I’m planning on buying a home mid-way through 2012, thus I will need to start getting my credit report squeaky clean to qualify for the best mortgage rates. This means that I will not be signing up for any new credit cards or bank accounts in the next few months. The good news is that I am still going to share all the latest deals with you. My 2012 new years resolution is to live vicariously through my readers.
Now, how about we take a look at how I fared in 2011 just looking at credit card rewards:
Discover Card: $34.39 cash and $240 in Shell gift cards
American Express: $53 cash and $50 in Cheese Cake Factory gift cards
Various Citi Cards: $400 in Wal-Mart gift cards and 4,300 in Thank You Points
Chase AARP: $427 cash
Chase Freedom: $32 in cash and $800 in Amazon.com gift cards
Envaulted: $109.07 cash
Other: $116.20 cash
Total: $771.66 cash, $800 in Amazon gift cards, $400 in Wal-Mart gift cards, $240 in Shell Gas gift cards, and $50 in Cheese Cake Factory gift cards
Full Detailed Summary:
Discover Card: $34.39 Cash and $240 in Shell Gift Cards
I earned $174.39 in Cash Back by using my Discover More Card which offers revolving 5% cash back categories each quarter, as well as 15% cash back to Groupon through their ShopDiscover store. I had the cash back sitting in my account when Discover Card offered a redemption bonus of 50% off Shell Gift Cards. I redeemed $140 worth of discover cash back for $280 in Shell Gas Station gift cards. Can’t beat getting 50% off gas paid for using bonus points.
American Express Blue Card: $53 and $50 in Cheese Cake Factory Gift Cards
It was an extremely light year for me and my American Express card. I redeemed the $50 Cheese Cake Factory gift card for only $25 worth of Amex points. I really didn’t use this card much when I had cards with higher rewards on all my purchased.
Citi Cards Combined: $400 in Wal-Mart Gift Cards with 4,300 remaining thank you points (Valued at <$43)
I have multiple citi cards, the MTVu and the Forward which both give me 5% back (in thank you points, not cash) at Movies, Restaurants, and Bookstores. The kicker here was that they classify Amazon.com purchases as Bookstore. So these two cards were my go to cards for Amazon.com purchases. I had these cards more than 4 years, and the Thank You network redemption value has been getting worse each and every year. I went ahead and cashed out 40,000 thank you points for the $400 in Wal-Mart Gift cards when they offered the 10,000 for $100 redemption rate that they tend to have every few months.
Chase AARP: $427 in cold hard cash.
The AARP card gives me 5% cash back on all my purchases for the first 6 months. I still have 2 more months of the 5% off, but the first 4 months have been excellent. From paying my rent as well as all my other expenses, this card has been my favorite closing out 2011.
Chase Freedom Card: $32 cash and $800 in Amazon.com Gift Cards
Yes you read that correctly, $800 in Amazon.com gift cards. I received $250 cash back after spending $300 for this card very early in 2011. In addition to the $250, I took advantage of the revolving 5% cash back categories the Freedom card offered. I ended up with just north of 40,000 Ultimate Rewards Points by Black Friday (November 25th, 2011), which is normally redeemable for $400 in cash. What ended up happening was that Chase had a Black Friday Cyber Monday sale through Best Buy. Everything seemed to be over 50% off. I picked up a top of the line Samsung TV worth $800-$1000 for 37,000 points ($370).
When I got the TV home it ended up not fitting in my entertainment center so I went back to Best Buy to see what they could do. Turns out they had no problem just giving me a refund for the price of the TV in the form of gift cards. So now I have $800 in Best Buy Gift Cards, a store I rarely shop at.
A little known fact is that most Best Buys sell Amazon Kindle gift cards which they keep either in the gift card section of where they have the eReader accessories. These Amazon kindle gift cards work on ALL amazon.com purchases. So I promptly traded in my $800 Best Buy gift cards for $800 in Amazon gift cards. So if my family members are wondering why all their Christmas gifts came in Amazon boxes, this is why.
This is cash back from Envaulted.com, a cash back site that gives me 1% or more on all my credit card purchases. This 1% is on top of any cash back I get from the credit cards directly. It is currently in private beta, and I encourage you to sign up and try to get in.
This was from two class action settlement checks I received. I do not recall the specifics, but I received some forms maybe even last year about my eligibility and just in the past two months received two checks. One for $18.04 for a foreign currency fee settlement, and $98.16 for a class action against Bank of America for a class action against their excessive fees.
Hope you all had a great 2011. I am looking forward to sharing more opportunities as they come up in 2012.