My 1st Million At 33 – yes, you can do it too

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  • Archive for the 'Credit Cards' Category

    Over $2000 Cashback/Reward on my credit cards

    Posted by Frugal on 15th December 2013

    It’s almost year-end. Just doing a tally on my credit cards. When you use your credit cards everyday, it’s wise to pick the right cards. Wonder what’s in my wallet?

    1. $375 cashback from 5% rebates on all of my grocery/gasoline/pharmacy stores purchases. I have applied a HSBC card long time ago but it’s not available now. The extra bonus for using this card is that you can get 5% off on ANY gift cards that you purchase as well in grocery/pharmacy stores. That includes Amazon, Paypal, Home Depot/Lowes, etc. It’s an extra hassle, but will surely quite help for a big purchase. Plus towards the year end, MANY grocery stores have gift card purchase promotion. Before Xmas, Vons/Pavillion has 15% off for selected gift cards. I’ve got another $20 off just last week from a grocery store for $100 Amazon gift card purchase which I only paid $95 effectively.

    2. $138 from Costco TrueEarnings Card. Most of the rebate were coming from my airline tickets for visiting my parents.

    3. $416.50 from $1600 spent on Premier Reward Gold card from American Express.

    4. $602.44 from Chase Sapphire & 1% back on Chase Freedom. Got the bonus of $400 on my wife’s card this year, and got $400 on my own card last year (not included).

    5. $500 bonus from Chase Ink Plus.

    So the total is $2031.94 on some $35K credit card expenses, averaging out to be more than 5% off.

    As far as I know, Sapphire & Ink Plus are both available. I think you need an invitation for Premier Reward American Express card. A dollar saved is two dollars earned (for 50% marginal tax bracket).

    Posted in Credit Cards | Comments Off

    $888 cash back reward from my credit cards in 2010

    Posted by Frugal on 8th February 2011

    I’ve always chosen cashback instead of air mileages for my credit card reward. The reason is cashback goes into your pocket directly, and unlike air mileages or point systems, it is not subject to the conversion factor change in the future.

    I have arranged my spending on credit cards as follows:
    1. Grocery, drugstore, and any gasoline purchases not at Costco for a flat 5% cashback on HSBC Platinum Cashback Card.
    2. Restaurants for 3% cashback and travel related stuffs for 2% cashback on True Earnings American Express card.
    3. Essentially 2% cashback on Citi’s Driver’s Edge Option credit card for everything else. It’s 1% + 1% via submitting mileage record. I just submit it for every oil change that I need to do for my car. On this card, it’s actually by point system. I only buy $100 Macy’s gift card using 10000 Thank You points so that I can get a conversion factor of 1 point for 1 cent. Unfortunately, this program is going away now.

    I have searched on the internet for a better deal to replace the Citi’s Driver’s Edge card, but I can’t find anything. EmigrantDirect had a 1.4% cashback on everything but it’s gone too. The best thing that I could find is the 2% cashback on Fidelity Rewards American Express card, but the credits go into your Fidelity brokerage account.

    I will need to think about this deal, since I’m a little wary of opening another brokerage account just for that. I have consolidated most of my accounts at WellsFargo (where I trade free through PMA account) and InteractiveBroker (for cheap options). I definitely don’t want to have my cash simply sitting in the Fidelity brokerage account doing nothing. Based on my past spending pattern, I can get about $275 just from 2% Citi Driver’s edge card. If I move that spending to any of my existing 1% cashback card, I would throw away $125 per year. Hmm. Something to think about.

    In any case, if you don’t use any of the cashback credit card, you are definitely missing out BIG time. I got $362 back on my HSBC, $276 on my Citi Driver’s Edge, $250 on my True Earning AMEX for a total spending of about $34700 on these three cards. That’s $888 that you may be missing.

    At the minimum, you should get yourself the True Earning AMEX (assuming you buy stuffs at Costco) and Chase Freedom card for basic 1% cashback & 5% cashback on rotating categories. That’s just a little effort to “earn” while you spend. It really adds up!

    Frugal at

    Posted in Credit Cards | 1 Comment »

    HSBC cutting my credit line to $3000

    Posted by Frugal on 7th May 2009

    Being the second bank after Citibank, HSBC has cut my credit card line from $7200 to $3000.

    I don’t know how they evaluated this, but it is for certain that they don’t care that I have paid down all of the balance every month, and that my credit FICO score is at about 800 (well, if that means anything at all). And the speed that they do it is amazingly fast. Right after the monthly statement is cutoff, the credit line is changed immediately. I’m guessing that there must be increasing numbers of people who are behind and going delinquent.

    Under normal circumstances, I would never advise people to get lots of credit cards. However, you should really get extra credits while you still can (and still holding a good job), before both banks and economy go tumbling down again. You should apply credits to different bank/companies, so that you could reduce the impact of credit card issuers cutting your credit lines after the fact. Especially for people who don’t have a lot of emergency reserve, I strongly advise you to load up your credit availability.

    The wrong way to use your credit cards is to think that they are your money. Credit is not cash. Credit is for your extra financial buffer. Frankly, I think people need to be prepared for being out-of-job and without any income for 2 years at the minimum. Assume that you will go into “early retirement” for 2 years, and make sure you have enough credit/money to come out from the other end of tunnel.

    So far, it appears that American Express still has very high credit limit. I have more than $15000 on that card thru Costco. If you need lots of credit, maybe you could try that.

    It goes without saying that you should not get a card that has annual fee, build up more debts, etc. Better yet, you should get those cards that pay you back. Between the two cashback cards of HSBC & American Express last year, I had $500 max cashback from HSBC, and over $200 from American Express. That’s a total of $700 cashback. Not too bad at all. For some more details, here is my old post on this.

    Posted in Credit Cards | 8 Comments »

    Get in line in bankruptcy court if you pay by check/cash

    Posted by Frugal on 1st April 2008

    There are an increase in bankruptcy filing by corporations. It’s very important for every consumer to protect themselves in every possible way. The most important thing is don’t pay cash. Cash given to corporations is only good as long as the corporation exists.

    If you buy gift cards, be sure to use them as quickly as possible. Gift cards are like loans given to the companies. The only commitment from the companies is that they will honor their gift cards before they go bankrupt. An example is the recent Sharper Image bankruptcy. They stopped honoring the gift cards.

    If you pay by cash/check, it’s the same story. Aloha airline going bankrupt will not be honoring their sold tickets if they were paid by cash or check.

    I know it sounds outrageous. But that’s just the way it works. Once a corporation files bankruptcy, the shareholders or the owners no longer have the control over the company. Rather, the corporation is “owned” by the bondholders, who will need to divide up the remaining assets in the bankruptcy court. If you have any cash left in the company’s control, you are just another lien holder.

    To avoid these heartache, the only way is to pay by credit card. A payment by credit card is only a commitment to pay the amount of cash through credit card company. Since credit card companies don’t give these money to the companies immediately, but only extend credits to the company, there is no money exchanged (yet). Therefore, it’s a much safer way to pay. And that is the reason that credit card company has the bargaining power to allow you to dispute your payment when the service/products are not received.

    With global liquidity drying, I expect that both big and small companies are going to go through a rough time for quite a while (years, I mean). Those that don’t have enough cash on hand for daily operation will need to file bankruptcy. And you don’t want to become a victim of such happening.

    Best luck shopping.

    Frugal at Posted in Credit Cards, Frugal Ways | 3 Comments »

    I will take the new 3% cashback credit card from Chase

    Posted by Frugal on 24th March 2008

    For those who have missed the HSBC 5% cashback credit card offer, I must say that it’s a great pity. Like the previous citibank dividend platinum card which eventually had its 5% reduced to 2%, I’m a little afraid that the 5% cashback on my HSBC credit card will eventually go away. Quite often, good things just don’t last very long.

    Therefore, I decided to apply for this 3% cashback card not only as a backup, but to also increase cashback in my other spending area. What’s good about this “Freedom” card is that you don’t need to be mindful about where you are spending your money. By default, it’s going to give you 3% cashback on the 3 categories where you are spending most of your money. Some of the categories include grocery, gasoline, drugstore, pet supplies, utilities, etc. I’m actually getting $100 cashback instead of the $50 after the first purchase. My offer was in the mail. If you apply from this link, you just get $50.

    In any case, 3% is not too shabby. Especially considering that the cashback is tax-free, I’m much more motivated in getting them. A dollar saved is two dollars earned. The statement pretty much applies to my personal situation since my marginal tax bracket is at 40%.

    Why is it important to get a cashback or a good deal on your credit card? You can read more about my arguments in this post on Two Must-Do Money Saving Tips.

    Good luck on your savings,

    Frugal at My 1st Million At 33 .com

    Posted in Credit Cards | 7 Comments »

    Reminder for your annual credit check

    Posted by Frugal on 11th December 2007

    It’s near the end of year. Time to sanity check your finances.

    I just pulled my free credit reports from which is a site mandated by government to provide annual free credit reports for consumers. Since there are 3 reporting agencies, I normally just check my credit reports twice or three times a year by spacing out the check every four months. This way you can catch the credit fraud in about four months before the identity theft becomes totally out of control. And if you worry about remembering which credit agency you used last time, it’s not a problem. The site will deny your access if you have checked your credit report from the same agency within the same year.

    And yeah, mine and my wife’s have all checked out clean. I even closed a couple of accounts that I was not using at all.

    Of course, you can buy any of those monthly credit guard services, so that you don’t need to review your own credit reports once in awhile. I opt for these free reports. This is just another inconvenience and precaution needed caused by rampant frauds in our society.

    Posted in Credit Cards | 2 Comments »

    Over $200 cashback on my credit card

    Posted by Frugal on 12th September 2007

    Less than a year ago, I applied for this credit card to replace the old Citi Dividend Platinum Select card. This is the only credit card that I know that still gives 5% cashback on any things bought in grocery, drug stores, and gas stations. For more details, you can see my post from last year.

    With some $200 saved from cashback, it’s equivalent to earning $400 pre-tax (at least in my case). Certainly easy money, since you don’t even need to make any efforts (besides applying for the card). And if you buy those gift cards for Circuit Cities or any other restaurants in a supermarket, by default, you get 5% off too.

    If you know another better cashback card, please let me know. I’ve stopped using my Citi Dividend cards, since their cashback is only 2%.

    Posted in Credit Cards | 6 Comments »

    Hacking Your FICO Score

    Posted by Frugal on 6th June 2007

    Thanks to the latest genius or scammers (whichever you choose), now you can improve your FICO score by renting other people’s credit. Some people even get a monthly income of a couple of thousand dollar by renting out their credit cards. Boy, that’s some 10X than I am making from my blog.

    In fact, I have never really fully caught up with the idea of FICO score. Scoring your credit worthiness based on your past payment history? To me, the capacity to repay is equally if not more important than the past payment history. Without considering the capacity to repay is simply asking for trouble. These days I can’t believe the credit lines that credit card companies are giving out. It is almost an invitation to convert your FICO score to junk by running up tremendous debt. If I simply add up all the credit lines that I have, it probably amounts to more than $50,000 dollars. But I don’t think my income level can afford such a high debt.

    In any case, you can rent out your credit cards at and if you are interested. But I won’t be renting out mine for sure.

    A coincidence on the location of and many other major subprime lenders all in Orange county, California?? Looks to me that it’s the perfect combination to scam the bank legally.

    Posted in Credit Cards, Mortgage | 4 Comments »

    Replacement for Citi Dividend Platinum Select Card

    Posted by Frugal on 14th September 2006

    Yes, Citibank Dividend Platinum Select card will no longer pay out 5% but 3% cashback on gasoline, grocery, and drug, starting October. I have found my replacement credit cards.

    I have planned to cancel my cards, and have applied & received the following two new credit cards:

    1. HSBC Direct Rewards Platinum credit card: Flat 5% cashback on gasoline, grocery, and drug purchases. Up to 1% on other purchases. Because it has a tier structure on the cashback for other purchases, I won’t be using this card for other purchases. You also will get the cashback every 12 months, and it needs to be more than $10.
    2. Citibank Driver’s Edge Option credit card: 6% rebates on supermarket, drugstore and gas station purchases for 12 months, 3% after that. 1% rebates on other purchases. And $1 for every 100 miles you drive, :) . The downside is that rebate dollars must be spent through ThankYou network.

    The best thing that I like about the old Citibank Dividend Platinum Select is that it pays cash, and you don’t need to wait for one year. Too bad that I will be settling for something else because the 5% rebate really adds up very quickly.

    Here are the posts from other PF bloggers from whom I’ve found out about the above cards:

    1. From Consumerism Commentary
    2. From Blueprint for Financial Success

    P.S. Today is a Thursday on which I normally don’t post. But I have decided to at least put out this short but somewhat important money-saving post. Because of the increase in traffics in the last few weeks, I have put in extra efforts for posting everyday except Sunday. Higher traffics certainly incentivize me to post more often. Not sure if it is an incentive for you to social bookmarking my posts by digg, reddit, del.ici.ous, any other sites or through emails. But in any case, I thank you for just visiting my website.

    Posted in Credit Cards | 9 Comments »

    The Only Credit Card Guide You’ll Ever Need

    Posted by Frugal on 4th September 2006

    J.D. Roth at Get Rich Slowly has one of the best and comprehensive guide on credit card that I have ever seen. Any questions related to credit card probably can be answered here in his article. The article has collected the best sources of information from all of the PF bloggers, plus a lot of good information from government on legals, and resources from around the web.

    Other articles that I think will be useful to many of you are:

    1. Ten Secrets of Success (for Entrepeneurship)
    2. 27 Money Tips for College Students
    3. Nine Tips For Young People Starting Careers

    Check it out! This is My Digg of the Week.

    Posted in Announcement, Credit Cards | 1 Comment »