quarterly maximum ($1,500 of spend). You need to activate every quarter to get the 5% cash back rate. All other purchases get 1% cash back.

Earn 5% cash back in these categories through the end of 2017:

  • January to March: Gas stations, ground transportation, and wholesale clubs.
  • April to June: Home improvement stores and wholesale clubs.
  • July to September: Restaurants.
  • October to December: TBA.

Using your rewards: Cash back from the Discover it is tracked in dollars and cents. You can immediately apply your cash back earnings to your bank account or as a statement credit toward your bill (note: your minimum payment will still be due).There’s also no minimum rewards value if you want to redeem them for charitable donations.

The fine print: You can only earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of spend each quarter you activate. Once you’ve hit that cap, you’ll earn 1% on the rest of your purchases. This adds up to a $75 maximum return on your rotating bonus categories. There is no annual fee.

Extra perks:  On your one-year anniversary, Discover give you a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned during your first year. The match happens automatically, and is only available to new cardmembers during their first year.

 Discover it® - Cashback Match<sup>TM</sup>

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Nusenda Visa Platinum Cash Rewards: Best for Gas and Restaurants in 2017

How it works: The Nusenda Visa Platinum Cash Rewards card gives 5% in revolving categories up to $1,500 and 1% on all other purchases. Notably, it offers both gas and restaurants in two quarters. As a bonus in the first 90 days, new cardholders will earn 2% instead of just 1% on purchases outside of the 5% category.

Earn 5% cash back in these categories through the end of 2017:

  • January to March: Groceries and gas expenses.
  • April to June: Movies, restaurants and home improvement.
  • July to September: Gas and education expenses.
  • October to December: Restaurants, hotels, and airfares.

Using your rewards: This offer stands out as a decent companion card for maximizing cash back. When coupled with the Chase Freedom or Discover it, you can maximize cash back in different areas during one quarter.

For an example, you can turn to the Nusenda Visa Platinum Cash Rewards card for 5% on gas and school expenses in Q3. Then pull out the Discover it for home improvement purchases for another 5% the same quarter.

The Fine Print: Once again, you’ll need to monitor your spending habits to get the most cash back from a revolving category card. If you choose to use this card along with another one, a good practice would be labeling the cards in your wallet to ensure you use the right one for the right purchases in a given quarter.

One final caveat: While there is no annual fee, Nusenda is a credit union, so you will have to go through the process of applying for membership.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature: Pick Your Own Cash Back Categories

How it works: The U.S Bank Cash+ card has a revolving cash back program that’s unique in comparison to the others above because you get options.

Earning cash back: You can earn 5% cash back in two categories of your choosing each quarter limited to the first $2,000 of spend. Then you can choose another category with no cap to earn 2% cash back. On all other purchases, you earn 1% cash back.

The categories for an unlimited 2% cash back (choose one each quarter) are:

  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants
  • Grocery stores

The categories for 5% cash back up to $2,000 (choose two each quarter) are:

  • Select clothing stores
  • Cell phones
  • Electronic stores
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Bookstores
  • Fast food restaurants
  • Charities
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Department stores
  • Furniture stores
  • Movie theaters

Using your rewards: You can redeem cash back for gift cards, statement credit or a deposit into a U.S. Bank Savings, Checking or Money Market account. The first time you redeem $100 in cash back in a single transaction, you get a $25 Cash+ Bonus.

The Fine Print: Same opt-in revolving category spiel applies here except you must also remember to choose your categories. There is no annual fee. The U.S. Bank Cash+ is another good example of a card you may want to couple with another that gives you higher cash back for necessities i.e. groceries. But, for diverse spenders who can benefit from the 5% category options, the U.S. Bank Cash+ is worth considering.

SimplyCash Plus Business Card from Amex: Ideal for Typical Business Expenses

How it works: The SimplyCash Plus Business Card gives 5% cash back on office supply and wireless telephone provider services. You also get 3% cash back from a list of categories you can choose from, including:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • Hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels
  • Car rentals purchased from select car rental companies
  • U.S. gas stations
  • U.S. restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

Earning cash back: You have to choose your 3% category within two months of signing. If you don’t choose one, the default is gas stations. The combined annual cap for the 5% and 3% categories is $50,000. On all other purchases, you get 1% cash back.

Using your rewards: Cash back will appear as a credit automatically on your statement. This American Express card has no annual fee, so you’ll earn cash back with a generous cap at no cost.

The Fine Print: You must remember to choose your 3% cash back category every year. If you select one this year and forget to do so next year, you’ll be locked into the same 3% category for another 12 months until you make a switch. There is no annual fee.

Amazon Prime Store Card: 5% Cash Back for the Amazon Prime Enthusiast

How it works: The Amazon Prime Store Card is open to Amazon Prime Members, so it’s somewhat exclusive. The perks of this card is 5% cash back on eligible purchases made on Amazon.com. Buying items on other merchant websites that have the Amazon Prime Card payment option enabled will not earn you 5% cash back.

Using your rewards: The cash back you rack up will apply as a credit to your statement.

Do the math: If you’re not already an Amazon Prime Member, it’s probably not worth signing up to become one just for the card unless you intend to spend big bucks on the site. You need to spend more than $2,000 per year at Amazon.com for the 5% cash back to cover the $99 annual membership fee.

The Fine Print: The fine print of what you can and can’t buy to earn 5% is the only gotcha here. But, if you shop on Amazon.com often and stick to the rules, you’ll see a nice return from this card. There’s not an annual fee for the card, but you must be an Amazon Prime member, which costs $99 a year.

REDcard: Only a Good Fit for the Regular Target Shopper

How it works: For Target shoppers, there’s the REDcard. It gives you a 5% discount on your purchases at Target (minus any other discounts or promotions). Purchases that won’t earn 5% cash back include:

  • Target eye exams
  • Target gift cards and prepaid cards
  • Previous purchases
  • Target credit account payments, Target Debit Card cash back and cash advances on the Target MasterCard
  • Gift wrap and shipping and handling on Target.com purchases
  • Wireless protection program purchases and deposits required by mobile carrier

Earning and using rewards: The program is pretty simple as far as how Target gives you money back. Your 5% will apply to eligible purchases in your shopping cart at checkout. In addition to 5% cash back, this program includes free shipping from Target.com and 30 extra days for returns.

The Fine Print: No red flags with the REDcard other than watching out for the purchases excluded from cash back listed above. For faithful Target shoppers, this no annual fee card with the 5% discount may be a no brainer.

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Fort Knox Visa Platinum Card: Most Straightforward 5% Rewards Card Just for Gas

How it works: The Visa Platinum Card from the Fort Knox Credit Union makes our list with the most straightforward, no cap rewards program. You can earn an unlimited 5% cash back on gas and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Using your rewards: Cash back will appear on your statement as a credit.

The Fine Print: This rewards program is offered by a credit union in Kentucky. You’ll have to take a few extra steps to qualify for membership. If you don’t live in Kentucky or have family in Kentucky, membership is open to anyone that joins the American Consumer Council. There is no annual fee for the card, but you will need to become a member of the credit union.

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa® Platinum Card

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Blue Cash Preferred from Amex: 6% Cash Back for the Heavy Grocery Shopper

How it works: The Blue Cash Preferred is our top pick for cardholders that want to maximize cash back on groceries. With this card, you get 6% cash back at supermarkets excluding superstores and warehouses up to $6,000 per year. You also earn 3% cash back at gas stations and select department stores and 1% cash back on everything else.

Bonus offer: In addition to the recurring cash back program, if you spend $1,000 within the first three months of signing up for the card you’ll get $150 cash back.

Using cash back: Cash back builds as Rewards Dollars you can redeem for statement credit in increments of $25.

The Fine Print: This card is the only one to make our list with an annual fee which is currently $75. In August, the fee will bump up to $95 per year. If you get your application approved before the fee increases, you need to spend a little more than $100 per month on groceries for the fee and cash back earnings to break even. Once the fee goes up to $95 per year, you need to spend about $132 per month on the card to break even.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

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USAA Cashback Rewards Plus Amex: Only Advantageous for Military Service Members Living On-Base

How it works: The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus Amex gives 5% cash back on gas and military base purchases including commissaries, exchanges, and shopettes. The cap for the 5% category is $3,000 per year.

Earning cash back: In addition to the 5% back on gas and military base purchases, you’ll also earn 2% cash back on groceries up to $3,000 annually. On everything else, there’s 1% cash back. You can redeem cash back in increments of $1 through the USAA Rewards Service Center online or over the phone.

The Fine Print: The USAA Cashback Rewards Plus Amex card is light on the fine print. Just remember, the 5% category cap is $3,000 for combined gas and military base purchases per year and not per quarter. There is no annual fee.

The Key to Earning from Any Cash Back Card

In closing, regardless of which cash back card you choose, be sure to pay off your bill in full each month. That’s one underlying trap of any card rewards program. If you carry a balance over time, adding interest into the equation means you may end up paying the credit card company more than what you’re making in cash back.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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Earning Cashback

How to Earn and Receive Cashback with Discover

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

How to Earn and Receive Cashback with Discover

Discover has a wide range of credit card options, including student cards, travel cards, secured cards, and cashback cards. When it comes to its cashback card, Discover offers some special features for cardholders looking to cash in on rewards.

For starters, the Discover it cashback card has no annual fee, 5% cashback in select, rotating categories, and 1% cashback on all other purchases. Cardholders can also redeem their cashback at any time.

If you have the Discover it cashback rewards card in your wallet, the Discover website is the one-stop shop for managing your credit card and checking on your cashback and redeeming it.

In this article, we’ll touch on:

  • How to earn cashback with your Discover it card
  • Navigating the Discovercard.com portal
  • How to redeem your cashback

How to Earn CashBack with Discover

It’s easy to earn cashback with your Discover card, which can make it a top contender when choosing which card you’ll use to make everyday purchases.

In order to take advantage of the 5% cashback offer year-round, you’ll need to spend in certain rotating categories throughout the year.

Here is a summary of the quarterly spending categories for 2016 that qualified for 5% cashback:

January – March

  • Gas stations and ground transportation

April – June

  • Restaurants and movies

July – September

  • Home improvement stores and Amazon.com

October – December

  • Amazon.com, department stores, and Sam’s Club

With Discover’s 5% cashback, there’s a spending cap of $1,500 each quarter, meaning you can earn a maximum of $75 in cashback each quarter or $300 per year.

However, you can also earn at least 1% cashback on all your other purchases, and there’s no cap on how much you can spend or how much cashback you can receive, so if you want to maximize cashback rewards, you could possibly earn more than $300 per year.

Don’t Forget …

Discover cardholders have to “opt in” each quarter to start receiving 5% cashback when spending in the rotating spending categories. This is important to remember and easy to do by simply following the prompts in Discover’s reminder email or logging on to your account.

Cashback also doesn’t expire as long as your account is in good standing, so you can stack up your rewards over time if you forget.

New customers may receive special offers like cashback matching, which is when Discover it matches all the cashback you earn dollar for dollar at the end of your first year. The double cashback will be applied to your account balance after the end of the twelfth billing cycle.

How to Access Cashback Rewards

When you start earning cashback with your Discover it card, you can check your available Cashback Bonus right on Discover’s online portal, which is called the Account Center.

Go to Discover.com and type in your login information. Make sure the drop-down menu below the password field says “credit card” so you can access your online account for your Discover it credit card.

discover cash back 1

After you log in, you should see a screen similar to the one shown below. Below you can see the Cashback Bonus available is clearly displayed on this first page along with information about the current quarter’s spending categories and a link to the Cashback Bonus calendar, which provides more information about each 5% cashback spending category.

discover cash back 2

You can click on the button underneath your cashback rewards summary to see a more detailed page, which should look similar to the one below.

Here, you can learn more about earning cashback and redeeming your Cashback Bonus.

discover cash back 3

 

Options for Redemption

Discover it cardholders can redeem their Cashback Bonus at any time, and you have a variety of options to choose from.

Amazon Products

You can use your cashback to pay for online purchases on Amazon.com. This can give your wallet a rest when you’re shopping online and can come in handy around the holidays.

discover cash bank 4

Gift Cards and E-Certificates

You can also redeem your Cashback Bonus for gift cards and e-certificates (digital gift cards for online shopping) at over 100 popular retailers and restaurants. Right now, Discover is offering a $25 gift card for cardholders who want to redeem $20 in cashback. You can also find other incentive offers to use gift cards or e-certificates, such as $80 of cashback for a $100 e-certificate to Banana Republic. Using gift cards or e-certificates could help your cashback stretch further.

discover cash bank 5

 

Donation, Cash, and Statement Credit

Finally, Discover it cardholders can donate their cashback rewards, or redeem the cash by applying it to their credit card statement to partially cover existing charges or by transferring it to their bank account.

discover cash bank 6

Transferring Cashback to Your Bank

To redeem your cashback rewards for cash, you’ll have to click on the “Redeem For Cash” button after scrolling down to view your redemption options for your credit card account on Discover’s Account Center portal.

When you see a screen similar to the one shown below, enter the amount of cashback you’d like to redeem and click the option that says “Direct deposit to your bank account” if you want to receive the cash instead of applying it to your credit card balance.

Your checking account that you use to pay your credit card bill each month should already be connected to your Discover it account, so you can select it from the drop-down menu below. For the time being, Discover, won’t let you add another account to transfer your Cashback Bonus to.

discover cash bank 7

When you’ve selected the amount you’d like to redeem and the account you’d like to transfer it to, click “Continue” and approve and confirm the transaction.

If you don’t want to use Discover’s online portal, you’ll have to call 1-800-DISCOVER (1-800-347-2683) to redeem your Cashback Bonus.

After you redeem your Cashback Bonus, the time it takes to receive your reward can vary based on the redemption method you chose.

  • Partner gift cards will be mailed to your billing address within 10 business days
  • Electronic deposits will appear in your bank account within 72 hours
  • Account credits will post to your account within 2 business days

Final Word

The Discover it card is a great option for people who like to earn cashback, thanks to its 5% cashback rewards and no annual fee, and it also provides a flexible range of redemption options.

Whether you want to apply your Cashback Bonus to your current balance, use it to shop online or at your favorite department store, or deposit the cash straight to your checking account so you can spend it however you please, you can do all of that and more.

The Account Center portal is also very user friendly and easy to navigate when trying to redeem cashback.

Erin Lowry
Erin Lowry |

Erin Lowry is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at erin@magnifymoney.com

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Discover it Review: What’s the Catch of 5% Cash Back?

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Discover it Review: What's the catch of 5% cash back?

Updated July 5, 2017

Are you searching for a no annual fee card that has the potential for 5% cash back rewards? Then Discover it® Cashback Match may be a good fit for you, but keep in mind that the categories may not always sync up with your routine purchases.

The Discover it credit card actually comes with several perks, including an introductory 0% interest rate for 14 months on new purchases and balance transfers, no annual fee, and a cash back program. It also has a generous introductory offer that matches the cash back you earn at the end of your first year that makes it a great choice upfront. The match is only available to new cardmembers.

But what about after the promo ends? We’ll run down how the card works.

5% Cashback Bonus

The Realities of 5% Cash Back

5% cash back does not mean on everything. Discover, similar to programs like Chase Freedom, offers 5% cash back on select categories that rotate every quarter. You will earn 5% cash back on up to the quarterly maximum, which is $1,500 of spend. To get the 5%, you have to activate every quarter. All other purchases get 1% cash back. Rotating categories can include things like gas stations, restaurants, Amazon.com, wholesale clubs and more.

From July until September 2017, the bonus category is restaurants.

With a cap on the 5% cash back of the first $1,500 of purchases in a relevant category, you can earn a maximum of $75 per quarter in cash back rewards and $300 per year.

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How do I sign up?

Discover it cardholders do have to “opt in” to the 5% cash back categories each quarter. You can have Discover send you email reminders with the ability to opt in via email or you can opt in after logging into your account.

Do points expire?

Cash back rewards can be redeemed with no minimum threshold and can be redeemed as a statement credit, a credit on Amazon.com orders, a deposit into your bank account, and more. Cash back rewards never expire as long as your account is in good standing. Discover can close your account if has been inactive.

Bonus offer for new customers

Additionally, the Discover it card will match all the cash back you earn dollar for dollar at the end of your first year. The double cash back will be applied to your account balance after the end of the 12th billing cycle.

Cashing Out and Perks

Discover provides the option to use your cash back as either a statement credit or a direct deposit into your bank account.

You can also leverage up by purchasing a gift card or eCertificate through the redemption portal.

Through a partnership with Amazon, you can use your Discover it cash back to pay for Amazon purchases while checking out. Other CashBack Bonus partners include iTunes and Overstock.com.

Discover it also offers access to your FICO credit score for free on each monthly statement.

Some Extra Perks

In addition to the cash back, Discover has been investing in a number of perks that you might find useful. Discover introduced a feature that enables you to freeze your account in seconds.

If you lose your card, Discover offers free overnight shipping to any address in the US. They also promise that paying late won’t raise your APR.

And if you need to speak with someone from customers service, Discover has 100% US-based customer service representatives.

Fees & Gotchas

There is no annual fee for the Discover it card. The balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount of each transfer. There is no late fee the first time you pay late. After that, late payments are up to $37. Discover does not charge foreign currency transaction fees.

 Discover it® - Cashback Match<sup>TM</sup>

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How it Stacks Up

The Citi Double Cash credit card might be a better option if you don’t want to opt into bonus categories every quarter. The Citi Double Cash credit card offers up to 2% cash back with no cap on the amount you earn as long as you pay on time, which makes it a good all-around card as you won’t have to track and time your spending to take advantage of extra cash back in bonus categories like the rotating 5% bonus cash back categories offered by Discover it.

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The Capital One Quicksilver card also offers a cash back program, however you can only earn 1.5% with this card. One difference is that the Capital One Quicksilver card offers a sign-on bonus of $100, which is something you don’t get from either the Discover it card or the Citi Double Cash card. That $100 sign-on bonus can easily be made up over the long run by the 2% cash back offer of the Citi Double Cash card or the 5% bonus cash back categories offered by the Discover it card.

The Bottom Line

If you spend a lot of money in the 5% bonus categories, this will be a great card. Just make sure you opt in every quarter.

Kayla Sloan
Kayla Sloan |

Kayla Sloan is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kayla at Kayla@magnifymoney.com

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Is AMEX Blue Cash Everyday or Citi Double Cash Best for Your Wallet?

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Earning cash back to pay off your credit card bill is the most straightforward way to get rewarded for spending. The Amex Blue Cash Everyday and the Citi Double Cash are two cards that let you turn money earned from shopping into credits for your statement or, in the case of the Citi Double Cash, also check or gift cards.

Here we’re comparing both to help you choose between the two and we’ll also discuss an instance where you can benefit from keeping both of these cards in your wallet.

Amex Blue Cash Everyday

The Amex Blue Cash Everyday card has a multi-level cash back program.

You earn 3% cash back on the first $6,000 you spend at grocery stores per year. The money you spend at gas stations and select department stores will earn you 2% cash back. A few participating department stores include JCPenney, Sears, Macy’s, Boscov’s and Nordstrom. All other purchases outside of the 3% and 2% categories earn 1% cash back.

For new cardholders, there are extra cash bonuses and an introductory rate special that may pique your interest. If you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of card signing, you’ll get $100 in cash back. You may also qualify for an extra 10% cash back on the first $2,000 you spend on wireless telephone services. To be eligible for this deal, you must apply for the card before June 15, 2016.

Cash back is earned in Rewards Dollars. You can cash in Rewards Dollars for statement credit once your balance reaches $25 or more. There is no annual fee.

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Citi Double Cash Back Program

The Citi Double Cash card gives you double cash back on all purchases. You get unlimited 1% cash back when you spend money. Then another 1% cash back when you make credit card payments. If you’re looking for a rewards program without any spending restrictions, this would be one to seriously consider.

You can redeem cash back for a check, statement credit or gift card once your cash back balance reaches $25. If you have a Citi savings or checking account, you can also transfer cash earned into one of your accounts.

The Citi Double Cash doesn’t have an annual fee.

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Pros and Cons

Amex Blue Cash Everyday Card

Pro: Cash back in statement credit. The Amex Blue Cash Everyday has a no fuss redemption system. Cash in your Rewards Dollars for a statement credit to pay your bill. Easy enough.

Con: Cap in the grocery category. If you spend more than $500 per month on groceries, you could very well hit the $6,000 cap for the 3% category and only earn 1% cash back for the rest of the year. Now, that’s a generous cap, but factor in holidays, summer BBQs and other events where you shop heavy. You may reach the cap faster than you think.

Pro: No activation required. You get the benefit of high bonus categories without having to activate a revolving category each quarter. And the 3% and 2% categories you can benefit from the entire year cover things you need to buy anyway, gas for your car and groceries for your family.

Con: Warehouse stores not welcome. Superstores and warehouses are not considered supermarkets. If you shop at Target, Walmart, Costco and the like, you won’t get rewarded for it.

Pro: No annual fee. You don’t have to pay to get access to these rewards.

Con: Redemption threshold. You have to reach $25 in Rewards Dollars before you can use it and you can redeem cash back in one way: statement credit.

Citi Double Cash

Pro: No fine print. There’s double cash back on everything, no limits. And no need to sign up for or pay attention to revolving categories.

Con: Less cash back. The pro of how basic the Citi Double Cash terms are comes with a catch. Sure, you can earn cash back without restrictions or a cap, but you’ll earn less cash back in certain areas than you can with a tiered rewards program like the Amex Blue Cash Everyday.

Pro: Redeem cash in multiple ways. Instead of just using your cash back for statement credits you have more options including requesting checks, gift cards or cash deposits.

Con: Redemption threshold. Similar to the Amex Blue Cash Everyday, your cash back balance has to reach $25 before you can redeem it.

Using Both the Amex Blue Cash Everyday and Citi Double Cash

If you’re interested in working the rewards program system, you may want to sign up for both of these cards to earn maximum cash back. Be prepared to pay more attention to your cards than just swiping the first one you can find in your wallet while using this method. One good thing about coupling these particular cards together is both have no revolving categories, so that’s one less thing to remember.

Pull out the Amex Blue Cash Everyday card while grocery shopping until you spend $6,000 for the year. Then use the Citi Double Cash card for the rest of the year to get 2% instead of just the 1% that you would earn with the Amex Blue Cash Everyday card on most purchases.

Other Cash Back Card Options

Capital One Quicksilver has another program with no cash back category restriction. You earn 1.5% unlimited on all purchases.

Like the Citi Double cash card, you have more than one option to redeem your cash back. Other than a statement credit you can request a check. There is no annual fee.

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Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature card is similar to the Citi Double Cash card and gives you unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases when you deposit cash back into an eligible Fidelity account. Eligible Fidelity accounts include:

  • Brokerage accounts
  • Fidelity Cash Management Accounts
  • Fidelity-managed 529 College Savings plans
  • Retirement accounts like the Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Rollover IRA and SEP IRA

Fidelity uses a point system to keep track of cash back, $1 spent equals 2 points and your points never expire. Besides account deposits, you can cash in points for travel, merchandise, gift cards and statement credits. However, points you redeem for anything other than deposits into your Fidelity account won’t have the same value. To get the most from this rewards program you should intend to transfer cash back into a Fidelity account.

In order to redeem points for a cash deposit, your point balance has to reach 5,000 or $50. You can redeem points for travel, merchandise, gift cards or statement credit starting at 2,500 points. The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature does not have an annual fee.

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Which Card Will Benefit You the Most?

If your focus is earning cash back from grocery shopping and gas and you spend below the 3% category cap ($6,000) per year, the Amex Blue Cash Everyday has an uncomplicated program that could serve you well. If you prefer finding one card that will reward you the most for everything, the Citi Double Cash would be your best bet.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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Chase Freedom or Citi Double Cash: How Do You Pick?

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Chase Freedom or Citi Double Cash

Earning cash back is just one of the many rewards that come from using some of the best credit cards on the market to make your purchases. Two of the leading cash back reward card contenders are Chase Freedom and Citi Double Cash Card.

While both could be beneficial to keep in your wallet, the way each of these cards calculate cash back rewards varies.

If you are in search of your next cash back credit card, we’ll compare these two options side by side so you can determine which option is best for you.

Chase Freedom®

Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

The Chase Freedom card has a point system in place called Chase Ultimate Rewards that translates each 100 points to $1 in cash. This enables you to earn up to $300 in cash back rewards annually in 5% categories with your Chase Freedom card. You can redeem your points for cash once your balance reaches 2,000, which is worth $20.

The 5% bonus categories change every quarter.

This card is ideal if you’re an active credit card user who doesn’t mind paying attention to unique offers and putting in the extra effort to maximize your cash back rewards.

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Citi Double Cash 

Citi’s Double Cash Card has no annual fee and allows you to earn double cash back on all purchases. Unlike the Chase Freedom, there is no limit to how much cash back you can earn as long as you pay your bill on time each month.

With this Citi card, you will earn unlimited 1% cash back when you make a purchase and an additional 1% cash back when you pay your bill on time, allowing you to double your cash back.

This card is a good option for people who would like to keep one cash back card with a simple strategy that offers a competitive bonus.

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Pros & Cons

Chase Freedom®

Pro: Sign-on bonus. Get a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Con: Rotating categories. 5% sounds great, but you may not experience a benefit each quarter if you don’t typically spend in those categories.

Pro: Rewards stay good. The cash back you earn on this card does not expire.

Con: Rewards cap. There’s a spending cap of $1500 on qualifying purchases per quarter, meaning you can’t earn more than $300 in cash back annually.

Pro: No annual fee. You won’t need to pay an annual fee that eats away at your rewards.

Con: Rewards eligibility isn’t automated. You need to actively enroll online to activate the 5% cash back categories each quarter. 

Citi Double Cash

Pro: Double rewards. It’s a set it and forget it type of cash back card. You earn double cash back on all your purchases (assuming you pay the bill off on time).

Con: No sign-on bonus. Unlike the Chase Freedom card, there is no bonus for getting the Citi Double Cash card.

Pro: No caps on rewards. Unlike some of the cards with rotating categories, the Citi Double Cash card doesn’t cap the rewards you can earn each year.

Con: Foreign transaction fee. The 3% foreign transaction fee nullifies your international purchases so this shouldn’t be your first pick for spending aboard.

Pro: No annual fee. You can stash all those double cash back rewards right in the bank because you won’t lose any to an annual fee.

Which One is Better?

If you had to choose which card was better, the answer would rely heavily on what your preferences are in terms of a cash back card. If you are looking for a higher cash back bonus and don’t mind keeping up with different spending categories throughout the year and enrolling to receive cash back bonuses at the beginning of each quarter, you may favor Chase Freedom.

This card is ideal if your looking to strategically use your credit card to maximize the bonuses and rewards you earn. It also helps that Chase Freedom offers a sign on bonus.

On the other hand, if you favor consistency and would like to stick to one card that earns a flat, high cash back rate, you might consider choosing the Citi Double Cash card. Since this card has no spending cap and no categories, you can earn cash back rewards easier and don’t have to worry about a spending limit as long as you pay your bill off on time each month to receive the full 2% cash back.

Consider factors like your spending habits, income level (this can dictate how much you are willing to spend each month or quarter), and what characteristics you are looking for in a cash back credit card before making your decision. 

When to Consider Using Both Rewards

If you’re still wondering which card might be best for you, you might benefit more from using both. Both the Chase Freedom card and Citi Double Cash card have benefits that the other one doesn’t provide.

Since you will only receive 5% cash back when you spend in certain categories, you can use the Citi Double Cash card for all your other spending. Even though Chase Freedom does offer unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases, why not earn double on your other purchases with Citi Double Cash?

For example, if you end up hitting the $1500 spending limit for purchases at grocery stores in June, you can use your Citi card for other purchases like at gas stations, drug stores, etc. to earn double back on all purchases. And if you don’t hit your limit, you can use the Citi Double Cash for all non-grocery spend.

Keeping track of two credit cards may seem like a hassle to you or make you nervous about overspending. If you’re looking to just get the best card for your specific spending habits, then use our customizable tool to see which card is best for you.

Other Options

You can also pair either card with the Nusenda Credit Union’s Platinum Cash Rewards Card.  

Nusenda offers 1% cash back on every purchase, and 5% cash back in revolving categories. These categories could be coupled with Chase Freedom’s revolving categories to maximize your ability to hear 5% back each quarter.

  • January to March – Groceries and gas expenses
  • April to June – Movies, restaurants and home improvement
  • July to September – Gas and education expenses
  • October to December – Restaurants, hotels and airfare

For example, you get 5 cents back per dollar on movies, restaurants and home improvement purchases from April to June. One perk compared to Freedom is that you don’t have to register for these categories like many other 5% cash back cards.

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Another option, is the Capital One Quicksilver card that allows you to earn 1.5% cash back and has no annual fee. While this card’s cash back bonus rate is smaller than Chase Freedom and Citi Double Cash, you can take advantage of the $100 sign-on bonus after spending $500 within the first 3 months. Since Citi Double Cash doesn’t offer a sign on bonus, you can use Capital One Quicksilver as well to reap this benefit, but in the long run, your Citi card will still earn you more cash back annually.

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You Don’t Have to Just Pick One

Both Chase Freedom and Citi Double Cash offer a competitive cash back bonus. If the benefits of one card fits your spending habits and preferences over the other card, it may be a solid option. If you’re looking to optimize the cash back you could earn on regular purchases you make throughout the year, consider using both as long as you don’t have to alter your spending habits and can manage to pay the balance off each month.

Chonce Maddox
Chonce Maddox |

Chonce Maddox is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Chonce at chonce@magnifymoney.com

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Chase Freedom or Chase Slate: How Do You Know Which to Pick?

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Chase Freedom or Chase Slate

Are you looking for your next credit card? If so, one of the companies you may have considered is Chase. Two of the most popular products offered by Chase are the Chase Freedom and the Chase Slate® credit cards. If you are wondering which card, Chase Freedom or Chase Slate®, will best meet your needs, read on to see our head to head review.

Chase Slate®

Chase Slate® is a great credit card for balance transfers. Save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee and get 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free. Just make sure you get the balance transfer done within 60 days of opening the account. This offer can help you pay off your debt efficiently as your full payment will go towards the principal balance.

The information related to the Chase Slate credit card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

There is no penalty APR for paying late. However, other terms apply, like paying a late fee if you miss the payment deadline.

That may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t as long as you follow 3 rules:

  • Complete your balance transfer within 60 of opening your account. Transfers made after 60 days will be subject to standard balance transfer fees and interest rates.
  • Pay your bill on time every month. If you are one day late with your payment, you will be subject to a late fee.
  • Transfer debt from another bank. The intro 0% APR is not applicable to debt transferred from another Chase credit card, including co-brand credit cards issued by Chase like Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and more.

Chase Freedom®

Once you are at a point in your financial journey that you can trust yourself to use credit wisely in order to take advantage of credit card rewards, then Chase Freedom is a strong contender.

Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

You also have to enroll online to activate the 5% cash back categories. If you forget to activate them, you will only earn the standard 1% cash back, even if you make purchases within the bonus categories of the current quarter. The good news is that you have a grace period of 2 months to get enrolled in the bonus categories each quarter, so you can earn 5% cash back on purchases in the bonus categories even if you didn’t remember to enroll right away.

Rewards are earned as points in part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards system, which you can then redeem for cash back as a statement credit, gift cards, travel, and more through your online account. You do have to meet a minimum of 2,000 points, or $20, to redeem your rewards.

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Pros and Cons

Chase Slate®

  • Pro: Balance transfer is a highly competitive offer.
  • Con: You can only transfer debt from cards not owned by Chase. Chase is a large bank, so some of your debt may already be held at Chase Bank even if you were not aware of it.
  • Pro: Interest charged during month 16 is charged going forward, not retroactively.
  • Con: Interest rates after the promotional period are 15.99% – 24.74% variable depending on your credit score.

Chase Freedom®

  • Pro: Bonus categories offer the opportunity to earn some serious cash back.
  • Con: You must actively opt in to the bonus cash back
  • Pro: Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Con: You have to reach a minimum threshold of 2,000 points, worth $20, in order to redeem your rewards.

When to Use Each Card

Chase Freedom and Chase Slate® are not cards that will likely be used by the same target customer. The Chase Slate® card is a great tool to use if you are trying to get out of debt because you’ll be able to focus on paying off your principal balance instead of paying high interest rates. Just be sure to make your payments on time and pay as much above the minimum due as you can afford.

Another balance transfer option to consider besides the Chase Slate® credit card is the Citi Simplicity credit card. The Citi Simplicity credit card offers 0% APR for 21 months. However, there is a 3% balance transfer fee on the Citi Simplicity credit card.

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Chase Freedom is a rewards card that may make sense to have in your wallet if you are able to use credit responsibly. However, you might want to consider a flat rate cash back card, like the Citi Double Cash, which offers 1% cash back upfront and another 1% cash back when you pay off the bill, which is double the cash back of the Chase Freedom outside of the 5% cash back bonus categories.

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Which card you use, Chase Freedom or Chase Slate®, depends on your personal financial situation and your goals. If your goal is to pay off debt, Chase Slate® is the way to go out of the two, but if you are interested in earning rewards for your everyday spending, Chase Freedom may be right up your alley.

Kayla Sloan
Kayla Sloan |

Kayla Sloan is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kayla at Kayla@magnifymoney.com

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Chase Freedom or Chase Sapphire: Which Offers You More Value?

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Chase Freedom or Chase Sapphire: Which Offers You More Value?

Chase has two very different offers for cash back rewards, both valuable in their own right. Chase Freedom rewards you for everyday spending and Chase Sapphire rewards you for spending on travel and dining. Which one should you choose? Here’s what you need to know about each option and why you should consider using both cards.

Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom is a popular cash back credit card. Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. You automatically earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

You can redeem cash back for statement credit or make a cash deposit into a checking or savings account. You can also redeem using Chase Ultimate Rewards for gift cards, travel and more.

Chase Freedom converts your cash back into points. For the 1% cash back category, you get 1 point per $1. For the 5% cash back category, you get 5 points per $1.

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Chase Sapphire

The information related to Chase Sapphire credit card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

The Chase Sapphire offers 2X points for spending on dining and travel. You’ll earn 1X on all other purchases.

You can read a full Chase Sapphire Preferred review here.

You can redeem points for cash once your point balance reaches 2,000. However, points are 20% more valuable when you redeem them for travel (airfare, car rentals, hotels, cruises, etc.) through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

If you choose to take a gift card or cash the value of one point is $0.01. If you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards the value is $0.0125 per point.

You’ll also earn a bonus of 50,000 points if you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months of opening the card. That equals $625 in travel rewards. You can get an extra 5,000 bonus points if you add an authorized user to your account within 3 months of card opening as well.

One huge benefit of the Chase Sapphire card is you can transfer points earned to participating frequent traveler programs and the points will have full value.

Participating travel rewards programs include:

  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards
  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards

The annual fee for the card is waived the first year. After the first year, the annual fee is $95. There’s no foreign transaction fee for the card.

Pros and Cons

Now, it’s time to go over the pros and cons of both cash back programs.

Chase Freedom

Pro: Bonus categories that cover the basics. The revolving categories include everyday needs so you won’t have to alter your spending habits each quarter to cash in.

Pro: Redeem points your way. You can use through several options to redeem your cash back. You can get cash through statement credit or check. Or you can choose from a bunch of other rewards from Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Pro: Attainable signing bonus. Get a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. 

Con: Activating the bonus category. You need to activate the bonus every quarter.

Con: Redemption threshold. You need to earn 2,000 points to start redeeming for cash.

Chase Sapphire

Pro: A break on foreign transaction fees. There’s no foreign transaction fee; perfect for frequent travelers. You’ll also avoid the annual fee for the first year. Afterward the annual fee is $95 per year. But, if you travel regularly the savings from foreign transaction fees may justify the cost.

Pro: Increased value for Chase Ultimate Rewards. Points redeemed for travel rewards through Chase Ultimate Freedom have a higher value. You’re also able to transfer your points to participating travel rewards programs without sacrificing point value. If you’re a member of a partnering rewards program you can build up points for larger purchases.

Pro: A good sign up deal for avid travelers. The sign on deal, spend $4,000 in 3 months for 40,000 points, is pretty high but could be easily attainable for cardholders that hop on flights often or entertain for work.

Con: Can’t redeem rewards until points reach 2,000. Just like the Chase Freedom card, you can’t redeem points for cash until your point balance reaches a certain limit.

Con: Limited travel rewards partnerships. The big selling point of the Chase Sapphire is your ability to transfer points to your other travel rewards programs. If your preferred travel rewards program isn’t on the list of partners you won’t be able to benefit from this perk, unless you sign up for a new program.

Other Cash Back Card Options

The Nusenda CU Platinum Cash Rewards Credit Card also has revolving quarterly categories similar to the Chase Freedom card. This card gives you 5% cash back in the bonus category and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Aside from the recurring program, you’ll get 2% cash back on purchases outside of the bonus category for the first 90 days.

The 5% categories include:

  • January to March – Groceries and gas expenses
  • April to June – Home improvement, movies and restaurants
  • July to September – Gas and education expenses
  • October to December – Restaurants, hotels and airfare

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The Citi ThankYou Premier Card has a rewards program comparable to the Chase Sapphire program except you earn a higher amount of points for travel. The card gives 3X points for travel and gas, 2X points for restaurants and entertainment and 1X points on all other spending.

If you spend $3,000 the first 3 months of signing up for the card, you get 40,000 bonus ThankYou points which equals $500 in airfare or $400 in gift cards. If you redeem points for travel through the ThankYou Travel Center, points are also worth 25% more.

The annual fee is $95, but is waived for the first year.

 

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Which Card Will Benefit You the Most?

The Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire cards are two very different offers, which presents an opportunity for you earn points with both. If you’re interested in choosing one, the Chase Freedom makes more sense if you travel sparingly, but spend more in the revolving categories.

Chase Sapphire is probably not worth the $95 fee if you’re not going to be maximizing the cash back benefits.

But, if you travel and dine out regularly the Chase Sapphire should be at the top of your list because you can transfer rewards to other travel programs and stack your points.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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AMEX EveryDay or AMEX Blue Cash Everyday: Depends on How You Want to Redeem Cash Back

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

AMEX EveryDay or AMEX Blue Cash Everyday

Updated July 5, 2017

American Express has many rewards cards, two of them being the AMEX EveryDay and the AMEX Blue Cash Everyday. Both cards reward you in different ways and have no annual fee.

With the AMEX EveryDay card you earn points from making purchases and redeem them through American Express Membership Rewards. On the other hand, the AMEX Blue Cash Everyday card gives you cash back in the form of Rewards Dollars that you can use for statement credit.

AMEX EveryDay Card

AMEX EveryDay gives you 2x points for supermarket purchases with a $6,000 annual spending cap. Purchases at warehouses and superstores like Costco and Walmart don’t count for 2x points, which should be a deal breaker if you shop heavily at either.

On all other purchases you get 1x points. As an added bonus, if you make 20 or more purchases within a billing cycle, you’ll get an extra 20% on those purchases.

The AMEX EveryDay has a sign on bonus that includes 10,000 extra Membership Rewards points if you spend $1,000 within 3 months of opening up the card.

Redeeming Membership Rewards Points

Membership Rewards point redemption options are pretty much unlimited. Cardholders can choose to redeem for various gift cards, statement credit, travel, entertainment and more.

Although rewards options are plentiful, you’ll get the most value from points when you redeem for certain things. For example, 1,000 points when redeemed for airfare, NYC taxi fare or an Uber ride equals $10.

In contrast, if you choose a statement credit or shop with your rewards at select retail stores, 1,000 points equals just $5.

Points are also transferable to partnering travel rewards programs, a major perk for travelers.

AMEX Blue Cash Everyday

This card gives you 3% cash back at supermarkets with a $6,000 spending cap per year. You can earn another 2% cash back at gas stations and department stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

For the sign on bonus, at time of publication, Amex Blue Cash Everyday offers $100 in bonus cash back if you spend $1,000 within 3 months of opening an account.

To redeem your Rewards Dollars for statement credit your balance must reach $25. This card has no annual fee.

Pros and Cons

AMEX EveryDay Card

Pro: No revolving categories. You don’t have to worry about activating a bonus category or switching up your spending habits every three months like you do with other cards that have revolving categories. The rewards cap per year is generous. If you spend less than $500 on groceries per month, you’ll get 2x points on food for the entire year.

Con: Grocery store shopping limitations. If you’re someone who likes to shop in bulk at superstores or in corner markets, this card may not be for you. You’ll only earn 1x points on your purchases and you can get rewarded more from this spending with another card.

Pro: No annual fee. You earn Membership Rewards for free since there’s no annual fee. The card is also interest free for the first 15 months. Once introductory ends, you should make sure to pay the credit card bill in full each month to benefit from the rewards program and avoid interest.

Con: Point value for statement credit. If you want to pay off your statement with points the value is just okay.

Pro: Many redemption options with Membership Rewards. Whether you want to redeem for statement credit, gift cards or travel, the AMEX EveryDay card has you covered. However, rewards have different redemption values. Check the Membership Rewards site for details.

AMEX Blue Cash Everyday Card

Pro: No revolving categories. There’s no need to keep up with changing categories here as well. And you can earn more than the basic 1% in two ways, spending at grocery stores (3%) gas stations and department stores (2%).

Con: Redemption threshold. The redemption threshold is low, $25, but there’s still a preset limit you have to reach before you can cash in your money for statement credit.

Pro: No annual fee. You can enjoy free cash back and an intro deal with 0% APR for 12 months.

Con: Limited to supermarkets. Just like the AMEX EveryDay card you can’t spend just anywhere that food is sold to earn in the 3% category. You’re restricted to certain merchant codes and that excludes warehouses.

Pro: Redemption for statement credit. The AMEX Blue Cash Everyday program is simple; you earn cash back and it puts a dent in your credit card bill. Although there is one caveat, you can’t use cash back to cover your minimum balance due.

Other Rewards Card Options

The Citi Double Cash is a good alternative if you want to earn unlimited double cash back on all purchases. Check out this card if you’re a big superstore or warehouse shopper. You earn 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% cash back when you pay the credit card bill, no cap. This means the real value only comes if you pay off your monthly bill on time and in full.

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Discover it® Cashback Match™ gives you the chance to earn 5% cash back in bonus categories like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more – up to the quarterly maximum ($1,500 of spend) every quarter you activate. With the “Cashback Match” program, Discover will automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year (new cardmembers only).

From July until September 2017, the bonus category is restaurants.

All other purchases get 1% cash back. You can redeem cash back for gifts cards, statement credits, charitable donations, deposits to an account or merchandise.

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Or search for the best cash back cards for your needs by comparing all the top offers here.

Which Card Will Benefit You the Most?

The Amex EveryDay card is a good choice if you want flexibility to redeem rewards in multiple ways. If you prefer cold-hard cash back, go with the Amex Blue Cash Everyday card to get your statement credits from Rewards Dollars. Neither card is a good fit you shop for groceries at specialty stores or superstores as you won’t earn in the highest rewards category. Huntington Voice may be a better option as it allows you to pick your 3% rotating categories and offers 3% back at Walmart and customer service reps state any grocery items purchased regardless of store type (ie: Costco or Sams) count for the 3% back grocery category.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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