For Christmas I bought myself a stylish new messenger bag. Unfortunately for me the strap on said bag was fairly weak, and less than a week later the strap ripped off of the bag sending my laptop to the floor. I have had this laptop for over five years and it has been a tank. Even with the hard landing it still works perfectly, but the plastic case has fractured in a few places causing a less than desirable appearance when in front of clients.
Since my boss is a real jerk, I was going to have to buy the laptop with my own money. I was obviously less than thrilled with this, but with some careful planning I could turn my $427.99 ($500) purchase into $236 of cash back and savings. This may even come down further when next tax season arrives since it is a business expense but that’s a different article.
getGo Fuel Perks
A really awesome feature about getting an advantage card from Giant Eagle (a local Pittsburgh grocery chain) is the ability to earn 10 cents off of every gallon of fuel at getGo for every $50 you spend at Giant Eagle or in the gas station stores. BUT, this bonus jumps to 20 cents per dollar when you purchase retailer gift cards. These don’t have a fee to activate them and cover clothing, home improvements stores, Amazon.com, and even Airbnb! If you are ever going to make a large purchase, I highly suggest buying the gift cards at Giant Eagle first just to get the gas savings.
I had already picked out the laptop I wanted and new it would cost $427.99 after tax so I would have to buy $428 worth of Best Buy gift cards, and then buy $72 worth of gift cards for Starbucks for a total purchase of $500. This $500 purchase of gift cards would give me $2.00 off per gallon of gas the next time I fill up! Since I would seemingly rather run out of gas than not get an entire tank worth of discount, this will give me a savings of $36.
Now you may be wondering why I would buy the $72 worth of Starbucks gift cards. Well the Chase Freedom card currently has a sign up bonus of $150 when you spend $500 within the first 3 months of account opening. It also has an additional sign up bonus of $25 when you add an authorized user to the account. I will definitely spend $72 there over the next few months anyway, so I am happy to take advantage of the spend plus the bonus. For the $500 spend I would receive 17,500 rewards points which translates to $175. The process for redeeming the rewards is extremely easy and you get your check fairly quickly.
As of now, I would receive $175 in cash back plus a savings of $36 at the pump for a total of $211, but the deal gets a little bit better. The Freedom card offers 5% cash back on different categories throughout the year. From April through June, the 5% cash back is at…..Grocery Stores!!! So spending the $500 at a grocery store gets me an additional $25 in cash back for a grand total of $236.
Now maybe $236 won’t change your life, but for a purchase that I needed to make or would make anyway, it would be silly to let a bonus like this slip buy. The 5% bonus goes up to $1,500 of spend, so it could be a nice combo with the signup bonus and fuel rewards if you need to make a large purchase.
There is no annual fee for this card, and there is an introductory APR of 0% for the first 15 months. If you are interested in learning more about this card, check it out here.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
If you have larger purchases coming up, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card gives you 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months, plus 5,000 points when you add an authorized user. This would total 59,000 points worth $590 in cash back or $737.50 in travel when you book through their website. Some travel websites value these points at over 2 cents each meaning these 59,000 points could be worth over $1,180 in travel if used smartly. The annual fee is waived for the first year and then $95 annually after that. If you are interested in this card, check it out here.
These strategies can be a great way to get some money back if you have to make purchases, but getting into a habit of, “Oh I get points so I might as well spend the money” can easily land you in a lot of high interest debt. Please be careful and smart if you decide to use these. I do get a referral bonus if you sign up for either of these cards.
Thanks for your time,
Bulldog Advisors LLC is a registered investment advisor. Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial advisor and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.