Getting A Credit Card to Give Me A Free Set of Tires

free tiresI just applied for the Citi Driver’s Edge Platinum MasterCard that I wrote more about previously. I’m driving a lot more this summer and therefore also spending a lot more on gas, so the 6% cash back on gas and groceries will come in handy. I’m also getting close to the $300 annual cap on my Dividend card this year, so I need another card anyways to fill that gap.

Also, I’ll also be able to rack up those Drive Rebates that give me cash for driving miles. If you drive enough, it effectively doubles your cash back percentage as the drive rebates match the cashback rebates. So in this case, you could get up to 12% back in the first year, and 6% back in subsequent years. I figured out that I can pay for my complete next set of 4 tires with this card:

Now, I can get decent tires fully installed at Costco for about $100 each. Here’s how I estimate I’ll cover that:

I’ll probably drive 10,000 miles in a year = $100 in drive rebates.

Buy $450/month of gas & groceries x 12 months x 6% back = $324

Total expected rebates = $424 = free set of tires!

Getting $424 cash back based on $5,400 of spending is an effective 7.85% cash back. Not bad for necessities.

Added: You can also convert your rebates into ThankYou points. $100 in rebates = 10,000 ThankYou points = $100 gift card towards Gas, Target, Gap, Home Depot, etc. So it’s almost like cash back toward car expenses and gas too. Good credit needed.

Comments

  1. Yeah, this card is looking better and better. I’m glad I showed it to you. I havent applied for the card yet myself. Is there anything unexpected to know about in the application process?

  2. Hi,

    I like your posts on finance. But you are off on this one. I signed up too for this card (after reading your earlier post) but was effectively told by Citi that there is no cash back, what you get is rebates toward auto related spending such as car service etc. That’s really not as good as cash back where I choose where I can spend the cash.

  3. Do ya thing Jonathan! I love reading about your credit card exploits! LOL

  4. The only catch is that you have to take your car in for repair somewhat regularly to get the necessary receipts for the mileage rebates. I suppose annual state vehicle inspection printouts might work.

  5. TheMiniducky says:

    Hey Jon, I’ve got this card and it IS a great way to earn money towards stuff for your card, but my understanding of the rebates program was that it could be used for automotive services (ie: labor) but not the parts that you buy. (From the website):

    Redeem
    Use your rebates toward a vehicle
    ? New or used
    ? Purchase or lease
    ? Foreign or domestic
    Use your rebates for services or repairs

    For merchandise or services through ThankYou Redemptions Network

    Also, I was trying to sign up for the Drive Rebates but keep getting the form to REDEEM the Drive Rebates instead of enrolling. Maybe I’m making this more complicated than it has to be. Maybe they use the same form to enroll for the Drive Rebates as they use to redeem them? If anyone knows….?

    Despite these minor issues, this card has a lot of benefits like the sign up bonus (I managed to get in on the $75 gas card, am hoping that’s still alive and you got it too?), the 6% back for the first year, and the 0% BT for the second year! :)

  6. Jonathan,

    I have had the Driver’s Edge card for about a month now. So far so good. You may have to rethink buying your tires at Costco. If I remember correctly, you have to pay for the tires with your Driver’s Edge card in order to qualify for the rebates. The Driver’s Edge card is a MasterCard. Where I live, Costco does not accept MasterCard. Thanks for the great information.

  7. I’ve got this card, and redemming the rebates is a bit more of a hassel that they let on.

    First, MAKE SURE you have a small service done (oil change, etc.) BEFORE you buy and install your tires. Submit the bill from this service to have your mileage updated on the account and your drive miles credited.

    You need to do this early to get the drive rebates credited to your account in advance before you can redeem them on a service (i.e. you can NOT submit a bill for $400 of tires that shows your mileage and expect to get both the purchase rebates AND the drive rebates at the same time). You would only be able to redeem your previously accumulated purchase rebates at that time.

    Why does it take so long to get your drive rebates you may ask? Well the company that is responsible for crediting your account for the Drive rebates is NOT Citi and it takes them 1-2 months to update the mileage and send out your drive rebates to Citi. Therefore when you go to redeem those miles for a statement credit, they are not yet available.

    Also, you only have 30 days after you have a service done to redeem the Rebates.

    Furthermore, you can only redeem drive rebates in a 1:1 ratio with the purchase rebates (i.e. if you have 15,000 mile that represents $150 in rebates, but only $40 in purchase rebates, you can only redeem $80 total of rebates – not $190 like you would hope).

  8. Oh yeah, almost forgot this point:

    You MUST make your tire purchase with the Citi card for it to be eligible for the rebate. If you send the Citi Drive Rebates program an invoice w/ another credit card on it, they will deny it (this is in the fine print in the T+C). So buying those tires at Costo is out since they don’t take MC/Visa.

  9. Gavin Peters says:

    It’s not the Driver’s Edge, it’s the “Car Owner’s Edge”. I called in and asked, and rental car receipts showing miles driven doesn’t count for their purposes as evidence of driving.

    Lame, as I don’t own a car, but do rent twenty or so times a year for errands, shopping, vacations etc…

  10. It doesn’t sound like a good card with all the hassles…

  11. http://finance.yahoo.com/colum.....rlife/7314

    i like that article because we got into a discussion on this site last time u showed us your portfolio…interesting article…

  12. TheMiniducky says:

    Brent: Actually, the form I have says you have 90 days after the date of service to submit. Or did you have a different experience?

    I think the best way to deal with the redemption limitations is to accumulate the rebates for service maintenance that I just don’t have the time to do myself, and have not yet added to my regular budget. So I’m only out say, 50-75 bucks for a $200, 40K-miles maintenance. There’s also a very extended discussion about this over at Fatwallet.

  13. Let me try to catch up:

    > Yes – rebates are cash towards car expenses mainly, but you can also get ThankYou points (gift cards, student loan cash, etc) If you don’t own a car, I would find it very rare the person does not at least buy tires for their car, let alone at least some sort of regular maintenance like flushes, brake pads, A/C, rotation…

    > I called Citi and tires do count as a car repair. So do oil changes, filters, basically any replacement of a car part (tire is a car part) or service. Or car purchase. You have 90 days from the purchase date to submit for the rebate.

    > I think the key one is to get the first mileage update in there soon, so you have a starting point. After that, I’m just going to send them in as I get them. No change in behavior.

    > Good point about the 0% APR balance transfer for the 2nd year. May just do that instead of the 3% cash back. We’ll see in a year.

    > Yes, you must make the car repair purchase that you want paid for with this card. This is because Citi actually just issues you a credit directly to the card equal to your purchase amount.

    > The lady at Citi also reminded me that I could just convert them to ThankYou points (all or just some at a time). This would be useful too. I could just “cash out” $50 of rebates at a time and get a $50 Gas or Target gift card or similar. So you can basically redeem the rebates for gas! I might just do this instead.

    Every ‘free money’ has some level of hassle, everyone just has to decide if it’s worth it to them. I don’t think it’s that bad considering the payoff – I can’t get this much cashback anywhere else. So far the only thing that is a pain is I have to send in a receipt showing mileage. But I have an oil change coming up anyways (got my sharpie ready, Jiffy Lube!) Redeeming sounds pretty straightforward, and you can get ThankYou points too.

  14. Not related to this topic.
    But this is a great serivice (if you have lot of mins on your cell) to save some money by checking here before you buy anything.
    http://www.frucall.com/

  15. I’ve been using my Discover 5% Gas card for over a year now. It’s not 6%, but 5% was huge when I originally got it.

    The thing I love about the Discover card is you actually get real cash. Once you hit $20, you can request a cheque.

    I have a 5% gas/food/meds Chase Mastercard now I’m quite fond of as well.

  16. @ 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.

  17. Nevermind… CitiCard just confirmed it to me. Unless you pack on 30,000+ miles on your car a year, in order to match purchase rebates for the 1:1, this card quickly becomes a big hasssle and a joke. I think I’ll stick with my indefinite 5 points for every dollar spent on gas and groceries (1 on all else), and enjoy my yearly cap of $750 in gas cards. :

  18. Haven’t got this card yet, but after a lot of looking, I think this card gives the most reward value of all. I put about 2000 mi per month on my car commuting to and from work, errands, and kids sports; and spend an average of $1200 in gas & groc per month (have a big family). I figured I could hit the $1000 rebate max the first year easy with the 6% gas and groc rebate and driving. Convert the $1000 rebate to 100,000 thankyoupoints; and ea 10,000 pts is usually equivalent to $100 gift cards (gas card, target, homedepot etc) – so you can get $1000 worth of gas,target,cruise,etc card with your rebate. It’s as good as cash for me because I shop at a lot of those merchants anyway. Before I apply – want to hear if someone can TELL ME THAT I’M MISSING SOMETHING. Sounds too good to be true. Have not seen a card that gives you back $1000 (gift cards) for spending $14,400 first yr (actually I spend a lot more than that- so no problem hitting the $1000 year 2++). Not really interested in using the rewards for car-related stuff – more interested in the thankyoupoints.

  19. I’d say you missed a lot. As I mentioned (as others have), it’s not cumulative. Drivers Rebates @ 2000 mi. per month, is 24k (or $240 a year). So say you spend a great deal more on regular purchases… you’ll still only get a total of $480 at the end of the year (taking the lower of the two and doubling is what they’ll do).

    Plus, ThankYouNetwork maxes at 75,000 points a year, so $750 in gift cards is the max. Still great, but IMO, why go through all the hassle? Get a points card, still get to that and without the legwork.

  20. To be clear, the only limiting factor is the conversion of driving miles to dollars. Even if you don’t drive at all, you still get the full 6% back. However, if you don’t buy anything on the card, you can’t convert your mileage into points. This discourages people from not using the card at all.

    Where do you see that 75,000 limit? There are only limits on specific cards, not on the program as a whole. I think you may be confusing this with other Citi cards. All I see is the $1000 annual limit and wording that says you can convert $1 into 100 ThankYou points.

    I would just say the main drawback is that it’s 6% back for only 12 months. It would be sweet if it was permanent. But these days, I guess nothing is really permanent as they can just cancel the program.

    I agree with Weave and Chad in that I am probably going to convert to gas cards myself now instead of tires. All you have to do is call them, and they’ll convert into points instantly. Redeeming ThankYou points has been totally smooth for me so far with my other cards.

  21. so am I incorrect in my understanding? I went off what Bent said, and a call to the dept (after I got my card) and a rep confirmed it, after some investigation. I don’t question you get the 6% cashback, but are you saying that drivers rebates will simply be added on top of that so that the 1:1 ratio is only in one direction (driver’s rebates to purchase rebates)? If so, then that’s much better and perhaps I shouldn’t have cancelled.

    The 75k limit applies to the ENTIRE ThankYouNetwork.Call to confirm if you’d like, but make sure to talk to the ThankYouNetwork folks. BTW, I’ve been redeeming since the summer of ’04, about $1100 accrued thus far and not a cent in interest [on my card purchases].

    Still though, If I was mistaken (and my numbers are correct) I could do $750 in points a year plus $250 in drivers rebates converted into points no? Shoot! I thought it worked both ways, and I knew I’d never match my purchase rebates with drivers rebates ‘cuz I don’t drive enough.

  22. forgot to ask, what does it go down to again (6%) after 1st year? Right now I’m on the Diamond and it’s 5 points per dollar at groceries, drugstores, and gas stations, indefinitely.

  23. That’s how I read it, and it agrees with the chart that they show on their application.

    Brent said: “Furthermore, you can only redeem drive rebates in a 1:1 ratio with the purchase rebates (i.e. if you have 15,000 mile that represents $150 in rebates, but only $40 in purchase rebates, you can only redeem $80 total of rebates – not $190 like you would hope).”

    This is true. 15,000 miles is $150 in Drive/Mileage rebates. If you only have $40 in Purchase/6% rebates, you can only get $80 total. $40 Purchase + $40 Drive. You can only “release” the Drive rebates if you have the same amount of Purchase rebates.

    2nd example: $150 in Purchase/6% rebates and $40 in Drive /Mileage rebates. You CAN get $190 total. This is how you can actually get an overall cashback percentage like the 7+% I calculated in the original post.

    I’ll call again later, but in their rewards catalog, you can convert 100,000 points to a $1,000 Student Loan Rebate. That one reward is over 75,000 points by itself, so that wouldn’t that already be over the cap?

    “After the first year you will earn 3% rebates at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations.”

  24. Maybe the max is card specific. If so, I’m gotted it wrong on both accounts; d’oh! I really wish I didn’t close my driver’s edge… At first I felt jaded, because they had to take away from my 30k limit on my diamond card, but then the CSR confirmed the 1:1 (both ways) after I gave her a couple of supporting examples! And I just had a oil change… darn it, darn it, darn it… well, I’ll probably reopen this card for a year before my next oil change.

    BTW, never saw the student rebate reward… always just get the gas cards… Citi really has the best reward network; smokin’!

  25. Great discussions, thanks – looks like my understanding is correct. My #1 reason for looking at this is to use the reward on the cruise that we’re going to next year. Have another card that offers cruise certificates, but this will maximize my goal with the 6% reward and all. Although I still think the best travel reward card I’ve seen out there is probably the Amex Starwood. Might look into that next year (they don’t offer cruise certificates) – it is great for resort vacations!

  26. I signed up for this card, but I can’t seem to figure out how to enroll in the Drive Rebates program.

  27. The Thank You Point limits per year are specific to each card. Some of them are 75,000, some 100,000, and some 200,000.

    https://www.thankyounetwork.com/getPointsWithCitiCards.jspx

  28. Unfortunately the Driver’s Edge card is being dropped by Citicard as of March 2011. It’s a shame because it was a real good card and once you learned how to file at the forms to get your benifits it was well worth the hastle. Couple that with 3% back for drugstore purchases and a penny for every mile and if you drive back and forth to work everyday and your trip is 70 miles round trip, it begins to add up. When Citiback recently notified me that they were replacing the Driver’s edge card with a Thank you card that doesn’t offer milage credits I just about fliped!! I’m not going for the “Thank You card” bullcrap, I’m cancelling my Citicard accounts in protest! —Ohio

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