Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Maximizing your Discounts on Gas for Home and Business

I mentioned in the previous post about using your cash back credit cards to save on the purchases you already make and today I would like to add another set of cards to your wallet. Use these WITH your cash back credit card to maximize your savings!

Loyalty cards.

Unless you have an alternative fuel vehicle, getting gas is a fact of life. Try to find the station with the best price while also not being shady off-brand gas that may potentially have fillers like toluene to cut the gas and make it cheaper (in both senses).

So what can you do? The average American spends $1500-$2000 on gasoline every year.

Download Gasbuddy to find the stations with the lowest gas prices near you. The NEAR you part is important. If you get 25mpg and gasoline costs 2.209 USD per gallon it costs you 16 cents in gas to drive a mile out of the way for cheaper gas. If gas was two cents cheaper you would have to fill at least 8 gallons before you would save any money. If you filled 7 gallons you would save 14 cents, and you spent 16 cents to get to this gas station, so you end up spending 2 cents more than if you would have just filled up on your route. Use the map function of Gasbuddy so you can see where the cheapest gas stations are in relation to your route so you don't go out of the way to get the best deal.

There are two main loyalty programs in my area that will help you save on gasoline. Since they are free, and save you money on the gas you buy I would suggest having them both if they are available in your area. The way these programs make money is by tracking the purchases you make so the company can make predictions of purchases you may make in the future. It is much the same way as rewards programs work for credit cards. You wash their hands with info, they wash yours with a portion of the profits they make.

Shell Fuel Rewards is free, and saves you three cents off per gallon automatically, every time you use it. 

When you change your oil with certain marked oil products, you can get a code you can enter for another five cents to one dollar off per gallon on your next fill up, up to 20 gallons.

After you use it (even if you only fill up one gallon) Your rewards goes back to three cents per gallon.

You can also link a Mastercard credit card to the network and for every $50 you spend at participating merchants (the list changes depending on the promotion) you get an additional 5 cents off per gallon on your next fill up (up to 20 gallons) on top of the three cents per gallon you automatically get and any other bonuses you have built up.

Right now if you link a Mastercard you get an extra 25 cents off per gallon on your next fill up.

I have a Shell gas station I pass that has a car wash that says 20 cents/gal off with carwash so look around if there is a similar one near you.

When you first open a fuel rewards account, once you make an initial purchase of 8 gallons or more, on your next purchase you get 25 cents off per gallon up to 20 gallons (It's actually 28 cents because you get the three cents automatically)'

Three cents off per gallon at $2.00 per gallon is a 1.5% discount, or $30 in gas per year for the average American.

25+3=28 cents off per gallon at $2.00 per gallon is a 14% discount (almost 10x the standard discount), or $5.60 off if you get the full 20 gallons. Get 20 people to sign up and you can save over $100 in gas! And why not tell them right? Why should they pay full price for gas? You wash their hands, they wash yours, and the gas flows cheaper all around! Use the money you save to buy an electric car and solar panels to charge it! (because gas isn't getting any cheaper, but solar panels are!)



Exxon, Mobile, ATT, Macy's, Rite Aid and other merchants offer a rewards system called PLENTI.

With this rewards card you get 1 point for every gallon of gas you purchase. 2 points for every dollar you spend in non-fuel purchases at the gas station, as well as several offers for extra points through the Plenti app.

The cool part about Plenti is that you do not HAVE to use your points on your next fill up, and you don't have to use it on just gas. You can go inside and get anything except cigarettes and alcohol, then pay with your plenti points. The caveat to Plenti is that you have to wait until 200 points to redeem them. However with the app you can usually fulfill an offer pretty quickly to hit the minimum payout. I don't payout often, I rack up the points until I have 2-4000 and redeem them for a full tank of free gas. Gosh it feels good to fill up with free gas. I feel like my car even drives better because it knows I didn't have to pay for it. Your points expire after two years so use them before then.

Gas is usually cheapest in late January or early February according to GasBuddy:

To maximize your points, Plenti offers an app that you can download that gives you the ability to activate rotating offers like 100 points on your next gasoline purchase of 7 gallons or more. or 1000 points when you rent a car for three days, or 7x points for your next non fuel purchase. Check back regularly to save the most from your offers.

You can sign up for Plenti at most participating Exxon/Mobile gas stations. The ones in my town have cards available at the pumps. You can take one and start using it.


DOUBLE DIPPING: You can't double dip the chip, but you CAN double dip on discounts.

Swipe your Fuel Rewards card, now what do you pay with?
Oh yea, you have a CASH BACK CREDIT CARD for gas.

I have the American Express Blue Cash Everyday card with no annual fee and 2% cash back on gas.
If you look carefully you can find some great cards out there. Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union has a cash back card with 3% back for gas. While you might not think it's that big of a difference, it's a 50% increase in cash back over 2%. That's a huge difference.

There are cards out there with 5% cash back on rotating categories, but unless you have a solid everyday cash back card these cards usually only hover at 1% cash back for "non-promotional" purchases. Not such a good choice if it's the only card in your wallet, but if you have multiple cash back cards under control already, applying for one or two or a few rotating 5% cards can give you a great boost to your cash back savings. Use them while your stores are in promotion and put them away when they aren't

So to sum everything up:
Get a Fuel Rewards Network card and a Plenti card. Both are free fuel rewards programs that save you money on gas. You should also have a cash back credit card (That you always pay off every month.) 3% is 50% more than 2%. If you DO have a cash back credit card, look into rotating category 5% back cards (with no annual fee) to see if they offer gas stations, or supermarkets in their rotating categories. Always pay off your cards every month and stay under 10% of your credit limit on all cards.

Thank you for your time,
Thank you for the 25 cents per gallon if you signed up for the fuel rewards network through my links.
I really appreciate you,
I love you, have a beautiful day,
Nifty Nate

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Winning the Credit Score Game

This is actually a guest post from my other website: The Nice Life with Nifty Nate where I go over stuff to make your life more efficient, more comfortable, more...Nice!
Like a heated Japanese style toilet seat that saves you money on toilet paper.
It's awesome, check it out here.

But seriously, your credit can save you some serious money. With great credit you can negotiate deals with your landlord for cheaper rent and lower/no deposit, negotiate lower rates for loans, apply for better rewards credit cards, etc... So it is incredibly useful and much cheaper to have great credit.  IF you are a responsible parent, you might want to set them up with credit at birth so by the time they need credit to use, they have a solid average account age, payment history, etc so it is much harder for them to damage their credit. Not that they would because you would teach them how important it is and how to MASTER IT.

Without further adeu ON WITH THE SHOW!:.


I would like to check in with you and let you know that so far in my app writing process I have successfully made a button that goes to google when you click it! This might not seem like much to you but I'm a cave man and I just made fire, so let me do my fire dance.

In other notes I just opened two new credit cards (leaving me three total) so I don't have to pay off my credit card four times a month to stay in the less than 10% credit utilization range.

BIG PRO TIP: Credit cards are not for money you don't have, they are a record of your money and debt habits to give strangers an idea if you will be able to pay back the loan you are asking for. (car, apartment, etc) NEVER NEVER EVER CARRY A BALANCE...EVER.

Not paying your bill off in time means interest, which is basically you paying for your credit score, and most credit cards are no less than 10% interest! The credit card company won't hate you. In fact they have a name for people like you, Transactors. People who pay off their cards every month. These people show that they can reliably come up with the money they spend on a regular basis. The banks behind the credit card companies make money off the transactors when they come in for a loan to buy a car ($15,000) or a house ($150,000) or a business ($1,500,000) The amount you end up paying back is often thousands more than you borrowed, but that is how the money machine works. I have money, you need money, I will rent you this money for interest. Sometimes you need to spend money to make money! But as far as credit cards go no, no you don't. Pay off your balance in full each month. Period. The credit card companies call these people "Transactors" They like these people because they can loan them lots of money and not worry too much about it not getting paid off.

The other group of people are called Revolvers, consider these people indentured servants to the credit card company. They can't buy their financial freedom so they pay the interest fee and carry a balance. This is called DEBT. It shows creditors that you don't quite make as much as you spend and some months it's a hard choice between diapers and oatmeal, so you pay the interest and get both.
Credit card companies LOVE REVOLVERS. They are basically a bunch of hamsters running in a wheel that makes the money machine go. Don't be a hamster, pay off your balance in full each month. Period.

Now don't be like me and spend 10 years without any credit cards because then you have no credit history. You have to think of it as a game. A real life game that takes 7 years to run a redo. So don't mess this up, but I will hold your hand and walk you through it.

The first thing you look for is cost, annual fees and interest rates.
Annual fees mean you pay to use the card, nonsense. The credit card company should pay YOU to use their card. Why? Because the credit card company has a HUGE network of "Affiliates" who work with each other in the effort to make more money. This includes marketing, analytics, investors, market managers, etc. They use the information from your purchases you make to build a model of you so they can better market to...YOU! It is ridiculous how effective even subliminal advertising can be. CONSUME CONSUME CONSUME

Do you want to buy something? Buy my flosser, it's awesome.

You might be able to read about how awesome it is in my Bathroom series of posts. I used to hate flossing, now I hate mouthwash. Bah! The war for oral hygiene is not an easy one. You know that saying: "Somewhere right now your enemy is working, training, and mastering his/her craft and when you meet, they will defeat you." That enemy is the bacteria in your mouth. They never sleep, never slow down, never surrender. Brush your teeth two times a day? Is a D- an acceptable paper? Bacteria doubles in population every 15 minutes. US Health code says bacteria on food in the danger zone (your mouth is a danger zone) are highly active after FOUR HOURS. That sounds exhausting right? How about "Brush before you eat." Brush when you wake up, and go to sleep, and also brush before you eat.

Why before? Because your body excretes enzymes that helps break down food but also softens your enamel during the 30 minutes or so after you eat. If you brush you can brush off your enamel leading to sensitive teeth. NO GOOD! BRUSH BEFORE YOU EAT (or more than 30 minutes after)

That should really be in it's own post, I might get around to it.

Anywhoo, Back to the credit card game.Your score is made up of several parts, The top credit members have less than 10% utilization. It's more like 7%. which, combined with the amounts you owe accounts for about (30%) of your score. They have multiple open lines of credit like a car loan or a market account (10%). The average age of your account matters too (15%), but not as much as your payment history (35%) SO... ALWAYS PAY YOUR BILL ON TIME EVERY MONTH IN FULL.

So when you are looking for a card here are some things to think about:
What is the annual fee?  The cost to reward ratio on a card with a fee generally sucks unless you spend several thousand dollars, and even if you do, you have to spend several thousand more to get a reward anywhere close to having a no fee card. ALSO: Watch out for "No fee IF you are a member (amazon, costco, etc)" because those hit you when you quit and knock your average account age so they damage your credit if you close them.

What is the foreign transaction fee? You might not think about using your credit card outside the US but most cards run 3% interest. My first credit card has ZERO foreign transaction fees, no annual fee, And 1.25% cash back when you pay your balance on time every month, which you should anyways. You don't have to use all of your cards, just a part of one if you don't want to keep track of it all. But The idea is to get the most money for the time you sacrificed making it. Remember: This is a game, life, and we are here to win that game.

I have a card for 3% back on groceries, a card for 2% back on everything else, and a third card that has no foreign transaction fees and 1.25% back. If I can build a company of 1 I can apply for a business credit card that would get me 5% off my phone bill and 3% off gas, but that will have to wait until later.

So, for every $100 I buy in groceries, I pay $97
For every $100 in gas, I pay $98
For every $100 in makeup, shoes, tools, beer, BILLS, STUDENT LOANS, etc I pay $98 Imagine being a member of a club where you get a discount on almost everything you buy. BUT there is a limit. Your credit limit, and you can spend no more than 30% of it. Ideally less than 10% of it. Then pay it off in full at the end of the month and do it all again! You spend the money anyways, why not get rewarded for it?

**A note on opening several credit cards at the same time: This is called new credit and it will ding your score a little, BUT as long as you aren't asking for a loan this year, having more older cards is better for you further down the road when applying for newer and better credit.
EX: if you have a single credit card for 10 years and you open a new card, your average account age is 5 years. If you had three 10 year old cards and you opened a new one your average account age stays up 50% higher at 7.5 years.

The strategy that worked for me was to open one card. Use it regularly for six months but never rack up more than 10% of your credit limit and pay it off in full every month. At that point open two additional cards and repeat the process. When opening new credit cards try to do it two at a time on the same day, since this reduces the number of hard pulls on your credit report which affects your score.

If you get up to 10% of your credit limit you can pay the bill and get back to $0. This way you can still get the cash back and not wreck your credit. Check and see if your credit card calculates the "Average Daily Balance". because if it does, you can run your card up close to the limit one day as long as you pay it off the day that the charges post. I had to do this at Costco once when I was buying chocolate for work and the company card got declined. So I used my card to pay the $1000 bill, my boss wrote me a check for the receipt and I paid it off the bill the day it posted (3 days after the charge) That pocketed me a free $12 with my lowest cash back card and would have made me $20 with my new card. Free money feels different so spend, it feels, good.

Cash back or miles?  Would you rather have $200 to spend on a plane ticket or $200 to spend on almost anything you want? Most travel points/miles cards rack up rewards at about the same rate as cash back, but you can only spend them at the airline. Totally fine if you travel a lot and there is nothing wrong with them, but I like being able to buy lunch for a friend with my rewards, or fill my gas tank for free. My choice? Cash back, and that is what I have on every single one of my (now 3) cards.

For The Nice Life, This is Nifty Nate.
I love you,
Have a beautiful day!

Get credit cards with no annual fee, plus cash back
Pay for EVERYTHING that doesn't charge you extra to use a credit card, with your cash back cards.
Pay them off every month, preferably with auto-pay so you never forget.
Use cash back cards at the places where they get the most cash back.
Ex: Amex Blue Cash Everyday gets 3% at grocery stores, but only 1% at home improvement stores.
Average Daily Balance sometimes (often) reports your balance on the day your statement is generated, so don't spend more than 10% of your credit limit without paying it off.

Do you want a free $20? Featuring: Ultra High Interest Savings and Reverse Investing! Legitimately Free Money Part 2

My Brother recently text messaged me and asked “Do you know anything about penny stocks?”

I responded “Do you want a free $20?” I’ll get to that in a minute.

First I wanted to talk about reverse investing. Both my brother and I are in debt, his is credit card debt to the tune of $3500 and mine is student loan debt weighing in at $18,000. Hefty Hefty Hefty!

What is reverse investing? The same thing as investing, but you know EXACTLY the rate of return that you are getting. It’s pretty awesome and I am using it (along with my cash back credit cards) to pay off my student loans!

My credit card has a percentage rate of 17.99% APY (debt interest)
My Federal Student Loans have a percentage rates between 4-7% APY (debt interest)
My Western Union Net Spend card has an earnings rate of 4.9-5.0% APY (earnings!)

SO: If I have $1000 in each account. After 1 year I will have:

$1179.9 in credit card debt
$1070 in student loan debt
$1050 in investments + earnings

The interest from the earnings is much less than the interest on the debt, so you still end up losing money. If you were to reverse invest $1000 into your credit card debt (because it has the highest return right now at 17.99%) you would make $179.90.

With the $179.90 you saved paying off your credit card. You can invest THAT because you would have paid it to the cc company anyway and lost 100% of it had you not paid your debt down.

Penny stocks? Would you mind losing 100% of this money? You are playing roulette and betting on number 1: Every once in a while you will hit, but the rest of time will be misses.

Regular stocks? This carries the same risks as penny stocks, you can very easily still lose all of your money. However over the long run, established companies tend to net a profit. But you have to sell when the time is right, and there is no definite way to know without illegally insider trading.

Warren Buffet says that you can expect between 6-7% return from the stock market over the long run (as in 10+years)

I have a Western Union High yield savings/NetSpend card that earns me 4.9-5% APY on up to $1000. One of my student loans is 3.5% so if I can pay it down to under $1000 then I could use the interest from my netspend card to pay off the interest on my student loan, I still make money (although WAY not as much.) but the benefit is that I can keep that student loan account open potentially forever. This is great for my credit because the older your average account age, the better! My student loan account is almost 10 years old already, so it carries a lot of weight in my average. All of my other accounts are less than 2 years old!

However I am trying to order all of my “Work Pig cards” early on so I can have several accounts set up and getting older (like me) Once I have a pretty well established account age I can apply for a loan of some sorts. (car loan, house loan, land loan, etc..) If I need a loan I can absolutely apply for a loan earlier, but because I don’t right now, It would be better for my credit to keep one account open with a very low balance and use my earned Netspend interest to pay the loan interest and BAM! Credit maintained.

After I get approved for the loan I have the option to pay off and close out the student loan. It HELPS your credit to have diversified credit types like loans, credit cards, etc.  So if you pay it off you might see your credit score go down. Especially watch out for this if you are applying for a big loan sometime in the near future. Don’t pay off your old LOW BALANCE loan until AFTER you get the new loan.

 If you have a high balance loan, no matter what the percentage rate, more money means you owe more in interest every year. I’m paying ALMOST $1000 every year in student loan interest. I could think of much more fun things to do with that $1000, but it will cost me $18,000 before I can save it…BUT I’M WORKING ON IT.

Devote AS MUCH MONEY AS YOU CAN AFFORD TO towards paying high balances down/off. This DOES NOT include your 6 months of Emergency Savings everyone should have in the event you lose your job or go homeless (I’ve done both! Neither are fun, both are EXPENSIVE!)
Except actually, it could be! (This is one of those A-HA! Moments!)

With my Western Union Net Spend Card I earn 5% APY on the first $1000 in the account. I earn 0.49% on everything over $1000 which is not great, but my Bank of ANOTHERFEEFORYA savings account gets .01% or ONE ONE HUNDREDTH OF ONE PERCENT INTEREST PER YEAR.

To put it into perspective, if I had $1,000 in the stickandbrick savings account for the last 10 years, I would have earned $1 in interest. That same $1000 in a Netspend account for the last 10 years, I would have earned over $500 in interest! Did I mention you can do this with at least FOUR other cards PER PERSON? So say you and your partner each have four cards with $1000 in each of their ultra high interest savings accounts, you would be earning $400 in interest PER YEAR.

So this account gets almost 500 times the amount of interest as my savings on the first $1000 and 50 times the interest as my savings on everything over $1000 in the account.

Here’s where that free $20 comes in.
If you sign up for the same Western Union NetSpend card I use and you use my referral code then you put at least $40 on the card (you can e-deposit checks or just ACH transfer cash from your bank account) Western Union will give you a free $20 (That’s a solid 150% return on investment by the way.)

Or enter referral code5551387262 
If the link doesn't work you can copy and paste this number into the referral box, but YOU CAN'T GET THE FREE $20 WITHOUT THE CODE. It's a mutual relationship, you get $20 when you put $40 or more in, I get $20 when I put $40 or more in, and Western Union gets two new happy customers! 

Sign Up for this Second Card in the series using my referral code HERE.
or enter referral code: 5853038054

Apparently there is a 3 account per bank, 5 account limit for these netspend cards. BRINKS, and HEB Are backed by one bank, and Western Union and NetSpend are backed by another.
Click here to Sign Up for the BRINKS NETSPEND card.
or enter referral code: 2542190163

You CAN use my referral for the HEB Netspend, but you only get HALF ($10) if all conditions are met, so get this one after you get your free $20.
and enter Referral code: 6425732894 AFTER YOU already got your $20 cards

PROTIP: You can only get ONE $20 bonus per 180 DAYS. If you HAVE $1000 cash to load into each account, you would make $25 in interest in that same 180 days. So if you have the money, it makes sense to order each card 24 hours apart. (for everything to go smoothly) and load each of them with $1000. If you DON'T have $1000 in savings you could make more money by signing up for one, then waiting the 180 days and signing up for another card through a referral link.

Note: You have to sign up through an active referral link to get the Free $20. As of April 2017 These links are active. 

Want to turn this free $20 into a free $50? It's actually so easy there isn't a reason not to do it if you have the money available and it isn't earning 5% cash back. 
All you have to do is add $940 more to the Netspend card and move the now $1000 you have on the NetSpend card into the SAVINGS ACCOUNT that you also get with the card.
You need to make at least one transaction at least every 90 days to avoid the inactivity fee on the account. I usually accomplish this with an ACH transfer of $10 into the account every month, and from the account every time interest posts. I pull anything over the $1000 into my free discover bank account where they earn almost double the interest as they do on the card at almost 1%.  It's no 5%, but its ALMOST TWICE 0.5% and that adds up over the long run.

If you want to take it one step further and turn that free $50 into a free $200? 

Check out my post on building an income ladder with these cards to have interest coming in every month, or all at once. FREE $200! (or more if you time it right!)

BUT WAIT! You can't just sign up for the card and leave it alone. There is a maintenance fee that applies if you don't make a deposit or withdrawal, or use your card at least once every 90 days. I choose to deposit $25 every month from my Discover Savings Account. I have the option of just making the deposit once per quarter, but this way I have a safeguard against any computer error that may happen. If something goes wrong and a transfer doesn't go through at least once every three months, I get charged a fee. If I make 3 deposits and only 1 goes through, I get no fee and I collect the interest on my savings.


PROTIP: If your bank charges you to do an ACH transfer to the account DON'T DO IT. There are many banks out there offering free ACH services. My Discover Savings Account will allow 6 transfers per month for free (it's a federal law/limit for savings accounts) AND it pays 0.95% interest on your balance (which is FDIC INSURED) meaning if the company loses all it's money, you don't lose all your money. That's something you can't get from the stock market.

Monday, February 20, 2017

So you want a free $200? Cash back SAVINGS. Legitimately Free Money Part 3

I wanted to build an income ladder to show you a simple way to make sure you always have some liquid assets available to you. You can do this with anything that matures at a set date. Be it Certificates of deposit (CD's), loans, or interest dividends.

In this example I will show you four DEBIT/SAVINGS cards that you can sign up for that pay out quarterly (every 3 months) and how you can stagger how you sign up for them to have liquid money available to you every month.

All of these cards are essentially the same, so you can't sign up for them all at the same time. You have to wait until you receive and activate your card from one company before you can order another card from another company. HOWEVER: If you DON'T have $3000-$4000 that you can lock away in a savings account, you can stagger signing up for these cards every 6-7 months and reap a $20 bonus if you sign up and fund the card with at least $40. I would recommend $980 if you can, since that will put you at the cap for earning 5% INTEREST, EVERY THREE MONTHS, FOREVER.*

*not really forever

Here's how the bonus works. You sign up for a card and put $40-$980 on it. 3 days later you get a credit for FREE $20. You load $1000 total on the card and move it to the savings account. 3 months later you will get interest deposited in your account! 3 months after that, Interest Payment, 3 months after that? You guessed it! Interest Payment!

There are two method's to approaching sign up:
If you have $3000 and you want to get paid every month, you will benefit more from signing up for one card each month at about the same time every month for the next three to four months.  This will put your interest payments in a ladder. Month 1,4,7,10 will pay interest from card #1, Month 2,5,8,11 Will pay interest on card #2. Month 3,6,9,12 will pay Interest on card #3 (and there are FOUR cards you can sign up for, so every three months you get a double payment!)

If you want to get paid a lump sum from all the cards at the same time, sign up for the cards one right after you activate the other. (you can't have two cards on order at the same time. So order it, get it, DON'T ACTIVATE IT and order the next one until you have them all! If you do this with the maximum $1000 on each of the four cards, you will earn almost $200 free every year.

Month 1 Card1, Month 2 Card 2, Month 3 Card 3, Month 4 Card 1 again (and now Card 4 too!), Month 5 Card 2 again, etc etc...

The first card I started with was the Western Union NetSpend card

Click Here to sign up with my referral code and get the free $20 when you load $40 or more.
That's a solid 150% return on your investment by the way.

UPDATE 3/12/17 I received the first Netspend card so I ordered the next one:
Click Here to sign up with my referral code and get another free $20 when you load $40 or more.
I am not sure if I read somewhere that this bonus may not apply if you have opened another account in the last 180 days (6 months?) but if you have the $1000 to move to the savings account, your earned interest will come out to MORE than waiting 6 months for the $20 bonus. I use these cards as my emergency savings stash. Each card/savings account I activate and fill with $1000 will earn me $50 every single year and pay out every three months.

I am ordering the cards a month apart, building an interest ladder so I always have interest coming in every month. Order card 1 on month 1, card 2 on month 2 card 3 on month 3 PLUS interest from card 1 , card 4 on month 4 PLUS interest from card 2, month 5 earns interest from card 3, and month 6 earns interest from card 1 AND card 4 (because it pays every 3 months)

STAY TUNED FOR CARD 3 (COMING APRIL 2017!) EDIT: I realized three cards in that you only have to wait 24 hours between ordering cards. HOWEVER, there is a speculated rule that says you can have no more than (5) FIVE Netspend accounts. There is also a speculated rule that you can only have (3)THREE accounts per backing bank. HEB and BRINKS are backed by the same bank, Western Union, and NetSpend are backed by the same bank. So I can only sign up for one more Netspend account. (Although I will try to sign up for more and report back the results.)


Cashing In On Cash Back Credit Cards, Legitimately Free Money Part 1

You work too hard for your money! Why should you go paying full price for life?

I once worked a job installing commercial AC equipment in buildings and one of the owners of a Dunkin Donuts I was working on would always say  "...but what is MY price?" I always thought it was so pretentious of him. But I didn't understand what he was doing. It never hurts to ask, and he was asking.

So here is what I am using as of  Feb 28 2017,  here is a list of cards that will get you cash back (AKA FREE MONEY)

Certain cards get you better discounts in certain categories so watch out, you could potentially lose out on a bunch of extra free money!

Most of these cards will get between 1% and 5% cash back depending on where you are shopping, this is where having multiple cards pays off. One may get you 3% back on groceries, while another may get you 5% back on Amazon.com and yet another will get you 2% cash back on Gas.

Master your cards and maximize your rewards. You might say "but it's only 1% more, it doesn't really matter" Except 2% is 100% more than 1% so for every $1 dollar reward you get with the 1% back card, you could get $2 back with the 2% card or $5 with the 5% card.  FIVE TIMES THE FREE MONEY JUST FOR PICKING THE RIGHT CARD AT THE CHECKOUT.

Why wouldn't you just use the 5% back card everywhere then? Some cards are limited by (sometimes rotating) Categories like Gas and Groceries and Warehouse Stores. Ill use Costco for example. I can only use Visa cards at Costco so I can only use my 1.25% back Capital One Journey card (My first credit card!) BUT I also have an executive membership at Costco that gets me 2% back on top of my cash back. So all in all I can get 3.25% cash back for my purchases there. not 5% but it's the best deal that I can get using the resources available. I "CAN" (mind the quotes) get a Costco Citi card that will get me 4% back at Costco, but you HAVE TO have a Costco membership for it to wave the $55 annual fee. I am not sure I will keep my Costco membership, nor do I really shop there enough for it to be worth it. I used to get toilet paper there, but then I got a Japanese style Washlet and now it's cheaper and more comfortable to not use toilet paper! 

So if I stop renewing my Costco membership, I get charged the annual fee for the card. If I cancel the card, it will affect your credit (they look at the ratio of open accounts to your open PLUS your closed accounts. The closer to 1:1 the better.) 

My final decision with the Costco Citi card was to not apply for it because the negative effects on your credit will follow you if you close the card.

My favorite type of credit card is a $0 annual fee cash back card because I can decide not to use the card very often and don't have to worry about paying for something I'm not using!

The age of your credit accounts influences your credit score. If you have one card that is 10 years old, then you open four more cards your average account age would be 2 years. HOWEVER: If you have five cards that are 10 years old and you open five more, your average account age is still 5 years. Still not great, but it's 2.5x older than having a single old card. So don't be afraid of opening a new account, just check and make sure that it isn't $0 for the first year and xxx fee after that. Your credit has strength in numbers. WORK THE PIG, DON'T LET THE PIGS WORK YOU!

What cards are in my wallet?

The first card I ever* applied for was the Capital One Journey 1.25% cash back Visa Card with $0 annual fee. This was in June of 2016 so I will have had it for 8 months at the time of writing this. I was approved with a credit score in the 430 range (way not good.)

*Actually, I applied for a credit card in high school but never used it and closed it because I was afraid of screwing up my credit (in effect, actually dinging my credit) 8 years later, I decided to open my Capital One Journey card. So, technically the second card I ever opened, but the first one I ever used.

When I got my card I took my limit and divided it by 10.  Less than 10% utilization is the goal. so if you have a $1000 limit, keep your balance below $100 and pay it off if it ever gets close, or weekly, whichever comes first. 

My Journey card "says" that they use average daily balance to calculate utilization, which is the average of your balance for the month, but I have never to my recollection found this to be the case.
Usually what gets reported is the balance at the end of the statement. If you are all paid up it reports $0. Even if you spent money on the card that month, which should have brought the average up from $0. If you haven't paid your balance for the week (I suggest you pay your card off weekly to stay on top of any unauthorized activity.) Then it will report whatever your balance was at the time the statement was generated. Staying under 10% utilization will help maximize your credit score.

Card Number TWO is actually the one I use MOST.  
My Citi Double Cash 2% cash back MasterCard with $0 annual fee.
You get 2% back on any purchase (well technically it's 1% when you buy, and 1% when you pay, if you pay your balance on time)
So as long as you pay your balance off weekly like I suggested, you will always get the 2% cash back. I use this card to pay down my student loans because it gets me $20 back for every $1000 in loans I pay off! There are no categories to worry about or renew, just buy, pay, repeat, 2% back.

Card number THREE, the American Express Blue Cash Everyday Cash Back Card with $0 annual fee. 
I use whenever I am at the grocery store because it gets me (can you guess?)
THREE percent back! (but only at grocery stores) This one is a zinger because If I buy a gift card at my grocery store, it's still 3% back. Firewood? 3% back. Lawn Furniture? 3% back. They are doing a food drive and want you to buy a bag or coupon to help those less fortunate than you? 3% BACK! (Walmart and Target don't count because they are classified as superstores and it would be better to use the Citi bank Double Cash card there. But if you shop at a regular grocery store, this is the card for you.

These are the three cards currently in my wallet. A Visa, A Master Card, and an American Express. I am going to apply for the Discover It card for the $0 annual fee and 5% back on rotating categories and they will match your cash back for the first year. However my Master Card still owes me a few hundred dollars from a transaction I was refunded, So for the time being, I am using that one for 100% of my purchases until I have a $0 balance again.

When you are applying for credit cards, it is better to apply for all the ones you want on the same day. This way it only shows up as a single hard pull on your credit, preserving a higher score than getting two hard pulls applying on different days.

PROTIP: New credit looks BAD so if you are going to make a large purchase like a car or a house or a business and you need to get approved for a loan, stay away from opening new credit lines until after you have the loan. You might get denied the credit card because of the loan, but that would be better than getting denied the loan because of the credit card.

OK, so what’s the deal? Why would a credit card company just give you free money?
Because they want the information to better understand their market. If they know what kinds of things people are buying, advertisers can better understand how effective their programs are working. It is a symbiotic relationship. You give them your receipts. They give you cash back.  There are rebate apps out there that pay you for your receipts as well, so you can double, triple, or quadruple up on the rewards, depending on how much time you spend. These companies all want to better understand your purchases so they can market products that you are more likely to need and use. You wash their hands, they wash yours.

PROTIP: When you get your card in the mail and you call customer service, ask them about limiting the sharing of your information. They will limit the sharing of all information that you are legally allowed to limit, BUT NOT UNLESS YOU ASK.

So go with this new found information and fly, free as a bird to wherever life may take you. Let’s work to master this credit card game and pay less for life!

This is Nifty Nate and I hope you have a beautiful day! (I will if you do!)
UPDATE: There are two other cards on my radar, but I can not get them right now because I bought a mattress and got it financed through a credit card instead of a personal loan (my foolish mistake) so one of my cards has 99% utilization and it's WRECKING MY CREDIT! 30 points lower in 30 days. I feel like I need to return it and buy one with my own 2% cash back credit card, because you can't pay off one credit card with another, thats a balance transfer, and USUALLY there is a 3% fee for that.

Learn from my mistakes and NEVER KEEP A BALANCE ON YOUR CREDIT CARD! Unless you are in debt, you transferred as much as you can to a 0% apr, 0$ annual fee card (usually an offer for xx months) and are paying down your balances aggressively as to have them paid off before your 0% expires. Then, even though your credit would take a ding from high utilization, it might actually go up from you paying your balances down, plus you would save all that money in interest. It's a sure fire investment strategy.

The cards I am looking at but have not ordered so I can not speak for them, are the US bank cash plus credit card and the discover it credit card