Credit 
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Review Purchase Categories for Credit Card Rewards

One of the reasons why we put 99.9% of our spending on credit cards are for the rewards. A few percent back in cash or reward points isn’t going to make anyone rich, but it’s a little better than getting nothing back if you are responsible. At the moment we only use two credit cards so keeping the bonus rewards categories in order is fairly simple, but there was a time when I used as many as four cards.

One important lesson I learned early on was that not all purchases are categorized as you would intuitively expect. It’s important to check your statement to find out whether it’s being coded how you expect and change which card you use accordingly. Let me explain with a few examples.
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 Credit 
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Cashback vs. Points Reward Credit Cards

Cashback & Rewards Credit CardsWhen it comes to reward credit cards, there are two major flavors – cash back and points rewards (there’s also miles for travel cards but we put those in the points category). It can be difficult to figure out which one is better, cash back or points, and it depends a lot on your personality and the specific card.

Like everything else, there is no clear winner for everyone because each of our purchasing behavior is different. However, if you spend the time to look carefully, you can find one that works best for you.

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 Credit 
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How to Analyze Credit Cards Reward Programs

Credit card companies are always competing for “share of wallet,” that is a piece of your spending pie. They will offer new account bonuses to entice you to sign up. They will give you reward points of cashback to entice you to keep using their card. They’ll throw out low introductory interest rates to make spending your money a little easier.

As consumers, you might think it’s easy to compare offers. If someone offers you 1% and someone offers 2%, the 2% is better right? Not necessarily. In the world of reward programs there are two sides – the earning of points and the spending of points. It’s very easy to only focus on the earning of points and assume that spending it will be easy. As some travel credit card holders have quickly learned, sometimes spending it isn’t as easy as it seems.

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 Credit 
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Discover Card Rewards Catalog

Discover Card Network LogoToday we’ll be taking a look at the Discover Card rewards catalog, the final in our series of reward catalog reviews. The reason I kept Discover for last was because it’s less widely accepted and because their rewards catalog is very simple. Until taking a look today, I didn’t even know they had a rewards catalog because I always converted my cash back rewards into statement credits. When Citi converts points into cash at 0.69¢ and American Express does it at 0.60¢, I’ll take the full value 1¢ every single day.

However, there are instances where you may not want cash.

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 Credit 
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American Express Membership Rewards Review

Membership Rewards is the name of American Express’ rewards program and this is the second post in my series on reviewing credit card reward networks. As I said before in the Citi ThankYou Network review, with every credit card rewards catalog, the points to dollar ratio changes with the product you “buy.” My hope is that with this review, we will both have a better understanding of the catalog, how the programs work, where the best exchanges are, and ultimately help you decide whether this rewards program is right for you.

Membership Rewards

The Membership Rewards program is the reward program for all American Express cards that offer points, rather than cash. With AMEX’s program, there is no limit to the number of points you can earn and they never expire. One big difference between this rewards program and others is that enrollment into the Membership Rewards program may come with a fee.

The Membership Rewards catalog is a lot like the Citi ThankYou Network’s catalog. There are plenty of gift cards, airline rewards, and travel perks; but there are a few “swankier” rewards at the upper tiers such as a business class round-trip ticket to Tahiti on Air Tahiti Nui (348,000 points) and a sub-orbital space flight for 20,000,000 points.

You can fly in space!

OK, now that we’re all worked up, here’s some more about the program. Let’s find out where the good deals are, if they exist, and whether this reward program is right for you.

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 Credit 
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Citi ThankYou Network Rewards Review

CitibankToday we’ll take a look at the ThankYou Network, the rewards network for Citi credit cards, as part of my series on reviewing credit card reward networks. As is the case with every credit card rewards catalog, the points to dollar ratio changes with the things you redeem. This review will give you a better understanding of the catalog, how to find the best deals, what the best item is, and help you decide whether this rewards program is right for you.

ThankYou Network

The ThankYou Network is probably one of the most extensive rewards catalogs available, as it includes all the standard stuff like gift cards and statemetn credits, plus it adds in thousands of products. If you had enough points, you have over three hundred laptops to choose from! They have outdoor equipment, automotive supplies, home goods, music downloads, and basically anything and everything you could imagine. If you are green, you can even participate in American Forests’ “Plant a Tree program” at the cost of 4,800 points per twenty-five trees.

So let’s take a look at the program, see where the value is and where the fluff is, and try to find out if it’s a good program or not.

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 Credit 
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Credit Card Points Reward Catalogs Reviews

Comparing the best reward credit cards is easy. You review the percentage-back rewards on each category, compare it to your own spending, and decide based on which one will give you the greatest rewards. It’s a little harder to find out if the rewards you get are worth it, as fewer cards offer cash.

Over the next few days I’ll take a look at some of the catalogs of the most popular credit card companies. I’ll give you the lowdown on their products, where you can get the maximum value out of your points, and a closer look at how each system works so that you can decide on which card to use.

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 Personal Finance 
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Citi Student Loan Rebate Reward Price Increase

Ecstatic GraduateI’ve been doing research on the various reward catalogs of credit card companies when I discovered my favorite reward, a student loan rebate check from the Citi ThankYou Network, had gone up in price. I would routinely cite that reward as one of the main reasons I kept using my Citi card. A few short months ago, for 10,000 points, you could get a $100 check written to your student loan servicer. That came out to each point being valued at 1¢.

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