Today’s Thrifty Thursday Tip is to get a good cash back credit card. I do not believe in carrying any credit card debt, but I do believe in making my money work for me, along with saving money any chance I can. The right credit card can do both. You just have to make sure that you pay the balance off each month, no exceptions.
I personally like the Discover card for a number of reasons. First there is no annual fee. I will not pay for a credit card. Secondly, I get 1% cash back on all purchases and 5% back on purchases in categories that change quarterly. This January through March the 5% cash back was available on all purchases at gas stations, from April through June the 5% cash back was on purchases for movies and at restaurants, from July through September the 5% was on all purchases at home improvement stores and at Amazon.com, and now from October through December the 5% cash back bonus is on all purchases at department stores, Sam’s Club and at Amazon.com. Please be aware however, that the 5% cash back is limited to the first $1,500 charged on those purchases each quarter. What an easy way to earn up to $75.
I try to charge all my purchases and all my monthly bills (cell phone, internet, etc) to maximize the cash back bonus each month. Another feature of the Discover card that I love is that I can redeem that cash back bonus when making a purchase on Amazon.com, I can use it to pay my bill, I can donate it to charity, or I can redeem it for a higher dollar amount in gift cards from select partners. For example, I frequently redeem $45 cash back for $50 gift cards to Chipotle, Panera and Starbucks. This allows me to eat lunch at two of my favorite places for free. And remember my mentioning in my first blog that I also get most of the coffee I brew at home for free? My redeeming my cash back for a Starbucks card and then using that card to purchase ground coffee allows me to do just that.
A bonus tip is to sign up for the loyalty programs at any merchants or restaurants that you frequent. By doing this in combination with the free gift cards from Discover, I really am able to make my dollars stretch. How nice to get a free bakery item at Panera, or a free coffee at Starbucks, from making purchases with a free gift card!
Discover also has other money saving features I enjoy. They have “Discover Deals” that allow me to save even more money. Currently they have 198 merchants offering these “deals” for cardholders, ranging from 5% cash back on purchases to offers like $15 off a $100 purchase at Wayfair.com, 40% off a $75 purchase at the Limited, $10 off a $25 purchase at JC Penny, etc. Discover also does not charge any foreign transaction fees, a real bonus when traveling.
A high credit score will allow you to save money too, by allowing you to get the best rate on your mortgage or car loan, and Discover allows you to keep track of your FICO score by reporting it to you monthly on your statements.
And in double checking the rewards on their website for this post, I learned that they also have a “Refer a Friend” program. If I refer someone to Discover and they get the card and make a purchase within three months of getting the card, both they and I will get a $50 cash back bonus! A nice feature I had not been aware of. If this post has made you interested in getting a Discover card, please let me know. I will register your email and then we can both receive $50. I also see on their website that they will double the amount of cash back earned at the end of the year for new card holders. That could really add up!
Of course there are other credit cards that have reward programs and some may be a better fit for you. I encourage you to investigate what benefits you are currently getting from your credit card(s) and also see how that compares to Discover and other cards out there. Make sure you are really maximizing every dollar you spend and that you are getting the best benefits for you. Here is a link featuring some of the best credit card deals currently available: https://www.nerdwallet.com/the-best-credit-cards
Looking forward to sharing more tips next week.