Almost all of my spending is done by credit card. It’s convenient and I receive cash back for every purchase. Since I pay the balance off every month, I never pay any interest charges or late fees. I don’t spend more than I normally would were I to use cash instead. I have a disciplined approach to spending, for the most part, so I don’t align myself with those who preach about eliminating all credit card use for a healthy personal finances. It’s like alcohol; drink your credit responsibly rather being a lush, and you’ll be fine. More on this later.
Here are six different credit cards that offer different levels of cash back. I’ve only used the Citi Dividend Platinum Select, so that’s the only card I can vouch for, but all of these are rated highly and will help earn you money… if you use them responsibly.
Citi Dividend Platinum Select MasterCard
Earn a 2% cash back rebate on purchases made at supermarkets, gas stations, drugstores, convenience stores, and utilities including cable; earn a 1% cash back rebate on all other purchases; and earn a 1% cash back rebate on cash advances and convenience check transactions. Cardholders will receive $5 Dividend Dollars for each balance transfer transaction of $1,500 or more. Cardholders can also earn an average of 5% cash back on purchases made through the Citi Dividend Merchant Network.
American Express Blue Cash
General purchases earn a .5% rebate up to $6,500, and 1.5% over $6,500; “Everyday Purchases” made at drugstores, gas stations, and supermarkets earn a 1% rebate up to $6,500, and 5% over $6,500.
Discover Platinum Card
Earn a 0.25% rebate for up to $1,500 in general spending; 0.5% for over $1,500 up to $3,000; and 1% for over $3,000. Reward is redeemable in $20 increments only. Earn a full 5% in cash rebates at participating retailers (through the Cashback Bonus reward program). Earn a 0.25% rebate at select warehouse clubs and discount stores. Earn up to double Cashback BonusÃ‚Â® at participating Discover Card Partners.
American Express One
The unique Savings Accelerator Plan contributes 1% of all eligible purchases into an FDIC-insured, high-yield savings account in the cardholder’s name with a special rate of 5% APY (offer valid through January 31, 2007). Note: this card has a $35 annual fee. Cards with annual fees are not recommended unless the cash you receive far outweighs the fee.
Bank of America Financial Rewards Visa Platinum Plus
Earn 1 point for every $100 in net purchases per billing cycle. One point is equal to $1 in rebates. Points are redeemable in 25-point increments (minimum 25 points) and can be redeemed for cash back checks, direct deposits made to the cardholder’s Bank of America checking or savings account, or reductions in the cardholder’s purchase APR. Earn 5 points for each $2,500 in balances transferred per billing cycle (up to 25 points per billing cycle).
American Express Costco TrueEarnings Card
Earn a 3% rebate for restaurant purchases or orders for home delivery; earn a 2% rebate for airline tickets, hotel stays, car rentals, and cruises; and earn a 1% rebate on all other purchases. The rebate will be sent each year in the card holder’s February billing statement.
As you can see, there are many opportunities to get some cash back for expenses you already encounter. Nevertheless, this isn’t a good option for everyone. For example, if someone plans on applying for a loan in the near future, applying for a number of credit cards will temporarily lower the applicant’s credit score. The higher interest rate you’ll receive on the loan or mortgage may eliminate any rebates you might earn with the cards. Otherwise, if you’re responsible with credit, not using a cash back credit card is like leaving money on the table. Consumerism Commentary readers are smart, so you know to read the terms and conditions carefully whenever applying for any credit card.
Updated May 8, 2011 and originally published December 4, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.