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Saving By the Calendar: A Seasonal Guide to Credit Card Rewards
[October 2nd, 2015]
If you’re familiar with rewards credit cards, you probably know that most cards offer a base rate of 1% cash back on all purchases, or one reward point per dollar spent. Beyond that, all bets are off. Some cards offer extra savings on gas, some on dining, and some on travel. But some credit cards give you the chance to rack up rewards in different categories, depending on the season.
Savings are usually 5% cash back, with a cap of $75 back per quarter. So, you can get the 5% back on the first $1,500 in purchases you make in that category. After that, you’ll still get 1% cash back on purchases in that category.
These cards are often called “rotating rewards cards,” and they offer more cash back or points in different spending categories on a rolling basis. There are several types of these on the market; for example, the Discover it card, and the Chase Freedom card.
The seasons are really fiscal quarters – this just means that categories shift in January, April, July, and October. One thing to remember is that you’ll need to sign up for the bonus points or cash back again each quarter. You can usually do this most easily online, by logging into your account. You can also call customer service, or send a text message, if you have SMS texting enabled on your account. If you miss the start date, not to worry: often, you’ll be able to sign up throughout the quarter. However, your previous purchases might not be credited for the extra bonus amount—so keep your eye out and sign up as soon as the promotion is available.
You’ll also need to be aware that sometimes merchants categorize themselves in ways you might not expect. For example, if the extra rewards are available at a restaurant, the merchant must classify themselves as a food service establishment, not any other type of retail business.
If you have this type of card, be sure to check your calendar to maximize your credit card rewards. Here’s a guide to saving along with the seasons.
• January – March: Savings are often found at movie theaters, restaurants, and other places people like to go when it’s cold outside. Look for deals at ski resorts or on food delivery.
• April – June: This is the time to save more at home improvement stores. With the warmer weather, people think about fixing up their yards, planting gardens, and maybe selling their homes.
• July – September: Summertime is the best chance to save on gas, hotels, amusement or theme parks, and car rentals. Everyone is on vacation, it seems, and savings abound.
• October – December: Department stores and online shopping discounts are the big bonus categories this time of year, with holiday shopping at its peak. Credit card issuers often pull out all the stops, adding restaurants, hotel, airfare, and other travel and entertainment to their bonus offers.
No matter which type of card you have, be sure to pay attention—each issuer varies as to their offers, and when you can sign up. But seasonal savings are easy to find once you are wise to them.
[April 13, 2017]
If you’re planning a trip in the near future, you might want to look for a flight on Southwest Airlines and try to book a reservation at a Marriott Courtyard hotel.
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[March 30, 2017]
If you’d like to donate more money to good causes, but you never seem to get around to setting up the donations, a new app will make it easier to be generous.
The app, called Movements, lets users donate small amounts that come from their credit cards. Here’s how it works: people choose a pro...
[March 15, 2017]
Commuters who spend a lot of time in the car will be happy to hear that there’s a new way for them to fuel up fast and pay quickly and securely, without even getting out of the car.
Gulf Oil is launching a new mobile payment app, called Gulf Pay. This lets drivers drive to the nearest Gulf stat...