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Money’s Best Cashback Reward Credit Cards

Money magazine recently did a recap of the best reward credit cards out there and they were surprisingly on the money with a lot of their picks. Personally, I roll with the Discover Open Road card for gas purchases and the Citi mtvU card for food, and then my American Express True Earnings card for practically everything else.

For Big Spenders

Blue Cash from American ExpressBlue Cash from American Express – The only knock against the Blue Cash is the tiered rewards system, something a lot of other cards have abandoned, but when you exceed the $6500 a year level, you can get 5% cash back on the coveted everyday purchase category of supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations and 1.5% everywhere else with no annual rebate cap. With how few 5% cash back cards there are for that category, if you are willing to use this card for a lot of things to get to that $6500 level, the 5% will reap rewards that very few other cards can meet.

Balance Carriers

Discover® More – If you are carrying a balance, I wouldn’t recommend the Discover® More card even though it offers 0% intro APR on balance transfers for a full 18 months (then the Regular APR) because they now carry a fee, I’d instead go with any other Citi card because they don’t have a transfer fee. There are plenty of no fee or zero fee balance transfers out there that can get you the same offer and I’ve compiled a list of 0% balance transfer credit cards here. The card itself is useful for its cash back potential because the Discover® More’s reward program rotates quarterly on where you can get the 5% Cashback Bonus.

Heavy Drivers

Citi Drivers Edge Platinum Select MastercardDiscover Open Road Citi Driver’s Edge Platinum Select MasterCard, Discover Open Road – The really cool thing about the Citi Driver’s Edge Platinum Select is that for every hundred miles you drive, you basically get $1 in cash back. Another huge plus is 6% cash back on everyday purchases (gas stations, supermarkets and drugstores) but unfortunately that lasts only 12 months, then it falls to 3%, and is capped at $1,000 a year (which is higher than most caps). I think the whole free money for driving aspect is clever and if you consider the average annual mileage of 12k – 15k, that $120 – $150 isn’t chump change.

Money also recommended the Discover Open Road card, it used to be their Gas card, but the only advantage it has over the Driver’s Edge is the 5% cashback that lasts “forever,” instead of for only 12 months. The Open Road card doesn’t come with the especially lucrative cash back for driving bonus so I think it has to take a back seat to the Driver’s Edge.

Heavy Flyers

Discover Open Road, Capital One No Hassle Miles Rewards – I’m always ambivalent to cards that offer miles because I live so close to a Southwest hub and am able to get really good prices on flights to almost anywhere I want to go, so I’m a little inexperienced with what programs are good and what programs are not so I’ll just defer to Money’s judgment.

Source: CNN Money


 Credit, Personal Finance 
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My Credit Card Strategy

Every savvy consumer these days should have several credit cards with each card earmarked for specific spend purposes based on their rewards programs. With the ever changing landscape of offers, it is impossible to find all of that in one single card. For me, I had the Citi Platinum Select, the American Express Costco True Earnings for 2% on travel and 1% at Costco (Costco only takes debit or Amex), and Citi mtvU for 5% for restaurants, bookstores (Amazon.com counts), record stores, movie theaters, and video rentals. After Citi ended the Dividend Select’s 5% on gas stations and supermarkets, I swapped that card out with the Citi Drivers Edge Card because it’ll give me 6% at gas stations and supermarkets for 12 months.

How you structure your strategy depends on how you spend and I know that I spend a lot on gasoline and supermarket purchases (6% Citi Drivers Edge) and on textbooks and eating out (5% Citi mtvU) so I found cards that gave me high returns. You will have to build your strategy based on your specific needs but below I’ve listed cards that give off the beaten track cashback rewards so that you can build your strategy. (All cards below have $0 annual fees, unless otherwise noted) If I’ve missed a good card that you currently use or know of, please do let me know!

Also very much worth reading, Samerwriter goes one step further in discussing his strategy, he tracks his spending and his % cash back and discusses his numbers.

If you’re looking to pick the best card for your spending, check out this list of the best cash back and reward credit cards currently available.


 Credit 
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Citi Driver’s Edge Credit Card

I’ve read lots of rave reviews about Citi Driver’s Edge Platinum Select card but never really gave it serious thought because of the restriction that you must spend the money on auto related charges. Then I saw that they’re now offering 6%, highest I’ve seen, on purchases at gas stations and grocery stores for 12 months ($600 cap, instead of $500), after which it drops down to a standard 1%. I’ve aggregated some of the thoughts other bloggers have had on it and wanted to get your opinion as well.

One of the pluses of owning a Citi card is that they offer you their Credit Protector Program, which, for diligent folks, means an easy $15 or so. I was able to get $250 in benefits for myself and my girlfriend in the form of two $100 gas certificates and five $10 giftcards. One thing to realize is that this is a pullback from their once almighty 5% off everything, as many of noted, but it’s still good. So to recap, they used to be 5% everything, then 5% groceries and gas, and then now 6% groceries and gas for a year.

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