January 14, 2015

Credit Card Rewards for 2014 = $1865

For the calendar year of 2014 we earned about $1865 in rewards by using our credit cards.    This money is the straight cash value of the rewards.   It also includes some money from card sign up bonuses.

This year I decided to count my rewards for the calendar year.  In previous years I'd been going from February to February because most of my rewards came from the Costco Amex and February is when they'd credit the rewards.  But that was awkward so I"m going to do calendar years from now on.   For this reason theres some overlap between this years total and last years.

My general strategy for cash back is to first use the Sallie Mae card for gas, grocery and amazon up to the monthly limits.   Then use any card that has a 5% promotion for the category.  Finally all other spending goes on the Fidelity card for 2% reward.

Here's how we did on each of our cards :

Fidelity Amex = $700

This card pays flat 2% on everything into a Fidelity account.   A chuck of the rewards on this card was from a single large medical expense that we were able to put on the card.   Otherwise the spending on this card was all day to day spending and any rental expenses we could put on it.

Sallie Mae Barclay = $559
This is our 5% card for grocery, gas and book stores (Amazon).   So we earn pretty consistent and good cash back on this card in those categories.    3.2% return total

Costco Tru American Express card = $137
Most of the cashback on this one was earned in the 1st quarter (Jan-Mar) before I had signed up and started using the other cash back cards.   After that I didn't use it all that much.  ~1.5% return

Chase = $336
This one included a $200 sign up bonus.    Other than that I got about $40 in their 5% promotional categories for gas and restaurants.   4.8% return on this one in total.

Discover  = $133
The vast majority of these rewards were from their quarterly 5% promotional categories.  I maxed out the Q4 promotion for online purchases at $75.    I got most of the rest in the restaurant category and a few bucks in home improvement category.
I also got about $37 in rewards on my Discover card by using their Shop Discover portal.   However I'm not counting those here because  I don't think of those as the same.   My total return was 3.2%

I also have a Citibank card but I only earned ~$3 on that one so its hardly worth mentioning. 

If you're good at math you can probably quickly see that we spent a lot of money this year on our credit cards.   That one medical bill was a chunk of it.     We also had some significant spending on our rentals that goes on the cards but which is basically a business expense for us.   But even removing those things we still spend a lot of money.


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