Credit Card Rewards Games Grows Riskier

The Washington Post profiles a couple with over 20 different credit cards. The Chengs keep four in their wallet and a sticky note to tell them which card to use for which purchases. This year, they made $1,093 from spending $47,800. The Chengs are part of a growing breed of people who try to play the rewards programs offered by credit card companies for fun and profit. But the game has gotten harder. Credit card companies give more like 1% back instead of the 5% of yesteryear, points can be voided if payments are late, and there’s those will-o-the wisp airline miles…

Do you play the credit card rewards game? What’s your strategy? Have you ever made a spreadsheet and done a quantitative analysis of whether you’re really coming out ahead? Do you ever find the prospect of “winning” “rewards” rationalizes purchases you wouldn’t otherwise make?

Winning at Cards [Washington Post] (Thanks to David!)

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  1. bohemian says:

    If I did the math right that is a 2% rate of return. Sure they got it off of their spending, but a savings account would have had a better rate.

  2. nweaver says:

    I just go with a Costco Amex. 3% resteraunts, 2% travel, 1% everything else and otherwise Just don’t Care

  3. IphtashuFitz says:

    I have a card that gives me back between %1 and %5 depending on where & what I purchase. I’ve used it for years for corporate purchases for my employers, who reimburse me fairly quickly so I never carry a balance. I’ve made close to $2000 one year thanks to purchasing a lot of computer hardware on my card. That’s free money to me. I much prefer the cash than things like airline miles since I don’t fly often enough and don’t want to risk having the airline or credit card company changing their terms on me and losing part or all of them.

  4. catcherintheeye says:

    I’m curious what all those accounts are doing to their credit rating.

  5. squidbrain says:

    I went with the Amazon card (from Chase) since I buy so much from them. (I’m starting a photography business) It’s 1% for everything else and 3% for purchases from them. You get it in the form of an Amazon gift certificate. I also went with Amazon prime to get the free priority shipping. The free shipping makes Amazon prices just about the same as any reputable dealers (of course Amazon prime does cost something). This seemed like the simplest way to take advantage of a CC kickback, for me at least.

  6. squidbrain says:

    @squidbrain: Oh, yeah, and I use the credit card for every purchase I possibly can. I’d use if for my mortgage if I could (they charge a fee for CC payments, sadly). Takes a little more diligence to keep me on budget.

  7. JKinNYC says:

    @catcherintheeye: Probably increasing it, sadly.

    I have one airline miles card that my wife and I share, and we put everything on it and pay it off at least once a month. The added value we could get by playing CC lotto just isn’t worth the time we’d have to invest planning it. I’d rather play with my kid.

    Incidentally, my wife is a French expat, and we pay for all medical bills full price and then are reimbursed for it 100% by her company. When my son was born, the $40k out of pocket went on the card, and when we paid it off, it was enough for an off-season ticket for her Mom to come from France visit her grandson. That worked out nice.

  8. DallasDMD says:

    Chase Freedom Visa – get 3% on my top 3 purchase categories out of their list
    Orchard Bank Mastercard – get 2% on every purchase

    combine the two and you get a pretty good average.

    I think Amex offers 5% if you spend alot of money, but for those that don’t I think my alternative works out well. Does anyone do anything better?

  9. Murph1908 says:

    I have one card that gives me 5% back on my gas, 2% on travel and dining, and 1% on everything else. I use it whenever I can, make payments online around 4 times a month, and never carry a balance. It is a cash substitute. When I actually do go to the ATM for cash, it lasts forever.

    If I ever need to make a purchase that I don’t think I’ll pay off within the month, I put it on my other card.

  10. bravo369 says:

    I feel like i’m stealing from my credit card company. I get a point for every dollar I spend and can redeem points for items in a catalog. I started paying my grad school with my credit card and work reimburses me 100% of my tuition. So i’m getting points on bills that I don’t even have to pay and am close to 40,000 points. Actually, I do pay but get reimbursed at the end of the semester based upon my grade. Either way, i’m breaking even on that bill. I look at it as the credit card company giving me a graduation gift once i’m done.

  11. notallcompaniesarebad says:

    Chase perfectcard. 1% cash back on everything (3% on some stuff, but I don’t remember). Here’s the best part: it is credited directly to your next bill. No minimum points, no redemptions, no nothing. Just right back to you in 30 days. I’m sure I could get more by doing something like these people, but the simplicity here is great.

  12. xQuizx says:

    I use 3 cards. I’ve got the old Chase Rewards card with 5% cashback on Grocery/Gas/Drugstores. Then I use my AmEx True Earnings for 3% back on Restaurants. I also have a Southwest Card that gives me rapid rewards points, I average around a 2% return on that credit card or even better when I use the card to get an extra half a point for car rentals and such.

  13. ianmac47 says:

    I use an Amex with 1% going into a high yield savings account. My time is more valuable than any reward a credit card company can offer, and there is no sense in wasting that time trying to find a better deal.

  14. notallcompaniesarebad says:

    @bravo369: “I feel like i’m stealing from my credit card company. “
    Don’t feel like you’re stealing from your credit card company. All those points are paid for by the fees the merchant pays (in this case, your school). So you’re either stealing from your school, your employer, or no one, depending on your point of view. You aren’t stealing from the credit card companies.

  15. Starfury says:

    I’ve got an Amazon Chase that my wife and I both use for most things. She also has a Costco Amex that she’ll use there to track how much we buy from Costco. We also have Discover cards and a BofA Mastercard. They’re gathering dust because the Discover “rewards” is a complete joke and the Mastercard points buy less than the ones from the Amazon card.

  16. JustAGuy2 says:

    Fidelity Visa – 1.5% cash back on everything. I could probably get a bit more using card X for A and card Y for B, but it’s really not worth the effort, I find. I usually get back $500-700/year.

  17. uricmu says:

    @squidbrain: I switched from the Amazon card to the chase rewards. I get cash back in cash, 1% on everything, 3% on specific categories. Since I use those categories more than I buy at amazon (their prices have gone up in the past few years, they’re rarely ever a good deal compared to other retailers). If you’re nearly at the redemption point, may be worth it to switch just after you redeemed

  18. savvy999 says:

    Just using Discover, I have racked up well over $1k this year in cash back. When the ‘Bonus’ hits a $100 or so, I roll it out of Discover and directly into a Roth account, which so far is racking up double-digit gains (although not this week, ugh!).

    Using free money to make more free money rocks.

    I am actually surprised that the IRS hasn’t caught onto this… technically shouldn’t we all be counting cash back as ordinary income (or is it a dividend?)… and shouldn’t CC companies file a W2 or 1099 for anything over $600 total for the year?

  19. supra606 says:

    @Murph1908: That sounds like the BP Visa card through Chase which is one of the best deals I’ve been able to find. Knowing I’m going to get 5% of my money back is at least a slight consolation to paying $3+ per gallon for gas.

    I like to pay for everything I possibly can with my rewards cards. It’s free money I would be leaving on the table if I didn’t. I don’t think I really spend more than I otherwise would because of it and I certainly don’t ever carry a balance. Every so often I get a $100 check in the mail and it’s 100% profit. It almost seems too good to be true some times.

  20. Ass_Cobra says:

    Many years ago you could buy short term treasuries directly with a CC and not pay a fee for it. You’d buy a 4week bill, ride the grace period and reapay your CC with the proceeds from the maturity of the bill. Sadly that loophole has been closed many years but I know several guys that were able to get the Amex Black card by doing this and pick up a free 3-4% per year on top of that.

  21. supra606 says:

    @savvy999: They are aware of it but so far they are not taxing it. You’re right though that kind of surprises me since any year now they’re going to start an oxygen breathing tax.

  22. mandarin says:

    I think the Chengs will eventually end up overspending….

  23. melmoitzen says:

    @bohemian: Apples and oranges–rate of return doesn’t apply here in the conventional sense.

    Presumably they spent the $48K on stuff they needed and would have otherwise bought for cash. If they didn’t–then that’s a whole ‘nother issue. (See “Don’t buy stuff you don’t need or can’t afford.”)

    If anyone out there thinks these rebate programs are waste of time, fine–let’s take them out of the equation for an example. By using credit cards and paying them off in full every month, the true rate of return they’re getting on their money in their savings (clearly they aren’t hurting for cash) is higher, since they’re essentially earning interest on money that’s not theirs.

  24. cmdr.sass says:

    I use a GMAC Equity Rewards card that automatically pays down the principal on my mortgage. Even with my modest credit card use, I stand to cut more than two years off the mortgage and save tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. You can keep your 1% cash back.

  25. FMF says:

    They’re leaving money on the table and making it much more difficult than it needs to be. They earned 2.2% with 20 cards and could have earned well over that with two cards.

    Details: [consumerist.com]

  26. balthisar says:

    I used a credit card for convenience. I usually pay it twice a month, down to zero. Ergo, if I use a credit card with rewards instead of a credit card without rewards, than I automatically come out ahead.

    Mine’s an airline credit card. I checked yesterday to see if I could use my miles for Christmas vacation, and I *could*. Plenty of seats and opportunities. Unfortunately I ended up with a different airline because I couldn’t shorten an 18 hour leg (yeah! 18 hours) at *any* price with them due to their hubs and schedules.

  27. mattatwork says:

    I use two cards (an AmEx Blue Cash and the same Discover that the Chengs have) to play the rewards game. (And a third USAA Mastercard for places that only accept MC and Visa.)

    I don’t find that I spend more than I would otherwise – I keep anal track of my purchases in my budget, and treat purchases made with cash and those made with credit cards identically. And I pay off all my cards every month.

    I’ll probably make about $375 this year in rewards. Much of that is from travel that is reimbursed through my work.

  28. Critcol says:

    I still use the card I got in college because it has 3% cash back on everything. I try to only use it for purchases that go into the hundreds of dollars range.

  29. mandarin says:

    Perfect $1000 can go to their dental fund…

  30. melmoitzen says:

    @Critcol: 3% cash back on everything.

    Methinks you’re leaving out something, like an annual fee, ridiculously low maximum annual rebate, or rebate only if you carry a balance (which makes the rebate totally meaningless). How about ID’ing the card?

  31. Not interested in chasing the best rewards; got a rewards card because we pay off in full every month and you might as well get something from it. Don’t pay too much attention to it, though — usually around New Year’s I start to think, “Hey, maybe I should cash out those points and put it in a money market.”

  32. Snarkysnake says:

    Hello, I’m a sewer rat. I have been following a trail of cheese crumbs that someone who is a HELL of a lot smarter than me has been leaving along their kitchen floor. Tastes great ! (more filling,too !)…What could possibly happen ?

    I’m not very bright (after all,I am a sewer rat),so the better the cheese tastes and the more full I become,the more I desire this tasty cheese. Funny though, yesterday, the schmoe that owns this dump left a square piece of wood in the middle of the floor and this piece of wood has a huge spring in the middle-But here’s the kicker- There is also a GIANT piece of cheese up there on that block. I think I’ll just mosey on up there and get that cheese.Damn ! It’s hard to wrestle off this piece of metal.What’s that sound / It’s that giant spring! OH SH…..

    Lesson here – Don’ be a sewer rat- Leave these programs in the trash (Or Shredder) where they belong.

  33. JustAGuy2 says:

    @Snarkysnake:

    Or, keep eating all the great piece of cheese, and avoid the one with the big spring over it.

    Cash back and interest-free loans – credit cards are great.

  34. JustAGuy2 says:

    @savvy999:

    It’s not taxable, since it’s a rebate on your purchases. If Best Buy sells a TV on sale for $300, down from the $500 regular price, you don’t have to pay taxes on the $200 price cut. Same thing here.

  35. JustAGuy2 says:

    @JustAGuy2:

    If, however, you were using the cash back card to pay for something that you’re deducting from your taxable income (i.e. tuition, medical expenses, etc.), then the rebate would be taxable.

  36. hexychick says:

    Spending $47,800 to get back less than 2.5% is ludicrous. That has got to be the biggest joke I’ve ever heard. Why would you be proud of that?

  37. forever_knight says:

    no thanks. i have a life.

  38. anatak says:

    @hexychick: @forever_knight: Very well said.

    2.2% ‘return’ on $47,800 spent. Even assuming that the majority of that is necessities, I’m pretty sure that spent in cash, they could have shaved much more than 2.2% out of their budget.

    Terrible ‘returns’ + the risk of 20 cards to be juggled and paid off, on-time each and every month + spreadsheet time = stupid. To safely double one’s money, fold it once and put it in your pocket.

  39. Myron says:

    @hexychick: In theory, they were going to spend the money with or without the rebate. So they try to maximize the rebate. Getting 2.5% back is better than getting 0% back.

    I put just about all my spending on a card out of convenience and pay it off every month. I use an Amex Blue Cash card and it automatically puts the rebate in my account once a year. It takes zero additional effort on my part and once a year I get a nice chunk of change back. The fact I am getting a rebate has not changed my spending habits.

    If you pay off your balance every month you might as well take the cash rebate.

  40. savvy999 says:

    @JustAGuy2: I don’t deduct business expenses (don’t meet the 2% floor), but if I did… you’re saying that any cash back/rebates earned on those charged, deducted expenses would be taxable?

    Now that’s a loophole that I’m sure many self-employed/ small-business-owners drive through!

    The whole marketing concept behind ‘corporate’ CCs is the wink-wink that you’ll charge all of your office supplies and business travel on the card, while racking up miles & cashback & points for yourself.

  41. chubba-baby says:

    If they use the credit cards as loaned money, transferring the amount of purchases into a high yield savings account, they could easily double the amount earned from “playing” the credit card game. Playing for the rewards isn’t worth it anymore- playing for the interest is…

  42. Nytmare says:

    I got a GM Card for the reward incentive towards a new GM car because I like cars. But I’ve never used the rewards because I keep buying used cars. The monthly reward amounts expire after they reach a couple years old so they never build up anywhere near enough to convert me to a new car buyer, let alone one from GM.

  43. You’re welcome, Consumerist.

    You people are crazy. Either that, or really, really, really disciplined. If the latter, then congrats – you’ve earned it.

    I just can’t wrap my brain around earning a few percentage points while some schmuck goes into bankruptcy because they overspent.

    Ah, but ain’t that America.

  44. JustAGuy2 says:

    @savvy999:

    Yup, it would be taxable. Think of it this way (using crazy percentages to make the point clearer). You’re going to buy $100k in supplies for your business each year, and deduct them as business expenses. If your card gave you 25% cash back, you’d get $25k back. In effect, therefore, you’ve only paid $75k for the supplies, so you should only be able to deduct $75k, not the full $100k, from your taxes.

    In practice, people do drive large trucks, planes, cruise ships, etc. through this loophole.

  45. Trackback says:

    Here’s a Consumerist piece that reports on a couple trying to make the most of their credit card rewards. The key facts: They have 20 different credit cards. They keep four cards in their wallet and a sticky note to tell them which card to use for which purchases.

  46. Myron says:

    @chubba-baby: Please explain. Can you give an example with numbers?

  47. melmoitzen says:

    @Myron: Let me take a shot at chubba-baby’s numbers. In the case of high-chargers like the Chengs, they’ve spent $48K over 10 months so far this year.

    So assuming they’re floating an average balance of $4,800 throughout the year, the additional interest they’re drawing on money that’s not theirs in a 5% high-yield account over the course of a year is $240. (Taxable.)

  48. ShadowFalls says:

    Just be responsible with how you spend. I use my cards to pay my bills, earning reward points and cash back for just doing what I would already do anyway. No reason not to I say.

    Many retail cards offer no interest for some things, you can play that game easily enough and avoid any interest if need be. Don’t charge too much, it can be more than you handle and charging too much to a card can hurt your credit.

  49. Myron says:

    @melmoitzen: I’m sorry. I’m just not getting the mechanics of it. They charge items to their card and pay the balance each month. When is there an opportunity to put money in a high yield account? Are you talking about the float between when their paycheck is deposited and when they make a credit card balance?

  50. FLConsumer says:

    Reimbursibles — it’s the way to go! I love it. Only have 1.5% back on my Wachovia Visa card, unlimited cash back, and it’s 1.5% on everything, no limit. I had to order multiple video projectors for the office one time, video equipment another. Let’s just say each video projector was ~$50 cash back for me, so I gladly took off a lunch hour to go pick them up from the distributor.

    I’m with some of the others here — using my credit card to pay for anything that I can. Utility bills are a great one. Pay for cable, phone, internet, cell that way. The only one I can’t pay that way (or I should say REFUSE) is Tampa Electric because they charge an extra $5 to pay with anything other than a check. Bastards.

    I also would much rather spend my time playing around with real investments rather than trying to get tenth of a percent savings. Put the expenses on the credit card and see how much interest you can generate on the money you’re going to use to pay off the CC. Much more profitable.

  51. melmoitzen says:

    @Myron: You’re not really “putting” the money in the high yield account, you’re just deferring spending from it and earning interest on that deferral.

    Simple example: You’ve got $4,800 in the bank. You want to buy a nice $4,800 HDTV setup.

    Your credit card cycle closes on the 8th of each month. On November 9, you decide to buy the HDTV.

    Scenario A: Pay cash, and your bank balance (and interest earning power) immediately drops to zero on November 9.

    Scenario B: Pay credit, and you’re billed for the TV on December 8. And let’s say you have until December 23 to pay for it. December 23 comes, you pay the bill, and you now have 0 in the bank.

    By paying for it with credit, you’ve had $4,800 in the bank earning interest from November 9-December 23. So the credit card user has earned 1.5 months interest on the $4,800 @ 5% annual rate = $30, while the cash user has earned zilch.

    Whether you participate in a rebate program or not, each one of us who uses a credit card benefits from this deferral of payment. (Assuming you pay your bill in full and don’t face interest charges or fees.)

  52. FLConsumer says:

    @Myron: If they’re spending $4800/mo, I’d *hope* they’re not living paycheck to paycheck…but upon further review of the article and this couple’s strategy… they’re probably cutting it a bit closer that they should be.

    One other tip for racking up cash back: Construction/remodeling projects — charge those too! $8500 spent on a whole new HVAC system w/heat pump brought me back about $230 cash ($123 from the CC, about $106 for the extra interest on my investments by floating the payment for a month) No, it’s not huge, but it’s $230 saved. So, a good night out for two.

  53. wring says:

    @bohemian: wow that is kinda sad.

  54. Myron says:

    @melmoitzen: Ok. I’m with you now. I pay my balance every month so I’m getting free use of the money for, maybe, a month. (I buy on Nov 9. My billing cycle ends Nov 10. And the bill is due Nov 24. So the average float time is probably a month, plus 2 weeks to pay, all divided by two)

    From a practical standpoint, to actually get the high yield you would have to deposit your paycheck into the high yield account and make the credit card payment from the high yield account. Or, you have a linked high yield account and do a lot of transfers in and out.

    This leads me to two questions:

    1) How do these high yield accounts pay interest? On a daily basis? Once a month? If once a month do they use the ending balance or the average balance? I’ve had an account at ING for years but I’ve never looked at how interest is calculated and I can’t find this information on their website.

    2) Is there a high yield checking account you would use to earn on the float? I see ING has a checking account at 3.2% for balances under 50K.

    I put my paycheck in a checking account that pays no interest and I pay bills from that same account. How, practically speaking, do I earn interest on the float?

  55. Buran says:

    @ianmac47: Is that going there automatically or what?

  56. Morton Fox says:

    I have a gas card but because I’m an avid user of Where’s George, I pay cash for almost everything and really only use the credit card for online purchases. So I hope to switch to a Fidelity card at some point to bump the reward up to 1.5%.

  57. melmoitzen says:

    @Myron: 1) How do these high yield accounts pay interest? P robably the same as 99% of the interest-bearing accounts out there–accrued on the average daily balance during the month, and paid monthly.
    2) Is there a high yield checking account you would use to earn on the float? I see ING has a checking account at 3.2% for balances under 50K.
    Here are a few. 5% is no longer doable for checking, you might be able to find it for savings at the top end.
    I put my paycheck in a checking account that pays no interest and I pay bills from that same account. How, practically speaking, do I earn interest on the float? I think it goes without saying that you won’t, if you continue keeping your billpaying money in a non-interest bearing account. Get a checking account that pays a decent interest rate, and/or a savings account that pays a good rate and transfer money back and forth as needed.

  58. melmoitzen says:

    Sorry, here’s a link for some high-yielding checking accounts: [www.bankrate.com],495&product=31&sort=11&online_flag=1

  59. melmoitzen says:

    Let’s try that again: [tinyurl.com]

  60. melmoitzen says:

    @FLConsumer: You’re not necessarily spending beyond your means if you’re charging $4,800/month. Maybe they travel or purchase for business frequently and a lot of that is reimbursements. Or you go out with a bunch of couples for dinner and when the evening is over and there’s a $400 tab, three of them leave $300, you collect the $300 and charge the $400. Or you pick something up for a friend at the store, charge it on your card, and they pay you back in cash. None of those situations represents an actual “expense.” I’d say 25% of my credit card spending (and hence 25% of my rebate) is made up of stuff like that.

    Or maybe they’re just a couple of dinks with money coming out of their tucheses. You never know.

  61. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    I own a small business in NYC with a small office in LA. Last year I spent close to $750,000 on credit cards. In the past 12 months, I have accumulated through credit cards:

    1. 75,000 American Airline Miles
    2. 110,000 Northwest Miles
    3. $2000 cash-back rebate from American Express Blue Card.
    4. About 10-20 free nights at a Hilton (depends upon the type of Hilton I book)
    5. $500 in Amazon gift certificates.
    6. Over $3000 worth of gift certificates to use at restaurants in New York City and LA.
    7. Over $1000 of Orbitz points which can be used against Orbitz flights.
    8. $500 in Starbucks cards.

    That’s it. I pay about $300 a year in card fees which I think is worth it. Some cards (flight miles) max out how many miles you can earn a year so once I get those maxed out I retired them until the next year.

    I also get 1-2 times a year a 0% balance transfer offer. I then will pre-pay a bunch of inventory from a vendor who gives me a healthy 10-15% discount and then I put it on a rewards card and then immediately transfer it to the 0% balance transfer. I pay no interest and end up saving $5K to $8K for pre-paying for inventory.

    IF only someone would come up with a credit card that pays for health insurance.

  62. dirtymoney says:

    Meh, I just go with my citibank dividends card. It had a great 5% return when I first got it, but has since gone down to 1%. I dont make a lot on it because I really dont spend a whole lot on my credit card purchases. Typically less than $450 a month.
    Back when it was 5% I started using the card for any REGULAR purchase I usually made & I just got in the habit… I still do it. I dont specifically make purchases JUST to get the rewards. I usually just forget about it & check the amount once every 4 or 5 months to see if it has reached the required amount to get a dividend check sent to me.
    I ahve found its easier to use a credit card instead of cash or checks, plus there is a record of every purchase…. helps cut back on spending if you want/need to when you see all the purchases you made in a month. I am VERY carefull about my spending.

    I almost wish I made a lot more income & had a more expensive lifestyle or a business so I could charge on these rewards cards so that I could REALLY cash in.

  63. gingerCE says:

    I play the card game too! I still use my debit card and am very leery of credit cards but I like getting rewards because it’s like getting back at the cards in a small way. I have the Cosco Amex but because I don’t use it so much, my rewards are usually around $75/year. I also had the Citi with gas rewards and I usually get $100 out of them a year as well. Recently though they changed the terms (bastards) so I opened up a Barnes and Noble card in the hope I will earn lots of gift cards.

    What helps is that I pay my car insurance using a credit card for no extra fee. I also buy all my gas with credit cards (used to use cash for gas). Also airline/travel/hotel on credit instead of debit cards. However, for the most part I purchase my food/clothes/extras on my debit card because I feel my debit card makes me more conscious of not overspending.

  64. gingerCE says:

    I forgot to add I also use a Target card (mine is a store only card). I use it for my prescriptions to earn 10% coupons (which are also good on the prescriptions themselves). I pay it off every month. But I like this particular card because I get lots of coupons from Target in the mail and the coupons–recently they changed it to a coupon credit card (it looks like a gift card, you scan it, but it’s really a coupon card with numerous store discounts) can be used whether you have a Target card or not. I have two 10% off (all day) coupons and I plan to use them for my Christmas shopping. If there was a SuperTarget near me I could get 10% off my holiday grocery shopping too (that would be great) but alas, there isn’t one near me. Still I estimate in a year. with my family’s meds and supplies being bought at Target, I’ve saved about $500 a year. The irony is I can only use the card at Target so in a sense that helps to ensure I don’t overspend on the card itself.

  65. barty says:

    If any of you actually think you’re getting something for nothing, then you’re only fooling yourself.

    Look at the interest rates you are paying on those balances. There are your “rewards” right there.

    These programs are just a way credit issuers entice people into going into debt and (hopefully) letting that balance carry over. They know that about 80% of America carries a balance on their cards, so the odds are considerably in their favor.

    You can’t outwit these guys at their own game. At some point, if you continue to use them, you’ll run into a month where you have to put off paying off the card and the next thing you know, you’ll have $5000-10000 in debt. The best solution? Throw the damn things in the shredder, pay them off and close the accounts. CC debt is ruining the economy of this country.

  66. aaronw1 says:

    I use my citibank platinum dividend select – 5% lifetime on gas, grocery stores, and pharmarcies. This is stuff I’m buying anyways, may as well get some money back for it. It is limited to $300/year (which works out $6000/yr of charges, which I don’t get to on just those, though). Unfortunately, the one they offer now isn’t lifetime, just 6 months, but it looks like it includes utilities now (but most of my utilities don’t take credit anyways)