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How I Get 5% Back on Almost Every Purchase

Hello to my 12 readers (4 of whom I am not related to). A few months back I wrote about how everyone should be getting at least 2% back on every purchase. Now that is the bare minimum. If you aren’t get 2%, well then you just don’t like free money. But for those who do, I want to run down how I get 5% back on almost every purchase I make. Now should you go apply for all these cards right now? No. Some may make sense for you. Others won’t.

Chase Ink Business Preferred: I have an older version of the Chase Ink that gives 5% back on cellphone bills. I actually switched it up recently after learning that the Chase Ink Business Preferred offers free cellphone protection if you pay your bills with that card. You get up to a $600 per claim in cellphone protection against covered theft or damage. There’s a maximum of 3 claims in a 12 month period with a $100 deductible per claim.

The Chase Ink Preferred also gives you 3% back on phone, internet and cable bills. In my mind, the 3% plus the cellphone protection beats out the 5%. The Ink Preferred also has one of the best signup bonuses out there – 80,000 points after spending $5K in five months. Those are worth $800 in statement credits or more than $1,500 worth of travel if transferred to frequent flyer or hotel programs. A reminder you don’t need a traditional business to open a business credit card.  Application link here.

Chase Freedom/Discover IT:  Both of these cards have rotating 5% cash back categories that change each quarter. Right now, the Chase Freedom has 5% on gas stations, drugstores and tolls. The Discover has grocery stores. The great thing about that drugstore category is CVS counts and you can buy $500 gift cards to rack up those points. Discover often offers 5% back at Amazon in Q4 each year and it’s already on the schedule again for 2019. We buy pretty much everything on Amazon so when Q4 rolls around, I buy $1,500 worth of Amazon gift cards so all my holiday shopping is getting 5% back.

If I had to pick one of these two cards, though, the Freedom is the winner. It has a $150 signup bonus after spending $500 in three months and Chase UR points are much more valuable than Discover points. That said, the Discover card doubles your cash back earned for the first year. That means 2% on everything and a huge 10% on anything on the rotating categories. Do note that there’s a maximum of $1,500 in spending in each category that earns bonus points. Chase Freedom link here. Discover IT here.

American Express Gold Card: This card gives 5% back at supermarkets and restaurants all year. But here’s the big caveat: there’s a $250 annual fee that isn’t waived the first year. My annual fee is coming due soon and it will be a tough call on whether to keep it or not. The pros: there’s a signup bonus of 40,000 Membership Rewards points after $2K spending 3 months. That bonus alone makes this card worth getting for at least one year. 40K Amex points can easily get you $600-700 worth of travel.

The card also gives you $10 a month in statement credits when you pay with the card at participating dining partners, which include Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Shake Shack locations. We sure as hell don’t bring two kids to Ruth’s Chris Steak House, but we get that $10 credit every damn from from Grubhub. So right there with the dining credits, that brings the annual fee down to $130. You also get up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits toward incidental airline fees like checked baggage when you charge them to your card.

So yeah, tough call on this one when it’s renewal time. Big fee, but also big benefits. I will say if you are big spender at restaurants, this is likely a card you want in your arsenal despite the annual fee. Application link here.

The one big nut I have yet to crack: how to get 5% back (or anything back) on my mortgage payment. If someone has figured that out, well, you are my new best friend.

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