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5% Cash Back Cards: PayPal, Amazon, Target, and Automotive – October thru December 2019

5percentbackActivation time for 4th Quarter! The credit cards below offer up to 5% cash back on specific categories that rotate each quarter. It takes a little extra attention, but it can add up to hundreds of dollars in additional rewards per year without changing your spending habits. You can also buy gift cards with the 5% back now but spend the gift cards later. New cardmembers may also get an upfront sign-up bonus.

Chase Freedom VisaChase Freedom – $150 Bonus

From October 1st through December 31st, 2019 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Department Stores
  • Purchases made with PayPal. Many online stores take PayPal as a checkout option, including eBay. You can also pay your taxes online with PayPal and still make money after the 1.96% fee with PayUSATax.
  • Purchases made with Chase Pay

Enroll each quarter at ChaseBonus.com. As long as you activate by the end of the quarter the rewards are retroactive. All other purchases earn 1% back, with no tiers or expiration of rewards. Technically, you earn Ultimate Rewards points which can also be converted to airline miles or hotel points instead of cash if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Currently, the Chase Freedom card is offering $150 bonus cash back if you sign up and make $500 in purchases in your first three months. No annual fee.

Discover it 14 ImageDiscover it Card

From October 1st through December 31st, 2019 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Amazon.com
  • Target (both in-store and online)
  • Walmart.com (Walmart.com and via Walmart app if you pick Grocery Pick Up or Instart Pickup.)

Enroll after logging into your online account (look on the right-hand side). 5% rewards won’t apply until after you activate your rewards, so it is best to activate now before you forget. No annual fee.

New cardmember bonus details. If you are a new applicant and sign up via my Discover Card referral link, you will get a $50 Cashback Bonus after your first purchase within 3 months of being approved. You will also get Cashback Match for an entire year – a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. During those 12 months, your $50 Cashback Bonus becomes $100, your 5% cash back rewards becomes 10% cash back, and your 1% cash back rewards become 2% cash back. You can verify this on the application by clicking on “See rates, rewards and other info” and searching for this text:

Cashback MatchTM: : No purchase minimums. After the first 12 consecutive billing periods that your new account is open, we will match all of the cash back rewards you’ve earned and apply them to your account in the following one or two billing periods. If your account is closed or no longer in the cash back reward program at the time we calculate your potential award, your cash back will not be matched. You’ve earned cash back rewards when they have posted to your account by the end of the 12th consecutive billing period. This promotional offer may not be offered in the future. This exclusive offer is available only to new cardmembers.

TERMS OF CASHBACK BONUS OFFER: Get a $50 Cashback Bonus after you make your first purchase within 3 months of being approved. Promotional award will be applied within 8 weeks. The promotional award is in addition to the Cashback Bonus earned on all purchases.

ABOC Platinum Rewards Card – $150 Statement Credit Offer

From July 1st through September 30th, 2019 you can earn 5X rewards on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Automotive, including qualifying qualifying automotive parts, service and repair purchases. They list the eligible MCC codes, including those of Auto dealers, Service shops, Auto parts, and Tire stores.

You must register each quarter at ABOCRewards.com or in your online account. Currently, the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard is offering a $150 statement credit if you sign up and make $1,200 in purchases in your first 90 days. No foreign transaction fees. No annual fee.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card. You get to choose the two 5% cash back categories every quarter, out of a preset selection of specific categories:

  • Fast Food
  • Cell Phone Providers
  • Home Utilities
  • Ground Transportation
  • Select Clothing Stores
  • Electronics Stores
  • Car Rentals
  • Gyms/Fitness Centers
  • Sporting Goods Stores
  • Department Stores
  • Furniture Stores
  • Movie Theaters
  • TV, Internet, and Streaming Services

Unfortunately, you can’t pick a broad category like gas stations, restaurants, or grocery stores. Make sure to choose your categories each quarter, even if you want them to stay the same. If you do not choose your categories, all purchases revert to only earning 1% cash back for that quarter.

Currently, the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa card is offering $150 bonus cash back if you sign up and make $500 in eligible net purchases in your first 90 days. No annual fee.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card. This card earns 6% cash back at US supermarkets all year long (on up to $6,000 per year) and. 3% cash back at US gas stations. New: 3% cash back on transit and 6% cash back on Netflix/Spotify/Hulu. I use this card all year long for groceries, and then in December use up the $6k annual limit on gift cards bought in the supermarket aisle. New cardholders are also eligible for a $250 statement credit after $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. $95 annual fee. See details in link.

Amazon Prime Rewards Card. Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods all year long. Prime membership required. 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores (yawn… see below). New cardholder bonus varies by person. No annual fee.

Citi Dividend Card. This card is no longer available to new applicants, but if you still have the grandfathered card you can view and activate your quarterly 5% category here. Limit of $300 cash back for the calendar year.

Don’t settle for the “1% on everything else” that these cards offer. Get 2% cash back or higher. Check out the card-specific reviews for details.

Groupon: Costco New Membership Deal

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Here’s a Groupon deal for a new Costco Gold Star Membership where for the regular price of $60 you can get the following (up to $148.98 value):

  • 1-year Gold Star membership ($60 normally), which includes a membership card for the primary cardholder as well as one free Household Card
  • $20 Costco Cash card
  • $68.98 value in free coupons – Free Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean HE Laundry Detergent Pacs ($17.99 value), Free Kirkland Signature Create-a-Size® Paper Towels ($15.99 value), $10 off Fresh Meat (beef, chicken, pork, or fish; excludes deli items), $25 off an order of $250+ on Costco.com

Valid only for new members and those whose memberships expired prior to May 1, 2019. If you value the laundry detergent, paper towels and meat coupons together at roughly $40 and add in the $20 gift card, you’re basically looking at a free year of membership.

Save even more on your Groupon with a cashback shopping portal. Many offer new customers bonuses if you make a qualifying purchase, including Rakuten (formerly eBates) ($10 bonus), TopCashBack (varies), and BeFrugal ($10 bonus). I have cashed out of all of these in the last 12 months.

My Money Blog Portfolio Income and Withdrawal Rate – September 2019 (Q3)

One of the biggest problems in retirement planning is making sure a pile of money lasts throughout your retirement. I have read hundreds of articles about this topic, and there is no single solution. My imperfect (!) solution is to first build a … [Read the rest]

My Money Blog Portfolio Asset Allocation Update, September 2019 (Q3)

Here's my portfolio update for the third quarter of 2019. Most of my dividends arrive on a quarterly basis, and this helps me determine where to reinvest them. These are my real-world holdings, including 401k/403b/IRAs, taxable brokerage accounts, … [Read the rest]

The Hidden Economics of College Admissions

NY Times Magazine has an interesting longread What College Admissions Offices Really Want by Paul Tough, adapted from his new book The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us. Angel Pérez and Trinity College allowed an inside look at … [Read the rest]

Firefox Private Network: Free Browser-Based VPN Encryption During Beta

If you're like me, you take advantage of all the free WiFi you can get to avoid having to pay too much for a big cellular data plan. Coffee shops, airports, libraries, hotels, conference centers, etc. The problem is that (as Mozilla puts it) if a … [Read the rest]

Reminder: Nobody Can Predict Future Interest Rates (Especially the Experts)

The financial prediction industry is simply mind-boggling to me. There is zero long-term memory or accountability. You can make all the predictions you want about the stock market, gold prices, and interest rates, and nobody remembers your bad … [Read the rest]

Landed: Shared Equity Down Payment Program For Educators

Home ownership continues to be a goal for many people, but downpayment requirements also keep rising with housing prices. I previously posted about Unison, which offers downpayment assistance in exchange for a percentage of any future upside (or … [Read the rest]

Southwest Credit Card Bonuses Toward 2019/2020 Companion Pass (60k/80k Points)

New 60,000 limited-time offer, 80,000 point business card bonus. Southwest Airlines offers a unique feature called the Companion Pass, which lets you pick one person to fly with free when you book either paid or award flights (including to Hawaii!). … [Read the rest]

NetNewsWire 5.0: Free RSS Reader for Mac

If you like things old-school and still follow blogs and news sites using RSS feeds, you may be interested to know that the NetNewsWire RSS reader name has gone back to its original creator and there is a new version now available as a free, open … [Read the rest]

British Airways Visa Signature Credit Card Review: 100,000 Point Bonus

Updated with new Reward Flight Statement Credit. The British Airways Visa Signature Card is a co-branded travel card (issued by Chase) has brought back their bonus offer of up to 100,000 total Avios points with a split spending hurdle. Here are the … [Read the rest]

Causes of Wealth: Reality vs. News Coverage

Our World in Data has a very in-depth page on Causes of Death from around the world. Then they asked: Does the news reflect what we die from? What if they compared what we read in the news and the raw data? Here is a chart that compares actual … [Read the rest]