13 Ways to Give to Charity without Breaking Your Budget

Affinity credit card programs offer a way to support the causes and charities near and dear to your heart. Here are some of the leading options.

Giving to charity doesn’t require a lot of disposable income. If you want to make the world a better place, you can still contribute without cutting a big check.

Here are 13 ways to give to charity on a budget.

1. Donate Your Time

Many charitable organizations survive through the efforts of volunteers. Volunteering is a worthy way to contribute to your community and can be just as valuable as cash donations.

“Donate your time,” says Karen Hoxmeier, founder of MyBargainBuddy.com. “Homeless shelters, soup kitchens, senior centers, hospice facilities, big brother/big sister programs, and animal rescues all need people to help out by being physically present and volunteering their time.”

2. Donate Your Skills

If you have a special skill—such as writing, cooking, or photography—consider offering your services pro bono. Many charities, nonprofits, and advocacy groups have specialized needs but can’t afford dedicated staff.

3. Give Blood

Donating blood to organizations like the Red Cross is free, doesn’t take much time, and might even land you a cookie. More importantly, your donation could help save someone’s life—approximately 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the US.

4. Donate Your Stuff

Many charities and nonprofits accept donated goods, including clothes, shoes, furniture, and cars. If you have some stuff to get rid of, consider giving it to a good cause rather than throwing it out.

5. Organize a Drive

If you have the time and enthusiasm but not the money, consider organizing a drive to gather donations for an organization. “Organize a food drive at your work, at your child’s school, or in your neighborhood,” says Hoxmeier. “It just takes one person to get the ball rolling and head up [a] food collection/drop-off.”

6. Raise Funds

You can raise funds for charity in many ways—by organizing a local collection, sharing your favorite causes on social media, or participating in a sponsored walk. If you have a network of caring people and some hustle, you can raise a hefty donation.

7. Shop at the Right Places

In the age of corporate social responsibility, many businesses donate part of their proceeds to charities. For instance, AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to a charitable organization of your choice, and Whole Foods gives you the option to donate your five-cent reusable bag credits to a local organization. Check with the merchants you shop at regularly to see if they offer opportunities to donate to an organization as part of your purchase.

8. Employer Gift Matching

Some employers offer matching gifts, meaning they will match some or all of your charitable donations. Check to see if your employer offers this policy and potentially double your donation. If your company doesn’t currently offer this benefit, talk to your HR department about how to encourage the company to implement a matching gift program.

9. Donate Your Tax Refund

By the time you receive a tax refund, it can feel like found money. If you receive a tax refund next year, consider donating some or all of it. Some of your donations may even be tax deductible for next year!

10. Ask for Gift Donations

If your friends and loved ones often ask you for birthday or holiday gift ideas, you can ask them to donate to a favorite charity instead. Many charities make it easy to set up a campaign to gather birthday donations for their organization.

11. Become an Organ Donor

Around 21 people in the US die every day needing donor organs. You won’t need your organs once you pass away, and becoming a donor is free. Simply register with the National Donate Life Registry and designate your donor status on your license or state ID.

12. Donate Your Credit Card Rewards

Rewards credit cards will often let you donate your cash back, points, or miles directly to charity. Even if that isn’t an option, you may be able to redeem your rewards for cash back and simply donate those funds once they land in your account.

“Most credit card companies allow you to do this directly from their website. Simply log in to your account, go to the section to manage your rewards and look for a charity link,” says Hoxmeier.

13. Get a Charity-Focused Credit Card

Some credit cards are specifically designed for charitable giving. Check out our list of charity-focused credit cards to find one that works well for you.

Giving back to your community is important, but so is sticking to your budget. Luckily, the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Start by trying out these thirteen frugal ways to give to charity. Then visit our Personal Finance Learning Center for more tips on managing your personal finances.

Image: Tassii 

The post 13 Ways to Give to Charity without Breaking Your Budget appeared first on Credit.com.

How the Discover it Miles Card Can Help You Afford Next Year’s Vacation

Tricks-for-vacation-moped

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

If you’re already daydreaming about next year’s vacation, take notice: the Discover it Miles credit card could help you make it happen. Discover’s flexible rewards program and impressive sign-up bonus can take a big bite out of your travel expenses.

Here’s how you can use the Discover it Miles card to splurge on an epic vacation next year.

All Purchases Earn Miles

To save on your trip, you’ll need to earn miles, which can be redeemed for travel expenses.

All purchases automatically earn 1.5 miles per dollar, with no confusing restrictions or spending categories to keep tabs on. You also have the opportunity to earn additional miles when shopping at more than 100 merchants on the Discover Deals platform.

Miles are unlimited and don’t expire as long as your account stays open. You can even earn miles using mobile wallets, as the card is compatible with Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay.

If you begin earning miles now, you’ll have a head start saving up for your vacation.

The First-Year Matching Bonus

Here’s how Discover can really make a big difference on your next trip.

After the first 12 consecutive billing periods, Discover will match all the miles you’ve accrued, posting them to your account within a month or two. This automatically doubles the miles you earn. Essentially, you’ll be earning three miles per dollar (rather than 1.5) for a full year.

After you make a year’s worth of purchases and receive your first-year matching bonus, you should have a sizeable stockpile of miles to redeem for your trip.

Redeeming Miles for Your Vacation

Redeeming miles is simple and flexible. You won’t have to deal with special travel booking platforms, and you aren’t limited to certain travel providers.

You can redeem miles at any time for travel purchases made on your card within the past 180 days. Simply select the desired purchase(s) you wish to redeem for, and your miles will be posted in the form of a statement credit.

Qualifying travel purchases include airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, cruises, local and public transportation, and more. There are no blackout dates.

One mile has a cash value of one cent, so every 100 miles is worth $1 in travel redemption.

The Costs

The card has no annual fee. There’s an introductory 0% annual percentage rate (APR) on purchases for 14 months, and then a variable 11.99% to 23.99% APR applies. Balance transfers get an introductory 10.99% APR for 14 months for transfers that post to the account by January 10 in 2018, after which the standard purchase APR applies.

Balance transfer fees are 3% of the transfer amount, and there are no foreign transaction fees.

How to Use the Card to Your Advantage

The quickest way to earn miles is to use your card for all your everyday purchases. That way, you’ll earn miles as you spend and get rewarded with a big sign-up bonus after a year.

Of course, you should always try to pay down your balance in full each month. Miles are great, but they aren’t much help if you can’t afford to make timely payments. And even though you won’t incur interest on purchases for 14 months, you don’t want your balance to become unmanageable.

When booking your next vacation, timing is important. You don’t want to make travel purchases too early, as your miles can only be redeemed for purchases made in the last 180 days. If you plan on making travel purchases ahead of time and redeeming miles later, make sure to check your calendar first. Keep in mind that the first-year matching bonus may take a month or two to show up.

Discover also provides up to $500,000 in flight accident insurance and up to $25,000 in auto rental insurance. So feel free to decline the extra insurance offered at the car rental agency.

If the Discover it Miles card isn’t right for you, review our other featured travel rewards credit cards. But before you apply for any credit card, you should be reasonably confident that you will be approved, as hard inquiries can lower your credit score. Review your credit report for free on Credit.com for the best chance of successful approvals.

Image: istock

At publishing time, the Discover it Miles card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

The post How the Discover it Miles Card Can Help You Afford Next Year’s Vacation appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Credit Cards That Help Grandparents Spoil Their Grandkids

Will Your Grandchildren Ruin Your Retirement?

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

Spoiling your grandkids can get expensive, especially if you’re on a fixed income. But some credit cards can help out financially, earning rewards as you treat your grandchildren to ice cream or take them out on adventures.

Here are four credit cards that can help you spoil your grandchildren.

1. Blue Cash Preferred by American Express

Rewards: 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in annual US supermarket purchases (1% cash back on purchases beyond that threshold); 3% cash back at US gas stations and select department stores; and 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: $200 bonus statement credit if you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee: $95
Annual Percentage Rate (APR):
0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 13.99% to 24.99% APR.
Why We Picked It: This card offers a well-rounded variety of ways to earn cash back as you spend.
For Your Grandkids:
There are special cash back rates at supermarkets, gas stations, and eligible department stores. That means you’ll earn a lot of cash back whether you’re stocking up for a family dinner, driving your grandkids around town, or picking up some cute kids’ outfits.
Drawbacks: There is a $95 annual fee.

2. Chase Freedom Unlimited

Rewards: 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
Sign-Up Bonus: $150 bonus cash back if you spend $500 in the first three months.
Annual Fee: $0
APR:
0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 15.99% to 24.74% APR.
Why We Picked It: Every purchase earns the same dependable cash back rate.
For Your Grandkids: 
Every purchase you make (including grandchild-related expenses) earns 1.5% cash back.
Drawbacks: There are higher cash back rates available, especially if you’re willing to keep track of spending categories.

3. Citi Thank You Premier

Rewards: Three points per dollar spent on travel, including at gas stations; two points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment; and one point per dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95.
APR: 
Variable 15.49% to 24.49% APR.
Why We Picked It: You can earn rewards as you take your grandkids on adventures.
For Your Grandkids: 
You’ll earn triple points on travel expenses (including gas), double points on dining and entertainment (including movie theaters, amusement parks, museums, and sporting events), and single points on everything else. If you’re out on the town with your grandkids, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to earn points, which can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, gift cards, and more.
Drawbacks: If you tend to entertain your grandkids at home, this card won’t offer as much value.

4. US Bank Cash Plus Visa

Rewards: 5% cash back on up to $2,000 in quarterly purchases for two categories of your choosing; 2% cash back on one category of your choosing; and 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: For one year, eligible purchases earn an additional 0.5% cash back.
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 
Variable 14.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases; 0% APR for 12 months on balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening, then variable 14.99% to 23.99% APR.
Why We Picked It: This card gives you the power to choose how you’ll be rewarded for purchases.
For Your Grandkids:
Every quarter, you have the option to pick one 2% cash back category (current options are gas, dining, or grocery stores) and two 5% cash back categories (including sporting goods stores, movie theaters, electronics stores, bookstores, and more). This means you can tailor your cash back rewards to your grandchild’s hobbies or your favorite family activities. You can also switch categories each quarter, which means you can adjust as your grandkids grow.
Drawbacks: You’ll have to remember to choose your special cash back categories every quarter.

How to Choose a Card to Spoil Your Grandkids

Ultimately, the best card for spoiling your grandkids depends on how you spend on them. If you like to pick up random gifts here and there, a basic cash back card might be a good choice. If you take your grandkids on road trips or out on the town, a card that specifically rewards gas or entertainment might be a better fit.

If you plan to use your card for purchases unrelated to your grandkids, make sure to choose a card that will also reward those spending habits—especially if your “grandchildren budget” adds up to only a fraction of your total spending. 

What Credit Is Required for a Credit Card for Grandparents?

The best cash back and rewards cards will require good or excellent credit. You should check your credit before you apply, and submit an application only if you have a good chance of approval. That’s because a hard inquiry from a credit card application can ding your score a few points. You can check your credit report free at Credit.com. 

Image: istock

At publishing time, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

The post 4 Credit Cards That Help Grandparents Spoil Their Grandkids appeared first on Credit.com.

Our Top 5 Credit Card Picks for Fall Landscaping Projects

A summer garden can be a wonderful hobby and investment when you follow these money saving tips!

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

With cooler weather and better planting conditions, fall is the perfect time of year for a landscaping project. But whether you’re sprucing up your garden or aiming to improve your home’s curb appeal, the expense of a large outdoor project can be daunting.

Some credit cards can help, offering you ways to earn cash back or avoid paying interest on your purchases.

Here are five credit cards for your fall landscaping project.

1. Citi Simplicity

Rewards: None
Sign-Up Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% APR for 21 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 14.99% to 24.99% APR.
Why We Picked It: Citi offers the lengthiest 0% intro APR period we’ve seen.
For Your Outdoor Project: 
You can avoid paying interest on your landscaping purchases for almost two years. That’s a long time to pay off your project.
Drawbacks: 
There are no rewards offered with this card.

2. Home Depot Consumer Credit Card

Rewards: None
Sign-Up Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% intro APR for up to 24 months on qualifying purchase types, then variable 17.99% to 26.99% APR based on your credit.
Why We Picked It: Home Depot offers both the supplies you need and the card (reviewed here) that can help you afford them.
For Your Outdoor Project: 
Home Depot purchases of $299 or more get six months of 0% APR. Various purchase types, including pergolas, snow blowers, and siding, can qualify for up to 24 months of 0% APR. Cardholders can also access special discounts and have one year to make returns, which is nine months longer than Home Depot’s standard policy.
Drawbacks: 
If you don’t shop at Home Depot, this card isn’t right for you.

3. Chase Freedom Unlimited

Rewards: 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
Sign-Up Bonus: $150 bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months.
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 15.99% to 24.74% APR.
Why We Picked It: This well-rounded card offers a solid cash back rate on every purchase, a nice little sign-up bonus, and a long period of interest-free purchases.
For Your Outdoor Project: 
All of your landscaping purchases will automatically earn 1.5% cash back automatically, and you get 15 months to avoid interest as you pay off your project. It should also be easy to meet the spending requirement for the sign-up bonus.
Drawbacks: There are higher cash back rates available with other cards.

4. Lowe’s Advantage Card 

Rewards: None
Sign-Up Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% intro APR for qualifying purchase types, then variable 26.99% APR.
Why We Picked It: Loyal Lowe’s shoppers have many ways to save on their landscaping projects.
For Your Outdoor Project: 
When you apply for a Lowe’s credit card, you can choose to receive 5% off all qualifying Lowe’s purchases or six months of 0% APR on purchases of $299 or more. Lowe’s also offers up to 36 months of low-interest financing on certain purchases; for instance, riding lawn mowers currently get 1.99% APR for 36 months.
Drawbacks: You have to choose between saving on every purchase or avoiding interest. 

5. Discover it – Cashback Match

Rewards: 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of purchases in quarterly bonus categories; 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: Discover will match all cash back earned in the first year.
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 11.99% to 23.99% APR.
Why We Picked It: You can earn 5% cash back on your landscaping supplies if you get them from the right merchants.
For Your Outdoor Project: For October through December this year, the card’s 5% cash back bonus category is Target and Amazon.com purchases. You should be able to get at least some of your landscaping needs from these merchants, earning a great cash back rate as you spend.
Drawbacks: 
The card’s “home improvement store” bonus category, which would have been ideal, has already passed by this year.

Choosing a Card for Your Landscaping Project

General cash back cards without merchant restrictions will be suitable for a project that involves purchases at many different stores (or if you want a card you can also use for everyday spending). But if you’re sourcing your project at one type of store, you may want to look for a card that offers a special cash back rate at that merchant type.

If you’re after a 0% intro APR offer, you should start by estimating the cost of your project. Choose a card with a payback period that gives you enough time to pay off your estimated project cost in full before it expires. Otherwise, you’ll be hit with interest when the intro period is up.  

What Credit Is Required to Get a Card for My Landscaping Project?

Credit cards with cash back rewards and 0% intro APR offers often require good to excellent credit. Store-specific credit cards might be easier to qualify for, but they generally don’t hold as much long-term value. Before you apply for a card, you should be confident in your chances of approval. You can check your credit report for free at Credit.com.

Image: AleksandarNakic

At publishing time, the Citi Simplicity, Chase Freedom Unlimited, and Discover it cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

The post Our Top 5 Credit Card Picks for Fall Landscaping Projects appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Credit Cards for Food Delivery Drivers

teen-drivers-2

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

With the rise of food delivery apps and casual dining restaurants, there are more ways than ever to make a living in food delivery. But one major drawback of delivery driving—the cost of fuel—prevails.

Some credit cards can help delivery drivers put cash back in their pockets every time they stop at the gas pump, making their delivery gig more profitable.

Here are our top four picks for credit cards for food delivery drivers.

1. Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Rewards: 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in annual spending at US supermarkets; 3% cash back at US gas stations and select department stores; and 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: $200 statement credit if you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
Annual Fee: $95
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 13.99% to 24.99% APR.
Why We Picked It: Delivery drivers earn great cash back rates at gas stations and beyond.
For Delivery Drivers: 
You’ll earn 3% cash back at all US gas stations (excluding merchants that don’t primarily sell gas, like supermarkets and wholesale clubs). If your vehicle breaks down, there’s a Roadside Assistance Hotline to bail you out.
Drawbacks: 
You must pay a $95 annual fee.

2. Discover it Chrome

Rewards: 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter; 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: Discover will match all cash back earned in the first year.
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 11.99% to 23.99% APR.
Why We Picked It: You’ll earn double cash back on gas and dining expenses.
For Delivery Drivers: 
With 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, you’ll earn great rewards at the pump and when you pick up dinner on the way home. Plus, Discover’s first-year cash back match doubles the early value of this card.
Drawbacks: 
Your double cash back rate is limited to $1,000 in purchases each quarter.

3. Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi

Rewards: 4% cash back on up to $7,000 in eligible gas purchases each year (1% cash back on purchases beyond that threshold); 3% cash back on dining and qualifying travel purchases; 2% cash back at Costco and Costco.com; and 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0 with a paid Costco membership.
APR: 0% APR for seven months on purchases, then variable 16.24% APR; variable 16.24% APR on balance transfers.
Why We Picked It: Costco members will earn a strong cash back rate on gas.
For Delivery Drivers: 
You’ll get 4% cash back at eligible gas stations, which is pretty tough to beat. Costco and Costco.com purchases earn 2% cash back, so you can also save on Costco’s auto goods and services to keep your car in tip-top shape.
Drawbacks: 
You must be a Costco member to get this card.

4. Bank of America Cash Rewards 

Rewards: 3% cash back on gas purchases and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for up to $2,500 in combined quarterly purchases; 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: $150 online cash reward bonus if you spend $500 in the first 90 days.
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% APR for twelve months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 13.99% to 23.99% APR. Balance transfers must be made within 60 days of account opening.
Why We Picked It: This card earns a very competitive cash back rate at the pump.
For Delivery Drivers: You’ll earn 3% cash back on gas purchases, and the sign-up bonus has a fairly low spending limit. If you have a Bank of America checking or savings account, you get a 10% cash back bonus every time you redeem your rewards for an account deposit.
Drawbacks: 
To get the best value, you must be a Bank of America banking customer.

Choosing a Credit Card for Delivery Driving

If you always fill up at the same gas station chain, check to see if that brand offers its own rewards credit card. But if you aren’t loyal to one company, you’ll want a card that provides the same cash back rate at every gas station.

Many card providers also offer emergency roadside assistance with their cards, which can help you out in case of a vehicle breakdown. If you’re worried about a roadside emergency, look for a card that can offer roadside services.

If your primary focus is gas, you’ll want a card that provides the strongest fuel rewards. But if you spend a lot at many other merchant types, you may be better off with a card that rewards general spending.

What Credit Is Required for a Fuel Rewards Card?

Cards with great gas rewards usually require good to excellent credit. To increase your chances of approval, you should be reasonably confident in your credit qualifications before you apply. If you aren’t sure about your credit, you can check your credit report free at Credit.com.

Image: Sakkawokkie 

At publishing time, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, Discover it Chrome, and Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

The post 4 Credit Cards for Food Delivery Drivers appeared first on Credit.com.

How New Discover it Card Customers Can Supercharge Their Cash Back This Quarter

Credit cards are a super convenient financial tool, but they can often be confusing.

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

If you have the Discover it – 18 Month Balance Transfer Card in your wallet, you already know you can earn great cash back rates with a rotating carousel of merchants all year round. But this quarter, Discover is offering new cardholders the opportunity to close out the year with a cash back bang.

Discover’s fourth-quarter bonus category, combined with its cash back matching offer, significantly boosts the card’s value for anyone who’s held the card for under a year. First-year customers can save on goods, earn rewards, and even double their cash back value as they shop.

Here’s how new cardholders can take advantage of the Q4 bonus category and cash back match to supercharge the Discover it Card’s value.

The Q4 Cash Back Bonus Category

Discover offers 5% cash back in bonus spending categories that rotate every quarter. For instance, 2017’s first quarter offered 5% cash back at gas stations, for ground transportation, and at wholesale clubs. Even if you aren’t excited about a quarter’s bonus category, you can ride it out for three months and earn 1% cash back on all other purchases in the meantime.

Cash back can be redeemed for bank account deposits, statement credits, gift cards, charitable donations, and more.

For 2017’s last quarter (October through December), cardholders will earn 5% cash back on all eligible Amazon.com and Target purchases. This bonus category is especially valuable for a few reasons:

  • Holiday shoppers can earn 5% cash back when gift shopping at Amazon.com and Target.
  • com and Target carry an enormous variety of goods, so qualifying purchases abound.
  • Eligible Amazon.com purchases include its inventory of physical products, downloads, Amazon gift cards, Amazon Prime subscriptions, and goods sold by third-party merchants on Amazon.com.
  • Online Target purchases qualify, so you don’t even need a nearby Target to benefit.

This bonus category is solid on its own, but new cardholders can see even greater value with Discover’s first-year cash back match.

The First-Year Cash Back Match

Discover currently matches all cash back earned in the first year of the card, with no cap on the potential earnings. After your account is open 12 consecutive billing periods, Discover will match the cash back you’ve earned up to that point and apply the bonus to your account in a month or two.

This essentially doubles the cash back you earn, giving new customers a potential 10% cash back in bonus categories (with limitations) and 2% cash back on all other purchases for a full year.

The Limitations

There are a few limitations. The 5% cash back category applies only to the first $1,500 in purchases per quarter—any bonus category purchases beyond the cap will earn 1% cash back. You must also remember to activate your bonus category each quarter, and any purchases made before activation won’t earn the 5% cash back rate.

The cash back matching offer is available only to new Discover customers.

Taking Advantage of the Q4 Bonus Category

If you’re a first-year cardholder, you should take advantage of this bonus category while it lasts.

Make sure to activate your bonus category immediately if you haven’t already (bonus categories can be activated online). To get your 5% cash back, try to prioritize purchases at Amazon.com and Target—any time you need to make a purchase, it can pay off to check with those merchants first.

Remember, 5% to 10% cash back won’t make up for large price discrepancies. If a competitor offers an identical good much cheaper, it may be better to go for the savings. Your 5% cash back is good for only $1,500 in purchases each quarter, so feel free to shop around once you hit that limit.

Before you apply for any credit card, you should check your credit score and submit an application only if you feel reasonably confident that you will be approved—a hard credit inquiry can negatively affect your credit score. Review your credit report for free at Credit.com.

Image: Peopleimages

At publishing time, the Discover it card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

The post How New Discover it Card Customers Can Supercharge Their Cash Back This Quarter appeared first on Credit.com.

12 Tips for Saving Money at Fancy Restaurants

Here's a solid rewards card made for people who love food.

An expertly prepared meal at a restaurant is one of life’s great pleasures. When it’s delivered in a great atmosphere with attentive service, the experience is elevated even further. But fine dining establishments can be prohibitively expensive.

If you love fancy restaurants but hate getting the check, here are twelve tips to help you save on your next meal out.

1. Research Restaurant Weeks

Many cities host an annual Restaurant Week, where participating restaurants offer deals, prix fixe (fixed price) meals, and other incentives to get customers in the door. Find out when the next Restaurant Week is happening near you, as it could be the perfect time to visit that new restaurant you’ve been dying to try.

2. Attend Soft Opens

New restaurants often launch with a soft open, a dry run in which the kitchen and wait staff practice food prep and service before they officially open for business. Friends and family who snag an invite can often dine at these events for free. If you’ve got your nose to the local culinary scene, you can try to secure invites to the next hot restaurant’s soft open.

3. Ask for Gift Cards

Expecting some birthday or holiday gifts soon? Now might be the time to start dropping hints about gift cards to your favorite eatery. They may not seem very personal, but gift cards are a great way to get exactly what you want. Keep in mind that gift cards are not as secure as credit cards, so make sure you take steps to protect your gift cards if you do receive some.

4. Visit Deal Websites

Deal websites like Groupon and Restaurant.com hunt down dining discounts for you. Just go to the website and search for deals in your area, or sign up for a newsletter to get offers delivered right to your inbox. Even fancy restaurants offer deals through these sites sometimes, so keep an eye out for your favorites.

5. Go for Lunch

At many fine dining restaurants, lunch menus are more affordable than the dinner menu. While you may not get access to everything on the dinner menu, you will be able to score a quality meal at a lower price.

6. Skip the Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages can drastically add to the cost of your meal. Skipping the alcohol means you can focus on the unique food that the restaurant offers instead—and your stomach and your wallet will thank you.

7. Ask the Sommelier for Deals

If you plan on having wine, you can ask the sommelier for a deal. “If you want to get a better value on wine, ask them for the ‘bin end list,’” says Jamie Logie, owner of Regainedwellness.com. “These are wines with ripped labels or damaged tops, and past-their-prime vintages. . . . You can end up getting a wine that’s double the value or more.”

8. Avoid Specials

Specials offer meals that aren’t on the everyday menu, but they may not be a good value. “Specials are used a lot of the time as a way to make the most money on a plate of simple ingredients or . . . items that need to be cleared out,” said Logie. Choosing from a restaurant’s regular menu can help you save money while still providing you with a quality dining experience.

9. Split Meals

Restaurants often overload plates with more food than you need for a full meal. If the restaurant’s portions are big enough, you can split your appetizers, entrées, and dessert with a companion. And if you split the bill as well, you’ll automatically cut the check in half. Some restaurants do charge an extra fee for splitting menu items, so keep that in mind.

10. Skip Apps and Dessert

Appetizers and dessert don’t come cheap at fine dining establishments. If you eat a light snack before going out and have a dessert waiting at home, you’ll only have to spring for an entrée. While you may feel a little deprived, remember that entrées are the star of the show at restaurants. Focusing on those dishes will give you the most bang for your buck.

11. Make It a Business Expense

If you’re a business owner, the IRS will let you deduct meals purchased during work travel or meals conducted for business purposes. Next time you want to visit a nice restaurant, consider taking an employee or client out with you. You can deduct 50% of meals purchased on business trips or to entertain clients and 100% of some meals purchased for employees. This can help you save big when you file your taxes.

There are limitations, so check IRS guidelines to make sure your meal is covered.

12. Get a Rewards Credit Card

Many credit cards earn cash back or points rewards on your purchases, with some cards specifically designed to reward dining purchases. These cards will add value every time you dine out. If eating out is a priority for you, look for a credit card that rewards those purchases.

Next time you’re in the mood for a fancy night out, implement some of these tips to save some cash. And if you need more tips for saving money, check out our Personal Finance Learning Center.

Image: gilaxia

The post 12 Tips for Saving Money at Fancy Restaurants appeared first on Credit.com.

Boost Your Blockbuster Budget: 3 Credit Cards for Movie Lovers

Being on a budget doesn't mean having to give up the signature movie theater popcorn.

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

Movie lovers know there are few greater pleasures than watching a good cinematic adventure unfold on screen. No matter your favorite genre or preferred viewing venue, some credit cards can further enhance that experience.

These cards reward movie purchases or provide access to unique film experiences, giving you extra motivation to watch those big blockbusters.

Here are three credit cards for movie lovers. 

1. Citi ThankYou Preferred Card

Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment; one point per dollar spent on other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: None

Annual Fee: $0

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 14.49% to 24.49% APR.

Why We Picked It: Select movie purchases earn double points.

For Movie Purchases: This card earns two points on the dollar for entertainment, which includes movie theater purchases, video rentals, and on-demand streaming services. And for dinner-and-a-movie date nights, you’ll also earn double points on dining purchases. Points can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, or even gift cards—to buy more movies, of course.

Drawbacks: There’s no sign-up bonus.

2. Sony Card from Capital One

Rewards: Five points per dollar spent on Sony purchases at authorized retailers; three points per dollar spent on music and video downloads, movie rentals, theater purchases, and digital streaming and subscription services; and one point per dollar spent on other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: 5,000 bonus points if you make your first purchase within 90 days.

Annual Fee: $0

APR: 0% intro APR until March 2018 on purchases, then variable 14.99% to 24.99% APR; variable 14.99% to 24.99% APR on balance transfers.

Why We Picked It: This card is built to reward media consumption.

For Movie Purchases: You’ll earn triple points per dollar on your movie purchases, including movie theater purchases, movie rentals, downloads, or movie subscription services. And if you want to build out your home theater system, you’ll get five points per dollar spent on Sony electronics at authorized retailers. Those points can then be redeemed for Sony merchandise, movies, music, games, and more.

Drawbacks: This card is locked into Sony’s rewards program, which may not include all the redemption options you want.

3. Chase Sapphire Preferred

Rewards: Two points per dollar spent on dining and travel; one point per dollar spent on other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95.

APR: Variable 16.99% to 23.99% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Why We Picked It: Hardcore film festival buffs can enjoy impressive ticket package rewards.

For Movie Purchases: Chase’s travel-focused card helps users earn dining and travel rewards, but it doesn’t stop there. It also provides access to unique experiences, including the 2018 Sundance Film Festival with an exclusive ticket package.

Drawbacks: This card doesn’t provide as much value to infrequent travelers. 

How to Choose a Credit Card for Movies

If you’re looking for a card that rewards your movie habit, try to find one that incentivizes spending at movie theaters, on-demand rental services, or whatever method you prefer for movie watching.

If you don’t spend a ton of money on movies but you still want movie-related rewards, there are cards for that too. Plenty of credit cards offer cash back or rewards points on every purchase, and you might be able to redeem those points for film-based perks. Just make sure you read through reward offerings carefully to verify that the card you pick will get you the benefits you want.

What Credit Is Required for a Credit Card for Movie Spending?

The best rewards cards require good to excellent credit. You should always check your credit before you apply, and submit an application only if you meet the card’s credit requirements. You can check your credit report for free at Credit.com.

Image: gilaxia 

At publishing time, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card, Sony Card from Capital One, and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

The post Boost Your Blockbuster Budget: 3 Credit Cards for Movie Lovers appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Credit Cards with Consistent Cash Back Rates for Every Purchase

Credit cards are a super convenient financial tool, but they can often be confusing.

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

Cash back credit cards often reward certain forms of spending more than others. But if your spending habits don’t heavily favor a specific purchase type, a card with the same cash back rate for all purchases could be the better choice.

Here are five credit cards that provide consistent cash back no matter what you’re buying.

1. Citi Double Cash Card

Rewards: 1% cash back on purchases with an additional 1% cash back upon payment.

Sign-Up Bonus: None

Annual Fee: $0

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers, then variable 14.49% to 24.49% APR; variable 14.49% to 24.49% APR on purchases.

Why We Picked It: For each paid purchase, you get 2% cash back.

For Every Purchase: All purchases automatically earn 1% cash back, and an additional 1% is awarded once you pay. In other words, you have the potential to earn double cash back on everything.

Drawbacks: If you don’t pay your minimum due each month, you won’t earn your full cash back.

2. Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: $150 bonus cash back if you spend $500 in the first three months.

Annual Fee: $0

APR: 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 15.99% to 24.74% APR.

Why We Picked It: You get a solid cash back rate on every purchase.

For Every Purchase: You’ll earn unlimited 1.5% cash back with every purchase you make. There’s also a $150 sign-up bonus with a low spending requirement.

Drawbacks: The balance transfer fee is 5% of the transfer amount with a minimum of $5, which many other cards can beat.

3. Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card

Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: $200 bonus cash back if you spend $1,000 in the first three months.

Annual Fee: $0

APR: 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 13.99% to 25.99% APR based on your credit.

Why We Picked It: This card offers cash back on all purchases and a big sign-up bonus.

For Every Purchase: All purchases earn 1.5% cash back. There is a 1.8% cash back incentive for mobile wallet purchases, but that rate reverts to 1.5% after one year. And if you can spend $1,000 in the first three months, you’ll get a nice $200 sign-up bonus.

Drawbacks: For some, the spending requirement for the sign-up bonus may be out of reach.

4. Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: None

Annual Fee: $39

APR: Variable 24.99% APR.

Why We Picked It: Good cash back rates aren’t limited to those with excellent credit.

For Every Purchase: Those with average credit can earn a competitive 1.5% cash back rate on every purchase.

Drawbacks: The starting APR is quite high, which is normal considering the lower credit requirements. There’s also a $39 annual fee.

5. Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard

Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: $200 bonus cash back if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.

Annual Fee: $0

APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 15.99%, 20.99%, or 25.99% APR based on your credit.

Why We Picked It: This card has a decent cash back rate and offers extra value as you redeem.

For Every Purchase: All purchases earn 1.5% cash back. When you redeem, 5% of the redemption amount is credited back into your account, giving your earnings a little boost every time you cash in your rewards.

Drawbacks: You must have at least $50 in cash back earnings before you can redeem.

How to Choose a Card with a Consistent Cash Back Value

If you’re choosing a credit card for its consistent cash back value, you’ll probably want the card that offers the best rewards rate on all purchases. Cards with 1.5% cash back for all purchases are commonplace, so don’t settle below that threshold. Some cards offer more, but they may require you to jump through extra hoops.

You should also review any available sign-up bonuses, as they can boost the initial value of the card. If you’re looking to avoid interest on purchases or balance transfers, look for 0% intro APR offers.

Remember that cash back cards should be paid off in full each month before interest is applied. Otherwise, interest can reduce the value of your rewards.

What Credit Is Required for a Card with Consistent Cash Back?

Cash back cards are available to consumers with a wide range of credit scores. While the best cards are usually reserved for those with excellent credit, those with bad credit aren’t necessarily locked out of rewards. No matter your credit standing, you should check your credit score before you apply. You can check your credit report for free at Credit.com.

At publishing time, the Citi Double Cash Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card, Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card, Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, and Barclaycard CashForward World Mastercard are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

Image: Peopleimages

The post 5 Credit Cards with Consistent Cash Back Rates for Every Purchase appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Credit Cards with Consistent Cash Back Rates for Every Purchase

Credit cards are a super convenient financial tool, but they can often be confusing.

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

Cash back credit cards often reward certain forms of spending more than others. But if your spending habits don’t heavily favor a specific purchase type, a card with the same cash back rate for all purchases could be the better choice.

Here are five credit cards that provide consistent cash back no matter what you’re buying.

1. Citi Double Cash Card

Rewards: 1% cash back on purchases with an additional 1% cash back upon payment.

Sign-Up Bonus: None

Annual Fee: $0

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers, then variable 14.49% to 24.49% APR; variable 14.49% to 24.49% APR on purchases.

Why We Picked It: For each paid purchase, you get 2% cash back.

For Every Purchase: All purchases automatically earn 1% cash back, and an additional 1% is awarded once you pay. In other words, you have the potential to earn double cash back on everything.

Drawbacks: If you don’t pay your minimum due each month, you won’t earn your full cash back.

2. Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: $150 bonus cash back if you spend $500 in the first three months.

Annual Fee: $0

APR: 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 15.99% to 24.74% APR.

Why We Picked It: You get a solid cash back rate on every purchase.

For Every Purchase: You’ll earn unlimited 1.5% cash back with every purchase you make. There’s also a $150 sign-up bonus with a low spending requirement.

Drawbacks: The balance transfer fee is 5% of the transfer amount with a minimum of $5, which many other cards can beat.

3. Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card

Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: $200 bonus cash back if you spend $1,000 in the first three months.

Annual Fee: $0

APR: 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 13.99% to 25.99% APR based on your credit.

Why We Picked It: This card offers cash back on all purchases and a big sign-up bonus.

For Every Purchase: All purchases earn 1.5% cash back. There is a 1.8% cash back incentive for mobile wallet purchases, but that rate reverts to 1.5% after one year. And if you can spend $1,000 in the first three months, you’ll get a nice $200 sign-up bonus.

Drawbacks: For some, the spending requirement for the sign-up bonus may be out of reach.

4. Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: None

Annual Fee: $39

APR: Variable 24.99% APR.

Why We Picked It: Good cash back rates aren’t limited to those with excellent credit.

For Every Purchase: Those with average credit can earn a competitive 1.5% cash back rate on every purchase.

Drawbacks: The starting APR is quite high, which is normal considering the lower credit requirements. There’s also a $39 annual fee.

5. Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard

Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: $200 bonus cash back if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.

Annual Fee: $0

APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 15.99%, 20.99%, or 25.99% APR based on your credit.

Why We Picked It: This card has a decent cash back rate and offers extra value as you redeem.

For Every Purchase: All purchases earn 1.5% cash back. When you redeem, 5% of the redemption amount is credited back into your account, giving your earnings a little boost every time you cash in your rewards.

Drawbacks: You must have at least $50 in cash back earnings before you can redeem.

How to Choose a Card with a Consistent Cash Back Value

If you’re choosing a credit card for its consistent cash back value, you’ll probably want the card that offers the best rewards rate on all purchases. Cards with 1.5% cash back for all purchases are commonplace, so don’t settle below that threshold. Some cards offer more, but they may require you to jump through extra hoops.

You should also review any available sign-up bonuses, as they can boost the initial value of the card. If you’re looking to avoid interest on purchases or balance transfers, look for 0% intro APR offers.

Remember that cash back cards should be paid off in full each month before interest is applied. Otherwise, interest can reduce the value of your rewards.

What Credit Is Required for a Card with Consistent Cash Back?

Cash back cards are available to consumers with a wide range of credit scores. While the best cards are usually reserved for those with excellent credit, those with bad credit aren’t necessarily locked out of rewards. No matter your credit standing, you should check your credit score before you apply. You can check your credit report for free at Credit.com.

At publishing time, the Citi Double Cash Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card, Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card, Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, and Barclaycard CashForward World Mastercard are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

Image: Peopleimages

The post 5 Credit Cards with Consistent Cash Back Rates for Every Purchase appeared first on Credit.com.