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Abby Hayes

Suddenly have a slew of extra spending money? Before you head out on a spontaneous shopping spree, consider these 20 things you can do with it instead.

20 things to do with $1000

It’s not often you happen into an extra $1,000. But it could happen. What if you’re part of a settlement process and get an unexpected check? Or maybe you receive a small inheritance from a long-lost relative. Or possibly, you get an unexpected bump in your year-end bonus.

Whatever the case, it’s always a good idea to at least think about the possibilities of what you’ll do if you get an extra $1,000. Or even if you save up money and have an extra $1,000 just sitting in your savings account.

No idea what you’d do with that kind of “spare” money? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Pay off high-interest debt

If you’ve got a credit card balance sitting around costing you absurd amounts of interest, get it paid off as quickly as you can. Even if your balance is well over $1,000, putting that first $1,000 in gets you started on the journey towards debt freedom. Once you knock out some of the balance, you can keep paying your old monthly payment so that you’ll chip away at that debt little by little.

2. Put it towards your emergency plan

Already have your debts paid off? Or don’t have an emergency fund that can cover at least three to six months’ expenses? The next best place for that money is in your emergency plan. Read more about how to set up a fully-fledged emergency plan (that’s more than just a savings account) here.

3. Save for a specific goal

Do you have something in mind that you’re saving for? Consider adding your $1,000 to the goal, whether it’s buying a new car or putting a down payment on your next home. Even if that money is only a small percentage of your goal, it moves you forward, which is always a good thing.

4. Invest for retirement

If you aren’t already maxing out a 401(k) and an IRA, add the $1,000 to your retirement investments. Over the course of the next 20 or 30 years, that original $1,000 could grow to be worth quite a lot, especially when invested in low-cost mutual funds or the like.

5. Put it in your kid’s 529 account

What if you’re already maxing out your retirement accounts or saving as much as you feel like you should? In this case, consider adding that $1,000 to a 529 college savings account for your kid. These accounts act like an IRA for education spending, so they’re a valuable way to save up now for those hefty college expenses you’ll see in the future.

6. Buy a life insurance policy

If you don’t already have a term life insurance policy, you probably need one. Even single people with no kids sometimes need life insurance coverage. If you do need a policy but have been putting off getting one because you can’t afford the premium, now is the time. Secure a low-premium term life insurance policy, and pay your first year’s premiums with this extra cash. That buys you time to fit the premium into your normal budget within a year.

7. Pay a lawyer to draw up your will

Don’t have a will yet? Many people put off having these documents drawn up because they’re expensive. If that’s you, investing your $1,000 in a meeting with a lawyer to have a will, living will, power of attorney, and other documents drawn up is worth your while. You’ll get peace of mind and ensure your loved ones are cared for if something should happen to you.

8. Upgrade your office space

Struggling with back pain because your office chair is terrible? Or considering upgrading your work-from-home desk to a healthier sit-stand model? Investing in your health by upgrading the space where you spend most of your waking hours is a great option. Upgrades like these can help you work more productively and ergonomically, so you’re both happier and healthier.

9. Take a class to further your career

Have you been thinking about changing careers or developing skills to take your current career further? Using $1,000 to invest in classes to boost or change your career can be a great option. Plus, if it leads you to a higher-paying job, you could get a great return on investment from that money.

10. Take a class just for fun

Acquiring new skills doesn’t just have to be about furthering your career. You can also take classes just to increase your health and happiness in your personal life, too. Learning for the sake of learning is great for personal development and brain health. So if you’ve always wanted to learn to weld or sculpt or play an instrument, use this windfall to invest in the materials and classes you need to get it done.

11. Start a side business

If you’d like to earn extra money on the side, consider investing this cash into a side business. Many side gigs would only require you to spend a small part of this $1,000. But if you need to set up a nice-looking website, you could invest some of the money in some professional help for design and website management.

12. Get a tune-up on your car or a major appliance

Preventative care for your car and major appliances is a great way to spend extra money. Spending a little now can keep you from having to spend a whole lot of money down the road. So consider taking your car for an official tune-up. Or if you’ve been putting off having regular service on your furnace, fridge, or washer and dryer set, that would also be a good way to spend this money.

13. Upgrade a major appliance

Do you have an appliance that’s always causing headaches in your home? Or maybe one that’s making your life more difficult instead of easier? You might consider using this money to upgrade it. Perhaps a nicer dishwasher that would actually clean your dishes would save you loads of time you otherwise spend scraping and hand-cleaning. Or maybe a larger washing machine would save you two or three loads a week with your growing family.

14. Put it into protecting your home

Preventative maintenance for your appliances is great, but don’t forget your home itself, either. You can protect your home by getting your gutters cleaned, jacking up the basement in your older home, or upgrading your sump pump. And if you’re all good on the maintenance side, you could put some money into upgrading a room with a coat of paint and new fixtures.

15. Take a vacation

Taking a vacation doesn’t have to be a waste of money. In some cases, a good, affordable vacation lets you come back to your everyday life more refreshed and energized. And that can have a huge ROI for both your personal and professional life. If you have some paid time off banked, make it a game to get your whole vacation done for a $1,000. It can be a fun exercise that also leads to great memories.

16. Buy a museum or zoo membership for your family

If your family is constantly looking for fun things to do on weekends and school breaks, consider spending part of your windfall on a membership. Most museums, zoos, and other local attractions offer family memberships. If you go just two times in a year, you’ll save money with a membership. And having one means you can check out the latest attractions at your local museum every weekend, without spending a dime of extra money.

17. Look into other experiences

The jury is in on what makes people happier: experiences over more stuff. So if you’re struggling to find a way to spend that $1,000, don’t buy more stuff. Instead, look into buying experiences. That could be a class or vacation that we’ve talked about above. Or you might take your spouse, a friend, or each of your children on a special night out to build some memories. Those are truly the gifts that keep on giving.

18. Buy some health and fitness equipment

Considering investing in your health? That’s a great option. One way to do it is to buy some high-quality fitness equipment for your home. Just be sure you have room to store and use it, and that you know what you’re doing before you dive in.

19. Pay for a year’s worth of gym memberships or classes

Don’t have room at home? Or prefer to work out with others for accountability? In this case, consider splurging on a year’s worth of gym membership fees or exercise classes. Pre-paying may make you more likely to actually go and participate. And you won’t regret putting some money into improving your health and well-being.

20. Donate it

Giving to a charity is always a worthy option with extra money. Pick a charity locally or internationally whose mission you can really get behind. Then spend your money with that charity. With a larger donation, you can probably even earmark the money for a specific project you really want to invest in.

Any of these options are a great choice so don’t stress too much about your spending decision. Choose the one you’re drawn to the most. Saving is always a wise choice but as long as you’re not wasting $1,000 on stuff you don’t need you’ll consider this expenditure a good buy.

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You’ve just learned that a retailer is having financial trouble and you have their gift cards. Here’s what to do with those gift cards from a store that may go bankrupt.

gift cards from a store that may go bankrupt

If you’re anything like me, you may let gift cards sit around for a while. Even if you get a gift card to a retailer you like, you wait to use it until you really want something. And, generally, that’s not a bad thing. Retailers are generally pretty good about honoring gift cards even years after they were first issued. (Though you definitely want to check the fine print on the card before you hold onto it that long!)

But what if you find out the company whose gift card you have is about to file for bankruptcy or has filed already? This happened to loads of consumers in 2015 when RadioShack filed for bankruptcy.

If you hear that a store is filing bankruptcy and you have their gift cards lying around, one thing is for sure. You should use them quickly.

That’s because it’s hard to tell exactly what will happen after the company files bankruptcy. In some cases, the courts will resolve the bankruptcy with the business still intact and honoring outstanding gift cards. In other cases, the company will shut down as part of the bankruptcy.

In the case of RadioShack, consumers wound up with just a few weeks to use their gift cards before the company would no longer honor them.

Typically, the courts get to decide how long outstanding gift cards will be honored when a retailer files for bankruptcy. Gift cards are considered unsecured outstanding debt. So they may or may not be usable once a retailer files bankruptcy. Often times, though, the courts will give consumers a limited time frame in which to spend the gift cards.

So whenever you hear a popular retailer has filed for bankruptcy, check your wallet, your sock drawer, and under your bed. See if you have any gift cards with a balance. And then take these steps:

1. Check out how long gift cards will be honored

First thing’s first. Figure out how long you have to spend that gift card. Again, the courts will generally decide how long the company is able to honor gift cards. Generally, you’ll want to spend the money sooner than later just to be safe. But you might be able to wait a week or two to see if you can get a better deal on products the company is marking down as part of its liquidation process.

Just be sure you spend that money well ahead of the actual deadline. That way you’re sure the money will be available. And you won’t get stuck spending it on the dregs of what’s left over after the liquidation sales begin in earnest.

2. Buy things you need anyway

I tend to hold on to gift cards to purchase things that I want but wouldn’t necessarily buy for myself. Or I might use a gift card to upgrade a purchase I need anyway but wouldn’t pay extra for a premium product. If I need new sheets, I might use a gift card to upgrade them from the basic level to the premium quality, for instance.

This strategy means I end up holding on to gift cards for a while. And that’s not a good thing when dealing with a company that’s filed for bankruptcy.

In this case, try to look for things you need, anyway, and just spend that money on those things. Even if the item doesn’t count as a “need” right now, consider purchasing it if you know you’ll need it within the next six months. Then you can spend the gift card without actually wasting the money on something you’ll never use.

3. Stock up on things you’ll eventually use

In a similar vein, you can use a gift card to stock up on things you’ll use eventually. For instance, old RadioShack customers may have used their gift cards to stock up on electronic essentials like phone chargers and protective cases. Maybe all your chargers are working now, but you know you buy replacements every few months, anyway.

4. Purchase gifts ahead of time

Expiring gift cards are a great way to purchase gifts well ahead of time. If you can’t find anything you want or need from the store in question, consider upcoming holidays and birthdays. Maybe you can purchase gifts for your kids or loved ones for the holidays.

Or maybe you already have some money set aside for a specific gift purchase, but not enough to buy it in full. Add the gift card to your total, and go ahead and purchase that gift while the card is still usable.

5. Purchase items to donate or resell

If you truly can’t find something you want or need, will eventually need, or want to give as a gift, you can at least buy items to donate or resell.

If your plan is to donate, ask your favorite non-profit what they might use from the store in question. Use your gift card to buy it, and then hand it over to the non-profit. You can at least take a tax write off!

If the plan is to resell, look into the market for items from that store. Check eBay and Craigslist to see what people want from a store like the one in question. Then you can buy items that you neither want nor need, but you can at least get some cash back when you sell them to someone else. This is an even better deal if you can buy the item in question at a lower liquidation price and then even resell for a profit.

When you hear a store is filing for bankruptcy and you have gift cards from there, don’t panic. But do follow these steps to use those gift cards well before you run out of time.

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Reward cards can offer us cash bonuses and free travel. They can also mire us in debt. To avoid the pitfalls, here are some cash back credit card traps to avoid.

cash back credit card traps

For my own finances, I’ve been a fan of credit cards with cash back programs. Some financial experts advise avoiding credit cards completely, even those cards that offer rewards like cash back. I’ve never been a fan of this approach — again, for my own finances — because I see credit cards as just another tool for personal finance. In and of themselves, they’re neither good nor bad. You can use them to improve your credit score and finances. Or you can make bad decisions and ruin your finances with them.

For many people, credit cards do lead to trouble. But if you can gradually learn to use them responsibly, they can be a huge asset in your personal finances. What does real responsible credit card use look like? It means you pay your balance in full every month, unless you have pre-planned a large purchase on a 0% introductory APR card. It means you never pay interest, and that you use credit cards only to buy what you can afford.

If you can stick to these basic rules, cash back credit card programs are a great way to earn some money back for spending what you would have spent anyway. However, these programs are rife with traps from the credit card companies. Let’s be honest. Credit card companies don’t want you to come out on top with cash back programs. That means they’re paying you out of their own earnings. But if you know the traps ahead of time, you can use cash back credit cards well.

Here are the top ten cash back credit card traps to avoid whenever possible.

1. Credit card users spend more

Study after study shows that swiping a plastic card rather than handing over cash can cause you to spend more money. Parting with actual cash is psychologically more difficult. Add that to the fact that credit cards can encourage extra spending just to earn bonus points, and you can get into a real mess.

You’re less likely to hesitate to spend money, even money you don’t have, when you use a credit card. And even if you can pay off the balance each month, you may still be overspending. A little bit extra here and there can really add up over time.

To avoid this, track your budget closely. Consider using a tool like YNAB or Mint that can sync up with your credit cards. Then you can look at your credit card spending as part of your whole budget. You can even receive alerts when you’re about to overspend in an area of your budget. This can help you keep your spending in check, even while you net the benefits of cash back cards.

2. Late fees and interest negate any cash back benefits

Carrying debt from month to month automatically negates your cash back benefits. You may get 5% cash back on some spending, if you’re lucky. But if you’re paying 15% – 25% APR, you’re not seeing any benefits.

Let’s do the math here. Say you spend $1,000 in a 2% cash back category one month. You get $20 back. Not bad. But say an emergency comes up and you can’t pay the balance in full, so you carry it for just two months. How much will you pay in interest?

Well, if your APR is 24.99%, which is not unusual for average-credit consumers with cash back cards, you’ll pay around $32 in interest, according to this calculator, even if you pay off the balance within two months. And then if you add any hefty late fees into that mix, you can forget about ever seeing cash-back benefits.

Your average rewards credit card will have a higher interest rate. It’s the credit card companies’ way of getting you, even if you only carry a balance for a short period of time. And if you wind up making minimum payments on the account, you’ll pay much more in interest than you get in cash back benefits.

Emergencies happen, of course. That’s why it’s best not to use credit cards at all until you have a well-funded emergency plan. Then you can take advantage of credit card benefits even in the middle of financial turmoil.

3. Rotating categories and opt-in requirements

If you’re not planning to stay on top of your credit card’s rotating categories and opt-in requirements, choose a basic cash back card. Sure, the benefits may not look as tempting. But if you forget to opt in for that three-month 5% cash-back category, you’ll never see those higher-level benefits, anyway.

Those who plan their spending ahead can often get the best rewards by using several credit cards, by carefully planning which one to use when. That way you can get the best possible cash back on every part of your budget. But you have to pay attention for this approach, or you could miss out on higher cash-back benefits. If the credit card company requires you to opt in by a certain date for a rotating category, you could miss out on cash back benefits altogether if you miss that date!

Again, there are plenty of cash-back credit cards with lower rewards that are even across the board. These are a better bet if you don’t want to think too much about opting in or which card to use when.

4. Incorrectly categorized purchases

Unfortunately, credit card transactions are automatically categorized. And if your transaction doesn’t fit into the card issuer’s category, it may not qualify for the higher cash-back percentage you should have earned.

This is often apparent with gas and grocery purchases. For the most part, large chain gas stations and grocery stores will be categorized correctly. But smaller local stations and stores may not. This means if you’re shopping around for the best gas and grocery prices, you may forego your higher cash-back percentage.

The best way to try to avoid this issue is to do your research. Look into which stations or stores the credit card issuer counts in each category. Then fill up and shop at those locations, especially if you’re in a cash-back bonus time period.

5. Cash back isn’t always cash back

This is becoming less common. But some credit card companies do have misleading advertising. In some cases, for instance, you may need to spend “cash back” at a company’s gift card store. This can make redeeming your cash back frustrating and even expensive.

These days, more credit cards are offering straight cash back. But this is something to be aware of when shopping around. Look for cards that offer cash back in the form of a statement credit or PayPal transfer. Also, be sure to check the issuer’s rules on when cash back is distributed and if it expires.

6. Earning maximums and thresholds

Be sure you check a credit card issuer’s rules on maximums and thresholds. The most common issue here is a threshold for high cash-back categories. For instance, with the Discover It cards, you get 5% in categories that rotate every quarter. But you can only earn that amount on a certain threshold in spending, usually around $1,000 or $1,500.

And the American Express Everyday cards offer higher benefits on gas and grocery spending, but there’s an annual cap.

These higher cash-back categories can still be hugely beneficial. But you just need to make sure you understand the credit card issuer’s rules before you decide to get a particular credit card.

7. Changing terms

Thanks to the Credit CARD Act of 2009, issuers have less flexibility to change your credit card terms without much notice. Issuers do have options if they want to move customers from a great cash back program to a less impressive program. They’re most likely to discontinue one card type and replace it with another.

The benefits spenders receive today can change at any time. Credit card issuers react quickly to market forces. When one issuer offers a higher benefit, other issuers often respond within a week to remain competitive. The same reaction can happen on the opposite direction.

Luckily, most credit card issuers communicate well via email these days. So be sure to open all those emails and notices from your credit card company so you can see exactly what’s changing and when.

8. Some retailers are excluded

We touched on this above. For instance, smaller grocery stores and gas stations may have incorrectly categorized purchases on your statement. This can mean you don’t earn the cash back you were supposed to get.

But this can also be a big problem with larger chain stores, too. This is especially likely to be the case when your card offers a higher cash-back percentage at “supermarkets.” Different issuers will have different definitions of a supermarket. For instance, Costco may not qualify because it’s a warehouse store. And Target and Walmart may not qualify because they aren’t purely supermarkets or grocery stores.

Be sure you pay attention to your credit card company’s rules before you bank on cash back at the places you typically shop.

9. Misleading conversion rates

This is most likely to be a problem when you’re dealing with point-based rewards systems. Sometimes rewards are earned at the rate of one point per dollar spent. But they aren’t worth a penny each. It often depends on how you redeem those points.

These cash-back credit card programs apply the points as a credit on your statement. If you want to receive your cash back in the form of gift cards, you might have to pay more points per gift card dollar than you’d think.

Sometimes points-based programs can be more valuable, but you definitely have to know how to use them. For instance, some card issuers have excellent travel programs that make points worth more than a penny a piece. But others will use these complicated systems to make your points worth less so they don’t have to pay out as much.

10. Spend-inducing introductory bonuses

These days, many cash back credit cards offer impressive introductory bonuses. If you spend $3,000 in the first sixty days of card ownership, for instance, you might get $200 in cash back bonuses. That’s a valuable reward that’s worth looking into.

The problem is if you’re trying to come up with ways to spend money to get to that bonus threshold. Oftentimes, hitting the mark is easy for families with heavy expenditures on everyday items like food and gas. You don’t have to try very hard to spend $3,000 in two months. And since you were going to spend it anyway, you can pay it all off right away.

But if you’re a single person or live on a very low budget, you might spend more than you otherwise would have to get that sign-up bonus. And that generally won’t pay off, especially if you wind up carrying a balance.

These cash back credit card traps don’t mean you should avoid these cards altogether. They can be a valuable resource for earning money on spending you already do everyday. You just need to know what to look out for so that you can avoid traps like these when you’re using your favorite cash-back cards.

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With the right credit card, you can earn up to 6% cash back on food purchases. Some cards even offer big signup bonuses. Here’s are list of the best credit cards for groceries in 2018.

best credit cards for groceries

One of the easiest ways to get more money back on your credit card is to use a card with hefty rewards for grocery spending. After all, everyone spends money on food, right? In fact, groceries are probably a big chunk of your budget, especially if you’re feeding kids.

So why not stretch your grocery dollars further by using a great cash back or rewards credit card that gives you bonuses for grocery store spending?

Here, we’ll look at six cards that are great for grocery spending. With each card, we’ll calculate the approximate benefit you could get from the card if you spend $600 per month, or $7,200 per year, at qualifying grocery stores. Remember, though, that your mileage may vary.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

If you can qualify for this premier rewards card, it’s one of the best options around for grocery-related spending. It gives you 6% cash back on up to $6,000 per year in U.S. supermarket purchases. After that, you get 1% cash back on grocery purchases. You’ll also get 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and some department stores, and 1% cash back on everything else.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express does carry a $95 annual fee. But right now, you can easily outearn that fee just with the bonus. When you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of card ownership, you’ll get a $200 statement credit–enough to cover more than your first two years’ worth of annual fees.

Potential Earnings: $477 in the first year (earnings on grocery spending plus the $200 bonus, less the $95 annual fee)

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Blue Cash EverydayDon’t quite have the credit score needed to qualify for the Blue Cash Preferred? The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is another excellent option, which carries no annual fee.

With this card, you can get 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on your first $6,000 per year in purchases, and then 1% cash back after that. You’ll get 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and some department stores, and 1% cash back on everything else. Plus, when you spend $1,000 in the first three months of card ownership, you’ll get a $150 cash back bonus. And this card has no annual fee.

Potential Earnings: $342 (earnings on grocery spending plus the $150 bonus)

Discover it® Cashback Match™

This card has rotating categories, so you’ll only get the hefty cash back rewards on groceries for part of the year. However, it’s got a great matching program right now that doubles your first year’s cash back rewards at the end of the year.

For the rotating categories, you’ll get 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in that category for the quarter. In 2018, the first and fourth quarters’ categories include wholesale clubs, and the second quarter’s category is grocery stores. So we’ll say you can get that 5% cash back on $3,500 of your grocery purchases in a year.

After you hit the cap and for the rest of the year, you’ll get 1% cash back on groceries and everything else. This card has no annual fee.

Potential Earnings: $424 ($3,500 at 5% cash back and the rest at 1%, doubled for the first year)

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

This points-based credit card is great for saving up for travel rewards, even as you spend on groceries. It offers 2X points on spending at U.S. supermarkets, but you can also get 3X points on flights booked directly with the airline, 2X points on restaurant and gas station spending, and 1X points on everything else.

With this card, you’ll earn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months of card membership. The annual fee is $0 for the first year, but $195 per year after that. This card requires that you pay off the balance in full each month unless you participate in the Pay Over Time feature for certain charges.

Potential Earnings: 39,400 points, worth about $748 according to this valuation (earnings on groceries plus the bonus, but remember the annual fee kicks in on the second year)

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

If you split your grocery shopping between regular stores and wholesale stores, this might be the card you’re looking for. While many cards prohibit bonus points at wholesale stores, this one includes them. You’ll get 2% cash back at both grocery and wholesale stores and 3% back on gas, plus 1% cash back on everything else.

The catch is that you’ll only get those rewards on up to $2,500 in grocery and gas purchases each quarter. We’ll say you use another credit card for cash rewards, though, so you can get the full 2% cash back, in our example, for all your grocery purchases. The card has no annual fee and a $150 bonus when you spend at least $500 within three months of opening your account.

Potential Earnings: $294 (grocery cash back earnings plus $150 bonus)

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card requires excellent credit, but it’s a great go-to card for all of your purchases, especially if you don’t want to deal with remembering multiple bonus categories. It offers a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase, plus a $150 bonus cash back when you spend $500 within three months of opening your account. It has no annual fee.

Potential Earnings: $258 (grocery earnings plus $150 bonus)

Which is Right for You?

Clearly the winner based on straight-up value driven in the first year is the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express. But since it requires excellent credit, a hefty annual fee, and acts more like a charge card, it’s not the right option for everyone.

So be sure you’re choosing the right card for your particular needs. Here’s what you need to think about as you choose:

  • Your Credit Score: If you have low-to-average credit, don’t apply for a credit card that is clearly for those with excellent credit. Start with one of the lower-credit options, and then work your way up. (Find out more about improving your credit score here.)
  • The Annual Fee: If you spend a lot on groceries, you can likely outearn the annual fee on most of these cards, especially with the first year bonus many cards offer. But if your spending is lower, make sure you’ll earn enough in rewards to offset the annual fee. If not, consider going with a card with no annual fee, even if the rewards aren’t as strong.
  • Your Shopping Habits: If you spend at wholesale stores often, consider a card that boosts those rewards, as well. Always be sure to check the fine print to see which stores or types of stores the credit card company includes. If you shop at smaller chains, for instance, your shopping may not be counted in the right category.
  • The Other Rewards: If you don’t mind carrying several credit cards for different purposes, this is less important. Choose the one that will give you the most bang for your buck with grocery spending. But if you only want to carry one or two credit cards, look for one that gives preference to the type of spending you do most, or that gives a solid cash back reward across the board.
  • Reward Options: Most of the cards on this list are cash back, which is an easy way to take advantage of rewards. But if you travel frequently, you might want a card that offers travel-based rewards. The American Express card is so valuable because when you use points for travel-related purchases, they’re typically worth more than percentage-based cash-back points.

Our Recommendations

Again, you have to use the above factors to decide which of these credit cards–or any others out there–will work best for your needs. But here are a few recommendations based on different situations:

The Busy Family: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

  • If you’re feeding two or more kids, you likely spend enough on groceries to max out that $6,000 per year cap on the American Express Blue Cash Preferred. Add the gas you buy to shuttle the kids around town and your back-to-school shopping at local department stores, and you could be looking at hefty cash back.  If you have the credit to qualify for this card, you can easily out-earn the $95 annual fee just by using it consistently. And if you don’t meet the credit qualifications, the American Express Blue Cash Everyday comes in a close second.

The Stockpiler: Discover it® Cashback Match™

  • This year, the Discover it category rotation features wholesale stores twice. Unless you spend at these stores often, you may need to do some pre-planning to take advantage of the generous 5% cash back in these quarters. But if you don’t mind stockpiling giant packs of toilet paper and jars of ketchup, this could result in a really good deal, especially the first year.

The Traveler: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

  • Many travel rewards credit cards don’t favor grocery spending at all, so when you find one that does, you might want to snap it up. If you travel frequently, the points from this card could seriously come in handy. Just remember you need great credit to qualify, and you’ll need to pay off the card every month.

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8 Types of Homeowners Insurance Policies

by Abby Hayes

Did you know there are 8 types of homeowners insurance? Here are the details on each type of policy, along with what you need to know to make sure your home is protected. When it comes to homeowners insurance, all too many of us don’t know what we’re really buying. You hear about this all […]

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Living It Up… At the Library?

by Abby Hayes

Your local library has a lot more than just books. From magazines to movies, you can save money using your library’s resources. Here’s how. Do you think of your local library as a stuffy place? Beaky-nosed librarians scowling over their glasses? Constantly being told to shush while you sneeze from all the dusty books? Your […]

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Uber Visa Review

by Abby Hayes

Uber has moved from transportation to credit cards with the introduction of the Uber Visa. But is it a good rewards card? We have all the details in our Uber Visa review. The popular ride-sharing service Uber has recently entered the credit card game with its Uber Visa Card. This slick-looking black card comes with […]

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10 Steps to Break the Credit Card Habit

by Abby Hayes

Credit cards offer convenience, security, and rewards. Overspend with a credit card, however, and the interest and fees can bury you. Here are 10 tips to stop using credit cards. If you’ve got a bad credit card habit, chances are you know it. Whether or not you’re willing to admit it is a whole other […]

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How to Find the Most Affordable Cell Phone Plans

by Abby Hayes

The cell phone company war bodes well for consumers, with cellular plans reaching all-time lows. Here are some of the cheapest cell phone plans we could find. Over the past few years, cell phone providers have declared an out-and-out war to win over consumers. This spells good things for the consumers, who can now take […]

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The New Emergency Fund: Seven Components of an Emergency Plan

by Abby Hayes

It’s important to save for a rainy day. In this guide, we give you ideas on where to put an emergency fund and how much you should save. The world of personal finance is rife with oversimplified platitudes and one-size-fits-all advice. No where is this more evidenced than in the often-repeated advice about emergency funds. […]

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