Well Rewarded

Andrew Forsythe

AS JULY BEGAN, there was happy news for Chase Freedom Visa cardholders like me: One of the categories for 5% rewards this quarter is grocery stores. We spend a lot on groceries, which means I’ll get a nice cash reward from Chase.

I’m a big believer in credit card cash rewards for two reasons. First, of course, there’s the reward money. The second reason is psychological: Credit card companies are notorious for the outrageous interest and fees they exact from anyone who doesn’t pay off every nickel every month, so I find having them pay me money to be extremely satisfying.

Different cards have different rewards schemes. To maximize your cash back, it can be worthwhile to have more than one credit card—at the cost of a bit more complexity and hassle.

I currently use three cards. The aforementioned Chase Freedom Visa normally pays a meager 1% reward, but also has the rotating quarterly category where certain types of purchases earn 5% on up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, potentially giving me a $75 quarterly reward. I pay attention to the current category and use the Chase card for those purchases.

I have a Bank of America Cash Rewards Visa which likewise pays 1% but lets you choose an ongoing category that pays 3%. I selected online purchases. I’ve discovered that ordering groceries online and then picking them up curbside—a habit we acquired during the pandemic—qualifies as an online purchase, so I use the Bank of America card for that. Unless, of course, the Chase card’s 5% quarterly category includes groceries.

Finally, I have a Citibank Double Cash Mastercard, which pays 2% on all purchases, all the time. I use that for everything else. It can add up: In 2020, I earned more than $1,100 in cash rewards from the three cards—plus a significant shot of psychological satisfaction.

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