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!