I’ve been alerted to four tempting cash back credit card offers in the last month or so – two by commenters, one by Kyle, and one through online searching. Kyle and I are still working on churning our second Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases (affiliate link – read my review!), but we should be done this month with Christmas travel and gifts. It probably isn’t the best idea to sign up for all four cards right when we finish churning this one, but maybe we’ll start with one or two.
Upromise and Sallie Mae Cards Have Great Rewards Categories
There are two cards available now that can help you pay down your student loans or save into a 529. I have Sallie Mae student loans and a Upromise account so either one of these cards would work well for us. Both cards are issued by Barclaycard but they have quite different rewards structures.
Sallie Mae Mastercard
The Sallie Mae Mastercard credit card generates cash back that directly pays down your Sallie Mae student loans. The big attraction is that you get 5% back on eligible groceries, gas, and books purchases. 5% back on groceries and gas all the time is quite hard to find! The 5% rewards is capped at the first $250 per month you spend on groceries or gas (each) and the first $750 you spend on books. That would be great for us as we don’t typically spend enough to reach the caps. The rewards rate on everything else is 1%, so this is a good choice even for a base card. Plus, there’s a $25 bonus after you use the card for the first time.
This rewards rate is so high that I wonder why I haven’t heard much chatter about this card – perhaps because not many people have Sallie Mae loans hanging around?
Upromise World Mastercard
The Upromise World MasterCard® (affiliate link) is linked to your Upromise account, which you can use to pay eligible Sallie Mae student loans, save into an eligible savings or 529 account, or cash out. It has a complex but possibly lucrative rewards structure:
- 5% for making qualified purchases online through upromise.com
- 4% at participating restaurants
- 3% at Exxon or Mobil (minimum 20 gallons per month)
- 2% at eligible movie theaters
- 1% on everything else
Plus, the first time you use the card you’ll receive a $50 bonus (it looks like that’s only through an affiliate link – if you go straight to the website it’s a $25 bonus).
By far, the most enticing category here is the additional 5% back on certain purchases made online through the Upromise portal using this card. When making purchases through Upromise, the participating retailers offer hefty cash back percentages to begin with, so that 5% from the card is on top of whatever the normal cash back rate is for that retailer (between 1 and 20%, most often 5%). Upromise provides a full list of participating retailers at their regular cash back rate, so add 5% to that if you are using the Upromise World Mastercard (but there are some exclusions like for travel, subscriptions, services, and other categories).
Personally I’m not too swayed by the 1-4% categories here, but the potential of getting 10% or even more back for online shopping at certain retailers could really be worthwhile. Looking at the list of retailers, there are several present that I do shop with online, like Macy’s (5%), American Eagle Outfitters (5%), New York and Company (5%), and Vistaprint (5%). I used to be in the habit of checking Upromise’s cash back rate before making online purchases, and if we sign up for this card I would definitely pick that practice back up. I mean, 10% back is practically unheard of!
Bank of America Bonus Just for Paying Your Bill
Kyle saw this very tempting offer on a Hulu commercial, of all things (I ignore them but I’m glad he didn’t!). It’s the BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards credit card. It has an incredible bonus ratio, and it would be very little work to get the bonus regularly if you set it up properly.
Bank of America gives a $25 quarterly bonus if you pay more than the minimum payment on time every month for this card. For those of us who pay our cards off in full every month (as everyone should), of course that is no problem. You do have to use the card and charge more than the minimum payment each month ($15 at least) in the quarter to qualify for the bonus. If you have a Bank of America checking, savings, or retirement account, you’ll get an extra $5 bonus per quarter.
If we were to sign up for this card, we would put the smallest monthly recurring charge we have on it that is more than $15. We would autodraft the bill from this account, set up an automatic payment to pay it off in full and ahead of time, and not even keep the card itself in our wallets. The account would exclusively be for paying this one bill. You can redeem the rewards as a statement credit, but we would elect to have it deposited directly into our BoA checking account (finally a use for it!).
A $30 bonus each quarter straight into our checking account just for paying off $15 or so every month? No brainer. We would just need to be careful to switch out that recurring charge for another one should it ever end, or begin keeping the card in our wallet and charging just about the minimum in discretionary purchases. But aside from that kind of transition, the mental energy this takes is close to zero!
Fidelity Amex Gets 2% Back on Everything Toward Your Investments
We don’t have an Amex and I really want one for spending at Costco. Actually, there are three related cards that all offer the same rewards structure: 2% back on all purchases, which you deposit in $50 increments into your linked Fidelity account, whether that is a retirement, brokerage, or 529 account. It’s pretty rare to find a card that offers 2% back on everything (where Amex is accepted, of course), so it might be worth it to sign up for a brokerage account or something even though I no longer have a Fidelity IRA. Even if we only used this card at Costco, based on last year’s spending we would have generated $76 in rewards!
I think this would be a great choice if you 1) already have an eligible Fidelity account or don’t mind signing up for one, 2) want a great high-rewards base card so you don’t have to fool with rotating cards for various categories, or 3) like us, you want an Amex to use at Costco or a similarly limited retailer.
Wow, I am so excited writing up the details for all these cards that I want to sign up for all of them immediately! But will probably be too many cards to have put play at once, though maybe we can assimilate them over time. I’ll only have my student loans for a few more months, though, so we should get the Sallie Mae Mastercard card into our wallets, at least for groceries and gas! The Better Balance Rewards card would also be an easy one to get started – we might even sign each of us up for one for an easy $240 per year! We could really use the Upromise World MasterCard® long-term, because even after my student loans are paid we could switch the rewards over to fund our firstborn’s 529. And the Fidelity card would be great to use because we are getting zero rewards from our Costco spending right now.
What credit cards offers are you excited about right now? Which one of these might you sign up for? How do you limit yourself from signing up for too many cards and making your system too complex?
photo from Free Digital Photos