Favorite credit card rewards?
March 18, 2005 6:46 PM   Subscribe

What's your favorite credit card and why? I'm currently using a Bankone Amazon.com Visa, which corresponds to 3% back for amazon purchases and 1% back for all other purchases in the form of $25 amazon gift certificates. I pay off my balance in full every month. Anyone particularly happy with the rewards they're getting from their credit cards?
posted by sirion to Work & Money (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Nope, I cut up my last credit card in December, 2003.
posted by mischief at 7:14 PM on March 18, 2005

Bank One Rewards.. 1% back on everything.. Can get $25 in cash, or as a gift certificate to many places (Olive Garden, Best Buy, Exxon, and Macys being my favorite).

Shell has some decent cards too for gasoline.
posted by seinfeld at 7:15 PM on March 18, 2005

I love my REI card. 10% back on REI purchases and 1% on everything else.
posted by pwb503 at 7:40 PM on March 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

In the UK, the Amex Platinum gives 2% cashback on purchases over 7.5k, and increasing on a sliding scale for lower amounts, more details here. However Amex isn't that widely accepted outside of the US, but most airlines and other big purchase acceptors take it.

The Conran Card looks like it might be worth a try for those places that don't accept Amex. They're offering a share of the profits of the card issuer, which could be worth a little, or nothing at all.
posted by quiet at 7:45 PM on March 18, 2005

I like Bank One for their customer service. I just canceled a card, and they didn't hassle me at all. Just canceled it, and said have a nice day.

Compare them to Citibank: I tried to cancel one of their services on my card, and they asked me four times to not cancel and please just try the service one more time because it's so great and I'm really missing out. If they had asked me one more time, I was going to cancel the card as well as the service. I'm still considering canceling it, simply because their customer service is so horrible.
posted by veronitron at 7:54 PM on March 18, 2005

I use the same one as you, sirion, and I like it. I use it for auto-bill payments, including some big stuff like my car insurance, and I get an Amazon certificate for $25 every month or so. 1% is no big deal, but it's nice to get a little frivolous spending cash for stuff I have to pay for anyway. 3% back at Amazon is nice, too, since I shop there a lot already.
posted by scarabic at 7:55 PM on March 18, 2005

My favourite (and only) credit card doesn't give me benefits: it gives the benefits to charity. It's Citizens Bank, a siteless internet bank.

I pay a very low interest rate (or would, if I carried a balance), does not charge a fee, gives something like 10c for each transaction to a half-dozen charities elected by members annually, and has contacted me when spending patterns have been abnormal (ie. check that my identity hasn't been stolen.)

I think it mops every other credit card off the floor.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:09 PM on March 18, 2005

Five fresh: What would your guess be that amounts to, percentage-wise?

Quiet: Sounds like a good card, any idea if it's the same in the US?

veronitron: I like Bankone, but Chase bank just purchased them, and after the 4 week fiasco where Chase lost our credit cards in the mail *three times*, I'm not so happy about Bankone's new ownership.


Any way to net more than 1% back on average? I shop at amazon alot, but not enough to bring my net return much over 1%.
posted by sirion at 8:23 PM on March 18, 2005

How much are your annual fees?
posted by mischief at 8:46 PM on March 18, 2005

I just signed up for the Citibank Dividends card, which gives 5% cash back at supermarkets and gas stations, and 1% back everywhere else. I like it because you're not tied into spending the money at any one place.

I've been tracking credit card stuff over here, there is a lot to watch out for these days. No annual fee is key, also, watch for (and avoid) cards with shorter grace periods on purchases (sometimes as low as 20 days).
posted by jonah at 9:22 PM on March 18, 2005

Like jonah, I use the Citibank Dividend Platinum card. I tend to just automatically charge groceries on there for the 5% cash back. I've been using it for about 8 months and I've already gotten one $50 check (I don't use it *that* heavily, being a student). It's convenient and I've had no problems with it yet.
posted by armage at 9:27 PM on March 18, 2005

I love my AAA Platinum Visa. I use it exclusively to buy gasoline, because it automatically saves me 5% whenever I pay at the pump at any gas station in the continental US. What ever will they think of next?
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:02 PM on March 18, 2005

mischief: No annual fees.

This citibank card sounds promising..

How about travel-related rewards? How are the returns on them? Do they compare to getting 1-3% back and then spending that money on a plane ticket?
posted by sirion at 10:02 PM on March 18, 2005

Citizens Bank isn't siteless. It's local to New England.

I use an American Airlines-miles earning card, because I fly AA almost everywhere I go. I earn about a free trip or a couple of upgrades a year, somewhere around a $500 value.
posted by nev at 10:04 PM on March 18, 2005

Almost all travel related cards have an annual fee of some sort, so that needs to be factored into the equation as well. Also, be aware of blackout dates on those rewards.

To earn a ticket on most of them, you need 25,000 miles (domestic, most restrictions.) Assuming that you get 1 mile for a dollar, or 1% back, you would get $250. Add the annual fee, and it equates to $300 on the cash back card. And that's assuming that you don't get any of the 5% rewards.

One caveat on the cash back card is that you are limited to $300/year. Also, the travel related cards often have some generous sign up bonuses, I have seen as high as 15,000 miles.

I used to have a miles card, but in the end it didn't seem to work out as well as I thought it would. One thing I would caution is to never sign up for a card just because of the rewards.
posted by jonah at 10:27 PM on March 18, 2005

the citibank dividend is the best i've found. the catch there is that you can get a maximum of $300 in rewards back per year. with a house & family we hit that ceiling pretty quick so the get-around is to have four different accounts for a new ceiling of $1200. we won't actually spend that much, and i'm not sure how we pulled off the 4 accounts but i think it's pretty sweet. no annual fees by the way.

i'm still paranoid they'll pull the rug out somehow.

one place you can apply for the deal here where it's called the AT&T Universal cash rewards but I think it's the same thing (read the fine print!)
posted by jacobsee at 10:48 PM on March 18, 2005

I use the ShareBuilder Platinum card. For every $2,500 you charge they drop $25 bucks into a money market fund. The plan: keep it in the fund; don't touch it. Maybe it makes a few bucks.

I can't speak to the annual fees on this card. I don't even know what they are. Within the industry I believe I'm classified as a "deadbeat". This means I pay my balance EVERY month in full. I advise everyone to do the same.
posted by quadog at 11:24 PM on March 18, 2005

thanks for posting this question! the Citibank Upromise looks intriguing to me. I currently use discover for 2% by using one of their "double your money back" partners.
posted by busboy789 at 6:41 AM on March 19, 2005

If you are a hunter/outdoorist, and live nearby a Cabela's store, be sure to check out the Visa they offer. They pay a dvidend on use payable in goods at their store/catalog, I believe 1% in general and 2% for your purchases with them. The real kicker, and it is not generally publicized, is that you get free merchandise vouchers good at the stores several times a year, whether you use the card or not. It used to be $40 twice a year, but I think they are moving to $30 three times a year. You have to show up in person to partake, but the vouchers are good on anything in the store. Their clothing, including camo, is very high quality, and I have come away with a free shirt or pants each time for the last few years. They also put out items they are discontinuing at these times, at reduced prices, so you can even make your free money go farther. All in all a great deal!
posted by ackptui at 7:50 AM on March 19, 2005

I like to use my rewards points for international business class travel, and I find that my Amex Rewards Plus card is very helpful. Also, Amex customer service, insurance and fraud/identity theft protections are first rate.
posted by MattD at 8:05 AM on March 19, 2005

In Canada, I can't help but think the best travel deal around is the Mosaik Gold WestJet Mastercard. It's a $70 a year annual fee, which gives you one AirMile per $15 spent, instead of 1 per $40 on the no fee AirMiles card. It also doubles the number of AirMiles you receive when you buy tickets on WestJet - 1 for every $7.50. In the first year, the $70 fee is returned to you via a WestJet credit voucher.

The really interesting part of the deal is what it does to the cost of using AirMiles on WestJet. Any WestJet flight becomes 1600 AirMiles or less, often less. A flight home from Toronto for me is 4800 air miles at peak, and 3800 non-peak without this package. 1600 peak and 1400 non-peak with the package. I had 3400 air miles when I joined, not quite enough to buy an off-peak ticket home. That summer, I flew home twice on AirMiles, a savings of approximately $1000 over what it would have cost to buy the tickets.

I now collect Air Miles reward miles at a rate of about 1600 miles per year, approximately 1200 of those from the Mastercard itself, which means basically one free flight anywhere WestJet flies each year. That's mostly Canadian domestic flights, but also includes some US destinations.

Needless to say, I'm pretty damned pleased with this deal. It's not super flexible, in that they're not use them anywhere rewards, but I like WestJet, it's always been my first choice for flights, anyway.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:39 AM on March 19, 2005

I'm talking about this Citizens' Bank, in Canada.

About 4% of profits are donated to charity.

It is, in fact, likely the only serious, sizable ethical bank in North America.

I also have a no-fees ATM card that donates 10c to charity every time I use it. I am always very tempted to purchase a bajillion nickle gumballs, just to see what would happen.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:52 AM on March 19, 2005

I secondo MattD's comment -- AmEx's program of reward points allowed me to purchase a lot of frequent flyer miles over the years, I am quite happy with it. if you're a frequent flyer you should consider getting an AmEx card
posted by matteo at 9:36 AM on March 19, 2005

AmEx cards are great just for the travel services, as in when you are on the road in trouble, it is like having a personal travel agent. Also good for things like rental car insurance, disputed charges, etc.

As a reward card though, I think you can do better than AmEx.
posted by jonah at 9:43 AM on March 19, 2005

The problem with airline miles (as rewards) is that they are so difficult to redeem. An article in today's NY Times (registration required) says:

Airlines, for their part, insist that they're not cutting back on the number of awards. This is true, but numbers can be deceiving. ... As of 2002 ... a total of 120 million members of frequent-flier programs (about two thirds of them are in the United States) had about 9 trillion miles stashed away. That compares with about 1.2 trillion miles 10 years earlier. ... While airlines promote the availability of travel awards, they're a little coy about promoting the fine print, including the ever-tightening blackout dates and restrictions regarding availability, especially at the minimal level. Customers should not be surprised to know that they are playing in a lottery,
posted by WestCoaster at 11:54 AM on March 19, 2005

fff - Looks tempting, but the interest rate is 17%, that's kind of hefty for those of us who carry a balance. There's a related card that sounds interesting -- VanCity EnviroFund VISA. Some percentage goes to environmental projects in BC, and cardholders get to decide where the money goes. Plus, they have a low-interest card, too, with an annual fee of $25. Not too bad.
posted by greatgefilte at 12:24 PM on March 19, 2005

Though on further perusal, it appears one must be a BC resident to get the VanCity card. Feh.
posted by greatgefilte at 12:26 PM on March 19, 2005

Nordstrom's visa. No annual fee, $20 gift certificate for every 2000 points (one point per dollar on non-Nordstrom purchases, two or more points per dollar for store purchases). Keeps me well shod.
posted by cali at 12:26 PM on March 19, 2005

New York State offers a downloadable PDF file here that lists the interest rates, terms, and fees of all credit cards that are available to New York State residents. As this includes all national cards, it's a good place to comparison shop even if you are "out of state".
posted by extrabox at 12:34 PM on March 19, 2005

RaceTrac Petroleum is offering a MasterCard with 3% back on RaceTrac purchases and 1% for other purchases. For the first two months you get 10% back on RaceTrac purchases and 2% elsewhere. I also got a $25 gas card for signing up.
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:51 AM on March 20, 2005

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