There are numerous credit card categories and signup incentives available. For example, some credit cards offer hefty signup bonuses. Others have top cash rewards. Then there are travel points. Finally, there is balance pay down cards. You just have to know what you need, go over the details, see what you qualify for, and apply for the best card in that category. Because there is so much to cover, this blog post will focus only on one time sign up cash incentives and ongoing cash rewards.
Credit Card Sign Up Incentives and Ongoing Cash Reward
There are basically two ways that credit card companies entice new customers seeking cash rewards as their priority. First, there is a single signup cash back bonus. This is accomplished by offering a set amount of money to be charged on a new credit card within a given amount of time. In addition or instead, there can be ongoing cash rewards.
Bank of America® VISA or MC Cash Rewards Card
This particular card is a very good deal all around. It offers a number of excellent credit card signup incentives. In fact, it is ideal for someone seeking a credit card with cash rewards:
• $150 cash reward bonus
• cash back on every purchase, every time
• no annual fee†
• your choice of a 3% cash back category, 2% and 1% categories
Comparing Credit Card Offers
Let’s compare the Bank of America VISA Cash Rewards Card with some of my other favorites. In fact, I have several other favorites. Determining which are the best cards or even single card depends on a person’s credit card charging needs or spending profile, as I like to call it. For example, I always aim to get the maximum cash back on every purchase I make. Therefore, when I signup for a card, I like to make sure it fits into my spending profile. For example, these are my major credit card charging categories:
• DINING (EATING OUT)
• HOME AND PERSONAL PURCHASES
GROCERIES: The Amex Blue Cash Everyday® Card
Here is how my system works. For example, the American Express Blue Everyday card offers 3% cash back so that is my card of choice for groceries. It has a similar profile to the Bank of America® card with a few differences.
• $150 or $200 cash reward bonus
• cash back on every purchase, every time
• no annual fee†
• 3% cash back on groceries
Numerous credit card accounts provide charts like the this one to provide of breakdown of categories of expenses or vendors within a particular category.
DINING OR EATING OUT: Capital One® SAVOR Card
This card offers 4% for dining out. It even includes McDonald’s, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, etc..
The chart below compares values of dining out cards. The Savor Card is close to the highest and charges less than others with higher or similar % bonuses.
UTILITIES: The New Credit Card Sign Up Sweet Spot
This is how I break in a new credit card to receive their one time sign up bonus. If I use it to charge my monthly utility bills such as cable, cell phone, and contents insurance, I charge about $275 a month on it. That easily covers a requirement of $500. in charges in two months. A requirement of $1000 in charges in three months can also be covered with a few extra charges are added in. I have fulfilled the requirements of a number of very useful cards with this method. In addition, I also get monthly cash rewards this way because I use the new card for charges and pay it the following month from my checking account. This technique is a real winner if I can remember which month I am supposed to do what task.
GAS: Get 3% With the New ‘Choose Your Category’ from Bank of America®
Because Bank of America® Cash Rewards Cards now offers the option of choosing 3% on their new ‘Choose Your Category’ plan, we use it to pay for gas. That is the best cash back rate I have found to date for gas.
HEALTHCARE AND BEAUTY: The CareCredit® Rewards Master Card
The CareCredit® Rewards Master Card pays 2% on health related and other charges that the above and below cards do not cover for more than 1% or 1.5%
“Whether you use your healthcare credit card to cover your deductible, or to pay for treatments and procedures not covered by insurance*, CareCredit helps make the health, wellness and beauty treatments and procedures you want possible today.
*Subject to credit approval.” Quoted from CareCredit® Card’s application material.
CAPITAL ONE® QUICKSILVER CARD: For Everything Else
1.5% cash rewards available at all times
HOME and PERSONAL PURCHASES
Store cards have certain advantages and disadvantages. They often offer 3-5% as their regular cash reward or as special promotions. For example, Target always offers 5%. But remember to carry your PIN number to use this card in their stores.
MORE HOME and PERSONAL PURCHASES
TJ Maxx which includes Home Goods, Marshalls and Sierra have special promos that can triple their usual ratio of points for each dollar spent. On the other hand, Home Depot has a $25 signup bonus which is deducted from the first purchase only. There is no cash reward bonus for their card.
A WINNING HAND
As a result of careful planning, almost every charged purchase can earn a cash reward of between 1.5 % TO 5%. One exception is HOME DEPOT. They don’t offer cash rewards. So, from maximum to minimum, this is what a winning hand of credit card cash rewards might look like.
HOME, OFFICE AND PERSONAL: 5% Staples, Target*
DINING AND EAT OUT: includes McDonald’s, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, etc. 4% Capital One® SAVOR Card
GROCERIES: 3% American Express® Blue Everyday Cash Rewards
GAS: Choose 3% on the new BoA ‘choose your category’ plan
HEALTH-RELATED, PET AND SOME BEAUTY: 2% CareCredit® Rewards MC 2%
EVERYTHING ELSE: 1.5% Capital One® Quicksilver card
*Special offers triple points at certain times of the year
Keeping Track of A Winning Hand
Jim Wang of Wallet Hacks has the best trick I’ve heard of to remember which card offers what. Write it directly on the card. For example, on the Capital One® Savor Card write, ‘DINING 4%’. Just one word to describe the category and the % reward. It works very well when you have three, four, or even five cards in your wallet.
SOURCES & RESOURCES
TJx Credit Cards
Capital One® Savor Card
Capital One® Quicksilver Card
American Express® Blue Cash Everyday Card
Bank of America® Cash Reward Cards
CareCredit® Rewards Card