I'm writing on this topic because a commenter on a previous post marveled at my receiving $20.00 in gift cards from the LL Bean Visa.
I have plain vanilla rebate credit cards. The American Express has a sliding scale of rebates and gives me back a few hundred dollars a year and the Chase Freedom Card gives me 1% back. Then I have the LL Bean card, which I got to get free shipping and monogramming on the de rigeueur backpacks when my kids hit middle school.
I charge just about everything because I am lucky to have a built-in limit (built in, that is,to my brain or consciousness or something). So I never have a finance charge. I did a rough calculation and decided that airline miles linked credit cards were not better than what I already have. Plus, I figure that anything hawked with such enthusiasm by the purveyors (car leases, variable rate mortgages, variable annuities, whole life insurance) must be better for the purveyor than for the consumer.
As an amusing sidenote, a person I know slightly exclaimed that she and her husband had earned 2 tickets to Europe with a frequent flyer card in just one year. She was "playing middle-middle class," because she and her spouse had gone to Europe the previous year, also, she said, on frequent flyer credit card miles. When I said, "Wow! That's a lot of miles," she said, "I charge everything. Even groceries." Little did she know that she was revealing yearly spending on her card of perhaps $80,000.00, since you need about 40,000 for a plane ticket. A lot of groceries.
Anyway, I tend to ignore the various offers that arrive with my statements. So how did I acquire the $20.00? I bought my parents some luggage on sale. I got a few other things. I think LL purchases earn 3% back. Other purchases earn only 0.5%. I used the card a lot in Europe, since many places only take Visa, and that's my only Visa card. So somehow, I got $10.00!
Then, out of the blue, I got a $10.00 just because credit. I assume this was just because business this year, as my children would say, sucks. So it is to encourage spending. Hence, my $29.00 tote bag purchase.
If you don't have the card already, I think you get a $20.00 gift card just for applying. Then you get free shipping, returns, and monogramming. I seldom use the card, but even these little freebies are fun, pure lagniappe.
A few years ago, I earned a lot of credits and rebates when we were buying our Honda Civic. I put half on the American Express and half on the LL Bean Visa. We had saved up enough to pay cash since our previous car was 14 years old. But we figured, Why not get the rewards?
I was so scared that the bills would arrive late or that I would forget to pay, incurring a huge finance charge, that I sent the full payments to the companies that very day. And checked to make sure they got there.
So my story of credit cards involves paying them off in full and using them lackadaisically to get rewards now and then.
Do you make wise or clever use of credit card rewards? If so, how?