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March 29, 2006


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Gas and movies is too high for my budget, although starting next week we'll have two commuting vehicles again. Groceries are a bit low, and we rarely if ever go to the drugstore.

I'm not going to worry about that until I max out my discover card rewards. Then I'll have to look into this as the second card.

I have used the Discover Gas Rewards card & get 5% on gas purchases (ours are much greater than your assumption). That's not quite as good as those that pay 5% on groceries & drugs, but not bad.

A good thing is that I can turn $100 cash back into $125 if I take restaurant cards instead of cash. Since we eat out regularly, I always do.

The bad thing I discovered (pun there) is that they only pay 5% up to $1500 on gas purchases annually. After I found that out, my wife got her own card.

Chase sounds good!


The mTVu (I forget the correct capitalization) Citi Card gives a few percent back on restaurants, movies, and bookstores (reportedly including most things on Unfortunately you need to be a student to get one.

Fortunately my wife is one. She'll be receiving it in the mail in the next couple of weeks.

Chase Rewards Plus Visa has the same cap as Citi Dividend Platinum Select card. Chase just tells you it in points. So the two cards are identical. You have a 30000 points per year limit at Chase but to get the money, $1 = 100 points. Do the math and its $300 a year, same as citi dividend platinum selct

Actually, the Chase card that they are talking about is no longer offered. Chase Cash Plus is the same as the Citi card.

I just got notice today from Citi that they are dropping the 5% and will now only offer 2% on supermarkets, drugstores, gas stations, plus utilities and cable (no telephone!). Because of this I am now on a "hunt" for a new card! Sorry to see a change to this card offer!! here,

Remove citi from your list.
2% for gas groceries and drugs. Don't think so.

I found a better deal than that for music downloads. Goto

Jeff when you find another 5% card for all 3, post it here, since I'm on the hunt now too.

BTW, Kroger has a promo on 5% on their groceries, and a 0% balance transfer.


The Citibank Dividend Platinum Select is no longer available. Neither is the Chase Cash Plus. Search of the internet came up with Direct Rewards Platinum--HSBC Bank Nevada.

I had chase rewards plus with the 5%, and they cheated me out of $500. When it came time to cash in my rewards, they first said they had no such card even thought it was in my hands... then they apologize and told me they owed me that much... then they said it was when I spent over $6,000 per month... Each new supervisor had a new story. At the end of the day, they never paid. VERY DISAPPOINTING!!!

I have had a Chase Ultimate Cash Award Mastercard for 2 years. It was great when I first got it. It gave tiered rebates of up to 3% on supermarkets, gas stations, drug stores, and home improvement stores and up to 1.5% for all other purchases. The extra percentage points (up to 5%) required you to carry a balance and obviously weren't worth it. There was also no limit on the amount of cash rebates you could earn. I charge everything and spend between $3-9k every month on the card. I have received a little over $2000 in rebates to date. However, they just changed the program to Free Cash Rewards, which sucks because there is a 60,000 point limit per year and you can only get 1% max in "points." I am switching to Blue Cash because they recently changed to no limit on the amount you could earn and go up to 5% on gas stations, supermarkets, and drug stores if you spend more than $6500 annually (without having to carry a balance) and 1.5% on all other purchases. The only problem is that not every place takes American Express.

I had the Citi Dividends Card as well and was enjoying 5% back until they changed it to 2% on October 13th. I really like Citibank's credit cards, and their customer service is really great, unlike what I hear from Chase. They do offer a Citi Professional Cash Card that gets 3% back at gas stations, supermarkets, restaurants, and office supply stores. I am also in the hunt for a 5% card again, but I spoke with a Citi representative and she said that you can switch from having one kind of card to another without a problem, this may be useful since some of the cards offer 5% back for the first year. I may try it.

try the At&T universal rewards card, it still gives the 5% on the 3, but not in money, it gives you it through the thank you network with things like gift certificates or gifts.

I was very disappointed when Citi changed their cash back from 5% to 2% too. That's when I decided to open a business credit card for my small business from Advanta. They offer 5% on all gas purchases! But I am still on the hunt for 5% for groceries. I only found Chase Freedom that offers 3% for groceries for now. I guess 3% is better than 2% for groceries.

Jeannie, you can get 6% on groceries/gas/drugs for the first year from the Citi Driver's Edge card. Also, AmEx Blue Cash pays 5% on groceries/gas/drugs after you've accumulated $6500 in spending in a year. The HSBC Direct Rewards card pays 5% on groceries/gas/drugs from dollar 1.

Thanks! I will try Citi Driver's Edge!- Jeannie

Chase is offering a card through BP gas. The first so many mounths are 10% on the three, 2% on everything else. Then goes back down to 5%, 1%.
Ive had the chase master card for a while and pays great on my gas consumtion 5% 1%. I dont know if there are caps

I just recieved a Chase Rewards Plus VISA with the 5% cash back (5 points for every dollar on gas, groceries & drugs) in the mail. Is this program resurrected?

A friend called Chase to ask about the Rewards Plus VISA and they told him it was back again.

There was an earlier comment about the quality of Citi Cards customer service. I've had a dividend cash back card with Citi for ~10 years. I'm shopping for a replacement today as a direct result of Citi's bad customer service.

It's not all rosy at Citi!


i just got my citi drivers edge
when i called to activate it they said that rewards will go toward the purchase of a new or used car within three years...

(i wanted cash-back, not weird rebate on purchase)

can i switch to another citi professional cash card?

I have been using the new 5% cash back card for one month now with no problems, and am happy with it. I will keep you apprised of the results.

My Chase Cash Plus Rewards card was great at first. After less than a year (Fall '05 to May '06) I accumulated enough points for $500 cash, which we used for vacation "mad money." (I spend about $800 per month on groceries and $300 on gas, plus I put travel and rec gear on there.) A few months later, I got a letter saying I had exceeded my point allowances, and they just stripped me of a bunch of points. Since then, some months they give me zero points, but most recently they gave me points again. It's hard to figure out what I will get, so I am tempted to take the cash I have now and leave Chase. Also, Chase did NOT back me up when I used the card at a pay phone and was charged $21 for each of 4 thirty second calls! It was a total rip-off phone company. Also, I've noticed that it's taking them longer to post my payments. I always pay my bill off in full, but if I don't mail it within three days after receiving the bill, they ding me for late fees and interest! So if I'm even out of town for less than a week when the bill comes, I get dinged. I know my payment doesn't take eight days to get to them... That's just their trick to get some of the money back.

Chase ripped me of 4000 points. I told them to redeem the points and shut my rewards program. They cancelled my program but never redeemed my points. Now they tell me that I have lost the points. RASCALS !!! DAY LIGHT ROBBERY !!! NEVER GO WITH CHASE.

Cash back credit card or any other credit card with rewards are useful only if you have high money turnover. If you don't buy much you would loose on APR. Because rewards credit cards have higher APR then other credit cards. If you buy a lot cash back credit card is very profitable.

BEWARE: American Express Blue Cash's disclaimer in the fine print about the merchants and how they are registered with AMEX plays a significant role in determining cash/credit back on your statement. I recently got my rewards and noticed that my cash reward of about $215 on about $17,500 of charges equated (using the tool at the Amex website) to 880 dollars a year in grocery, gas, and drugstore purchases combined. I spend at least $300-400 dollars a month ($3,600 - $4,800 annually) on groceries, gas and drugstore stuff. The problem is I do most of my shopping at Fred Meyer for groceries and the helpful AMEX service reps told me that Fred Meyer is not listed as a supermarket to receive 5% back (even though on my bill food shows up in the notes line of the statement). I figure this has cost me about $180 - $240 in additional credit. If you use one of these multimerchant shops to buy groceries it may pay to check with the credit card company to verify that they are in fact registered appropriately.

It is clear that there is no such a credit card that offers the best deals on everything. The smartest thing is to have several kinds of cards: a gasoline card for buying gas, a cash rebate card for buying things, a frequent flyer card for travelling. It is much more profitable to have a frequent flyer card from a bank than to have an airline company frequent flyer card because you get additional bonus as with any other credit card. Of course, the issue always is whether it is smart to use frequent flyer cards for shopping. I would say, better get a different kind of, such as cash back credit cards. I have a United Milage Plus Card from Chase mostly because its primary arline is United. So far so good. But what's the story about Chase ripping you of 4000 points?

The main problem with CItibank is that they change everything after a few months. They had an esavings for 5%, now is back to 4.25 and $25 dollars, however those of us who sign up already dont get the 25 dollars but do get our 4.25 lowered. They do that all the time, they offer something online and they never really follow up with it. They offer a card for itunes if you add an extra$1 0000 before dec 31 2006 , still dont see it. I will call them again which will mean an hour on the phone because they never have a code or department for those offers.

At first, Citi Dividends seemed like the best Cash-Back Credit Card, so I applied for it, but after looking a little harder at the Discover Card, I decided that it offered both 5% Cash Back along with Air Miles and no annual fee.
I'll let you know how it goes.

I thought I was doing well with my Chase PerfectCard. It wasn't until after I put my cash back calculator together that I realized I was missing out on several hundred dollars a year.

I had the opposite realization with the American Express card. At my income level, it was far ahead the second place card (Chase Freedom).

I toyed around with the monthly expense levels though, and the Amex card doesn't always win at lower spending levels since it takes a bit of spend on that card before the higher cash back percentages kick in.

One thing the calculator has taught me is that high cash back percentages don't necessarily translate in the the highest dollar amount of cash back per year. The highest-paying card for you depends on your monthly spending and the caps & tiering in the card's terms and conditions.

Jim - I agree with your May 9, 2007 10:53 comment. That is entirely true. Must take a lot of things into account to determine the best cash back card for you.

Remember to check for the other details of a card. Of course, Cash back cards do tend to have higher rates, so they're really for folks who don't carry a balance. But, small things factor in too -- if you travel internationally, consider CaptialOne - almost every CC issuer changes a fee (on top of the exchange rate) of 1-3%, with most of them (Chase, etc) are 3%.

CapitalOne charges: 0% on foreign transactions. I've not compared exchange rates during the same trip, but Chase and a bunch of other banks just had to settle a lawsuit surrounding poor disclosure of these fees.

Sure, their better offers are flat 1% with an annual 25% bonus on cash back (so 1.25% assuming you stay with them all year), but you can at up a couple of nickel and dime extra % cashback points pretty quick if your expensive vacation purchases all end up 3% more expensive...

Aaak! Chase is eliminating the 5% grocery/drug/gas card!

I've been playing the cash rebate/credit card roulette routine for a couple of years now, and have gotten pretty good at it. Last year, my cash back on my collection of cards amounted to just over $1,150. Of course, as others in this discussion have pointed out, there are a number of rules which you need to follow to make this pay off. My rules of thumb are:

1. The cash back game really only makes sense if you pay your credit card bills in full and on time each month.

2. Never pay an annual fee.

3. Read the fine print, particularly involving tiered rebate levels, monthly or annual limits, etc.

4. You're going to have to carry and use multiple cards for different spending categories to get the most back.

5. Always opt for cash instead of gift cards, etc., unless they are offering a premium (for example a $25 gift card for $20 worth of points).

6. Use plastic for everything!

One card that has been particularly lucrative for me is the Chase VISA, which gave me 5% off of gas, grocery and drug store purchases and 1% off everything else, with no limits. Unlike some others on this list, I've had no problems with Chase's customer service. Of course, I can't remember the last time I needed to call customer service.

I certainly have never had to contact customer service regarding point redemption. The process couldn't be simpler. I eagerly await each month's statement to be generated online. As soon as it is, I check my points and order a $50 or $100 check, which arrives a few days later. It's a rare month where I can't redeem at least $50. I use the card exclusively for gas, groceries and drug store purchases. My wife has lots of prescriptions, and the drug store cash back bonus works not only for walk-in drug stores, but also the mail-order pharmacy used by my insurance plan as well as the online place she orders most of her expensive supplements. So, all of that really adds up.

As of July 15, however, they are converting my Chase Rewards Visa to a Chase Freedom card. This will render this card much less valuable than before and very much more complicated. The (alleged) good news is that the categories are more flexible. Instead of the three predetermined categories (gas, grocery, drug), there are fifteen categories, and you get bonus points on the three you spend the most on. The bad news is threefold:

1. The "flexibility" means you have to predict at the beginning of your billing period what your expenses by category will be for the next month, which, at least for me, is quite tricky. Worse...

2. There is now a cap on spending ($600) which qualifies for the bonus points. And, the worst thing...

3. The maximum cash back rate is now 3%, instead of 5%.

I suspect Chase is targeting customers like me and trying to get us to use the Chase card for *every* purchase. That, of course, does Chase the most good. Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying Chase is being unfair. They aren't in the charity business, they are in the banking business, and they are entitled to change the terms of the cashback bonus. Chase is a for-profit operation, and they are doing what they can to maximize their profit, which is exactly what they should be doing. It does make my job as a penny-pinching cardholder a bit more complicated, but that's all part of the game.

The net result for me is that I will be using my Chase card *less* than I had before. First of all, I'll no longer make any gas purchases on it; I'll use my Discover card where I'll still get 5%, or my Chase Business MasterCard, where I'll get 3%. Same goes for the other categories where I have other cards which net me 3% or more cash back. I'll probably continue to use the card for grocery and drug store purchases, and might add my automatic payments for phone and/or satellite. But as soon as my total spending for the month exceeds $600, I'll stop using the Chase Visa and make purchases using my "everything else" card, which is currently a Visa card on which I have 0% interest (the only situation where I carry a balance).


I cancelled Chase. After being a customer since 1994, I have paperwork to prove it, Chase has no record of me since signing up for a new card last July '06. They only had info for the card I just cancelled. I don't want to do business with a company that doesn't have records of previous years. I am so sick of Chase after spending hours trying to rectify this. I never want to receive any mail from them again. Do not go with Chase!


I use the Blue AmEx card (not the cash-back version) and receive one point for every dollar charged. I use the points to purchase gift cards (Home Depot), where 100 points = $1 in card value. (Points can also be redeemed for merchandise, but at a lower redemption value.) I recently redeemed 30,000 points for $300 in Home Depot cards.

I will spend $300 dollars at Home Depot easily - for me, it's like buying groceries or gas - it's just going to happen. It's already built into my budget.

What we all want, of course, is the "fun money" that cash back credit cards provide. In my case, I make this happen by simply making a "transfer" in my mind of $300 from my budget's "Home Depot" account to the "fun money" account. I know that, because I have $300 free dollars to spend at Depot, I have freed up $300 real cash money to spend somewhere else. So, in this specific instance, I have essentially earned 1% cash back on my CC purchases.

Bottom line: "rewards" that cover one of your everyday expenses can function essentially as "cash back".

Glenn --

Yeah, but doing it that way, you're earning the equivalent of 1% back. Doing it my way will earn you almost twice that amount. See this link for details:

Yes, the Citi cards refund dropped from 5% to 2%. They claimed that this is compensated by the fact that you can get 2% back on utilities, but my utilities company does not accept credit card payments, so that's no help. My latest Citi cards statements seems to indicate that I'm only getting 1% back on some purchases. I'm looking for another card.

Chase Bank, on the other hand, is the worst bank on the planet and has the absolute worst customer service of any business I've ever encountered. I won't deal with Chase.


Remember, though, by getting Home Depot (or any other store) gift cards, you're cheating yourself a bit as opposed to cash back, because you aren't earning any points or cash back on the purchases you make with the gift card. In your example, you're getting $300 of Home Depot money, which is great, but when you spend it, that's it. If, on the other hand, you got $300 cash back and stuck it in the bank, then turned around and spent $300 at Home Depot with your credit card, you'd be accruing another $3 in points. Something to think about. Incidentally, if you do a lot of Home Depot shopping, you may want to look into the Chase Business MasterCard, which gives 3% on all home improvement and hardware store purchases. I just ordered my first $50 check from them after having the card for two months.

I can't understand why people have had such problems with Chase and I haven't. Believe me, I've got plenty of customer service horror stories (even a broken office phone from slamming it down in anger), just not with Chase. Just chance, I guess. Y'all are talking about JPMorgan Chase, right?


Thought I had a good check coming from Discover with their 5% on hotels in July/August/September. Turns out the max reward for the duration of the 5% special is for a total of $20 cash back, from a $400 hotel stay. I feel violated.

I am shopping for a new card too. I charge a lot, and pay in full each month. Chase said they could not waive the $59 Southwest annual fee so I canceled that card and went with Discover. Not sure what to do now.

Alan --

Try the Amex card -- it's worked great for me.


I got stung by the Discover Card bonus limit last quarter. They had 5% cash back for April/May/June on, among other places, Sears. So I bought $2,000 in appliances at Sears, hoping to get $100 cash back. Oops - forgot about that $400 limit (or it might have been $500 that quarter, I don't recall).

As FMF indicated, AmEx has some good cash back cards. I don't know if you have CostCo in your area, but I've had a co-branded AmEx/CostCo card for a couple of years which gives me 3% on dining out, 2% on travel and 1% everywhere else. And I just upgraded to a Business AmEx/CostCo card, which additionally gives 5% on all gas station purchases.

Smart move to dump the $59 annual fee Southwest card. I don't see any reason to pay an annual fee. If you travel a lot, there are some decent miles cards out there. I just got a BankOfAmerica card which lets you choose between miles or cash, though the minimum redemption levels seem a bit high. I know Capital One has a good miles card, and Discover as well, but I'm not sure about those. I've never actually tried to redeem miles, so I don't know how onerous that is. That uncertainty is one of the reasons I've never taken advantage of a miles card. Plus, whenever I've looked at the details, whether the benefit is stated as points, miles or $ to buy a ticket with, it never seemed to be worth much more than 1% on your purchases when you get down to the bottom line. The BOA card I mentioned could theoretically net me 1.7% if I got a ticket which happened to cost exactly the maximum for the ticket price category. But I've got cards that give me 5%, 3% or 2% on so many purchases; there's not much that I only get 1% on. And as I mentioned in my earlier post, if you get your card rebate in the form of a plane ticket or voucher worth, say $400, that's $400 that you aren't putting on a card, thus are forgoing earning another $4, $8, or even $20 cash back depending on the card you're using. So, I'm still up in the air (pun intended) on miles cards, and I'm not sure if I'll use my BOA card for purchases at all.

I'm ducking as I write this because I know others on this board hate Chase, but most of what doesn't go on my AmEx card goes on one of my (JPMorgan) Chase cards, where I earn 3% on home improvement stores, office supply stores, restaurants, grocery stores, drug stores and telephone payments, and effectively 1.25% on everything else. I've never had a customer service problem and have always received a redemption check within a week when I earned enough points to order one. YMMV.

Happy hunting!


Does anyone know of how to get more than 1% cash back on tuition payments?


First, you've probably already done this, but find out the credit card policy at the school. Many schools charge a transaction fee, as much as 3%, for paying with a credit card. This could wipe out any cash-back benefit.

I haven't found any tuition-specific cash back cards, but there are some cards which can exceed 1% on any purchase if you play your cards right.

If the school accepts American Express, you might look into the AmEx Blue Cash card, which would give 1.5% on the amount over $6,500 for the year. It gives up to 5% back on some other purchases.

The Chase Freedom VISA gives what would amount to 1.25% if you allow your rewards balance to get to $200. It also gives up to 3% back on some other categories.

And if you have pets, check out the BankOfAmerica PetRewards VISA. I'm essentially earning 2% on my "all other" purchases, which in your case would include tuition. In order to get the 2%, you redeem your points for a rebate on veterinary services. If tuition is, say, $10,000, you'd get 10,000 points, which would give you $200 in veterinary rebates. In my case, with five cats, that's pretty easy to reach. It works pretty slickly; you don't have to plan ahead. When you need to go to the vet, go ahead and go to any vet, then pay with whatever payment type you want. Next, go to your PetRewards account online and redeem whatever points you've accumulated in any whole dollar amount (minimum $20 = 1000 points) to get a rebate form. Send the rebate form along with your vet receipt into PetRewards and get a check back in the mail, which you can deposit. While it isn't true "cash back," it achieves the same end for me. And I like the fact that rather than giving you a gift check or certificate or something to use for payment, you pay the vet using any form of payment, so you can earn future points on the payment itself. And, of course, it means you don't have to plan ahead to have a certificate in hand when you go to the vet. Also, at certain vets and pet supply stores you get 2 points for every $1 spent, so you end up getting effectively 4% at those locations. But again, this card only makes sense if you spend money at the vet.

Good luck!


By the way, I did some number crunching comparing the Chase VISA to the AmEx Blue Cash. It looks to me like the Chase VISA, at 1.25% is a better deal if you're going to spend less than $26,000. Once you exceed $26,000 the AmEx Blue Cash becomes more valuable, as you start to earn 1.5%. 'Course if the PetRewards card works for you, that's 2%...


Chris --

I think you need to re-crunch those numbers. The Amex Blue Cash card starts earning 1.5% at $6,500, not at $26,000. In addition, you make much more than 1.5% on certain purchases. See this link to see how I earn 1.8% on average last year on charges of just over $26,000:

Right, you earn 1.5% starting at $6,500. But until then, you're earning only 0.5%. Compared to the Chase VISA earning 1.25% from dollar 0, it takes you until $26,000 to break even. At, say $1,000, the AmEx has earned you $5 ($1,000 x 0.5), while the Chase has earned $12.50 ($1,000 x 1.25%). At $25,000, the AmEx Blue gives you ($6,500 x 0.5% + $18,500 x 1.5%) = $310, while the Chase gives you ($25,000 x 1.25%) = $312.50. $26,000 is the break-even point at $325 each. After that, the AmEx Blue starts to be an advantage. So, I stand by my math; until you reach $26,000 in purchases, the Chase is a better deal (excluding the "certain purchases".

As far as the "certain purchases" go, you are correct, the AmEx gives you the opportunity to earn up to 5% on gas, grocery and drug store purchases, while the Chase rebate on those categories is 3%. But comparing the two is complicated.

First, the AmEx rebate is again tiered; you only get 1% on the first $6,500. After that, you earn 5.0%, which is great. By contrast, the Chase can give you a flat 3% on gas, grocery and drug stores, from the first dollar spent. And, to make things more complex, Chase limits the 3% bonus to $600 per month, which for the sake of simplicity I'm annualizing to $7,200.

So, from the start, you're earning three times as month on gas/grocery/drug purchases by using the Chase (3% vs 1%). At $6,500.00, the AmEx would have earned you $65.00, while the Chase would give you $195.00, which is pretty lopsided in Chase's favor. However, after that, it starts to teeter toward the AmEx, as the AmEx is earning 5%. By the time you get to $7,200, Chase's advantage is a little over 2x: $100.00 for the AmEx vs. $216.00 for the Chase. After that, however, you're earning only 1.25% on the Chase, versus 5% on the AmEx. You get to a break-even point at $10,293.49, where either one would earn you $254.67. After that, things start to break pretty dramatically toward AmEx. By the time you hit $20,500.00 in gas/grocery/drug purchases, the AmEx is twice as valuable.

Of course, your mileage depends on your specific spending practices. Do you spend at least $10,293.49 a year ($858 per month) in grocery/gas/drug? If so, the AmEx would be a better deal. It also might be if you significantly exceeded $600 in g/g/d purchases in any single month.

So, don't get me wrong; I'm not knocking the AmEx Blue Cash; just running the numbers, I think, correctly. Everybody's situation is different.


Ahhh, yes, the "certain purchases" throw a wrench into it for everyone. Here's what I do to make the most of the Amex Blue card:

*Get to $6,500 asap. I've written about various strategies to do this -- save a big charge for early in the year (such as a car, vacation, etc.), put charitable donations on the card, etc.

*Put all your g/g/d on the card. We're a frugal family of four so our numbers are $175/$400/$75 on average -- over the $600 noted above. Most people spend more (or at least my blog readers do -- I asked them.)

*Charge EVERYTHING we can on the card. That's how we get to $26,000 a year. That's only a bit over $2,000 a month, so if you think about what the average family spends on vacations, entertainment, eating out, reimbursable business expenses, utilities, g/g/d, and on and on, it doesn't take much to see that many people can get to this level.

Too bad there's not some hybrid strategy where you could use one card for the first set of charges and another for the second. ;-)

OK, while I stand by my original math, I ran the numbers again using a more realistic scenario, and I admit it, I'm beat. If you were to use only one card, the AmEx Blue would trounce the Chase VISA.

In my scenario, I figured you spent $3,250 per month, of which $650 is for gas/grocery/drug. If you put everything on the Chase VISA, you'd get back $613.50 for the year. If you put everything on the AmEx Blue Cash, you'd have $754.00. And actually, even if your spending dropped down to as little as $1,300 per month, the solo AmEx Blue Cash still wins.

Now, you bemoan the fact that you can't use a hybrid approach. Ah, but you can! One thing I left out about the Chase VISA is a new feature wherein you get 3% off the three categories you spend the most in each month. There are fifteen categories to choose from which include, in addition to gas, grocery, and drug stores, telephone bills, satellite/cable bills, department stores, health clubs, movie rentals, movie theaters, commuting expenses, beauty salons/spas, and a few others.

So, using the above numbers, if you used the Chase VISA for up to $600 per month of, I don't know, let's say telephone bills, movie theaters and health club memberships, and put everything else including g/g/d on the AmEx, you could earn up to $216 on the Chase VISA while only dropping your AmEx reward to $612, resulting in a net of $828, or $74 more than using the AmEx alone.

Of course, if you want to get really o/c about this, you can be like me and use six different cards: 5% back for gas on my AmEx, 3% back on home improvement, office supplies and restaurants on my Chase M/C, 3% back on grocery/drug/telephone on the Chase VISA, 5% back on car maintenance on one Discover card, 5% back for the quarterly special category on my other Discover card, and 2% back in the form of vet rebates on by BoA card for everything else. Now that's just insane. :)

But, as I demonstrate above, you can still achieve improved cash back by using two cards, which isn't too crazy, I don't think.



Ya know, I always think of something *after* I post.

First of all, I neglected to reference your example spending level. I'll save you the math. At $26,000 per year, the solo AmEx route nets you $539.55. The solo Chase scenario nets you $451.05. But the hybrid approach gives you $595.21, for a gain of $55.66 over AmEx alone.

And the beauty thing is, many of the Chase VISA categories can be auto-payments, for example, Telephone, Cable/Satellite, Utility bills, and Health Club memberships. So, get a Chase VISA and use it to pay any three of those four categories automatically online, and whatever those add up to (up to $600 per month), you'll be getting 3% on. Put the Chase VISA in a drawer, and just carry the AmEx in your wallet and use it for everything else including g/g/d. You'll almost certainly be coming out ahead, and you still only have to carry and use one card.


Chris --

Hmmmm. I'll need to work out the math myself.


Anyone thought of the Emigrant Direct MC? It is at As long as you keep an average of $10K for 6 months in a savings account with them, every purchase nets you 1.4% cash back on everything. Every 6 months it will automatically deposit it into the savings account for you, it is not taxed. If you just go by the staight senario of $26K it will give you $364. Just a thought.

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