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How To Earn Money With Cashback Shopping Portals

roth 401(k) cashback shopping portals

roth 401(k) cashback shopping portals

Who doesn’t want to save money and get cash back on internet purchases? Everybody knows about discount codes that can be entered to get free shipping or a lower subtotal amount. With cashback shopping portals, you can receive these discounts and receive an additional cash back rebate when you shop through a third-party website.

How Do Cashback Shopping Portals Work?

Cashback shopping portals are the 21st-Century version of mail-in rebates, except shoppers must take the additional step before making a purchase instead of after to get cash back. Portals are also similar to rewards credit cards. Cardholders earn additional cash or travel rewards when they make a purchases with certain merchants.

The one main difference is that cashback shopping portals are a “middle man” between the shopper and the merchant. Shoppers need to use a portal to earn additional money. Otherwise, they only receive the discount that retailers are offering to the general public (assuming they have a discount). Portal users might pay the same price for an item at checkout as a non-portal user, but they will see the additional savings later.

How To Use A Cashback Shopping Portal

Cashback shopping portals make agreements with online retailers to pay customers with cash rewards when they make a purchase using the portal. To receive the reward, an online shopper must first visit the website of the portal (i.e. Ebates, Swagbucks, etc.) and choose the online store they want to shop at. The portal will open a shopping session and redirect the shopper to the store’s website.

Any purchases made during this session will be awarded the advertised cash reward that the store has agreed to pay.

Reward Payouts

Regarding reward payouts, every portal is different. There are several cashback shopping portals that you can choose to shop with. Some portals offer higher payout rates for a particular store than another portal. For instance, Portal A rewards 5% @ JC Penney, but Portal B only rewards 3%. It’s not uncommon for avid cashback shopping portal users to “reward shop” to use the portal that will give them the most cashback for a purchase.

When it comes time to actually getting the rewards into your bank account, portals also pay on different schedules. The one downside to portals is that most do not offer immediate access to cash rewards. It can take up to a month for some merchants to reimburse the reward to the portal.

Portal payouts are typically on a quarterly basis (i.e. rewards earned January-March are paid on May 15th). Also, portals usually require a minimum reward balance of at least $5. Some portals will pay rewards via PayPal on a more frequent basis (i.e. weekly or monthly) once you earn the minimum balance amount. Shoppers preferring check payments have to wait for the next quarterly disbursement.

Real-Life Example

Let’s use a real-life scenario to help make the cashback shopping portal process easier to understand:

  1. Jane wants to buy a new outfit from JC Penney.
  2. She visits her favorite cashback shopping portal and sees they are offering a 5% cashback reward on all items purchased.
  3. Jane clicks the “Shop Now” button and the portal takes her to the JC Penney homepage.
  4. After adding the new outfit, Jane completes the checkout process.
  5. Within 24-48 hours (for most merchants), Jane receives an e-mail from the cashback shopping portal saying she was rewarded $3 from the shopping session!

“Fine Print” About Earning Rewards

There are some tips that portal shoppers need to know about to make sure their purchases qualify for rewards.  It can be easy to make a mistake and not get credit.

1. Must Checkout Through the Portal Session

If Jane had gone directly to JC Penney’s website or a brick-and-mortar store instead of visiting the portal first, she would not have earned the 5% reward. By shopping through the portal, she still had to pay the same upfront price for the outfit as any other internet shopper, but will receive additional savings that retailers do not advertise to the average shopper.

2. Open New Session If You Do Not Checkout On Original Session

Also if Jane started the shopping session with a portal and added an item to her cart but doesn’t complete the checkout process with that same browser window, she may not earn reward credit. To earn credit, she will have to visit the retailer using the portal and check out with a new session.

If she checks out by going directly to the JC Penney website, she will not earn the reward, even though she put the item in her cart during a portal shopping session. It can be easy to forget to open a new session if you wanted to wait a day or two just to make sure you didn’t want to purchase any additional items.

3. Retailers Do Not Remember Previous Portal Cashback Purchases

Just because you made an online purchase with a cashback shopping portal at a store before doesn’t mean you will automatically receive rewards for future purchases. Retailers provide rewards as an incentive to attract shoppers, but will only reward those who go the extra mile. If you want to save money on each purchase, you need to use the portal every time.

4. Portal Shopping Sessions Have A Different Web Address

The reason why portal shopping sessions have a different web address is because of an affiliate code. This lets the merchant know that you are shopping with a portal and qualify for additional cashback.
Here is how to tell if you are in a portal shopping session by looking at your web address if you shop at JC Penney:

Web Address Without Portal

The above image is what your browser’s web address bar looks when you visit JC Penney without using a portal.  The below image is visit JC Penney with a portal.

Web Address With PortalNotice how one address is shorter than the other? The additional characters are what tell the merchant that any purchase made while this browser session is open is eligible for cashback rewards. This is an easy way to remember if you activated a shopping session or accidentally went directly to the store.

What Stores Award Portal Rewards?

The largest cashback shopping portals offer rewards at over 2,000 online stores. Most major retailers participate in the program. You can earn rewards in just about every category including gift cards, home improvement stores, clothing, and travel.

Certain stores have exclusions or tiered reward payouts. Most major retailers will not offer rewards on gift cards, although you can earn rewards by buying the same cards through gift card merchants.

Cashback Shopping Portals To Consider

If you are new to the cashback shopping portal scene, below is a list of four of the most popular portals.  There are plenty more available on the internet. Some stores like Walmart even have a cashback shopping portal of their own.

  • Ebates – This is the original and the largest cashback shopping portal. For additional rewards, you can also sign-up for the Ebates Cashback Credit Card that rewards an additional 3% on all purchases made through Ebates.
  • Giving Assistant – Giving Assistant is a portal with a social mission. For every purchase made using GA, they will donate a meal to the charity Feeding America. As of this post, they have donated 600,000+ meals.
  • Ibotta – If you like to save money at the supermarket, this is the portal for you. While most portals are online only, you earn rewards with Ibotta by sending a receipt of your purchase at one of the 189 participating stores to earn rewards. Despite making a purchases in-person, you need to “unlock rewards” on the Ibotta website prior to making a purchase.
  • Swagbucks – With Swagbucks, you earn gift cards instead of cash. Rewards can also be earned by taking surveys, playing games, and surfing the web. Swagbucks is popular because you can earn shopping portal rewards, but can also earn rewards without having to spend money.
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How do I redeem my Chase Freedom Points?

The Chase Freedom credit card is one of the most popular cash-back cards on the market. The Chase Freedom card is attractive because it does not impose a fee on card members, and current promotional interest rates offer 0% on both purchases and balance transfers for qualified applicants. Card members are also drawn to the Chase Freedom rewards program as a way to earn cash-back on all purchases. The card functions as a rotating bonus rewards program, meaning additional rewards points are earned during certain times of the year for specific retailers or categories of purchases. The card also offers a flat-rate cash back for purchases made outside the bonus categories throughout the year. Before learning how rewards can be redeemed, let’s take a look at how rewards are earned.

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Chase Freedom Rewards Potential

Card members with Chase Freedom earn 5% cash back on purchases made in bonus categories each quarter. As an example, bonus categories in the past have included grocery stores and restaurants, gas stations and home improvement stores, and wholesale clubs like Costco or BJs. To earn rewards in bonus categories, card members must activate the enhanced rewards program each and every quarter. Combined purchases of up to $1,500 in bonus categories are eligible for the 5% cash back reward.

In addition to the 5% cash back potential, Chase Freedom card members earn 1% on purchases that fall outside the quarterly bonus categories. Card members are no up against a limit as far as earning rewards is concerned, and the benefit is automatically activated at the time the card is opened. Additional rewards points may be earned through promotions for new card members, including a $150 cash back bonus when $500 or more in purchases are made using the card within the first three months after account opening. Adding an authorized user also earns card members $25 bonus cash back when a purchase is made within the same three-month time frame.

Chase Freedom rewards points do not expire, giving card members flexibility as to how rewards are used over time. But the greatest benefits to the Chase rewards program is the ability to redeem points in a variety of ways.

Redeeming for Cash

Chase Freedom rewards points can be redeemed for cash easily through the card issuer’s website, by calling a representative with Chase, or by visiting a Chase Bank branch location. Card members who opt for cash can use accumulated rewards points to obtain a statement credit to reduce the outstanding balance held on the card. Card members should note that a statement credit does not alter the minimum payment due. Alternatively, cash back can be redeemed as a direct deposit in to a checking or savings account held at a financial institution within the United States. For both statement credit and direct deposit redemptions, a minimum of 2,000 points – the equivalent of $20 – is required.

Redeeming for Gift Cards or Shopping

Chase Freedom card members also have the ability to redeem accumulated cash back rewards for select gift cards made available through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards site. Participating retailers include major stores such as Lowes, Home Depot, Target, Amazon and Apple (iTunes), and more than 70 partners make gift cards available through the Chase rewards program. While it is necessary to have the same minimum accumulated rewards balance of 2,000, gift cards can be redeemed in amounts as small as $5, or 500 points.

Chase Freedom rewards points may also be used to shop directly through certain partner sites, the most notable being Amazon.com. Through the Ultimate Rewards portal, card members with at least 2,000 points can link their individual Amazon.com account to Chase and utilize points at checkout. Card members who download the Chase Freedom mobile app have additional options for direct shopping with accumulated points. Through the app, card members select the merchant they wish to pay (more than 30 are available at this time), and the amount they want to spend. Chase creates a custom gift card specifically for that store that is available through the app. When the card member is ready to pay, they simply present the phone at checkout for the amount selected.

Redeeming for Travel

One of the most attractive ways to redeem points through Chase Freedom is on travel purchases. Through the Chase Ultimate Rewards site, card members have an overwhelming number of options including air fare, hotel stays and rental car reservations. Additionally, Chase aggregates a number of activities catered to family-friendly adventures or vacations, romantic getaways or outdoor fun. The site also provides a list of location-specific activities for card members, such as museum visits, new and noteworthy restaurants and community events.

Redeeming Chase Freedom rewards through the site also requires a minimum of 2,000 points, although some travel partners may require a higher number of points to make purchases. Any purchases made above and beyond the total available points value may be completed using the linked Chase Freedom credit card, and those balances earn points at the flat cash back rate of 1%.

Card members also have the opportunity to combine cash back rewards earned through the Chase Freedom credit card with other credit cards offered through Chase Bank. Moving points does not cost the card member anything, and it can be done as long as the card remains in good standing with Chase. All Chase cards that offer the Ultimate Rewards program are eligible for points transfer, as long as the card member is the same, a spouse or a domestic partner.

The Chase Freedom Ultimate Rewards program offers a number of ways to utilize cash back earned in either the bonus categories or through regular purchases that earn a flat rate. Card members have the opportunity to redeem accumulated rewards as statement credits for their Chase Freedom credit card balance, or via direct deposit into a bank account. Gift cards and shopping experiences are also available through the Ultimate Rewards site or through the Freedom rewards mobile app. Travel, activities and local events may also be purchases using cash back rewards through Chase Freedom. As long as the minimum amount of points are available, card members can use cash back however it best fits their needs.

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The Slate vs the Freedom Rewards Card

Finding the right credit card can be a daunting task, especially with the myriad of choices available from a slew of various issuers. Differences in rewards programs, promotional offers and card member fees play a major role in which card is best suited for specific borrowing needs. Some popular credit card issuers like Chase Bank have simplified the process by designing credit cards for those seeking out very specific card member perks. The Chase Slate credit card and the Chase Freedom credit card are two very different options that deserve a closer look.

credit card close up-600Chase Logo

A Dream for Balance Transfers

The Chase Slate credit card is designed for individual borrowers looking for a low-cost way to transfer balances from higher interest rate cards or those in need of a low introductory interest rate. The current balance transfer promotion for Chase Slate card members is attractive because it extends beyond most comparable balance transfer offers in terms of time to repay. New Chase Slate card members who transfer a balance to the credit card within 60 days of account opening receive 15 months of 0% interest on balance transfers, and the balance fee of the greater of $5 or 5% is waived for the first transaction. For individuals with a high-interest rate balance on a different card, the balance transfer offer through Chase Slate is second to none.

In addition to the balance transfer promotion, new Chase Slate card members have a 0% interest rate on any purchases made within the first 15 months after account opening. After the promotional period ends, the standard APR for well qualified card members is 13.24%; applicants with less than exemplary credit may qualify for a standard APR of 18.24 or 23.24%. Balance transfer rates revert back to the standard rate assigned at the time of account opening as soon as the promotional period ends. The Chase Slate card does not impose an annual fee for card members, making it an attractive choice for those with high spending needs or high interest rate balances elsewhere.

The Chase Slate card does not offer any rewards program at this time.

Rewards Aplenty

The Chase Freedom card is best suited for individual borrowers seeking out a strong rewards program. Card members earn 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories each quarter, including gas stations, certain retailers and restaurants, up to a maximum of $1,500 in purchases. All other purchases made with the Chase Freedom card earn card members a flat rate of 1% cash back with no cap on earnings. The bonus categories must be activated each quarter to ensure rewards are earned, but the 1% cash back is and automatic benefit.

The Chase Freedom credit card offers a similar promotion to new card members in terms of the purchase APR and the balance transfer APR. Qualifying applicants receive 0% interest on both purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after account opening. Chase Freedom differs from Chase Slate in that the balance transfer fee of 5% still applies. After the promotional period ends, the standard purchase and balance transfer APRs can be as low as 14.24%. Card members may also qualify for a standard APR of 19.24% or 23.24% if credit history or score are not ideal.

Chase Freedom card members also have the potential to earn $150 in bonus cash back when $500 or more is spent within the first three months after account opening. Adding an authorized user to an account also boosts cash back earnings by $25, but only when the user is added and makes a purchase within the first three months. Cash back rewards earned with Chase Freedom do not expire as long as the account remains in good standing. Rewards can be redeemed for cash, check out at Amazon.com, gift cards from select retailers, or through Chase’s travel site. A minimum of $20 must accumulate prior to redeeming rewards. Chase Freedom does not carry an annual fee.

Chase Card Member Perks

All Chase credit card members have access to a variety of additional benefits, most focused on enhanced security. Both the Chase Slate and Chase Freedom credit cards are chip-enabled which offers a greater level of acceptance around the world. Purchases made with either card are also covered by zero liability protection. This means that unauthorized charges or fraudulent purchases are not the responsibility of the card holder, up to certain limits. Chase card members also have purchase protection and extended warranty protection for eligible purchases.

Chase Slate and Chase Freedom credit cards also provide auto rental collision damage waivers, roadside assistance and dispatch, and travel insurance for those on the go. The Chase Slate card also waives foreign transactions fees making it more attractive to travelers; the Chase Freedom card assesses a foreign transaction fee of 3% per purchase.

Chase offers a unique feature to card members in its BluePrint payment system. Card members can elect to customize payments based on the type of purchases made and the amounts spent over a single billing cycle. For borrowers who carry balances over from one month to the next, BlutPrint is a smart way to control spending and repayment that is truly unique to each card member.

Which Card is Right for You?

The Chase Slate card is a simple credit card that does not offer a rewards program in terms of cash back or travel points. Instead, Chase Slate card members can take advantage of the inexpensive balance transfer offer or the introductory 0% APR to save cash for other needs. Applicants need to have excellent credit in order to qualify for the Chase Slate card, setting it apart from the Chase Freedom option.

The Chase Freedom credit card is best suited for individuals with a penchant for points. The rotating cash back bonus categories offer a way to boost earnings for card members who spend consistently on certain purchases, and the flat rate cash back helps keep rewards accumulating outside the bonus categories. The introductory purchase rate and balance transfer offer for Chase Freedom is attractive for cost-conscious card members, but the balance transfer fee makes the card more expensive than Chase Slate. Both Chase credit card options can be used as standalone cards or in marriage with one another to enhance the experience.

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Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card Review

In recent years, cash back rewards credit cards have not been as lucrative as in the recent past.  Very few cash back credit cards offer a rewards rate above 1% for most purchases.  The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature credit card defies that trend by offering 2% cash back on all purchases that can be credited to any Fidelity brokerage, college savings, or checking account.  This can be an excellent option for Fidelity investors that want a solid cash back rewards rate.

Fidelity Rewards Credit Card

In 2016, Fidelity partnered with Elan Financial Services (part of U.S. Bank) and switched credit card issuers (Visa instead of American Express).  This should be a plus for existing Fidelity cardholders due to several negative comments regarding Fidelity AmEx’s customer service.  In addition to the fact that Visa is more widely accepted than American Express across the globe.

While 2% cash back might not be the most exciting reward in the land of credit card rewards, it still isn’t anything to scoff at.  For a flat-rate cash back credit, only the Citi Double Cash can rival the Fidelity Visa for a 2% everyday rate.  Most flat-rate cards have a rewards rate of 1.5% or less.  Other cash back cards will offer a higher payout in a revolving category (example: 5% on gas purchases in the summer then 5% on home improvement purchases in the fall) and pay a 1% rate on all other categories.  With the Fidelity credit card, you know you will be getting an industry leading flat-rate reward for every purchase without the hassle of trying to time when a category will offer an increased reward rate.

No Sign-Up Bonus?

One downside of the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature is the lack of a sign-up bonus.  Chances are any credit card offer you receive by e-mail or snail mail has a sign-up bonus when you meet a spending minimum within the first couple months of opening the account.  While a sign-up bonus might be considered a “cherry on top” for some applicants who are loyal to a specific airline or hotel brand and would sign-up for the card regardless, some might view it differently with a cash-back credit card.

Fidelity offers a higher reward rate and allows cardholders to put the savings directly into a savings or investment account, but other cash back cards will offer a small welcome bonus.  If the Fidelity credit card is going to be a secondary credit card, it might make more long-term financial sense to choose a cash back card, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, with a lower everyday payout but offers the welcome bonus.  How much more would you have to spend with Fidelity at 2% with no sign-up bonus to offset the credit card with a 1.5% cash back rate and a $150 sign-up bonus?  Just some food for thought.

2% Cash Back Rewards

Although the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature is lumped into the flat-rate cash back rewards category, cardholders accumulate reward points instead of receiving a monthly statement credit or cash distribution once a certain award amount is received.  Fidelity awards two points for every $1 purchased.  The points can be redeemed for cash at a 1:1 ratio that is deposited into a Fidelity brokerage, college savings, retirement, or checking account.  The points can also be redeemed for other rewards like travel options, merchandise, statement credit, or gift cards. Albeit, the exchange rates probably will not be as advantageous as the cash redemption value.

As the cash rewards are the biggest highlight of this credit card, here is some more information.  The cash rewards can only be deposited into a linked Fidelity brokerage, Fidelity Cash Management (checking) account, Fidelity-managed 529 college savings plan, or a Fidelity retirement account.  The rewards can also be deposited into the account of a friend or family member if desired.  Although this policy might seem restrictive, Fidelity is quite flexible in payout options compared to the Charles Schwab credit card that will only deposit rewards into the cardholder’s brokerage account.  Plus, Schwab only has a cash back rate of 1% on all purchases.  Fidelity investors have the better credit card offering than Schwab loyalists.

One catch to the rewards point system is the redemption minimums.  Cash rewards cannot be redeemed until you have spent $2,500 and 5,000 points have been accumulated.  Cardholders wanting to redeem points for non-cash rewards after earning 2,500 rewards points.

One final note regarding Fidelity rewards points, they never expire and no annual earnings cap exists.

Digital Wallet-Ready

Beyond the 2% cash back rate, the Fidelity Rewards Visa is also ready for future in 21st-century personal finance.  Cardholders can link their card to any of the “big three” digital wallets: Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay.   Digital Wallets are still very new to digital cash scene, but they are gaining traction every year.  It’s not uncommon for a credit card to have the ability to link to one of the wallets listed above, however, it is unique to have the option to connect to all three.

Fees & Other “Nitty Gritty” Details

The Fidelity Visa does not charge an annual fee, allowing the cardholder to keep every penny earned through the rewards program. International travelers will have to pay a 1% foreign transaction fee, which is still acceptable as other non-travel rewards credit cards charge a fee up to 3%.  Current interest rates on purchases and balance transfers is 14.24% and cash advances command an interest rate of 24.24%.

There are a few “fine print” details that need to be reviewed regarding the Fidelity rewards program.  Anybody can have the Fidelity Visa credit card, but only cardholders with an eligible Fidelity account can accumulate reward points.  Reward points cannot be used to open a Fidelity account, so it’s best to create an account before applying for this credit card.  As Fidelity is more flexible than Charles Schwab regarding types of eligible accounts, this can be a great way to finally create a retirement account or college savings plan for your child.

In addition to the ability to earn 2% cash back without an annual fee, cardholders also have access to Visa Signature perks such as exclusive offers and discounts to restaurants, travel, and entertainment.

Closing Thoughts

This credit card is best for those that invest with Fidelity and want a no-hassle cash back rewards card either a primary or secondary credit card.  The 2% cash back rate is a great enticement for value seekers and this credit card is one of the best among cash back credit cards.  The lack of a sign-up bonus will deter those that do not have an affinity to become a Fidelity customer as other cash back credit cards offer similar ongoing rewards payouts plus the bonus statement credit.

Overall, the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature credit card is a great primary or secondary cash back credit card for existing Fidelity customers, but, the rewards might not be enough to entice prospective cardholders that are not loyal to Fidelity.

 

 

 

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Citi Double Cash Rewards Card Review

For savvy spenders, finding the right rewards credit card can be a big task. There is a seemingly endless number of credit cards available to credit worthy borrowers these days, each with different perks, rewards programs and of course, costs. One of the most notable rewards cards to enter the market in the last two years is the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card, as it is the first of its kind to reward card holders on both the front (spending) and back (repaying) ends. Here’s how it works.

 

Citi Doulbe Cash Rewards

 

Card Basics

The Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card is considered a flat rate rewards card in that it provides a steady 1% cash back on all purchases made. No maximums are placed on the amount of rewards that can be earned as long as the card remains in good standing with the issuer. What makes the rewards program different is that card holders also earn points when making timely payments. An additional 1% cash back is earned when at least the minimum payment is made, regardless of the size or the remaining balance held over from month to month. The Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card is truly the first of its kind.

Rewards points earned with purchases or payment through the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card work similarly to other rewards programs, meaning that a single point equals $0.01. So, a card holder who accumulates a balance of 5,000 points has effectively earned $50 to use toward statement credits, cash back in the form of a check or a multitude of gift cards offered through Citi’s rewards program site. Rewards points do not expire, as long as the card remains open and active, and there is no cap on cash back earnings for either purchases or payments.

Additional Card Benefits

Currently, new applicants have the potential to consolidate higher interest rate credit card balance or other debts on the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card through a promotional balance transfer offer. For well-qualified borrowers, the balance transfer offer allows for up to 18 months of zero interest repayment. It is important to understand that there are fees associated with a balance transfer, and that no rewards are earned on the transaction.

In addition to the attractive balance transfer promotion, the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card offers additional perks to card members. First and foremost, the nature of the flat rate card means that there are no pesky categories to track and no need to complete activation each month or quarter. Instead, all purchases and payments earn cash back effortlessly. Card holders also have the benefit of waiving the late fee on the first payment that is made past the due date. That added peace of mind is a nice feature not offered by all rewards credit cards.

Card members of the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card also enjoy a unique benefit known as the Citi Price Rewind. Under this program, card holders receive a refund on eligible purchases when a lower price is found. The Price Rewind feature must be used within 60 days of the initial purchase. On top of price matching, Citi Double Cash Rewards card holders have the peace of mind that comes with damage and theft protection, as well as extended warranty coverage on some eligible purchases. Card members also have protection for common travel mishaps, including worldwide car rental insurance and trip cancellation coverage. These additional perks do not cost card holders any extra, and can add up to substantial savings over the course of the card’s lifetime.

The Fees

One might expect that a rewards credit card that earns cash back on both purchases and repayment would charge a fee for this unique feature. Fortunately, no annual fee is assessed for carrying the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card. There are, however, fees associated with certain transactions. First, card members are assessed a 3% fee for all purchases made outside the United States, making it a less than ideal choice for card users with heavy or consistently spending overseas.

In addition to the foreign transaction fee, card members who take advantage of the balance transfer offer currently available through Citi pay a greater of $5 or 3% of the total amount transferred, and no cash back is earned on these transactions to help offset the fee. Cash advances also tack on charges, at a rate of either $10 or 5%, whichever is greater. Card member utilizing the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card should be aware of and fully understand how these additional charges may increase the cost of carrying the card over time.

For well qualified applicants, the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card has a standard purchase APR starting at 13.24%. However, for less qualified applicants, the purchase APR may be as high as 23.24%. After the promotional period ends, balance transfers receive the same APR as purchases. Cash advances have a standard APR of 25.49%, and a penalty APR of 29.99% may apply if payments are consistently late or charges over the credit limit are placed. All interest rates with the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card are variable and may fluctuate based on prevailing interest rates.

The Verdict

The Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card is truly a unique player in the rewards credit card market in that it offers cash back on purchases as well as payments. Card members may appreciate the simplicity of the card, as no categories need to be tracked for bonus cash back earnings, and no additional activation is necessary to earn rewards. The ability to earn unlimited rewards is also attractive, as is the balance transfer offer currently available to credit worthy borrowers.

While the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card is by and far the best choice for some card holders, it may not be the most appropriate for those who travel outside the U.S. on a consistent basis. Also, card members who utilize cash advances regularly, or those who carry a high balance from month to month may find a better fit with other rewards cards that come with lower interest rates. All in all, the Citi Double Cash Rewards credit card is a smart choice for individuals who like earning on both sides of the credit card coin.

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Discover it Review

Discover made a very bold move in the year 2013 when it suddenly stopped offering all its existing credit card products to the new applicants and replaced them with one single card offering called ‘Discover it’, targeted at all kinds of credit card users! The company has made several feature additions to this card ever since, and has made it one of the most sought-after cards today! There’s also a new Discover it Miles product as well.

Discover it is overall an excellent, no-fee cash back rewards card that offers you an attractive 5% cash back on all your purchases on rotational categories (rotating per quarter), apart from 1% cash back all year round. It falls into the elite category when it comes to introductory offers, as you get amazing intro rates on balance transfers and purchases.

Despite it not having the kind of penetration its main competitors – MasterCard and Visa enjoy, Discover’s network is growing constantly every month and it offers a great deal of flexibility in the way you can use your rewards. Let’s go over the pros and cons of the card.

 

Discover it

 

The Good

Attractive rewards and an unmatchable sign-up bonus

With Discover it card you earn 1% cash back on all your purchases throughout the year. Apart from that, Discover selects certain bonus categories every quarter wherein your cash back rewards increase to 5% on a maximum of $1500 spent on products falling in that category. The 5% cashback categories for the year 2016 are:

January to March 2016: Gas and ground transportation
April to June 2016: Restaurants and movies
July to September 2016: Home improvement stores and Amazon.com
October to December 2016: Amazon.com and more

So, if you spend $1700 in total on restaurants and movies between April and June, 2016, your total cash back will be $75 + $2 = $77 (5% of $1500 + 1% of $200).

Discover is presently offering an unmatchable sign-up rewards bonus on its Discover it cards! It doubles up the entire cash back bonus earned in your first year with the card. So, the 5% cash back becomes 10% and the 1% cash back becomes 2% at the end of the first year! However, not everyone may like to wait that long for the sign-up bonus to arrive!

Great introductory rates

Discover it comes in two variants that differ mainly on the introductory APR offer. There’s a regular Discover it card and a Discover it – 18 month balance transfer offer card.

With the regular Discover it card, you get an introductory APR of 0% on all your purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. The Discover it – 18 month balance transfer offer card, on the other hand, provides you a 0% APR on your purchases for the initial 6 months and an extended 0% APR on the balance transfers for the first 18 months.

So, you can buy anything you need and pay back the dues at your own pace. You’ll be charged an APR varying between 11.24% and 23.24% after 12 or 6 months respectively. Please note, there’s a 3% fee applicable on balance transfers.

Discover Deals

Discover Deals is an online shopping mall run by Discover. You can maximize your cashback percentage by shopping on Discover Deals with your Discover it card. Discover deals has a tie-up with over 200 online retailers and currently offers an extra 5% to 20% cash back on purchases made with them. If you’ve just bought your Discover it card, the year-end cash back doubling offer can make these deals even more attractive. For instance, Papa John and Macy’s currently offer cashbacks of 25% and 10% respectively. With the year-end bonus coming into play, those rates can double-up to a whopping 50% and 20% respectively!

Solid fraud protection

Discover it provides a $0 fraud liability guarantee, ensuring that you never pay for any unauthorized charges on your credit card. All the purchases made with Discover it card are closely monitored by the company and you’re quickly alerted via text, phone call or email in case of any suspicious activity on your account. Every Discover it card has a ‘Freeze It’ feature which freezes your card in case it gets lost or stolen, thus preventing any unwanted charges on it.

U.S.-based customer service

Customer service is high on Discover’s priority list! Any time you have an issue with your Discover it card, you won’t need to wait for long to speak with a human. Discover ensures that you’re put through to a well-trained and well-informed U.S.-based customer service rep at the earliest. Please note, Discover bagged the ‘Highest in Customer Satisfaction Award’ from J.D. Power and Associates in the year 2014, outscoring many popular competitors.

Flexible due dates

You get to choose your own due date and can make the payment by phone or online. This is a huge advantage as it allows you to space out your monthly bills in accordance with your cash flow. Other credit cards have preset due dates which often coincide with your other monthly bills, making it hard for you to handle so many expenses at once.

Other perks

If all the above pros aren’t enough, Discover also provides you with free access to your FICO score online and on your monthly statements, doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fee or late payment fee (for first late payment) and has a $0 annual fee.

 

The Bad

Manual opt-ins to make the most of 5% cash back categories

Although the rotational 5% cash back categories are very popular among the ‘Discover it’ card members, it must be noted that you need to opt-in to the 5% bonus categories every quarter. Furthermore, the condition that you can avail 5% cash back on only up to $1500 spent in the pertinent category may not go down too well with the big ticket spenders.

Keeping track of categories may be difficult for many

As mentioned above, you need to activate the 5% bonus every quarter if you wish to make the most of this benefit. Once activated, you’ll need to keep track of the applicable categories for that quarter. This may not be feasible or convenient for a lot of cardholders.

Limited acceptability

Discover doesn’t enjoy the kind of acceptance that its main competitors – Visa and Mastercard do. It charges pretty hefty premiums to merchant establishments, the reason why they don’t go with Discover.

 

Final Word

If you’re looking for a card product that helps you maximize your cash-back benefits, Discover it, with its 5% and 1% cash back bonus, double-cash-back bonus at the end of the first year, Discover Deal benefits, $0 annual fee and attractive 0% intro APR is hard to overlook! On the other hand, if you want a credit card with quick cash back bonus, flat cash back rate and a wider choice of categories, you may be better off looking at other alternatives available in the marketplace.

 

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Review of the USAA Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Cash rewards credit cards are among the most popular. Although travel cards offer some great perks, not everyone takes advantage of redeeming those hard earned points. Cash, on the other hand, is always appreciated and nearly always redeemed.

Let’s take a look at the USAA Cash Rewards cards to see what they have to offer, and perhaps help you make the choice regarding which of the many credit cards available is right for you.

Three Cash Rewards Choices From USAA

USAA offers three great choices in the category of cash rewards cards, the USAA Cash Rewards® World MasterCard®, USAA Cash Rewards® Visa®, and the USAA Cash Rewards® American Express®. The points earned for USAA cards is somewhat different than what you might expect from other cash back rewards cards, and, the accumulation of points tends to be a little lower. In addition, there are not any bonus or rotating categories, so there are fewer opportunities for you to pack on the points.

Points Reward Earning Schedule

As we mentioned, the points earned with the USAA cash rewards programs are at a different rate than some of the other front runners. With USAA, you will earn a rewards rate that is based on your spending. In other words, the more you spend, the higher your rewards rate will be. Here is an example of the rewards earning schedule:

Amount Spent Yearly:                     Rewards Earning Rate:

$0-5,000                                              0.45%
$5,000-10,000                                    $22.50 plus 0.85% on net purchase amount over $5,000
$10,000-17,000                                  $65.00 plus 1% on net purchase amount over $10,000
$17,000 and above                            $135 plus 1.25% on net purchase amount over $17,000

As you can see, those who have higher spending amounts are going to see the most benefits when it comes to the cash back rewards. Those with spending on the lighter end will not accumulate large amounts of cash back very quickly. Rewards are disbursed yearly, every January, and the amount of cash back that you can earn is unlimited.

How to Get More Points

There are a few ways that you can earn more points, in the form of online shopping discounts through the USAA MemberShop Portal. Here you can make purchases from a wide variety of partner merchants and get nice discounts and rebates. This definitely helps to offset the somewhat lower cash back earning rates.

Other Great Benefits

When it comes to cash back rewards cards, USAA may not be offering the highest earning rates, but they also charge no annual fees and have fairly low and very competitive APRs to offer. So, while there may not be sign up bonuses of cash back or other rewards, you can enjoy a consistently low interest rate and never pay an annual fee.

USAA is a highly respected financial institution, one that has customers that have been loyal for decades because of the quality service and value. USAA is only open to those in the military or those in military families, and by limiting their customer base, they are able to focus on the highest levels of service.

Conclusion

Although the USAA cards may be lacking some of the bells and whistles offered by some of the other major credit cards these days, if you are a member of the military, then you may want to take advantage of the benefits offered. In addition to the cash back rewards, there are benefits for those cardholders who may be deployed, including deferred interest, no foreign transaction fees, and more.

This is a bank that is very respected and has consistently high reviews, so don’t pass over their offers too quickly, without taking a closer look!

Apply Now Links:

USAA Cash Rewards® World MasterCard®

USAA Cash Rewards® Visa®

USAA Cash Rewards® American Express®