Friday, January 18, 2008

Charge Everything, Get Cash Back

As credit cards go, cash rewards are my favorite. Way back, I had an American Airlines AA Advantage card, but I realized that was like trying to furnish my apartment with skeeball prizes. You may recall that I had a Chase Perfect Card, which credited your bill each month with last month's rebate. Others, like the Amex Blue Cash Card I replaced it with, credits your bill with the rebate at the end of the year.

Blue Cash has a sliding scale for rewards: "For the first $6,500, you earn 1% on purchases at grocery stores, gas stations and drug stores and 0.5% on everything else. Once you've gone past $6,500 for the year, you earn 5% on purchases at grocery stores, gas stations and drug stores and 1.5% on everything else."

So how did I do?

Charges: 21,316.00
Rebate: 367.34
Percentage: 1.72%

I didn't start using my Blue Cash until February, so that's a month sooner I could have reached $6,500. Keep in mind that many of my recurring monthly charges (haircut, maids) do not accept American Express, so those were going on my debit card.

For 2008, I've adopted the hybrid Amex Blue Cash / Chase Freedom approach. The Chase not only earns me 1% on the things I couldn't use my Amex for, but I've moved my tv/internet/cell phone over to it so I can earn 3% back on those. Chase gave me $50 in rewards for opening the account, and credits the rebate to your bill once you call and request. If you allow $200 in rewards to accumulate, Chase credits $250 to your account. My goal is to earn at least $150 in rewards from that card this year so I benefit from the free $100 ($50 signup plus $50 deferred rebate). I may hate the CEO of Chase bank, but I'll take his money.

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