Disclaimer: This is not financial advice. Please apply, use and pay off your credit cards responsibly.
Hey readers! I’ve started talking one of my favorite topics, credit cards! I’ve demonstrated how to get started on your credit and how I used credit cards to pay off a good portion of my student loans. Now I want to dig into some of my favorite credit cards that I have been using to maximize my daily spending! Now, I’m heavily a Chase credit card user, I have never applied for American Express Credit Cards. Frankly, I love the Chase credit card products and have no need to dip into American Express at the moment. Plus, with buying a house, getting a refinance and getting home internet, I have a lot of credit report pulls which can negatively affect your credit score in the short term (I find it very odd that I have to get my credit pulled for getting internet). Anyway, I do have some other credit cards and I will explain to the best of my abilities the functions of those cards, recommended spending and recommended use for the rewards you earn on these credit cards! Before we jump in, I have two important aspects of credit cards that you need more clarification on or understanding:
- Cashback – The phrase explains a lot of the meaning of what it is. You receive a percentage of money back on what you purchased with your credit card (even sometimes a debit card). Generally, most credit cards give you 1% cash back, sometimes 1.5% and even 2% on purchases you make. For better clarification:
- For every $100.00 you spend, you would receive $1.00, $1.50 or $2.00 back in cash back.
- Rewards Points – Rewards points are offered by a number of credit card providers: Chase, American Express, Barclays, etc. They are similar to cashback, with 1 point equaling $0.01 majority of the time. However, rewards points can be maximized in different ways such as redeeming the points for air travel, hotels, cruises and more! For the sake of consistency, we will focus on the Chase Ultimate Reward Points Program for this post. Chase Ultimate Rewards Points are often valued to 1 point = $0.01 if you were to cash out the points. However, by redeeming for other things, those points can be worth as much as 1 point = $0.02, which is doubled the value!
Now that I’ve given you an introduction to both cashback and rewards points, let’s dig into my favorite credit cards to use!
I’ve mentioned in a previous post, that the Discover IT credit card is a GREAT starter credit card. Not only would Discover most likely accept your application without previous credit history (with a lot of protections on their side such as low credit limits), they come with a number of benefits as well! The first benefit is there is no annual fee for having the credit card opened. Annual fees can sometimes be pricey; ranging from $95.00 to $495.00 per year! It’s free to benefit from the card with credit approval, no tricks, no gimmicks! Another benefit is you receive 1% cashback on every purchase! Now, the biggest benefit of this credit card: Every year the Discover IT offers a 5% (1% + 4% extra) cashback on select categories every quarter with a maximum of $75.00 cashback per quarter or $1,500 spending per quarter ($75.00 divided by 5%). With this 5% offer, you’re eligible for $300.00 in total cash back with this benefit per year! What are some of the categories for the Discover IT card? Take a look at 2020s 5% categories here!
Here are some ways the bear and me maximized spending using the Discover IT credit card:
- Jan-Mar – All our grocery purchases (Shoprite, Stop & Shop and a local Asian Food Mart)
- Apr-Jun – All our gas purchases (didn’t maximize this quarter because of the pandemic and avoided Costco cause of madness)
- Jul-Sep (Current) – All online purchases went via PayPal (we bought furniture and paid via PayPal and that practically maxed out our $75.00 cashback for the quarter.) The charge will show up as PayPal and you will receive the 5%.
- For example – You can pay via PayPal on sites like overstock.com, homedepot.com, etc. If you need help finding sites that accept PayPal, click here!
- Oct-Dec – Will we be using this credit card for all our Amazon purchases, that’s easy because we use Amazon all the time!
With a little bit of research and pressing the activation button on your Discover IT credit card, you’re well on your way to earning 5% cashback! However, it’s important to REMEMBER to activate the bonus category, USE IT and pay your credit card! Many times the bear goes to me before she makes a purchase and double checks with me which credit card she should be using for cashback or points, I love it!!!
The best way in my opinion to use cashback like from the Discover IT Credit Card is to pay down your credit card statements if you want to save the extra cash, or…wait till you go on vacation! I am finding it best that when you go on vacation, you tend to spend a lot of money on food. Now, it would be even better if the 5% cashback bonus is on restaurants, but if it is not, at least you would be spending your cashback on food on vacation, it’ll essentially feel free with no extra cash coming out of your pocket! The bear and me are hoarding all our cashback right now for when we go on vacation, because we’ll be practically traveling for free at some point with airfare, hotel and food all covered!
Chase Freedom (Flex) Credit Card
Please be advised that to open and be approved for this Chase Credit Card, you should have at least a minimum 680 credit score.
Similar to the Discover IT credit card, the Chase Freedom Flex Card (formally just Chase Freedom) Credit Card also has 5% quarterly bonuses and has no annual fee! The difference is, you receive 5% back via Chase Ultimate Reward Points rather than cashback! Also similar to Discover IT, the Chase Freedom Flex card has a maximum of $75 worth of points back or 7,500 points per quarter. The biggest advantage you have with chase points is: you are able to maximize your points via airfare, hotel, etc. via the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program! Which can give you as much as 2x value rather than cashing out the points. Remember, 1 point = $0.01. So if you redeem 10,000 points, you gain $100. However, you could book let’s say, a Hyatt Regency hotel for 12,000 Chase Points per night (or transfer your chase points to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio, we’ll get into transfer partners soon) and the hotel stay per night is valued @ $400.00. That’s almost 4x the value than cashing out your points!! While you are able to still get cash for points, redeeming for travel is way more valuable.
Not to mention the biggest advantage that the Chase Freedom Flex Card has over the Discover IT – BONUS POINTS!!!! Yes Bonus points!!!
Earn 20,000 points or $200 cash value after spending at least $500.00 in 90 days after opening the card.
$500.00!!! Do you know how easy that is to spend in 90 days?! As the bear always says, she’s good at spending money! Anyway, obviously you should spend responsibly, but this bonus is great in addition to the 5% quarterly bonus categories! Remember, those 20,000 points can be redeemed for travel and can be enough for a round trip flight with SouthWest OR 4 nights at the lowest level Hyatt hotels!
In comparison with the Discover IT credit card, the Chase Freedom Flex offers almost the same exact categories as Discover, except they are all in different quarters. Here is what Chase has to offer (they often don’t reveal the categories until mid-way through the current quarter, not sure why but they’re always almost the same)
|Q1||Gas Stations, Internet, Cable & Phone Services and Select Streaming Services|
|Q2||Grocery stores, Gym Memberships and Fitness clubs and Select Streaming Services|
|Q3||Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market|
|Q4||Walmart & PayPal|
Again, due to the pandemic, we really were able to maximize the groceries and amazon spending so we hit our maximum spending for both quarters! Definitely will be able to maximize on PayPal since the holidays are coming and we often shop online for our gifts, especially this year!
Please be advised that to open and be approved for this Chase Credit Card, you should have at least a minimum 750 credit score.
Let’s call this card the older sibling of the Chase Freedom Flex credit card. The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a different punch to what the Flex offers. This credit card also does not have an annual fee, so it’s another card you can have for free upon credit approval, what a steal! This credit card offers 1.5% on EVERY purchase you make. That’s right! Every purchase! Doesn’t matter if it’s your neighborhood bodega, the spa, bills, everything! Most cards only have 1% back on purchases! There are more perks to this credit card, don’t worry!
Like the Chase Freedom Flex, you also have the same BONUS POINTS OFFER! WOOHOO BONUSES!!! For The Chase Freedom Unlimited, yes we also can:
Earn 20,000 points or $200 cash value after spending at least $500.00 in 90 days after opening the card.
Now, the even better perks of this credit card that they’ve updated this year:
Wow!!! Talk about a lot of perks! On top of the 20,000 bonus points, you get 5% back on groceries for 12 months with a maximum of $12,000 spending! Now, if you spend $1,000 a month of groceries, perfect! You can possibly get back 60,000 points worth of chase points in one year! And this isn’t even the end of it yet! 3% back on dining is huge! If you eat out a lot, why not get some points back on dining! Got to go to Walgreens, CVS or Rite Aid and have to buy stuff? This credit card also gives 3% back on drugstore purchases! This credit card has become even more powerful due to the global pandemic. The grocery offer is huge, because then if you maximize the discover IT or Chase Freedom Flex in your first year of having this card, then you are free to use the Chase Freedom Unlimited and still receive 5% back!
This is all about mindful spending and maximizing the spending that you do on a daily basis. I have a lot more credit cards to talk about, especially if we want to focus on bonus points. However, this post I’ve dedicated to maximizing spending on a daily basis. Having these three credit cards in my opinion will help you come out with hundreds of dollars in cashback or points every year, without having to pay any type of annual fee! I definitely recommend all these credit cards at some point in your lives. Of course, if you meet the credit requirements, definitely take advantage! Happy spending!