4 Credit Cards That Take the Bite out of Pricey Pet Bills

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Source: credit.com

Chase Freedom Flex Now Works with Samsung Pay & Tap-To-Pay

Update 4/14/21: Reader TKB let us know that Freedom Flex can now be added to Samsung Pay. (Previously it was only working with Google Pay, Apple Pay, and tap-to-pay.)

Update 12/28/20: Reader TKB lets us know that it appears the Freedom Flex is now working with Tap-To-Pay technology.

Another update on 9/21/20: Readers say that you CAN add the card to a mobile wallet; it just doesn’t auto-update. Bottom line: the Flex card will work in mobile wallets, but will not work for tap-to-pay.

Update 9/21/20: Just an addition from reader H. – aside from not working with mobile wallets, the Freedom Flex card also does not work with tap-to-pay.

Original Post:

Multiple readers report being told that if they product change to the new Chase Freedom Flex card it won’t be available in mobile wallets. Readers have confirmed that after the product change, the old card gets deleted from your mobile wallet.

That’s a bummer. Some suggest this is due to being a Mastercard which Chase does not yet have the relationships to get it into mobile wallets (though IHG Mastercard does work in mobile wallet).

I’d expect Chase to work this out in the coming months. I’m honestly surprised they’d launch the product without working out such a kink since it gives people a bad taste about the new card. Hopefully they work it out quickly.

Source: doctorofcredit.com

How to Get a TV for Cheap – 7 Ways to Get Deals on a New Television

TVs and many other electronics are interesting because as quality has steadily improved over the years, prices have dropped. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price index for TVs decreased by 94% between 1997 and 2015.

In other words, TVs become more affordable every year despite continuous upgrades and new features.

However, if you’re buying a new TV, you still need to be somewhat price-conscious. The latest plasma or LCD TV models still set you back several hundred dollars or more. Like other major purchases, it’s important to ensure you buy the right TV that has the right balance between price and features.

Thankfully, there are several ways to get the best deal on a new TV to help keep costs down. As long as you give yourself enough time to shop and keep these strategies in mind, your next TV upgrade shouldn’t drain your wallet.

The Best Ways to Save Money on a New TV

Buying a new TV isn’t going to be cheap. Ultimately, screen size, features, and brand influence prices the most. If you’re set on a specific size and type of TV, your savings will only go so far.

However, there’s no reason to pay full price for a new TV, regardless of the size and type you buy. Implement one or more of the following money-saving tips the next time you decide to upgrade your TV to keep more money in your wallet.

1. Shop Online

It might seem daunting to buy a new TV online. After all, you probably want to see it in person to help visualize what it would look like in your home.

However, one of the easiest ways to save on a new TV is to buy online. Shopping online saves time, and if you use shopping browser extensions, it’s easy to comparison shop to ensure you’re getting the lowest possible price.

For example, extensions like PriceBlink tracks product prices across thousands of retailers. If you’re shopping for a new TV, PriceBlink notifies you if there’s a better deal on a different website for instant savings.

To take your savings further, use extensions like Capital One Shopping and Honey. Both extensions automatically apply coupon codes at checkout to help you save money.

Plus, you can earn free gift cards with both extensions for shopping at specific retail partners. If you’re buying a high-ticket item like a TV, a single coupon code can go a long way in your efforts to save money.

Finally, online tech deal sites are also worth checking to find low prices on TVs and other electronics. For example, websites like Newegg and SlickDeals often have TV discounts that can shave off a significant portion of your price tag.

Buying a new TV online is also less stressful if you do your research. Room size matters for screen size, so measure the area you plan to set up your TV to gauge if you’re buying the right size. TV buying guides can also help you decide on your screen size based on how far away your seating is from the TV and how crowded the room is.

Finally, read reviews for any TV you’re considering. If you’re concerned, you can also check out the TV you’re considering in-store before placing your order online.


2. Use a Cash-Back Credit Card

Buying a new TV is a considerable expense. Additionally, if your new TV purchase is part of a home improvement project or move, you probably have other major expenses alongside your new tech.

Using a cash-back credit card for everyday purchases is a savvy move. However, for large expenses, credit cards are even more lucrative.

Plus, credit cards often have introductory bonuses if you spend a certain amount of money within the first few months of becoming a cardholder. If you take advantage of a bonus while TV shopping, you’re making the most of your money.

Several popular cash-back credit cards worth considering include:

  • Chase Freedom Unlimited: No annual fee; earn $200 when you spend $500 within the first three months; 5% cash back at grocery stores; unlimited 1.5% on most other purchases; up to $500 in purchase protection for 120 days. Read our Chase Freedom Unlimited review for more information.
  • U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card: No annual fee; earn $150 when you spend $500 within the first three months; 5% cash back up to $2,000 on two categories of your choice, which can include electronics; 1% to 2% cash back on everything else. Read our U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card review for more information.
  • Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi: Requires a Costco membership; 4% cash back on first $7,000 in eligible gas purchases; unlimited 3% cash back on travel and restaurant spending, unlimited 2% cash back on Costco purchases; unlimited 1% cash back on everything else; purchase protection against loss or damage for up to 90 to 120 days. Read our Costco Anywhere Visa Card review for more information.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is ideal if you want to take advantage of an easy $200 sign-up bonus. However, depending on how expensive your new TV is, 5% cash back from the U.S. Bank Cash+ card and sign-up bonus might earn more.

Finally, shopping at Costco to save money is already a smart move; if you do electronics shopping at Costco, sweeten the deal by signing up for their Anywhere Visa card to earn 2% cash back.


3. Tread Carefully with Extended Warranties

Extended warranties are protection plans you can purchase to cover damage and defects. You commonly find extended warranty plans for consumer electronics, vehicles, mobile phones, and even home warranty plans.

On paper, extended warranties might seem like they’re worth it. After all, if you buy a new TV or other expensive product, your first instinct is to insure yourself against damage and disappointment down the line.

However, according to Consumer Reports, extended warranties for electronics are almost never worth the cost. We tend to overestimate the likelihood our tech products will fail, and there are several other considerations to keep in mind:

  • Manufacturer Warranties. Tech products usually have some form of manufacturer warranty to protect against defects. Most warranties last for 90 days, which might suffice for protecting your purchase against defects and damage.
  • Store Policies. Big box retailers generally have lenient return policies that cover product malfunctions or defects. Some stores even let you return products without any real reason, provided they aren’t damaged. For example, Walmart lets you return TVs within 30 days and provides a refund for damaged or defective products. Therefore, extended warranties aren’t needed to protect yourself against out-of-the-box defects.
  • Term Length. Companies sell extended warranties to profit, which isn’t in customers’ best interests. Many extended warranty plans last one to two years, but the bulk of technical issues you encounter will probably occur long after this time frame. In other words, extended warranties on electronics is buying protection for the least risky period of ownership.

If you want to maximize your savings when buying a new TV, you should almost always skip the warranty.


4. Consider Older Models

Like most tech products, TVs improve every year with the release of new models. Resolutions of 4K become 8K, screen sizes get larger, and picture quality sharpens. For true technophiles and cinema lovers, the latest models are undeniably a cause for excitement.

However, part of TV shopping involves considering the diminishing returns on your spending. Do you really need the latest TV model, largest screen, and sharpest resolution that’s on the market? Depending on your room, viewing habits, and budget, buying an older TV model is often how you get the most value.

Even buying a year-old model can make a significant difference on price. Plus, modern TVs have come a long way compared to their heavy, clunky predecessors. Smart TVs that are a few years old still work with streaming services and devices.

Until a truly revolutionary line of TVs release, slightly older models will suffice for most viewers — and can save you hundreds of dollars.


5. Shop at The Right Time

For major purchases, timing sometimes means a significant difference in savings. Retailers price products differently based on demand and season, and TVs are no different. Therefore, if you’re planning to spend a few hundred dollars or more on a new TV, it might be best to hold off.

Historically, TV deals are most popular during two events: Black Friday and the Super Bowl. Black Friday is especially popular for TV shopping because almost every major retailer will offer a discount on electronics. Super Bowl deals are less common, but they’re worth keeping an eye on.

The best way to take advantage of a sale is to research presale prices at least a few weeks before the sale begins. Retailers are crafty, and sometimes your sale price is actually the same or more expensive than regular pricing because retailers first raise the base price to make a “sale” seem more appealing.

If you shop on Black Friday for the holidays, this is especially important because these faux sales are rampant. Following the price of the TV you want in the month leading up to Black Friday can help you spot a real bargain.

If you’re buying from Amazon, you can use the CamelCamelCamel extension to track Amazon prices and view price history for millions of products. Similarly, Honey and Capital One Shopping let you set up price tracking alerts on products to receive notifications when a product you’re interested in drops in price.

New TV models usually release in spring, so this is another ideal time to buy older TV models. Ultimately, if you give yourself enough runway, you can buy a new TV at a low price point for easy savings.


6. Use Reward Websites and Apps

Comparison-shopping websites or daily deal websites are useful for finding discounts. However, sometimes cash-back reward websites offer the greatest chance to save.

Rakuten is one popular option that pays you cash back for shopping at their partners. Creating a Rakuten account is free, and you simply visit Rakuten before shopping online to find opportunities to earn cash back.

In terms of TVs and electronics, notable Rakuten partners include:

  • Best Buy: Up to 1% cash back
  • TV Store Online: 7.5% cash back
  • Staples: 2% cash back
  • Office Depot: 2% cash back
  • Overstock: 4% cash back

Cash-back rewards are subject to change. Luckily, Rakuten partners with thousands of retailers, and there’s always an opportunity to earn cash back on your next electronics purchase. Rakuten also has online coupon codes, although cash back is where the platform shines.

If you can’t find deals on Rakuten, various reward apps are also worth trying. Apps like Drop pay you in free gift cards for shopping through the app at specific partners. Drop partners with plenty of big box retailers, making it easy to find TV deals.

Similarly, Dosh is another rewards app that automatically pays you cash back for shopping through its partners. Once you link your credit and debit cards to Dosh, you never have to worry about preselecting offers before shopping, and Dosh also partners with plenty of major U.S. retailers.

If you combine these rewards with shopping at the right time of year and other savvy tricks, you can get a new TV for much less than full price.


7. Consider Cheaper Brands

With electronics, you largely get what you pay for. Whether you’re shopping for noise-canceling headphones, a laptop, or a new TV, going for the cheapest option sometimes has consequences for performance and longevity.

If you’re buying a new TV for your home theater or family room, spending more on a premium brand and model might be worth it. However, if you just need a TV for watching the hockey game in your garage or for sending with your kid back to college, you don’t need to splurge on a leading brand.

Cheaper TV brands like Vizio and Insignia can get the job done without draining your wallet. You can also shop for refurbished electronics if you find a reputable seller and understand the warranty that comes with the TV.


Final Word

Like most electronics, TVs feel like something we need to update every few years. New models come out, screen sizes get larger, and it seems like upgrades are an inevitability.

There’s nothing wrong with buying a new TV or even splurging on a recent model with the latest specs. However, you should never pay full price for a new TV, especially if you’re on a tight budget and are trying to maximize your savings rate.

Additionally, consider the diminishing returns on your spending before making your next upgrade. New TVs are a luxury, but there comes a point at which spending more doesn’t necessarily increase enjoyment.

Source: moneycrashers.com

3 Credit Cards Bargain Hunters Will Love

Americans are lucky to be offered hundreds of competing credit cards, but it can be difficult to find the right one to suit your needs. Therefore, it’s important to know what your spending habits are in order to choose the card that makes the most sense for you.

Cardholders who carry a balance should look for a card with the lowest interest rate, and possibly one with 0% APR introductory financing. A lower interest rate means you will pay less money toward interest charges as you pay down the balance. Meanwhile, those who can avoid interest charges by paying their balances in full every month should choose a card that offers the most valuable rewards in the form of points, miles or cash back.

Make sure you also generally meet the credit issuer’s criteria. It’s a good idea to know what your credit score is so that you can target your search to a card you’re more likely to get approved for.

You should consider any benefits offered by the card, such as purchase protection or travel insurance. Finally, applicants should also take into account any applicable fees — such as annual fees and foreign transaction fees.

Source: credit.com

4 Credit Cards That Can Help You Save for a Car

According to Kelley Blue Book, the average price for a light vehicle in the United States was almost $38,000 in March 2020. Of course, the sticker price will depend on whether you want a small economy car, a luxury midsize sedan, an SUV or something in between. But the total you pay for a vehicle also depends on a number of other factors if you’re taking out a car loan.

Get the 4-1-1 on financing a car so you can make the best decision for your next vehicle purchase.

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Decide Whether to Finance a Car

Whether or not you should finance your next vehicle purchase is a personal decision. Most people finance because they don’t have an extra $20,000 to $50,000 they want to part with. But if you have the cash, paying for the car outright is the most economical way to purchase it.

For most people, deciding whether to finance a car comes down to a few considerations:

  • Do you need the vehicle enough to warrant making a monthly payment on it for several years?
  • Does the monthly payment work within your personal budget?
  • Is the deal, including the interest rate, appropriate?

Factors to Consider When Financing a Car

Obviously, the first thing to consider is whether you can afford the vehicle. But to understand that, you need to consider a few factors.

  • Total purchase price. Total purchase price is the biggest impact on how much you’ll pay for the car. It includes the price of the car plus any add-ons that you’re financing. Depending on the state and your own preferences, that might include extra options on the vehicle, taxes and other fees and warranty coverage.
  • Interest rate, or APR. The interest rate is typically the second biggest factor in how much you’ll pay overall for a car you finance. APR sounds complex, but the most important thing is that the higher it is, the more you pay over time. Consider a $30,000 car loan for five years with an interest rate of 6%—you pay a total of $34,799 for the vehicle. That same loan with a rate of 9% means you pay $37,365 for the car.
  • The terms. A loan term refers to the length of time you have to pay off the loan. The longer you extend terms, the less your monthly payment is. But the faster you pay off the loan, the less interest you pay overall. Edmunds notes that the current average for car loans is 72 months, or six years, but it recommends no more than five years for those who can make the payments work.

It’s important to consider the practical side of your vehicle purchase. If you take out a car loan for eight years, is your car going to still be in good working order by the time you get to the last few years? If you’re not careful, you could be making a large monthly payment while you’re also paying for car repairs on an older car.

Buying a Car with No Credit

You can buy a car anytime if you have the cash for the purchase. If you have no credit or bad credit, your options for financing a car might be limited. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get a car loan without credit.

Many banks and lenders are willing to work with people with limited credit histories. Your interest rate will likely be higher than someone with excellent credit can command, though. And you might be limited on how much you can borrow, so you probably shouldn’t start looking at luxury SUVs. One tip for increasing your chances is to put as much cash down as you can when you buy the car.

If you can’t get a car loan on your own, you might consider a cosigner. There are pros and cons to asking someone else to sign on your loan, but it can get you into the credit game when the door is otherwise barred.

Personal Loans v. Car Loans: Which One Is Better?

Many people wonder if they should use a personal loan to buy a car or if there is really any difference between these types of financing. While technically a car loan is a loan you take out personally, it’s not the same thing as a personal loan.

Personal loans are usually unsecured loans offered over relatively short-term periods. The funds you get from a personal loan can typically be used for a variety of purposes and, in some cases, that might include buying a car. There are some great reasons to use a personal loan to buy a car:

  • If you’re buying a car from a private seller, a personal loan can hasten the process.
  • Traditional auto loans typically require full coverage insurance for the vehicle. A personal loan and liability insurance may be less expensive.
  • Lenders typically aren’t interested in financing cars that aren’t in driving shape, so if you’re buying a project car to work on in your garage during your downtime, a personal loan may be the better option.

But personal loans aren’t necessarily tied to the car like an auto loan is. That means the lender doesn’t necessarily have the ability to repossess the car if you stop paying the loan. Since that increases the risk for the lender, they may charge a higher interest rate on the loan than you’d find with a traditional auto loan. Personal loans typically have shorter terms and lower limits than auto loans as well, potentially making it more difficult for you to afford a car using a personal loan.

Steps You Should Follow When Financing a Car

Before you jump in and apply for that car loan, review these six steps you should take first.

1. Check your credit to understand whether you are likely to be approved for a loan. Your credit also plays a huge role in your interest rate. If your credit is too low and your interest rate would be prohibitively high, it might be better to wait until you can build or repair your credit before you get an auto loan. Sign up for ExtraCredit to see 28 of your FICO scores from all three credit bureaus.

2. Research auto loan options to find the ones that are right for you. Avoid applying too many times, as these hard inquiries can drag your credit score down with hard inquiries. The average auto loan interest rate is 27% on 60-month loans (as of April 13, 2020).

3. Get your trade-in appraised. The dealership might give you money toward your trade-in. That reduces the price of the car you purchase, which reduces how much you need to borrow. A few thousand dollars can mean a more affordable loan or even the difference between being approved or not.

4. Get prequalified for a loan online. While most dealers will help you apply for a loan, you’re in a better buying position if you walk into the dealership with funding ready to go. Plus, if you’re prequalified, you have a good idea what you can get approved for, so there are fewer surprises.

5. Buy from a trusted dealer. Unfortunately, there are dealerships and other sellers that prey on people who need a car badly. They may charge high interest or sell you a car that’s not worth the money you pay. No matter your financial situation, always try to work with a dealership that you can trust.

6. Talk to your car insurance company. Different cars will carry different car insurance premiums. Make a call to your insurance company prior to the sale to discuss potential rate changes so you’re not surprised by a higher premium after the fact.

Next to buying a home, buying a car is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make in your life, and you’ll likely do it more than once. Make sure you understand the ins and outs of financing a car before you start the process.

Source: credit.com

These Credit Cards Can Help You Save for Holiday Gifts

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Source: credit.com

Q2 2021 5% Quarterly Categories: Activate, Offers & Suggestions (Freedom/Flex, Discover, Dividend, Cash+ & more)

Update 3/31/21: Added FCU categories.

It’s now possible to activate/enroll all 5% category credit cards for the second quarter of 2021, including the Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Flex, Discover IT, Citi Dividend, US Bank Cash+ and a few others. In this post we’ll provide the activation link for each card and links to track your spend, along with strategies to help increase spend in these categories.

Dates: April 1st – June 30, 2021. Store purchases can usually be done until the last minute. Online purchases should be given a buffer zone of a day or two.

Chase Freedom – Gas, Home Improvement

Activation Link / FAQ / Sample Stores & Exclusions / Our original post

With your Freedom and Freedom Flex cards, earn 5% back this quarter on up to $1,500 in spend at gas stations and home improvement stores.

  • Gas Stations – Includes Exxon, Shell, BP, 7-Eleven, Quiktrip, Raceway, Royal Farms and many others; see a long list of examples here. Looks like many convenience stores will count for this, and they might sell gift cards too; do a small test to be sure.
  • Home Improvement Stores – Includes Lowes, Home Depot and many others; see a long list of examples here. Online purchases should work as well.

Tip: Click this link (login required) to check how far you are along the $1,500.

Discover – Gas, Wholesale Clubs, Streaming Services

Activation Link / Our original post

With your Discover card, earn 5% back this quarter on up to $1,500 in purchases at Gas Stations, Wholesale Clubs, and Streaming Services.

  • Gas Stations – Works for pump and inside payments which makes it easier to use as it may work for purchases from the convenience store at a gas station (perhaps for a gift card purchase there as well).
  • Wholesale Clubs – Probably includes online wholesale club purchases too. Costco does not accept Discover in-club, but you should be able to buy a Costco Cash card online with a Discover card and use it that way.
  • Streaming Services – includes only the following U.S. streaming subscriptions: Apple Music, Apple TV+, AT&T TV Now, BET+, CBS All Access, DAZN, Disney +, ESPN+, Fubo TV, Google Play Movies & TV, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, Philo, Peacock TV, Showtime, Sirius XM, Starz, Sling, Spotify, Vudu, YouTube TV.

Activate to earn 5% Cashback Bonus at Gas Stations (stand-alone), Wholesale Clubs and Select Streaming Services from 4/1/21 (or the date on which you activate 5%, whichever is later) through 6/30/21, on up to $1,500 in purchases. Purchases made at Gas Stations include only merchants in the category that sell automotive gasoline that can be paid for either at the pump or inside the station. Gas Stations affiliated with supermarkets and supercenters may not be eligible. Check with your Wholesale Clubs to make sure your Discover card is accepted. Purchases of affiliated Wholesale Club services, such as delivery services, travel and cell phone purchases, may not be eligible in this category. Individual merchants and stand-alone stores within physical Wholesale club locations, or online, may not be eligible in this category. Select Streaming Services purchases include only the following select U.S. streaming subscriptions: Apple Music, Apple TV+, AT&T TV Now, BET+, CBS All Access, DAZN, Disney +, ESPN+, Fubo TV, Google Play Movies & TV, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, Philo, Peacock TV, Showtime, Sirius XM, Starz, Sling, Spotify, Vudu, YouTube TV. If your subscription is bundled with another product or service, billed by a third party (such as a digital platform, a cable or satellite provider, telecommunications, internet provider or a car manufacturer), the purchase may not be eligible in this category. Add-ons associated with Select Streaming Services may not qualify for this promotion if they are not listed, billed in a bundle, separately or through a third party. Listed merchants are in no way sponsoring or affiliated with this program.

Tip: Login, then click this link to see you how far along the $1,500 you are.

Citi Dividend – Supermarket, Drugstores

Landing Page | Our Original Post

With your Dividend card, earn 5% back this quarter at Supermarkets and Drugstores. Citi is different than the other cards in that you have a $6,000 annual cap rather than a $1,500 quarterly cap. Thus, you can get 5% back on up to $6,000 in this quarter, you can save the entire amount for a different quarter, or you can use part up each quarter. A lot of people will max out their full year on this quarter given how easy it is to spend at grocery stores and drugstores.

  • Supermarkets – groceries are always a useful category. Plus, you can buy gift cards in many supermarkets as well.
  • Drugstores – drugstores often sell a wide variety of gift cards which makes the category easy to use.

US Bank Cash+/Elan – Select your Categories

Activation link | Merchant List | Our Original Post

U.S. Bank Cash+ and Elan Max offer 5% cash back in two categories, up to $2,000 combined total per quarter. Keep in mind that Car Rentals was recently replaced with TV, Internet, and Streaming Services.

Here are the current options:

  • TV, Internet, and Streaming Services
  • Home utilities
  • Select clothing stores
  • Cell phone providers
  • Electronic Stores
  • Gyms/Fitness
  • Fast food
  • Ground Transportation
  • Sporting goods
  • Department Stores
  • Furniture Stores
  • Movie theaters

Tip: Login here, then scroll down and click on the red “View Your Cash+ History” button.

Bank of America Cash Rewards

Our Original Post

The Cash Rewards card from Bank of America offers 3% back on one selected category, up to $2,500 per quarter. If you don’t select anything it defaults to gas. Once you selected a category for one quarter, that remains your category in the future unless you change it. Each calendar month you can change it if you’d like, but you’re always limited to $2,500 for the entire quarter.

  • Gas (default)
  • Online Shopping
  • Dining
  • Travel
  • Drug Stores
  • Home Improvement/Furnishings

This category is especially lucrative for those who have Preferred Rewards status with Bank of America which can get you 5.25% back on one of these categories at the higher relationship level.

Lots of useful categories here. Important note: the Cash Rewards card also offers 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs up to $2,500 per quarter, and that $2,500 limit combines with the Category Selection limit. After spending $2,500, you’ll earn 1% back on everything.

Other Cards with 5% Category

ABOC – Home Improvement, Gardening, Select Online Retailers

Registration Link | Our Original Post

  • Earn 5x points on qualifying home improvement, gardening, and selected online retailers. Must have a registered account at abocrewards.com.

Nusenda FCU – Restaurants, Home Improvement, Movies

Landing Page | Our Original Post

  • Earn 5% this quarter on Restaurants, Home Improvement stores, and Movies on up to $1,500 in purchases.

Affinity FCU – Add Me

Landing Page | Our Original Post

  • Earn 5% this quarter on purchases at Clothing & Accessories, Home Improvement/Supplies, Drug Stores

The 5x is on top of regular earn for a total of 6x or 7x, depending on the card. There also does not appear to be any limit.

Vantage West [AZ] – Select your Category

Landing Page | Our Original Post

Get 5x points on the category of your choice, up to $1,500 per quarter. Eligible categories:

  • Travel
  • Restaurants
  • Utilities [water, cell, electric, etc.]
  • In-Store Wholesale Purchases [Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.]
  • Department Stores
  • Hardware & Home Improvement Stores
  • Charitable Organizations
  • Pharmacies & Drug Stores
  • Amazon.com

Source: doctorofcredit.com

4 Credit Cards for At-Home Gourmet Chefs

Americans are lucky to be offered hundreds of competing credit cards, but it can be difficult to find the right one to suit your needs. Therefore, it’s important to know what your spending habits are in order to choose the card that makes the most sense for you.

Cardholders who carry a balance should look for a card with the lowest interest rate, and possibly one with 0% APR introductory financing. A lower interest rate means you will pay less money toward interest charges as you pay down the balance. Meanwhile, those who can avoid interest charges by paying their balances in full every month should choose a card that offers the most valuable rewards in the form of points, miles or cash back.

Make sure you also generally meet the credit issuer’s criteria. It’s a good idea to know what your credit score is so that you can target your search to a card you’re more likely to get approved for.

You should consider any benefits offered by the card, such as purchase protection or travel insurance. Finally, applicants should also take into account any applicable fees — such as annual fees and foreign transaction fees.

Source: credit.com

Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card – Review

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

If you’re at all savvy about online shopping, you’ve probably come across Rakuten, a diversified online merchant in the mold of Amazon if not quite as widely known. You might know Rakuten as Ebates, its former name.

Like Amazon, whose Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card is one of the most popular retailer-associated cash-back credit cards around, Rakuten has a credit card: the Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card, issued by Synchrony Bank.

This card has a straightforward and potentially generous cash-back program for regular Rakuten shoppers. You’ll earn 3% cash back on purchases made through Rakuten.com, including the Rakuten Travel & Vacations vertical, and on eligible in-store cash-back offers. All other eligible purchases earn 1% cash back. There’s no limit to how much you can earn with this card.

Key Features

The Rakuten Cash Back Visa card shares a lot in common with other cash-back credit cards, not to mention store cards like the Target REDcard. But that doesn’t mean it’s automatically a good — or not-so-good — fit for your spending needs.

Sign-Up Bonus

Get a $10 cash bonus after making your first purchase using your Rakuten Cash Back Visa Credit Card. There’s no minimum spend required to earn this bonus.

Earning Cash Back

Earn an extra 3% cash back on top of the rewards you’d normally earn as a Rakuten shopper on all qualifying online purchases made through Rakuten.com, as well as in-store cash-back offers (store purchases) from Rakuten.

All other eligible purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back, with no caps or restrictions.

Redeeming Cash Back

Rakuten issues cash-back payments on a quarterly basis: May 15, August 15, November 15, and February 15. Payments arrive by your choice of postal mail (paper check) or PayPal.

Cash back earned on this card combines with regular cash back earned on Rakuten purchases, so you’ll have just one rewards balance per Rakuten account even if you use the card regularly. The cash-out minimum is $5.

Important Fees

This card doesn’t have any monthly or annual fees. The foreign transaction fee is 3% of the transaction amount.

Other Rakuten Cash Back Visa Card Benefits

This card comes with some other noteworthy benefits as part of the Visa Platinum benefits package. Certain Visa Platinum credit cards offer price protection, for example. Check with Synchrony Bank for the most up-to-date information about the Rakuten Cash Back Visa Card’s specific perks.

Credit Required

This card requires a good to excellent credit score.

Advantages

These are among the top reasons to consider applying for a Rakuten Cash Back Visa Card.

  1. No Annual Fee. This card does not charge an annual fee. That’s great news for frugal cardholders who don’t spend heavily enough to offset a recurring levy.
  2. Solid Sign-Up Bonus. This card has a pretty solid sign-up bonus that requires no minimum spend or purchase within a particular timeframe. All told, it’s great news for thrifty cardholders seeking an early break on Rakuten spending.
  3. 3% Cash Back on Most Rakuten.com Purchases. This card earns 3% cash back without limit on virtually all Rakuten purchases, including purchases made at Rakuten.com and in-store cash-back opportunities.
  4. Low Redemption Minimum. You can redeem your earned cash back once your balance hits $5. That shouldn’t be hard, as your cash-back balance includes regular cash back earned through eligible Rakuten shopping, which you’d accumulate even if you didn’t have this card.

Disadvantages

These disadvantages might make you think twice about applying for a Rakuten Cash Back Visa Card.

  1. Low Baseline Earning Rate. Non-Rakuten.com purchases earn just 1% cash back. That’s a mere 1% rate of return, less than most competing retail credit cards and general-purpose cash-back cards like Chase Freedom Unlimited (unlimited 1.5% cash back) and the Citi Double Cash Card (unlimited 2% cash back).
  2. No Charity Donations. Rakuten Rewards Mastercard doesn’t permit you to donate points to charity. Although this certainly isn’t a standard perk in the credit card industry, it can be a nice touch that allows you to give back without much effort. And some retailer-specific rewards credit cards — including Target REDcard — do engage with charities. For instance, Target donates 1% of your REDcard purchase total to the school of your choosing.
  3. No Introductory APR Promotion. This card has no introductory APR promotion for purchases, balance transfers, or cash advances. That’s a big drawback for new cardholders planning major purchases or transfers of existing high-interest credit card debt.

Final Word

The Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card definitely has some attractive features and perks. And, like other retailer-specific rewards credit cards, it really can save you money on purchases, including many you’d probably make anyway.

However, don’t lose sight of the fact that this card is fundamentally about encouraging you to spend money, not save it.

Then again, that’s also the case for similar fee-free cash-back store cards like the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, so perhaps you’re best off avoiding the category entirely if you’re concerned about impulse buys becoming an issue.

Source: moneycrashers.com