What We Use – Rewards Cards

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What’s in your wallet, eh?

We currently use two cash back rewards credit cards, the Chase Freedom card and the Discover More card.


What to look for in a rewards card? (Click to Tweet!)

  • Wide acceptance
  • Ease of use
  • Easy to maximize rewards
  • Good customer service
  • Awesome commercials (not really, but this one cracks me up for some reason)

For now, we’ve ended up with two rewards cards that have pretty similar rewards programs. They both have:

  • No yearly fees
  • 1% minimum cash back on all spending
  • Quarterly bonus categories with rewards of 5% on the first $1,500 in that category
  • No maximum cash back reward for the year
Even the quarterly rewards calendars are pretty similar:
  • Jan – Mar: Gas/Amazon (Chase), Gas/Entertainment (Discover)
  • Ap – Jun: Groceries/Movies (Chase), Restaurants/Movies (Discover)
  • Jul – Sep: Gas/Restaurants (Chase), Gas/Theme Parks/Movies (Discover)
  • Oct – Dec: Hotels/Airlines/Best Buy/Kohls (Chase), Holiday Shopping (Discover)

Discover, though, seems to have more short rewards categories mixed in with the quarterly categories, though. May was 5% back on up to $300 worth of groceries, and once or twice I have caught rewards categories that are only good for a few days.

Both of them also have a “rewards mall” of sorts, as well. If you are shopping online with merchants that they are affiliated with (and most of the big ones are there), if you go to the credit card site first, then to the online merchant, you get an additional reward. We’ve used this for big purchases like appliances from Home Depot. Make sure to check both websites as their rewards mall rewards might differ slightly for the same stores.

Outside of these bonus rewards categories, the Chase Freedom has 1% cash back all the time, where the Discover only becomes 1% for everything after you spend $3K each year. Before that, you’re only getting 0.25% on the first $3K (if it’s not part of a bonus category.).

Which do we use most often?

Chase Freedom has traditionally been our go-to card, partly because Visa tends to be accepted more often than Discover, and partly because it’s been in my wallet since 2005, whereas we didn’t get the Discover until 2010.

Lately, though, Discover has been trying to get more of our business, and we were happy to accept their most recent bonus offer. The offer – if we spent $1,000 on the Discover card in each of the months April, May, and June, we would get $150 bonus cash back. So 5% on the $3K, on top of the other rewards that we earned in that time period. So far we’ve held up our end of the bargain, so I expect to see the $150 in additional rewards on our statement this month.

Complaints?

Not really. Customer service on both cards has been pretty great. We don’t tend to have a lot of charge backs, so I can’t really speak to that process for either of the cards. The only annoyance (which applies to both cards) is that the bonus categories must be signed up for (either on the website, or with Discover you can use their mobile app). It’s annoying, and just seems like a way to cheap out on handing out rewards to people who would have earned them.

Are we considering any other cards?

1) Target Card – Target is one of our “go-to” stores, so we end up spending a decent amount of money there. The Target card has a pretty good rewards scheme with 5% back on everything (I think except for pharmacy purchases – but they have a separate pharmacy rewards program that we’re enrolled in). The main hesitation on not applying for the Target card is that I don’t want it to become a reason to go to Target when some other place may have what I need for cheaper. Also, Target’s data mining program on their customers is pretty intense. And while I’m sure they have us on file at least somewhat, handing over my credit history by signing up for a credit card with them gives me pause. Are those nickels worth the very specific marketing I will surely be subjecting myself to?

2) AmEx Blue Everyday/Preferred – Year-round bonus rewards on gas (3%/6%) and groceries (2%/3%), along with 1% everyday rewards on everything. The Everyday card has no fee, but lower rewards on gas and groceries than the Preferred card (which has a $75/yr fee). It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to sign up for Everyday card to have as a backup for gas and groceries in quarters when we wouldn’t get 5% on either the Chase or Discover cards. The main thing holding us back right now is making our card situation even more complicated.

Readers-what are the best and worst rewards cards that you’ve run across?

5 comments to What We Use – Rewards Cards

  • I recently just started getting into rewards cards. I can’t believe that before this year, we had NONE! We couldn’t made so much in rewards.

    • Rewards cards are great – we tend to save up the rewards all year and cash them in for Christmas gifts and holiday spending at the end of the year. So we don’t stress about where lots of gifts fit into the budget that way. =).

  • […] to our RSS feed and we'll keep it coming!  Thanks for visiting =) A while ago I wrote about the cash back rewards cards that we use, which at the time were the Chase Freedom and the Discover More cards.  While we were […]

  • Mom

    I stumbled here from your holiday post, but we have just started using the Costco Amex card – downside is the rewards are sent to us as a Costco “check” every February, but I’ve been told you can just go to the customer service desk at Costco and they’ll give you the cash. It gives us 3% on gass (up to $4000 each year), 2% at restaurants and travel, 1% at Costco (and everything else). It matches our spending almost perfectly – and I *love* that I can get the rewards at Costco – they are the only card that costco takes (It’s also my costco membership card, so one less card in the wallet…). We used to primarily use the Discover More card, but have moved away from it a little. One big reason was that we grocery shop at Wal-Mart, and it’s not considered a grocery/supermarket for Discover, so we weren’t getting that. We do take advantage of their specials though – like the 5% back during December – and hubby used it to buy himself a $3500 laptop last week – $161 back right there.

    We tend to get the statement credit from Discover as soon as we hit the $50 mark, but now they’re allowing you to use it to pay for Amazon purchases, with no minimum redemption value – only catch is won’t work on Kindle/digital stuff, but if you’re looking for other things, it’s nice. We take advantage of that occasionally.

    • I think my mom used that card at one point. We never renewed our costco membership, but I can see how it can be good for people who go to Costco a lot. Does it give you the gas rewards when you go to the Costco gas station?

      That must be a heck of a computer for $3500! Keep your eye on the Discover card specials, I think a lot of their 5% back periods are capped on the first $1500 of spending unless you go through the Discover bonus mall online. We bought our most recent computer through their bonus mall and it worked really well.