Drive A Lot? Use the Citi Driver’s Edge MasterCard

I’ve realized that I am in the minority when it comes to driving. I put on maybe 6,000 miles a year. Many people log over 20,000 miles on their car every year! If you are one of these road warriors, I just got e-mailed about the Citi Driver’s Edge Platinum Select MasterCard (Thanks JW). It looks great in multiple ways:

» You get rewards just for driving. You?ll earn $1 in Drive Rebates for every 100 miles you drive?up to $500 in Drive Rebates a year. Drive 20,000 miles a year? That’s $200 a year just for driving! To track miles and get rebates you just mail in your receipt whenever you get an oil change or other receipt.

» 6% cashback on gas for the first year. Obviously driving a lot = $$$ for gas. Assume you get 20 miles per gallon. Driving 20,000 miles, that’s 1,000 gallons. At $3 a gallon, that’s $3,000. Times 6%, that’s another $180 cashback on gas alone.

» You also get 6% back at supermarkets and drugstores for the first year (3% after that). That beats out the Citi Dividend Card (which I have) for the first year. You earn 1% on everything else. Here is Citi’s example chart of how this could add up:

Rewards Table

» There is a cap of $1,000 per year, which is significantly higher than the $300 or the Dividend card as well and allows you to rack up more cash.

Come to think of it, this is not a bad card just to keep around. If you drive 10,000 miles in a year, that’s still $100 a year just for
driving. There is also no annual fee. What other card does that?

Rebates do expire if you don’t make a purchase in a year or if you don’t redeem within 5 years. Not too harsh. It’s all spelled out in the fine print on the application, so be sure to save a copy.

There is also a 0% APR balance transfer offer with this card, and as such is for people with good credit. But do not use it if you want to get these rebates. Remember, all payments go towards the balance at lowest interest rate.

What’s the catch?
The DriveRebates are redeemable as straight cash only towards car expenses. But that’s any car expenses – buying a car, leasing a car, oil changes, new tires, repairs, etc.

But, they can also be converted to ThankYou points. Each $1 in Driver?s Edge rebates is equivalent to 100 ThankYou Points, or put another way $100 in rebates can be converted to a $100 Gift Card at Target, Chevron, Gap, etc. Note: If you have student loans, you can still get straight cash towards those.

I think the easiest way to cash in on these points is just to get gas cards. Sure, you won’t be able to get 6% back anymore by buying with this credit card, but even after accounting for that you’re still getting 5.64% back which is still very good.

Hmmm…
As I write this, I’m convincing myself more and more to apply for this card. Even if I only drive 6,000 miles a year, that’s $60 – which will basically pay for all my oil changes and tires every year.

Update: I applied for this card myself, going to redeem for either gas or a set of tires.

Comments

  1. $60 for all oil changes and tires — Hmmmmm… indeed :)

  2. so those of us that drive 100 miles/day but change our own oil are out of luck because we don’t have receipts from the dealer with out odometer reading?

  3. A caveat for the high-mileage driver–Drive Rebates must be matched by non-Drive rebates when redeeming:

    Drive Rebates may only be redeemed when you redeem an equal or greater number of Options Rebates.

    The Drive Rebates earned effectively double my Option Rewards since I drive a large number of miles per year. As a 2%+ rewards card for me, this is the top card in my wallet.

    Also to note: Amazon gift certificates are also available from the ThankYou rewards network.

  4. Yea this is one of their nicer cards. I was considering getting one but I heard there is a 3 or 4 citicard limit. I already have 4 so…

    Also, assuming that the 0% BT works like the other citi offers(ie you get the 12 months from the date of your first transfer), one strategy might be to get the card, use it for 11 months for the 6% then pay it off and then use it for a BT.

  5. Jonathan,

    I read the T&C for the “Drive” and “Option” rebates and saw this:

    “Drive Rebates may only be redeemed when you redeem an equal or greater number of Options Rebates.”

    I am not sure if this applies to conversion to TYpoints, but I assume that’s considered “redeeming”.

    If Drive Rebates = miles drive and Option Rebates = purchase % back, that means drives with a lot of miles will have to make most of their purchases on this card as well (depending of course on your spending, etc).

    The way I read this, if you drive 20,000 miles/year that’s $200. Which means you also have to spend $3,333 in the 6% category (or 6,666% once it drops to 3%).

    Am I interpreting the T&C incorrectly?

  6. These cards some offer 5% on gas and drugstors but in their disclousers they have 1% for super markets etc, so then is Giant, Safeway etc are drugstores?

  7. Can you get rebates for miles driven on multiple cars or do you need to have multiple cards for that?

  8. From their T&C (on the final app page):

    You may register only one vehicle, and only the miles driven on that vehicle after you enroll are eligible to earn Drive Rebates. To earn Drive Rebates for the miles you drive, you must send us a miles submission form after you have had services performed on your vehicle.

    So one car per card, it looks like. And you need to send in some sort of proof of odo even if you change your own oil. Maybe get JiffyLube to change your windshield wipers or something?

    Drive Rebates may only be redeemed when you redeem an equal or greater number of Options Rebates.

    I didn’t catch this before. So it does look like you need to match the driving rebates with the cashback rebates. This shouldn’t be hard during the first year, like the math shows if you use this card for your gas (and who can beat 6% back on gas?), your cashback on gas should basically match your driving rebates. Future years will probably be harder for high-mileage drivers, but your cashback will still be matched, effectively doubling the cashback portion.

  9. do you ever cancel credit cards?

    just wondering if it impacts your credit more negatively to have lots of cards you don’t use, or to cancel cards?

  10. I personally don’t cancel cards very often. Most times it hurts your score to cancel rather than helps it. Sometimes I convert cards if the credit card company tells me I have too many of their cards.

    There is nothing wrong with having a ton of cards. What matters is the average age of your accounts, which can be affected by opening many new accounts in a short period of time. However, I open at least 5 cards a year and my score is pretty steady. Must be that I have so many cards that each new card doesn’t change the average age much anymore :)

  11. Bigmouth says:

    how many credit cards do you have now? I think you really shouldn’t open too many lines of credit. Maybe 5-6 at most.

  12. Actually, I have never seen any reputable source or FICO guidance state that there is any such thing as “too many” lines of credit. A specific mortgage banker may ask you to close some lines, but that’s the only reason I would close a card. Let me track down the article.

  13. samerwriter says:

    In my opinion any credit card with rebate rules as complex as this one aren’t worth the effort.

    Drive Rebates, Thank You Points, Gift Cards, rebate percentages that change after a year.. Yikes! I’ll take the straight cash back from my Citibank Dividend, Chase Dividend, and Amex Costco cards!

  14. Jonathan – yes; you are limited to one car per card. But you have multiple cards of the same time for more than one vehicle. I called and asked them this awhile back.

    However, CitiCards does not like to extend your credit line (in total) over more than 3 or 4 (rarely 4, though) personal cards. After 3 or 4, they’ll ask you if you want the Professional Card (Business Card – not Consumer Card).

  15. @ Brent

    “1:1 Ratio”

    I just signed up for this card and I’ve been using a diamon preferred rewards for a couple of years now. What you’re saying seems to be a huge problem for this card and makes it hardly lucrative (as opposed to the diamond preferred rewards) at all. I can easily clear 50,000-70,000 points a year on my diamond card which gets me $500-700 in gas cards. I don’t plan to waste my time doing the whole maintenance thing when I can simply convert driver rebates to points and get gas cards. However, you’re saying that Citi will take the lower of the two and effectively double it (that is 1:1)? If so, this card is going in the trash. Please advise.

  16. oops wrong article… intended for followup.

  17. Personally I think the Drive Rebates are a great idea. It is a bit extra hassle to send in the odometer readings from a mechanic.

  18. Hi Jonathan,

    How is your experience so far with the driver’s edge card? Have you submitted any odometer reading yet? Is that smooth?

Trackbacks

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  2. [...] already use another card that gives you higher than 1.5% – like the Citi Driver’s Edge Card (mentioned previously) or the HSBC Rewards Card that give you 5-6% back on gas, groceries, and drugstores, if you use [...]

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