For some unknown reason, cash back offers just don’t get much love in our hobby. And that’s a shame because even if your only focus is redeeming points on travel, you will still have out-of-pocket expenses that will need to be covered with real dollars. I realize I sound like Captain Obvious right now, but I feel that as a community we sometimes fail to see the forest for the trees.
Cash is my second favorite type of currency, right after Chase UR points. And that’s only because I view UR points essentially as cash with a potential for an upside. I’ve had debates with readers in the comment section who said that UR points are not worth 1 cent apiece because it costs them less than that to manufacture them. I beg to differ. You can easily redeem them at 1 cent apiece, period. Just because you wouldn’t doesn’t mean that’s not their intrinsic value. But I digress…
A few months ago I signed up for Citi Shop Your Way Rewards credit card and promised to give the readers an update. But first, a reminder on the offer in case you are not familiar with it. You can earn $75 in statement credits for every $500 spent, up to $225, on eligible purchases in the first 90 days after you are approved for a new Shop Your Way Mastercard. You also earn 5X points on gas and 3X on groceries. You can redeem the points towards Amazon gift cards. This offer expires 2/29/2024, unless Citi extends it yet again. And here is the application link (does not pay us commission).
I do have to give credit to Sam from Milenomics.com for championing this card in his blog and podcast.
A flood of lucrative offers
I’ve mentioned in my post that it was a bit of a gamble, and that there was no guarantee I would get any good spending offers. Fortunately, the “gamble” paid off nicely. So, about a month into having a card I got an offer to get $50 credit for spending $600 on online purchases. Certain categories (like medical bills and utilities) were excluded. I went ahead and made a charitable donation through a website I use anyway, and that triggered the rebate.
Lo and behold, I got the same offer the next month, but this time I used it for Kroger.com and Amazon purchases. I should add that I have Amex Blue Cash Preferred that earns 6% on groceries, but Citi offer obviously was far superior. Plus, I also earned 3X points per dollar on groceries on top of the rebate.
You guessed it, I got the same deal the next month as well. I got busy and forgot all about it until the last week of October. I was looking through my emails because I wanted to double check the exact terms and found this:
Whoa. How in this world did I miss this?! But I did and now I only had a week to get 10% discount on certain purchases for October. I’ve decided to stop by Winn-Dixie and buy a $500 Disney gift card since we have firm plans to visit Disney World in a few months, $100 Amazon gift card and $200 in groceries. I normally shy away from purchasing big entertainment-related gift cards. What if my husband loses his job? But in this case I figured having a $500 Disney gift card would probably be the least of our worries.
Plus, I’m pretty sure Nancy (a Disney junkie, I mean fan) would be happy to buy it from me at 10% off if it comes to that. We live 1.5 hours from Disney, so I know we will be able to utilize the gift card eventually even if something crazy happens (like another pandemic). However, since we are swamped with bills at the moment, I’ve decided to take advantage of 0% on purchases through next July, another gift from Citi. I only made a minimum payment, and will circle back to the rest of the balance next year.
This is a strategy that you need to be very careful with, for obvious reasons. But for me personally, it’s worth it to get 10% off on Disney tickets, a purchase we are planning on anyway. Plus, we do have some savings put away for the worst case scenario. Interestingly, the online purchases offer and grocery spending offer overlap, so it’s possible to trigger both by shopping on Kroger.com Not bad, not bad at all.
But wait, there is more! Here is another offer I got a few days ago:
Essentially, I can get 10% off on utilities for 3 months. Until now I have been using US Bank Cash+ which gives me 5% cash back. The problem? We spend $200 per month on utilities, so $1,500 will be enough to cover our power bill for 7.5 months. But 10% discount is tough to resist, so I plan to maximize the offer. Once again, having 0% promo on new purchases will help me not to get too overwhelmed and spread out the payments well into 2024. It does take discipline, and Citi is counting on you dropping the ball and eventually being stuck with 30% interest.
You can’t win them all
If these offers keep on trickling in each month, I may have to forego them on occasion. We only have so much purchasing power to absorb expenses that won’t occur many months from now. Sure, if I did manufactured spending, that would help. But it’s not something I want to mess with.
One time I had an unusually good offer and prepaid a power bill which left me with a $3k credit. Then we had some unexpected bills and I called the power company to see if I can get a refund. It was a hassle, and I’m pretty sure the lady thought I was engaging in money laundering. But they did cut me a check in the end. Still, it’s not something I can do very often.
Also, when I was buying that Disney gift card at a local Winn-Dixie, they sent me to a customer service desk where the manager stared me down for good 10 seconds after I told her I want to pay for my $500 gift card with a credit card. I tried making small talk, but she wasn’t having it. I live in a small Florida town where many people live below poverty. Needless to say, when you come in and buy a $500 Disney gift card, you stand out.
I don’t have any spending offers on my Chase cards at the moment. But it goes without saying that I wouldn’t pursue them given the alternative. If I have a choice between 10% statement credit and 5X Hyatt points, I will pick the former every time. After all, I can always buy Hyatt points for 1.7 cents apiece with the cash I collect from Citi. But you know I won’t. That’s what Chase Ultimate Rewards are for.
Speaking of, 100k offer on Chase Ink Business Preferred (our affiliate link) is still available. If you have a business, getting 100k Ultimate Rewards points after spending $8k is nothing to sneeze at.
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.