This is a guest post from Ask Mr Credit Card, who writes about and reviews credit cards.
Today, I’m going to show you how you can actually save money on top of the money you save from coupons with credit cards. If you are a savvy coupon clipper you would be doing the following:
- using store coupon
- using manufacturer’s coupon
- know when to buy in bulk
Just using these techniques will help you save a lot of money. But there is another thing you could do that will save you even more money. And that is by using a cash back credit card.
What are cash back rewards credit cards? They are cards that pay you a rebate for every dollar that you spend on the card. For example, most cash rebate cards pay you a 1 percent cash rebate for every dollar that you spend on the card. Though that is good, you can do much better than that if you are savvy. The better cards pay more than 1 percent (typically 3 to 5 percent) for spending on certain categories like gasoline, drugstore, supermarket, dining and travel.
So here is the formula: store coupons + manufacturer’s coupon + using cash back credit cards = quite a bit of savings
There are a few things you have to watch out for when you are choosing a cash back card. Firstly, you have to watch out for tiers. What is that? Well, some cards require that you spend above a certain threshold before you can earn the highest rebates. Some cards cap the amount of rebates you earn. You also have to consider how you are paid. Some will pay you once a year through a statement credit. Others send you a check when you have made $50 in rebates. Some will debit it into your bank account.
Gas credit cards
The same concept applies when you shop for gas. Pick a gas station near your home that consistently has lower gas prices. Use a gasoline credit card that pays at least 3 to 5 percent rebates for gasoline purchases. If you do a car wash, make use of coupons as well.
To select the right card, all you have to do is to figure out your expenses. Write and split up your credit card expenses into the following categories: supermarket, gasoline, travel, and dining and restaurants.
You could split it up into other categories. But this would be a good start. You then have to do research and figure out which card will give you the most rebates based on your spending habits. This is very tedious, but is a necessary step. So please do it. Last year, I got over $400 from my cash back card.
Online Shopping Discounts
Aside from using card that give you cash rebates, there are some credit card issuers that give you cash rebates or discounts when you shop through their online portal.
Here is how it works. Let’s say you want to shop at Macys.com. You could go directly to your web browser and type in Macys.com and shop there. However, some credit cards have partnership agreements with online merchants. What you then have to do is to log on into your account, go to their shopping portal, and then go to Macys.com. When you shop at the site and use your credit card, you can get anywhere from 5 to 10 percent rebates (I look at them as discounts). You are actually going to the exact same site through your credit cards’ shopping portal. The only difference is that your purchases are tracked with the merchant and the credit card company so you can get the rebates.
There are some fine prints with such arrangements. Some merchants do not give discounts on gift cards. Some do not give rebates if there is already a sale on the item. But in most cases, you can really save a lot if you use these credit card perks wisely.
Your annual vacation is one of your biggest expenses. So why not make an effort to save on it. Most of us take at least one family vacation a year. If you are not careful, all the money you saved on supermarket coupons will be thrown down the drain if you are not savvy with your travel plans. Here are a few steps you should take.
1. Plan way ahead of your vacation.
2. Subscribe to the newsletters of the hotels that you are thinking of staying.
3. Get on the mailing list of online travel agents like Expedia.com – if you have used them before, they will send you frequent email promotions.
4. Make use of your frequent flyer miles or credit card reward points if possible.
If you or your spouse or partner travel a lot in your/their jobs, make sure you are using a reward credit card to accumulate either air miles or reward points. They points should be redeemed for airline tickets and hotel stays. There are several factors you have to be aware of when you are choosing reward card.
Firstly, if you fly frequently with one airline (and one airline only), then it probably make sense to get that specific airline credit card. Or you may be a member of a few frequent flier program, you may want to get a card with a reward program that lets you transfer miles to various programs. American Express, Diners Club and Starwood Preferred Guest have such programs. If you are not a frequent flier, then it is best to get a generic reward program from a credit card company that let’s you use points for travel items or one that let’s you book your own travel and then use points to get discounts. This topic about choosing a reward card is much too complex to put it in one post.
OK – I’ll stop here. But feel free to post any questions on the comments below and I’ll try to answer them. Or you could hop over to my site and send me an email. Remember, it is all good and frugal to be using coupons, checking deal sites for great deals. But if you are not using your credit card properly, you are certainly leaving money on the table.