It may seem counter-intuitive, but one of the easiest ways to make a quick buck is through the use of credit card cash bonuses. Here are the top 5 credit card cash bonuses that are currently available and easy to hit.
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Just about everyone, except for those who have several hundred thousand saved up, should have an emergency fund. It may be a bit shocking to those of you who have read or listened to some of the leading financial gurus who are out there, but credit cards can help you get one. Even those who have a huge nest egg could pick some low-hanging fruit with credit card cash bonuses.
How? you might ask. Many credit cards will offer signup bonuses to new cardholders who complete a minimum spend, usually within the first three months that the card is open.
Who Should NOT Look at the Top 5 Credit Card Cash Bonuses?
If you are currently in debt, you should not look at credit cards at all. The same goes if you have no financial discipline. Some of these credit card bonuses can pay about 30% of the money that you put into them, but if you carry a balance and have to pay interest, the bonus is a waste.
You absolutely have to pay off the balance each month, even if there is a 0% introductory rate. These are usually available for a limited time, but if you have debt after the interest-free period is up, you owe interest. And credit card interest is about the most punitive type of interest there is. Most cards charge between 15 and 25% on an annual basis. That’s quite a bit more than a home mortgage or a car loan would cost in interest. Only payday loans routinely charge more.
There are few types of interest that are worse. Therefore, if you’re not sure that you avoid interest by paying off your card in full each month, don’t apply.
What’s the Benefit of the Top 5 Credit Card Cash Bonuses?
The signup bonus and the cash back feature can really pay off.
Credit card companies like Visa and American Express charge a swipe fee each and every time that you make a charge on a credit card. The payment processor charges this fee whether you physically swipe (or insert) your card or you make a purchase on the Internet.
These cards that pay out cash bonuses basically refund you a portion of the swipe fees (and other people’s interest payments). You have to pay them anyway, so you might as well get some of them back.
Even if you pay cash for most items, guess what–the swipe fee is already built into the cost. Therefore, you might as well take advantage of the discount if you can get it. Here are some cards that offer the top 5 credit card cash bonuses. Some pay bigger bonuses. Others pay smaller bonuses that are easy to hit.
Regardless, if you got all of these cards and met the spending requirement within the first year, you’d have more than $1,000 in cold, hard cash built up if you did not spend it and avoided paying interest by paying off the outstanding balance each and every month.
So, Without Further Ado, Here Are Some of the Top 5 Credit Card Cash Bonuses
This card from Chase bank offers users a nice $150 bonus for spending $500 within three months. Keep in mind that you only need to spend $167 for each month to earn the bonus. You can use the card to buy gas, purchase groceries, or eat out. If you owe on utilities, many utility companies will accept credit cards.
Basically, you spend the $500, pay it off to avoid interest charges, and Chase provides you with a $150 bonus, free and clear. It doesn’t get any easier if you have good credit. If you’re credit smells like a septic system, you’re out of luck. On the other hand, if you’ve worked hard to get great credit, you can benefit.
The Freedom Unlimited also pays 1.5 points (basically 1.5% cash back) for every dollar spent. This would effectively add at least $7.50 to your bonus. If you want to keep using the card, you can get $15 for every $1,000 that you spend on it thereafter, but you might want to look at some of the other bonuses first if you can qualify for them.
There’s no annual fee associated with the Freedom Unlimited, so you can keep it indefinitely with little risk as long as you pay off the bill in full each month. However, if you have another card available, you can cancel and get the bonus again if you’ve not earned it within 24 months under current Chase rules.
You can sign up for the Chase Freedom Unlimited here.
The Sapphire Preferred is another option from Chase. I recommend this over its ritzier brother the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I got the Sapphire Reserve right after it came out for a huge bonus. However, it comes with a huge $450 annual fee that can cause cash flow issues for many people. There are benefits that can offset the annual fee, but $450 is quite a bit to front.
I actually downgraded the Sapphire Reserve for the Freedom Unlimited.
I recommend the Sapphire Preferred because it comes with a $500 cash back bonus (or $625 in travel credit). It comes with no annual fee for the first year and charges only $95 per year thereafter.
You earn one Ultimate Reward point for each dollar spent in general and two points per dollar spent on travel and at restaurants. This can compound the earnings from the card. Each point is worth 1 cent if redeemed for cash. You can also use the points from this card (and combine those from the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited) as transfers into major travel programs.
The down side of this card, however, is the $4,000 that you have to spend in the first three months. If you normally spend this much anyway, the Sapphire Preferred can give you a quick $500 infusion of cold, hard cash that will either show up as a statement credit or a direct deposit into your checking account.
This card that comes from Capital One is much like the Chase Freedom Unlimited. It comes with the same $150 bonus for spending $500 within three months. It would actually be better to sign up for the Freedom Unlimited first, as Chase has what’s called the 5/24 rule within the travel hacking industry.
The Quicksilver card also comes with no annual fee and pays 1.5% cash back on every dollar spent. This would be a good card to get for another bonus after you’ve gotten the bonuses from the Chase cards noted. With the 1.5% cash back, you’d get at least $157.50 after qualifying for the bonus by meeting the minimum spend.
There is a Blue Cash Everyday card and a Blue Cash Preferred card. I would recommend the the Everyday card over the Preferred, even though the latter has a larger signup bonus. The reason? The annual fee. The Blue Cash Everyday card charges no annual fee, while the Blue Cash Preferred charges $95 from the first year. This is more than the $50 larger bonus, although it can get offset with some of the bonus categories. The choice is yours, however.
The Blue Cash Everyday offers a $150 signup bonus (in the form of a statement credit) after spending $1,000 within three months. Users get 1% cash back on most purchases with the Blue Cash Everyday, but there are bonus categories that can ramp up the cash back that you could earn.
For example, you would earn 3% cash back on the first $6,000 that you spend at grocery stores each year. You’d also earn 2% cash back on purchases at gas stations and “select US department stores.” This language means that Wal-Mart and Target not count, unfortunately. Wholesale clubs like Sam’s and Costco don’t count either.
This card is older than the Freedom Unlimited, and it’s very similar. It also pays a $150 cash-back bonus for spending $500 within three months. If you’re able to spend the $4,000 in three months for the Sapphire Preferred, I’d recommend this card as your third choice after the Sapphire and the Freedom Unlimited.
I still recommend benefiting from the sign-up bonus if you’re not over the 5/24 rule noted above (opened 5 cards from any bank within the past 24 months). Like the Freedom Unlimited, the Chase Freedom comes with no annual fee.
Rather than earning 1.5% cash back on every purchase, the Freedom earns 1% on every dollar spent, with the exception of rotating categories that earn 5% cash back for a quarter at a time. For example, the final quarter (October to December) in 2017 had Wal-Mart purchases as a bonus category. For the first $1,500 spent at Wal-Mart (and other retailers on the list) during the quarter, you earned 5% cash back–basically a $75 rebate from making purchases at Wal-Mart.
If you buy groceries and Christmas presents at Wal-Mart, you could’ve really racked up. The first quarter of 2018 has gas stations as a 5% bonus category. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten about this on a couple of gas purchases already.
I keep the Freedom card because of the bonus categories. I attempt to benefit from these each quarter, as I can use them very flexibly.
You can sign up for the Chase Freedom here.
There you have it, the top 5 credit card cash bonuses. If you met the minimum spending for each of these during the course of a year, you could add at least $1,200 to your cash flow.
If you regularly spend $1,334 across all categories each month, I’d recommend starting with the Sapphire Preferred and then moving to another card or two from there in three months.
You can actually cancel some of these cards and sign up to get the bonus again after not earning it for a period of time (24 months for Chase). I’d recommend leaving them open for at least 10 months, however, and in the case of the Chase cards, you need to make sure that you’ve used up all of your points before closing down a card.
Unfortunately, you can only earn one bonus per American Express card in your life. Other banks are not quite as restrictive.
If you have good credit, how does an easy $1,200 sound? That’s $50 of additional cash flow per month on average. Investing this much over time can really start to add up. Let the banks work for you, rather than working for them.
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