See our Advertiser Disclosure and Editorial Note here.
As some of you know, most of my energy is spent on new sign-up bonuses. I’ve never been good at multitasking, so if I juggle too many things at once, my brain starts to go numb. Hence, I try to keep things simple whenever possible. At the same time, I obviously want to take advantage of good deals when they come along. We are a normal middle-class family, so any extra money/miles are always welcome.
A simple 3% formula
When it comes to deciding which credit card to use, I don’t overthink things. Since I tend to use Plastiq service (my referral link ), at least when it comes to minimum spending requirements, I’m obviously willing to pay a 2.75% fee. But let’s round it up to 3% for simplicity sake.
So, by that logic, the return on everyday spending has to exceed 3% cash back per point. Let me give you an example. Right now I’m working on meeting minimum spending requirements on US Bank Altitude Connect card. It earns 2 points per dollar on dining.
So, when I get fast food, I have a choice between using that card, Chase Freedom Flex (3 UR points) and US Bank Cash+ (5% cash back). It seems like the latter is the obvious choice, right? Not really, because it doesn’t pass the “3% fee” test. Each point I earn with US Bank Altitude Connect foregoes 2.5% cash back return on Cash+. Again, this logic only applies when it comes to meeting minimum spending requirements.
Here is another example. One of the rotating categories on my Cash + card is “utilities.” My new Altitude Connect card only earns 1 point per dollar here, so I stick to Cash+. Of course, there are other times I divert my attention from minimum spending requirements. One obvious example is Amex offers. If I can save 10% or more, I do it.
Some recent deals I just couldn’t resist
1) The fourth quarter 5% categories on Chase Freedom Flex
This one is a total no-brainer since PayPal is one of them. On top of it, Chase has a promotion going that allows you to earn another 4 points per dollar in the top spending bonus category. That’s just crazy.
It so happens that I owed my in-laws some money since they have my iPhone listed on their plan. There were a few other things I needed to cover. So, I sent them money via PayPal (make sure to select “goods and services”). Sure, I paid a 3% fee, but so what? I also earned 9 highly valuable UR points per dollar.
Some folks suggest using Payusatax.com service (they accept PayPal) to prepay estimated taxes for 2021. At tax filing time you will simply get back whatever you have overpaid. I have used this website before with no issues. However, recent Flyertalk and Reddit reports have given me pause. Personally, I don’t feel comfortable relying on it and would rather pay a 3% fee to send money to my relatives. But as they say, YMMV
2) Amex +5 MR points per dollar offer on Amazon spending
This one was targeted and is capped at 2,500 points. Definitely a no-brainer for me. I shop on Amazon a lot, and highly value Membership Rewards points. Since the offer was attached to my Amex Everyday Preferred card, I selected an option of automatically adding $5 per day to my Amazon account in order to simultaneously hit 30 purchases requirement. A win/win.
3) Yet another lucrative spending offer on my Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa
This card has been such a delightful surprise! I applied for it a few years ago and sort of regretted it afterwards since the bonus was only $250. But, it has been amazing. Every few months, like clockwork, I get an offer to receive 10% cash back on my first grocery purchase, up to maximum $40 in rewards. And I make sure to maximize it each and every time.
I used to be able to buy MasterCard gift cards at my local Winn-Dixie and use them towards charity contributions online. Sadly, it hasn’t worked the last time I tried it. But that’s ok since I can always buy groceries and add a few Amazon gift cards into the mix. Being able to get 10% off on things I need anyway certainly gets my attention.
These are just a few examples off the top of my head. But hopefully, this post gives you some insight into my thinking process. As always, I like to keep things simple and only go after deals where the payoff is substantial. You won’t see me sweating over losing a point or two on a purchase. In the grand scheme of things that’s not how you will get your “free” trips or early retirement.
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.