A little background: I absolutely hate shopping. Black Friday is like kryptonite to me. You will not find me battling the hordes at Target or camping out by Walmart at 5 AM. Are you kidding me? I’m not willing to do camping in a national park, much less in a parking lot.
So, naturally, on Black Friday, I was going about my usual business, which is tending to my baby (aka the blog). My sister-in-law took the kids to the local mall. Now, she is a shopaholic all right.
Buy it now!
Later in the day she called and told me that she found a deal on Buy.com and had to order right away. So she wanted to know if I needed to meet a minimum spend on a card and she would pay me back.
The purchase was for $1,600 total. I was about $400 short on one card, and my new one hasn’t arrived yet. Since the deal was only good for that day, I had to make a decision on which card would give me the best bang for my buck. I wrote a few weeks ago about how I used Discover IT card to get 5% on an iPad purchase. That, plus some other stuff, and I’ve used up $1,500 maximum to get the extra cash back bonus. Or so I thought. More on that later.
Mirror mirror on the wall…
I thought about Amex SPG since starpoints are quite valuable. But then I remembered my US Bank Cash Plus Visa. It has gathered dust for over a year. It is a very interesting card, and I wrote about it in this post. Every three months, you are allowed to select two categories that earn 5% cash back on up to $2,000 and one that earns 2%. I looked at the selection and, sure enough, it had department stores and electronics stores listed.
I selected both, just in case, to make sure one of them triggered the extra bonus for my Buy.com purchase. Interestingly, it says at the bottom that you should allow 3 business days to start earning bonus. So I’m not really certain if I’ll get it or not. I did check evreward and saw that Ebates was paying 6 % on purchases, so I made sure to click through that shopping portal.
Here is a sample of 5% categories for January-March:
As you can see, there are quite a few ways you can maximize this deal. If you know you’ll be shopping for furniture or another big item, it could come in very handy.
Just minutes later, my brother-in-law called and wanted me to order a TV on Best Buy with my card so I could get 5% cash back. I vaguely remembered that he had Discover and, sure enough, he did. Turns out, it was just sitting in his drawer. I told him he would do better to use the Discover card, since it would give him 5% bonus for online shopping, plus 5% back by going through the Discover shopping portal. He was happy to follow my orders.
It pays to keep track of bonus categories on your existing cards. If you do your homework ahead of time, when the deal pops up, you’ll be ready. Additionally, some cards require several days for activation to take place. I should have registered for US Bank card bonus categories when they came out. I don’t know if I’ll get my 5% cash back, so stay tuned for an update.
Remember that Discover 5% cash back bonus I mentioned? I forgot to register for it, and unlike with Chase Freedom, you have to do it before you make your purchase. No retroactive bonus here, my friend. So, I charged $1,500 and didn’t even earn 1% cash back.
Excuse me while I slap myself on the face. Ouch, that hurt. But wait, there is more! I called and asked politely if Discover would give me the bonus as a one-time courtesy. And they did. Discover customer service is outstanding, in my opinion.
Chase Freedom or US Bank Cash Plus?
I also recommend you look into getting US Bank Cash Plus Visa. It does offer an incredible flexibility, since you can choose your categories. Plus, it has no annual fee. It’s also accepted everywhere, unlike Discover. Currently, you can only apply in-branch or convert over the phone from your existing US Bank card.
Right now, there is a lot of buzz about Chase Freedom (partially, because it pays referral). But the truth is, US Bank Cash Plus is far superior as a long-term card for most middle-class families in America. It doesn’t mean that Chase Freedom is bad. In fact, I just recommended it to my brother-in-law who was looking for a card with an introductory 0% APR on purchases. Chase Freedom offers 0% APR on new charges for 15 months. The fact that it offers a sign-up bonus and is a decent long-term card was just the icing on the cake.
Also, if down the road he gets Chase Sapphire Preferred, he’ll be able to combine points and transfer them to various loyalty programs. In case you’ve missed it, Doctorofcredit has found info on 5% categories for Chase Freedom in all four quarters of 2015. I plan to take advantage of the first one.
The sign-up bonus on this card is temporarily increased to 22,500 points after spending $500 in 3 months and adding an authorized user. If you plan to get it, I will be happy to send a referral through email that will give me 5,000 points. Contact me if interested or you can apply through my affiliate link instead. As always, get the card that fits your specific needs.
I still hate shopping. But if I can do it for someone else, get 5% cash back and order from the comfort of my own home, I’m in! BTW I plan to turn over the cash to my sister-in-law. If I get it, that is.
Readers, what have you bought during Black Friday?
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.