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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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on Ally Financial’s secure website

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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Reviews

Amex Blue Cash Everyday Review: Good For Grocery Shoppers

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.

The Blue Cash Everyday Card is an American Express cash back rewards credit card with no annual fee. It gives 3% cash back for supermarket spending, 2% cash back for spending at gas stations and department stores, and 1% cash back on everything else.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Annual fee
$0 For First Year
$0 Ongoing
Cashback Rate
up to 3%
APR
13.99%-24.99%

Variable

Credit required
good-credit

Good

  • $100 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • No annual fee.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 13.99% to 24.99%.
  • Expanding merchant acceptance: Over 1 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in the last year.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

How to Earn Cash Back Rewards

For an introductory deal, the Blue Cash Everyday Card offers up to $150 in statement credits. During your first 6 calendar months of card membership, you can earn one $25 statement credit after you spend $250 in purchases on the Card in that month. The rewards program includes a decent amount of fine print for each cash back category.

Here’s what you need to know:

3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year

Fine print: Superstores, warehouses, and specialty stores are not included. So keep in mind, if you visit your local fishmonger or butcher a few times a month, the cash you spend there probably won’t count as grocery shopping. Also, spending money at Amazon, Target, and Walmart specifically won’t earn you 3% cash back.

Here are samples of grocery stores that will earn you 3% cash back:

  • Foodtown
  • Gristedes
  • Meijer
  • Pathmark
  • Shoprite
  • Stop and Shop
  • Vons
  • Whole Foods
  • Winn-Dixie
  • Online supermarkets such as FreshDirect

2% cash back at gas stations and select department stores

Fine print: Superstores, supermarkets, and warehouse clubs that happen to sell gas are not included in the 2% cash back category. American Express gives examples of gas stations and a list of department stores that qualify for 2% cash back.

Here are some examples of gas stations:

  • Exxon
  • Gulf
  • Hess
  • Mobil
  • Murphy Express
  • Murphy USA
  • Shell

Here are the department stores:

  • Bealls
  • Belk
  • Bloomingdale’s
  • Bon Ton Stores
  • Boscov’s
  • Century 21 Department Stores
  • Dillard’s
  • J.C. Penney (JCP)
  • Kohl’s
  • Lord & Taylor
  • Macy’s
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Nordstrom
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Sears
  • Stein Mart

1% cash back on all other purchases

Fine print: The 1% cash back applies to all purchases that don’t qualify for 2% or 3% and grocery shopping you do beyond the $6,000 annual cap.

How does American Express determine cash back for each purchase?

American Express uses merchant codes to determine how much cash you earn for each purchase. Merchant codes (or MCCs) are four-digit codes assigned to merchants that classify their business. You need to buy gas and groceries from stores that have an eligible merchant code to get 2% or 3% cash back. For full cash back category terms, head here.

The cash back you earn can also be impacted by the way you choose to process your payments. According to the American Express terms and conditions:

“Purchases made through a third-party payment account or on an online marketplace (with multiple retailers) will not receive a higher percentage reward. A purchase may not receive a higher percentage reward if the merchant submits the purchase using a mobile or wireless card reader or if you use a mobile or digital wallet.”

By “higher percentage reward,” American Express means more than the basic 1% back. The best bet at making sure you get the highest reward possible from your spending is keeping things super simple.

Focus on shopping at the supermarkets, gas stations, and department stores American Express has on the example lists above. At checkout, swipe your Blue Cash Everyday Card the old-fashioned way to pay for your shopping haul.

The Amex Blue Cash Everyday Card vs. The Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card

At first look, the 3% cash back on groceries seems legit because you’re earning cash back with no fee. However, shoppers who spend any more than $3,000 per year on groceries should take a look at the upgraded Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card instead to see if it offers a higher reward.

The Blue Cash Preferred Card gives 6% cash back on groceries and has a $95 annual fee, but you shouldn’t let that cost deter you.

If you spend just $3,200 on groceries per year with the Blue Cash Preferred Card, the 6% cash back minus the $95 fee offers a greater amount of cash back than what you would earn spending the same amount on the free Blue Cash Everyday Card.

Here’s how it works out:

  • Blue Cash Everyday – $3,200 x 0.03 = $96 cash back
  • Blue Cash Preferred – $3,200 x 0.06 = $192 – $95 annual fee = $97 cash back

Yes, the difference initially may seem small.

But as you spend more on groceries, the cash back earned from the Blue Cash Preferred Card surpasses the Blue Cash Everyday Card at a higher margin. Plus, the Preferred card offers a higher 3% cash back on gas and department stores as well.

How I got $3,200.

In this review, we’ll first explain the basics of the Blue Cash Everyday rewards program. Then, we’ll give you a scenario of when it still makes sense to apply for the Blue Cash Everyday Card instead of other cash back cards, including the Blue Cash Preferred Card.

How Cash Back Works

Cash back earned from the Blue Cash Everyday Card is tracked in Blue Cash Rewards Dollars. You can redeem cash back through the account dashboard for statement credit in increments of 25. You can’t use cash back to make your monthly minimum payment.

How to Qualify for the Blue Cash Everyday Card

American Express is one of several credit card issuers that offers a pre-qualification screening. The benefit of this feature is you can find out whether you have a good chance of getting approved for an American Express card without impacting your credit score.

To see if the Blue Cash Everyday Card is one you pre-qualify for, go here. Then, scroll down to about the middle of the page where you’ll see the pre-qualified offers section. Here’s what it looks like:

Who the Blue Cash Everyday Card Is Best For

Your goal with the Blue Cash Everyday Card is to spend enough in the higher cash back categories to beat the flat 2% on all purchases you can get with a card like the Citi Double Cash Card.

To throw another variable in the mix, if you plan to shop big in the grocery category, you should compare the Blue Cash Everyday Card against the Blue Cash Preferred Card before making a decision.

So, how do these cards stack up against each other?

Here’s a real-world example of when the Blue Cash Everyday Card will benefit you more than the Blue Cash Preferred Card or the Citi Double Cash Card.

For a quick recap:

  • Blue Cash Everyday – 3% cash back on groceries up to $6,000 annually, 2% cash back on gas and department stores, 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Blue Cash Preferred – $95 annual fee, 6% cash back on groceries up to $6,000 annually, 3% cash back on gas and department stores, 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Citi Double Cash – 2% cash back on all purchases with no cap

The sample scenario

Marc is a family of one and lives a simple life. He commutes 30 minutes to and from work each day. He’s not a big credit card user. He uses the card primarily to feed himself, to fill up his gas tank, and to take his partner out to an affordable dinner at a place of her choosing once or twice a month.

Here are Marc’s spending specs:

  • $2,000 per year on groceries
  • $2,400 per year on gas
  • $1,500 per year on miscellaneous purchases

This is the cash back he would earn from the Blue Cash Everyday Card, Blue Cash Preferred Card, and Citi Double Cash Card:

Marc is a pretty reserved spender, so he’ll earn more cash back with the Blue Cash Everyday Card compared to the Blue Cash Preferred Card because there’s no annual fee eating away at his earnings.

Cash back from the Citi Double Cash Card comes close to the Blue Cash Everyday Card, but the 3% on groceries is more of a benefit to him than unlimited 2% cash back because of his spending habits.

Now, let’s say Marc had his partner move in and the grocery bill increased to $3,000 per year.

Here’s the updated specs:

  • $3,000 per year on groceries
  • $2,400 per year on gas
  • $1,500 per year on miscellaneous purchases

The Blue Cash Preferred Card with the $95 annual fee would take the earnings edge away from the Blue Cash Everyday Card in this second scenario. So, again, the Blue Cash Everyday Card may not be the best cash back deal available for someone who spends in the $3,000 range on groceries per year.

Although, every situation is unique, and small fluctuations in spending habits can make a huge difference in cash back potential. Do a similar cash back comparison on your own before settling on a rewards card.

Other Card Benefits

Besides cash back rewards, American Express cardholders get to take advantage of the following premium benefits:

  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Roadside assistance
  • Global assistance hotline
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Extended warranties
  • Return protection
  • Purchase protection
  • Fraud protection

If you decide to apply for the Blue Cash Everyday Card, know that American Express is a card that you may have difficulty getting accepted by smaller retailers and abroad. However, American Express having limited acceptance may not be too problematic for Blue Cash Everyday cardholders.

Mom-and-pop corner markets that don’t accept American Express may not have a merchant code that qualifies for 3% cash back anyway. Plus, the Blue Cash Everyday Card has a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, so it’s probably not a card you’re going to take abroad frequently as your travel companion either.

That said, consumers who will benefit the most from this cash back card are ones who plan to shop primarily stateside at major supermarkets, gas stations, and department stores that qualify for the highest reward.

Rewards Cards: Frequently Asked Questions

No, Blue Cash points do not expire as long as your account is open and in good standing. So, you can save your points for higher value rewards including electronics and travel.

Anything over 1.5% cash back 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 to 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.

LearnMore

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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Best of, Earning Cashback

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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on Chase’s secure website

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.

REDcard from Target

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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.

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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, Reviews

Capital One Venture Card Review: Earn 2X Miles on Every Purchase

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.

Travel_lg

If you frequently travel for business or leisure, a travel rewards credit card is one you want to keep close. Using a travel card to earn and redeem rewards can lower your out-of-pocket travel costs.

The Venture card from Capital One is a credit card that rewards cardholders in miles for everyday spending. The miles you accumulate can be used to cover the cost of flights, hotel accommodations, and more through the Capital One rewards center. In this post, we’ll dive into:

  • The credit card basics
  • How to redeem cashback
  • The fine print details
  • The pros and cons

The Basics of the Capital One Venture Card 

  1. Earn unlimited 2X miles for every dollar you spend.

There’s no cap on how many miles you can earn. 100 miles earns you $1 in travel rewards, so 1 mile equals 1 cent when you redeem miles for travel purchases.

  1. Earn 40,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 within the first three months.

40,000 bonus miles is equal to $400 for you to use on travel.

  1. No annual fee the first year.

After the first year, the annual fee bumps up to $59.

venture rewards card

How to Redeem Miles Earned

You can redeem the miles you earn in two ways. You can book travel first with your Venture card and then use miles to credit the travel purchases on your statement. Or you can use miles like cash to pay for new travel bookings upfront. The redemption value on travel is 1 cent per mile either way you choose to redeem your miles.

Here’s how to do both:

Using miles to credit past travel purchases

After making a travel purchase on the card, log in to your online account or call the Capital One rewards center to use the Purchase Eraser tool. The Purchase Eraser feature will credit your account for qualifying travel purchases. You must use the Purchase Eraser tool within 90 days of making a travel purchase for it to be eligible for statement credit. It usually takes two to three days for the amount to be credited to your account. You may also be able to do partial redemptions to cover a portion of the cost of travel, but this is subject to minimum redemption amounts.

Previous travel you can get a credit for includes:

  •       Airfare
  •       Bus fares
  •       Car rentals
  •       Cruises
  •       Hotel accommodations
  •       Limo services
  •       Taxicab fares
  •       Timeshares
  •       Train fares
  •       Travel agency costs

Using miles to pay for new travel bookings

For new travel bookings, you also log in to your online account or call the Capital One rewards center. You can book flights, car rentals, and hotel accommodations with your miles.

Besides travel, you can also cash in miles earned to receive a gift card, check, or account credit (for non-travel purchases). Gift cards have the same value as travel redemption. However, the value you get for a check or account credit on non-travel spending is only 50 cents per mile.

Venture cardholders will get the most bang for their buck on gift cards and travel. For example, if you use the 40,000 bonus miles to request a check, you’ll only get $200. Using the bonus miles for travel or a gift card instead will get you 50% more value. 

The Fine Print and Fees

The Venture card doesn’t hit cardholders heavy with fine print or fees. There’s no limit to how many miles you can earn, and miles never expire. Participating in the rewards program will be smooth sailing as long as you pay the monthly bill on time. You forfeit miles you earn during any billing cycle when you’re charged a late fee.

We briefly mentioned the card’s $59 annual fee that applies after the first year. You’ll need to spend at least $2,950 each year on the card to earn enough miles to cover the cost of the fee in travel rewards value.

The credit card interest rate is 13.24% to 23.24% APR. To get the most value from the Venture card (or any rewards card, for the matter), you need to pay off your entire balance in full each month to eliminate interest charges. Otherwise, interest charges from a revolving balance will decrease how much you’re really gaining from miles earned.

Benefits and Protections

Let’s cover the protections the Venture card can offer you while globetrotting since it’s a rewards card for travelers. There’s $0 fraud liability, which means you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized purchases if your card is lost or stolen.

The Venture card also comes with travel accident insurance and 24-hour travel assistance. The card comes with rental car insurance that can cover you for rental car collision and theft.

Pros and Cons

Pro: Waived annual fee the first year and miles bonus. New Venture cardholders have a major opportunity to benefit from bonus miles and no fee the first year. Say you already plan to take a trip or make a major purchase over $3,000 in the next few months. You can apply for the card and charge the purchase to your new account. This will automatically earn you 40,000 miles to put toward another trip.

Con: The annual fee. The annual fee waiver the first year is a pro, but the $59 fee for following years may be a deal-breaker if you don’t plan to spend enough on the card. 

Pro: No cap. Earning unlimited miles is a positive for big spenders.

Con: The redemption value for cash and statement credit. If you want to use your miles for something other than travel, such as cash or a statement credit (for non-travel purchases), you will only get 0.50 cents per point. The Venture card is a travel rewards card, so it’ll likely attract cardholders who want to use miles for travel bookings, and the lower redemption value on other options may not be a huge deal. Just be mindful that you will get less for your miles if you use them for something else. 

Pro: No foreign transaction fee. Many travel rewards cards besides the Venture card don’t have foreign transaction fees. We’ll cover a few of them below. Not having this fee is a pro, but it’s also something that’s fairly common among travel rewards cards.

Other Travel Rewards Credit Cards to Consider

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers you 2X points on travel and dining. When you use Chase Ultimate Rewards to redeem points, 1 point equals 1 cent.

There are two standout aspects of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card that can benefit travelers. Points are 25% more valuable when you use them to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can also transfer the points you earn to other rewards programs, 1:1.

The new cardholder bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is currently 50,000 points if you spend $4,000 within the first three months. This is equal to $625 in travel. The annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is waived the first year and then $95 annually.

chasesapphirepreferredcard

The BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card offers 1.5X points per dollar on all purchases and has no annual or foreign transaction fees. The card gives 20,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 within the first three months of having the card. This equals $200 in a statement credit or travel purchases.

Cardholders also get a 10% point bonus for having an active checking or savings account. Preferred Bank of America cardholders who have a balance of over $20,000 in a Bank of America banking or Merrill Lynch investment account can earn an extra 25% to 75% bonus on their rewards points. Ultimately, current Bank of America customers will likely get the most value from this card. 

bankamericard-travel

If you prefer to stick with Capital One, there is also VentureOne From CapitalOne. This card offers unlimited 1.25X miles per dollar on all purchases and has no annual or foreign transaction fees. The card gives 20,000 bonus miles if you spend $1,000 within the first three months. This is the equivalent of $200 in statement credit or travel purchases.

VentureOne Card

Comparing Venture and VentureOne side by side, VentureOne may be the better choice if you’re unlikely to spend $3,000 within the first three months. However, Venture may be worth it if you are able to receive their 40,000 bonus miles, especially with the $59 annual fee waived in the first year.

Who Will Benefit the Most from the Capital One Venture Card?

The Venture card has no spending cap, so if you use plastic often, this could be a card that will reward you well. Even though the Venture card has an annual fee, compared to a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card that charges $95 per year, the Venture card fee is fairly low.

You still need to make sure you’re prepared to spend enough on the Venture card for it to be worthwhile. Estimate what your spending activity on the card will be each year to see if you’ll spend enough to cover the fee.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

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

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Discover it Chrome Review: 2% Cash Back on Gas and Dining

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 Chrome Review

There are plenty of credit cards that will reward you for spending at gas stations and restaurants, so choosing one from the bunch can present a challenge.

The Discover it Chrome card has two stand out selling points. It offers a dollar-for-dollar cash back match the first year, and you can redeem the cash back you earn at any amount.

In this post, we’re going to cover the details of this program, including:

  • The basics of the Discover it Chrome
  • How to redeem cash back
  • The fine print details
  • The benefits and protections
  • The pros and cons

The basics of the Discover it Chrome

  1. 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants.

Earn 2% cash back on gas and dining. The cap for the 2% category is $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter. New quarters begin on Jan. 1, Apr. 1, July 1, and Oct. 1.

  1. 1% cash back on all other purchases. Earn 1% cash back on purchases outside of the 2% category excluding transactions like cash advances and balance transfers. Spending at gas stations and restaurants beyond the $1,000 quarterly cap also earn 1% cash back.
  2. A dollar-for-dollar match the first year plus other bonus cash back deals.

Cash back earned by new cardholders the first year is automatically matched after 12 months.  You also have the opportunity to earn cash back bonuses when you shop with select retailers online through Discover Deals.

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How to redeem cash back earned

As mentioned, you won’t have to wait for your cash back balance to reach a certain threshold before you can put it to use. You can redeem cash back starting at 1 cent for:

  • Statement credits
  • Cash deposits into an account
  • Charitable donations
  • Products and services through Amazon and Discover Deals

Cash back earned never expires. If your account is closed or goes inactive for 18 months, whatever cash back you earned will be credited to your account.

Introductory APR and balance transfers

The Discover it Chrome has an introductory deal for new purchases and balance transfers as well. There’s 0% APR on balance transfers and new purchases for the first 14 months. The balance transfer fee is 3%.

If you need to make a large purchase, the cash back dollar-for-dollar match promotion coupled with the 0% APR deal could be useful. You can slowly pay off the balance of your purchase for 14 months without interest and get the cash back match at the end of the year.

The fine print

The Discover it Chrome has no annual fee or other hidden fees you need to be aware of. You won’t be charged a late fee on your first late payment. The Discover it Chrome also has no penalty APR and no over-the-limit or foreign transaction fees.

One piece of fine print you do want to pay close attention to is that the 2% category has some restrictions besides the $1,000 spending cap per quarter. Specifically, spending at warehouses, wholesale stores, and discount stores won’t qualify for 2% cash back. This could be a deal breaker if you usually fill up on gas at any of these stores.

Benefits and protections

FICO Credit Score
Discover it Chrome cardmembers get a FICO score on each credit card statement. This benefit is worth highlighting since getting a FICO score directly from myFICO.com isn’t cheap.

Freeze It
You can freeze your account if your card is lost or stolen. Discover won’t authorize purchase transactions until you request to unfreeze it.

Zero Liability Protection
You won’t be held liable for unauthorized purchases on your card.

Pros and cons

Pro: The cash back match during the first year. The dollar-for-dollar match can be lucrative.

Con: 2% category cap. The $1,000 max for the 2% category may be limiting depending on your spending habits. You have room to spend a little over $330 per month on gas and groceries combined to stay within that cap. If you shop for groceries often or have a long commute each day, this cap may only scratch the surface of your monthly gas and food budget.

Pro: Easy redemption. The Discover it Chrome has an uncomplicated redemption program. You can turn your cash back into actual cash through statement credit and cash deposits. Or choose to redeem for products, gift cards, and charitable donations.

Pro: Low on fees. There are no annual fees, foreign transaction fees, penalty fees, or over-the-limit fees. It’s safe to say the Discover it Chrome card is not going to nickel and dime you.

Who will benefit the most from the Discover it Chrome?

The Discover it Chrome could be a good choice for someone who wants a simple cash back program. There are no revolving categories to manage and you can use cash back earned at any amount.

But, for a bigger spender, this card may not be the best deal because of the $1,000 quarterly cap in the 2% category. Instead, you may get better overall value from a card that gives more than 1% cash back on spending with no limits like the Citi Double Cash. With the Citi Double Cash, you earn 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% cash back when you pay off the balance.

Review your spending habits before choosing the Discover it Chrome to make sure spending within the category cap is realistic for your family.

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

How (and why) to Request a Credit Limit Increase 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.

Request a Credit Limit Increase with Discover

We’ve covered how to request a credit line increase with most of the major credit card companies now, including American Express, Barclaycard, and Capital One. But if you have a Discover card, you can request a credit limit increase on your card too.

Before you go about requesting a credit limit increase from Discover, make sure you take time to think about why you want to increase your credit limit. As we’ve mentioned before, there are good reasons and bad reasons to ask for a higher credit limit, so make sure you ask for a limit increase for the right reasons.

How to increase your credit limit with American Express, Capital One and Barclaycard

Why shouldn’t you ask for a credit line increase?

In some of the previous posts in this series, we’ve covered some of the good reasons why you might want to ask for a credit limit increase (like automatically reducing your utilization ratio), but sometimes people ask for credit limit increases for the wrong reasons. Here are some of the reasons why you shouldn’t ask for a credit limit increase.

If you don’t plan to use it the right way. Requesting a credit limit increase so you can spend more money every month is not a smart idea. This type of behavior can lead to credit card debt and end up costing you a significant amount of money in interest. The key thing to remember is that whatever you charge on your credit card will eventually have to be paid off.

Using credit limit increases to earn more rewards. This may or may not be a good reason to ask for a credit limit increase. Credit card rewards like cash back or points for travel can help you save money, but you have to be careful about how you use your credit card to earn them wisely. Paying any interest reducing or completely removes the advantage of earning rewards.

Requesting an increase from Discover

Like the other cards in our series, you can quickly and easily request a credit limit increase if you are a Discover cardholder. Just visit www.discover.com and log in to your account to get started.

Step 1

After you’ve logged in to your account, click Manage.

Step1 (1)

Step 2

In the popup menu, click Credit Line Increase.

Step2 (1)

 

Step 3

The credit line increase request page will show your current credit limit, the amount you have available in your credit line, your cash advance credit line, and how much of your cash advance credit line is available.

You’ll have to enter your total annual gross income, the name of your employer, and your monthly housing cost or rent payment. After you enter all of the necessary information, hit submit at the bottom of the page.

 

Step3 (1)

According to their website, Discover may pull a credit bureau report in order to process your credit limit increase application. This can affect your credit score by lowering it a few points.

If you plan to fill out a joint application to increase your credit line, you will have to contact customer service at 1-800-347-2683. It’s also important to note that residents of Ohio and New York must also call to request an increase and are not eligible to complete the online application.

Discover does have some additional recommendations for customers seeking a credit limit increase:

  • You may request to have your credit line increase decision re-evaluated if you wish to have a larger increase than the amount you are offered. If you do so, a “comprehensive check of your credit” will be performed.
  • Discover will ask you in advance to approve any credit check that might affect your credit rating.
  • For the best chance of approval, Discover recommends that you wait at least 6 months before applying for another credit limit increase, but your credit limit is being constantly re-evaluated and could be increased at any time.

Your credit limit increase was approved. Now what?

If you applied for a credit limit increase for the right reasons, you should expect to do nothing different with regard to your spending habits. Just make sure you keep paying your credit card off in full each month to avoid interest charges.

Kayla Sloan
Kayla Sloan |

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

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Credit Cards, Earning Cashback

BankAmericard Cash Rewards Review: Solid Card for Spending on Groceries and Gas

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.

BankAmericard Cash Rewards Review

Travel may be the credit card rewards of choice for many, but you don’t have to be a big traveler to get in on rewards. If you prefer cold, hard cash to airline tickets, there are plenty of options out there for you. Some of them, like the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card, even come without an annual fee.

To help you decide if this is the right option for you, we’ll cover:

  • The basics of the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card
  • Benefits
  • The fine print
  • The pros and cons
  • How to get the most value

All You Need to Know About the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card

BankAmericard offers a tiered rewards structure.

1. You earn 1% cashback on every purchase.

On every single purchase you make, you’ll earn at least 1% back. That means for every dollar you spend, you’ll earn a penny.

2.You earn 2% on purchases at grocery and wholesale stores and 3% at the pump.

These aren’t rotating bonuses. No matter the time of year, you’ll earn 2% cashback when you shop at grocery or wholesale stores and 3% cashback on gas. There is no special program or opt-in registration required.

These programs are, however, limited to the first $2,500 you spend per quarter on both gas and groceries combined. After that, your purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and wholesalers will only earn 1% until the next quarter when the higher bonuses will automatically resume.

3. You can earn a $100 cash reward bonus.

At the present time, if you spend $500 within the first 90 days of opening your account, you’ll be rewarded with a cash reward bonus. That’s a very low threshold to earn rewards.

61_cardBankAmericardCashRewardsCreditCard

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How Cash Back Works

You can redeem your cash rewards via check, direct deposit into your Bank of America checking or savings account, or as a contribution to your Merrill Lynch Cash Management account. The minimum you can cash out is $25.

If you are a customer of Bank of America, there are extra incentives. If you choose to have your cash rewards deposited into your Bank of America checking or savings account, you earn an additional 10% bonus. That means if you have $100 in cash rewards, you’ll be awarded with an extra $10 on top of it.

You can earn even more cash back if you are a Preferred Rewards client. This rewards program comes with three tiers.

If you have a total average of $20,000 of assets per month in your Bank of America and Merrill Lynch accounts combined, you qualify for Gold Preferred status. At this level, you earn a 25% bonus on your cash rewards effectively turning your $100 into $125.

The next level is Platinum Preferred. It requires your average monthly assets to total $50,000. At this level, the bonus is 50%, which turns $100 into $150.

The highest level is Platinum Honors Preferred. To qualify, your assets must average at least $100,000 per month. The bonus at this level is 75%, so your $100 turns into $175.

The Fine Print

Every card comes with some fine print. First, let’s look at the fees associated with the BankAmericard Cash Rewards card:

  • No annual fee.
  • Pay 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers made within the first 60 days of account opening for 12 months.
  • If you miss or are late on a payment, interest will jump up to penalty APR permanently.
  • Your first late fee will be $27. Subsequent late fees can be as high as $37.
  • There is a $27 returned payment fee.
  • 3% foreign transaction fee.

You’ll also want to know what qualifies as a grocery store. The overarching theme is that if they primarily sell food, they qualify. However, if they sell other goods along with food, like drug stores and superstores, your purchases will only earn 1%. Here are some places that will earn you the full two percent:

  • Supermarkets
  • Wholesale clubs
  • Meat lockers
  • Candy stores
  • Nut stores
  • Confection stores
  • Dairy product stores
  • Bakeries

In the gas category, you’ll only earn 1% at truck stops, superstores and supermarkets, but you can earn the full 3% by shopping at merchants whose primary business is the sale of:

  • Automotive gasoline
  • Heating oil
  • Propane
  • Kerosene

One other place that qualifies is the boat marina.

How to Get the Most Value from the Cash Back Program

If you have a Bank of America checking or savings account, it’s wise to redeem your rewards via direct deposit. If you meet the asset requirements, it’s worth applying for the Preferred Rewards programs as the bonuses are significant.

However, 1% cash back isn’t the best offer out there. For rewards on everything, the Citi Double Cash Rewards gives you 1% on every purchase, and then an extra 1% every time you pay your statement, which we advise doing in full every single month. It also carries no annual fee.

If you want to earn more on grocery purchases, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card offers 6% cash back on purchases at supermarkets. Like BankAmericard Cash Rewards, it excludes superstores. It also excludes warehouses. The higher cash back rate will help you earn rewards three times as quickly, though the annual cap is $6,000. If you spend more than that on groceries in a year, you may want to run your own numbers to figure out which one is better for you.

There are also other options on the market that allow you to earn more cash back for gas purchases. The PenFed Platinum Plus Cash Rewards Visa gives you 5% back every time you spend at the pump. You can qualify for this card by opening an additional financial account with PenFed Credit Union.

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Benefits and Protections

The BankAmericard Cash Rewards card does come with some benefits. The most powerful is perhaps $0 liability guarantee. You will not be held liable for any fraudulent charges as long as you can support the fact that they were, indeed, fraudulent. This may also kick in if Bank of America notices suspicious activity on your account.

Another unique benefit is the ability to access ShopSafe. This is a program that assigns you a temporary card number when you shop online. It’s linked to your real card number, but allows you to shop without entering your sensitive information over the internet.

The final benefit worth noting is the ability for Bank of America customers to enact Overdraft Protection. If you have a checking account with Bank of America, you can link it to your card to prevent any instances of declined purchases.

Pros and Cons

Pro: Bank of America and Merrill Lynch customers can enhance their cash back with bonuses.

Con: Even with these bonuses, you can find another card with higher cash back rewards.

Pro: No rotating categories to keep up with.

Con: There is a $2,500 cap per quarter for gas and grocery rewards.

Pro: The $100 bonus for spending $500 within the first 90 days is a decent reward for a low minimum spend.

Con: It does have a foreign transaction fee. There are other cards on the market that would be better to use outside the country.

Pro: No annual fee.

Who Will Benefit Most from the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card?

The biggest winners are those who have a checking or savings account with Bank of America and spend about $2,500 per quarter on groceries and gas combined. That comes out to about $833.33 per month, so if you commute a long distance or travel a lot for work, this may be a good option for you. If you’re feeding a family, this may also be a good option as the caps on other cards can be more restrictive.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne at brynne@magnifymoney.com

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Balance Transfer, Reviews

BankAmericard Review: 0% APR on Balance Transfers for 18 Months

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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If you’re looking for a credit card with a balance transfer deal that goes beyond a year, the BankAmericard is one to think about adding to your wallet. The BankAmericard offers 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months. After the balance transfer period ends, this card also has the lowest standard APR available of all the BankAmericard products. However, there are a few nuances to this deal you should be aware of before you sign on the dotted line.

In this BankAmericard review we’ll cover:

  • The BankAmericard basics
  • How to save the most from the balance transfer deal
  • The BankAmericard fine print, benefits and protections
  • The pros and cons

All You Need to Know About the BankAmericard

  1. 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months.

If you transfer balances to your BankAmericard within 60 days of opening an account, you’ll get 0% APR on those balances for 18 billing cycles.

  1. The standard interest rate of 11.24% to 21.24% APR applies to new purchases.

There’s no break on interest for new purchases which can make or break your credit card debt repayment strategy. Adding new purchases with interest into the equation while you attempt to pay off transferred balances can negatively impact your momentum.

  1. There’s a 3% balance transfer fee.

Balance transfers with the BankAmericard aren’t free. You have to pay 3% per transfer.

How to Save the Most from a BankAmericard Balance Transfer

For a 0% APR balance transfer intro deal with a fee to be worthwhile, the interest you’ll save after transferring debt from a high-interest card must justify the fee.

Here’s a quick example:

If you have $3,000 in debt on a credit card with 20% APR, a monthly payment of $200 over 18 months will cost you about $480 in interest.

If you transfer this $3,000 balance to a new BankAmericard instead, you’ll pay just $90 (3% of $3,000) and enjoy no interest for 18 months. In this scenario, a balance transfer with the BankAmericard will likely be worthwhile since it’ll save you nearly $400 in interest.

Take the time to do this math to see if the benefit of transferring your balance will outweigh the costs especially if you have multiple balances to transfer. It’s worth noting balance transfer deals with 0% APR and no balance transfer fee do exist.

However, the BankAmericard gives you 3 more months interest-free than leading no fee balance transfer options. And the 3% balance transfer fee can still offer a reasonable amount of savings considering our example above. Don’t count out the BankAmericard balance transfer even though there’s a fee before weighing it as an option.

The second factor that will impact your interest savings from this balance transfer is whether or not you make new purchases with the card. Swiping the card while repaying your debt can easily get you off track. Remember, your mission is to pay off the balance within 18 months. If you decide to go with the BankAmericard for a balance transfer, tuck the card in the back of a drawer to avoid temptation.

(To find out more about how to get the most value from a balance transfer card, check out this post.)

BankAmericard

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The Fine Print

When it comes to fees, the BankAmericard has relatively standard terms. The fee for foreign transactions and check cash advances is 3%. If you request a cash advance at an ATM or over-the-counter, the fee is 5%. The late fee is up to $37 and returned payment fee up to $27.

One red flag to be aware of is penalty APR. If you make a late payment, penalty APR of 29.99% APR may be applied to new transactions on your account. And when penalty APR is assigned to an account, it is assigned indefinitely.

BankAmericard Benefits and Protections

Besides the 0% APR intro rate on balance transfers for 18 months, there are other perks of using a BankAmericard, including the following:

Fraud Liability

The $0 Liability Guarantee will cover fraud transactions to your account. BankAmericard will also block unusual activity and reach out to verify charges that seem suspicious.

Overdraft Protection

If you already bank with Bank of America, you can link your deposit accounts to your credit card account to avoid an overdraft, although fees will apply. Overdraft protection transfers funds into your account from your credit card in increments of $100. The fee for each transaction is $12.

Digital Wallet & Chip Technology

With Bank of America digital wallet, you can sink your credit card to Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay to make in-store or in-app purchases. For added security, the card has chip technology data encryption.

Mobile Bank, Account Alerts and Text Banking

Bank of America makes it easy to manage your credit card account. You can set up alerts to notify you of your credit card balance changes and when payments are due. Instead of logging into your account, you can also send text messages to get account information.

Pros and Cons

Pro: 0% APR for 18 months. You have over a year to pay off your debt aggressively without interest. This is one of the longest balance transfer deals available. Its main rivals are the Santander Sphere offering 24 months interest-free and Citi Simplicity offering 21 months interest-free.

Con: The balance transfer fee. Like we mentioned above, calculate your interest savings compared to what you’ll pay in balance transfer fees to make sure you’re going to benefit from the transfer.

Pro: There’s no annual fee. If you pay your bills on time and avoid extras like cash advances, international transactions or overdraft protection, this card won’t cost you any money after you transfer balances.

Con: There’s no intro deal on new purchases. Our advice is to avoid new purchases altogether to take advantage of the balance transfer special.

Pro: The Bank of America perks. Major banks come with some major conveniences. The Bank of America app and website make it easy to manage your account. Fraud coverage and data encryption are also features that can keep your money safe.

Who Will Benefit Most from the BankAmericard?

If you’re already a Bank of America account holder, the BankAmericard has a leg up on competitors because of convenience. You can connect your existing accounts to the card. If you’re not a customer of Bank of America, you can still benefit from the balance transfer since the card gives you an entire year and a half to chip away at your debt. Even after you pay off the balance transfer, the interest rate starting point (11.24% APR) for new purchases is competitive.

Whether you’re new to Bank of America or a faithful customer, when using the BankAmericard for a balance transfer commit to paying off your entire balance without new transactions to get the most from the promotion.

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, Reviews

Blispay Credit Card Review: 2% Cash Back Card, if You’re Careful

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.

Credit Card Review

When it comes to cash back cards, the competition is fierce. Blispay is a new Visa credit card that offers 2% cash back with no restrictions and a financing option for large purchases. Although 2% cash back with no cap is decent, the special financing promotion incentive could easily do more harm than good. In this post, we’ll help you determine if the Blispay credit card should be in your wallet.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • The Blispay credit card offer
  • How cash back works
  • The fine print details
  • The pros and cons

The Offer  

1. All purchases earn 2% cash back

There’s no revolving categories or spending limits. The Blispay credit card gives you unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases, no spending caps and no strings attached.

2. Special financing for 6 months

Beyond the 2% cash back deal, Blispay offers a financing option for big spending. Whenever you make a purchase of $199 or more, you get 6 months to pay it off interest free. However, if the balance of that purchase is not paid off within 6 months, retroactive interest will be charged at 19.99% APR from the day the transaction posted to your account. That’s a big catch: you’re interested isn’t waived, it’s retroactive. Failing to pay off the purchase in 6 months means the 19.99% APR that’s been accumulating will all get tacked onto your balance.

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A Closer Look at Blispay 2% Cash Back

How to earn cash back

Cash back can be earned at any merchant where Visa is accepted. Purchases made through Apple Pay, PayPal or a digital wallet with a Blispay credit card will count for 2% cash back as well. Occasionally, Blispay may offer special cash back promotions where you can earn even more from your spending. For an example, if you spend $5,000 on your card for the year, you have the potential to earn $100 in cash back, which is a 0.02% cash back value.

How to redeem cash back

The draw of the Blispay cash back program is you won’t need to do anything beyond pay for a purchase to earn and redeem cash back. Each month, the cash back tallies up and automatically applies as a credit to your statement balance when the billing period ends. The application process is also quick. You can apply online and start using your account right away.

The Fine Print

Simple way to earn rewards: The 2% cash back on all purchases with no cap is an uncomplicated way to earn a reward from using the Blispay card. However, the fine print comes in with the special financing. The “no payment, no interest” promotion seems like a deal upfront, but it can really be a trap if you’re not careful.

Understand the consequences of deferred interest: This special financing is really just deferred interest and means interest accruing on your balance will be charged at a later time. If you rely on the promotion to avoid making payments right away on many purchases, you can easily run into trouble when 6 months expires on each one. The way Blispay includes the interest-free period as a promotion alongside the 2% cash back deal could be a way to lure you into spending more money than you can pay off before interest hits.

Cash back is worthless if you don’t pay off your bill in full: If you choose to use this card, understand that earning 2% cash back is worthless if you keep getting charged 19.99% APR later on. You want to avoid interest entirely to get the most benefit from a cash back card. Otherwise, you may pay more in interest than you even earn in cash back.

The Blispay Fee Structure

The Blispay credit card has no annual fee. So, if you choose this card and pay off your balances diligently, it is possible to earn cash back for free. But, you will have to pay more for purchases made internationally since there’s an international fee of 3%. Lastly, there’s a minimum interest charge of $2.00 and the late payment fee is $25 to $35.

Pros and Cons

Pro: No restrictions on the 2%. You can earn 2% cash back without adjusting your spending habits or paying attention to categories. There’s also no cap. You’ll earn 2% cash back no matter how much you purchase.

Con: Special financing is retroactive interest. If you rely on the financing for many large purchases, you can fall behind on payments and get charged retroactive interest. When that happens you won’t see much, if any, return from 2% cash back. The no-interest financing option could be a trap, so be cautious.

Pro: No annual fee. You won’t need to earn a certain amount of cash back to compensate for an annual cost of this card because there is none.

Con: High fees. Although there’s no annual fee, the interest rate and other fees such as the 3% foreign transaction fee are ones that need your attention. If your credit score is good to excellent, you may be able to get a lower interest rate with another card that doesn’t have the special financing element. For instance, the starting interest rate on the Citi Double Cash card is just 13.24% APR as opposed to 19.99% APR.

(No matter what cash back card you decide on, it’s best to pay off your balances entirely to skip interest altogether. But a lower interest rate is ideal in case you do need to revolve a balance.)

Pro: Automatic statement credit. Each statement period your cash back will appear as a credit on your account. You won’t have to initiate the redemption of cash back. This card requires hardly any maintenance.

Alternative Cash Back Option

Another simple double rewards card you want to consider is the Citi Double Cash. You earn 1% cash back for making purchases and your rewards double when you pay off those purchases. In this case, you’re incentivized for paying off your bills right away which is the best method of using a cash back card.

Who Will Benefit Most from the Blispay Credit Card

The Blispay credit card gets a low score from us because of the financing angle included in the promotion. Reeling you in with deferred interest can hurt you more than 2% cash back can help if you fall off track. But, if you plan to avoid the 6 month special financing trap, you may be able to reap the benefits of cash back while steering clear of the pitfall.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

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

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