Mixed cash rewards are the category of cards that most cash reward cards fit into. Therefore, this blog post will offer much details about this category. Unlike Green Go cards that have excellent ratings, these mixed benefit cards can have many pros and cons. Because of this, I refer to them as yellow light cards. Their mix of offerings can make it very difficult to decide whether to go or to stop from securing one.
CASH REWARD CREDIT CARD RATINGS
In order to make the most of mixed cash reward credit cards, one should first compile a list of the pros and cons of the cards being considered. I recommend applying for only one card at a time. Let me explain how the mixed category works.
THREE CASH REWARD CARDS BENEFIT CATEGORIES
As described in previous posts in this series, Cash Reward credit cards can be divided into three types of benefit categories. This is similar to how a traffic signal directs vehicular activity. Both the GREENLIGHT and REDLIGHT signal are fairly straight forward in their comment. The former directs one to GO while the latter clear indicates STOP.
But the middle or mixed category does neither clearly. In fact, it leaves the decision up to the driver. That person must make a judgment call on their own. In spite of this, a judgment call does not have to be made blindly.
• GREEN LIGHT credit card cash reward cards detailed in the blog post Excellent Cash Reward Credit Cards (June 2019)
• YELLOW LIGHT cash reward cards and qualities are detailed in this blog post, Mixed Cash Reward Credit Card Benefits (June 2019)
• RED LIGHT means to seriously consider avoiding a particular cash reward card with overwhelming drawbacks.
YELLOW LIGHT CASH REWARD CARDS
So far, all the credit cards mentioned in this series have no annual fees. But cards that do have annual fees can pay substantially more rewards, like the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express®. For the privilege of the much higher cash reward levels, there is an annual fee of $95. Coincidently, there is also a signup bonus of $250. Right there, the annual fee is offset. For the most part, I prefer not to get cards with annual fees. Somehow, money needs to be made available to pay the fee each year.
MAKING A JUDGMENT CALL
This works well for people with savings. But it may not be practical for Former Middle-Class people who barely make ends meet on a monthly basis to allow for this. Saving up $95 for the annual fee tends to be a luxury reserved for the Middle Class. But, in spite of my limited funds, I made a judgment call and went for a card with an annual fee. My thinking was as follows.
Normally, I get 3% cashback for groceries. Figuring charges of around $400/month for groceries at 3% gives me a return of $12/month. That becomes $24/month at 6%. Over a year, I make an additional expense reduction of $120. That pays for the annual fee of $95. In addition, the promotional signup bonus is $250. This is clearly a win-win situation. I just have to make sure I have the annual fee put aside each year. Another point in its favor is that the total of necessary charges. It is $1000 in 3 months. That is the same as many other cards with fewer benefits.
Green Go cards are clearly transparent in what makes them excellent considerations for cash reward cards. Yellow mixed consideration cards are not as straight forward. Then, the pros and cons need to be weighed more carefully to decide if one in this category is a good choice. Consider the amount of a promotional bonus they pay. Know the % of return and any limitations regarding that. See which side of the scale they tip to, more pros or more cons.
Check the fine print. That means the not obvious, hidden qualities of the card. As a matter of fact, these can result in more negative than positive qualities. For example, the Barclaycard account sounds good at first glance. But it does have one major drawback. I know of no other card with this drawback. Surprisingly it does not pay cash rewards until $50 worth has been accumulated. So beware of such fine print. In addition, Some other cards charge no annual fee for the first year but do charge one after that.
The final post in this series will focus on the qualities and kinds of cards that are in the RED signal area. They should be avoided or pursued with the utmost caution. Because they are risky, sometimes that makes them plain unsuitable in my opinion. In addition, the risk is like making a right turn on red when you’re not sure there was a sign indicating that it is okay to do so. Or you make the turn without looking so see if a card is coming from your left. Beware Risky Cash Reward Cards
Here are the links to this five-part series about my Credit Card Rating System:
Introduction to A Credit Card Rating System
The Rating System Used for Cash Back Credit Cards (Series Part 2 – June 2019)
Excellent Cash Reward Cards (Part 3 – June 2019)
Mixed Cash Reward Credit Card Benefits (Part 4 – June 2019)
Risky Cash Reward Credit Cards (Part 5-June 2019)
Please note: I am not a certified financial planner or professional advisor. These blog posts about the use of credit cards are based on my own experience which I freely share. But I can take no legal or financial responsibility for the results you may have in attempting to follow my system. But I do wish you the best and welcome your comments and questions at the VERY end of this post. You will have reached the end because you can not scroll down any further. As well, you will have reached the comment form.
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