Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers – June 2020 (Updated)

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

Updated June 2020. I’m still collecting points and miles and maximizing the value of my credit card spending. Things are quiet as credit card issuers get conservative, but that just means picking up some slightly lesser bonuses that I passed over previously.

That space in your wallet or purse is still valuable, and you should be the one to get that value. Selected banks are offering strong perks and $500+ value for a single card during the first year to encourage you to apply and try it out. These are the top 10 credit card offers that I would personally apply for right now, if I didn’t already have most of them. Notable changes:

  • IHG Hotels 140k/75k – 140k still highest ever, new 75k traveler with no annual fee.
  • Sapphire cards add some short-term benefits.
  • Removed NavyFed, added US Bank Altitude card.

If you pay off your balances every month, then you can join me and many others in funding a huge chunk of your annual travel budget with cash credits, points, and miles. You don’t need to be a “I only fly business class” world traveler. I mostly use my rewards points on domestic economy flights, mid-class hotels, and cheap car rentals. If you have credit card debt, you should focus on paying that off first as the interest charges could offset most of the perks.

This is a companion post to my Top 10 Best Business Card Offers. Small business bonuses are on average even higher than those on consumer cards.

Note: Certain Chase cards have a “5/24 rule” which is an unofficial rule that they will automatically deny approval on new credit cards if you have 5 or more new credit cards from any issuer on your credit report within the past 2 years. This rule applies on a per-person basis, so if you are new, you might want to start with those Chase cards.

IHG Rewards Club Premier Card

  • 140,000 IHG Rewards club points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Free Night after each account anniversary year (valued up to 40,000 IHG points).
  • $89 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.
  • Want something lower risk? The no-annual fee Traveler version is now offering 75,000 IHG points.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $750 towards travel) after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • Short-term COVID-related benefits including 3X on groceries.
  • 2X points on Travel and Dining at restaurants worldwide.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.
  • Alternative: Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. 3X on Travel and Dining, Priority Pass airport lounge access, $550 annual fee, $300 annual travel credit, 1-year Lyft Pink membership.

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Mastercard

  • 60,000 American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA flights ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $99.

JetBlue Plus Card

  • 60,000 TrueBlue points after $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. Limited-time offer. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for you and up to 3 companions when you use your JetBlue Plus Card.
  • $99 annual fee.

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

  • 60,000 American Airlines miles after any purchase in the first 90 days and paying the $99 annual fee. See link for details.
  • $99 Companion certificate offer. Earn a certificate good for 1 guest at $99 (plus taxes and fees) after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in the first 90 days.
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA flights ($60 value per roundtrip, per person).
  • $99 annual fee.

Citi Premier Card

  • 60,000 points (worth $750 towards travel booked at ThankYou.com) after $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 3X points for every $1 spent on travel including gas stations.
  • Must not have gotten bonus from or closed a Citi Rewards+, ThankYou Preferred, Premier, or Prestige card in the past 24 months.
  • $95 annual fee.

Bank of America Premium Rewards Card

  • 50,000 points (worth $500 towards travel) after $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. See link for details.
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $100 annual Airline Incidental Statement Credit.
  • Up to $100 credit towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee.
  • $95 annual fee.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card

  • 50,000 miles (worth $500 towards travel) after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. See link for details.
  • 2% cash back on ALL purchases. Plus earn 10X miles at Hotels.com through January 2020.
  • Up to $100 credit towards TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard

  • 50,000 Hawaiian miles after $2,000 in purchases within 90 days. See link for details.
  • Free first checked bag for primary cardmember when using your card to purchase eligible tickets directly from Hawaiian Airlines.
  • Receive a one-time 50% off companion discount for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii and The Mainland on Hawaiian Airlines.
  • $99 annual fee.

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Credit Card

  • 50,000 bonus points ($750 value towards airfare) after $4,500 in purchases within 90 days. See link for details.
  • $325 in annual statement credits towards travel per Cardmember year (based on account opening date)
  • Up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounge access.
  • $400 annual fee. (Bigger bonus, big annual fee.)

Chase World of Hyatt Card

  • Up to 50,000 Hyatt points. 25,000 Bonus Points after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. Plus an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after a total of $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. See link for details and rough valuation of points.
  • $95 annual fee, free night award upon card anniversary.
  • Subject to 5/24 rule.
My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

SoFi Money $75 Bank Bonus + $75 Stock Bonus Via Referral (+ 1% Deposit Match?)

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

(I don’t know if this was targeted, but SoFi Invest (not Money) just sent me an email about a 1% deposit match bonus for the month of June for existing customers. The maximum bonus is $5,000 (if you move over $500,000). You cannot withdraw the net deposits for 90 days. Getting 1% of your deposit in 90 days is roughly the same as 4% annualized, which beats the interest rate on any cash equivalent even if you didn’t invest in anything.)

Updated. SoFi (“Social Finance”) has expanded from students loans into a cash management and stock brokerage account. They’ve also updated their bonuses for trying them out, and if you have a spouse/partner, you can refer each other (in addition to other friends and family) to grow the total bonus.

SoFi Money (Cash Management Account)

  • Get a $75 cash bonus when you open a new account and make two direct deposits of at least $500 each. This is my referral link. The referrer gets $25, so thanks if you use it!
  • After joining, if you refer a friend yourself, you will get $25 and they will also get the $75 bonus. That means a couple together can earn a total of $175.
  • FDIC-insured. No account fees. No minimums.
  • Free debit card with unlimited reimbursed ATM fees.
  • 20% cash back on DoorDash, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Now, Spotify, and more through June 30, 2020.

SoFi Invest (Brokerage Account)

  • Get a $75 of your choice of stock when you fund your account with at least $1,000. This is my referral link. The referrer gets $75.
  • After joining, if you refer a friend yourself, you will get $75 and they will also get the $75 in free stock. That means a couple together can earn a total of $225.
  • SoFi Invest allows fractional shares (“stock bits”), so you can get exactly $75 worth of Apple, etc. Trade as little as $1 at a time.
  • Sample stocks are Apple, S&P 500 ETF, or Berkshire Hathaway.
  • No trading fees.

The opening process is quick and simple. Find your referral links to refer others in the SoFi app after joining. You can open, apply, fund online and be poking around the app all in the same day.

Bottom line. SoFi is offering cash and free stock bonuses for trying out their new financial products. They can quickly add up to easy money for a minor amount of effort. A couple where one person refers the other can earn $400 in total bonuses.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Best Interest Rates on Cash – June 2020

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

Another month of slight rate drops, although bank accounts can still beat out Treasury bonds and/or brokerage cash sweep options by a significant margin.

Here’s my monthly roundup of the best interest rates on cash for June 2020, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. I track these rates because I keep 12 months of expenses as a cash cushion and also invest in longer-term CDs (often at lesser-known credit unions) when they yield more than bonds. Check out my Ultimate Rate-Chaser Calculator to see how much extra interest you’d earn by moving money between accounts. Rates listed are available to everyone nationwide. Rates checked as of 6/2/2020.

High-yield savings accounts
While the huge megabanks make huge profits while paying you 0.01% APY, it’s easy to open a new “piggy-back” savings account and simply move some funds over from your existing checking account. The interest rates on savings accounts can drop at any time, so I list the top rates as well as competitive rates from banks with a history of competitive rates. Some banks will bait you with a temporary top rate and then lower the rates in the hopes that you are too lazy to leave.

Short-term guaranteed rates (1 year and under)
A common question is what to do with a big pile of cash that you’re waiting to deploy shortly (just sold your house, just sold your business, legal settlement, inheritance). My usual advice is to keep things simple and take your time. If not a savings account, then put it in a flexible short-term CD under the FDIC limits until you have a plan.

  • No Penalty CDs offer a fixed interest rate that can never go down, but you can still take out your money (once) without any fees if you want to use it elsewhere. Marcus has a 7-month No Penalty CD at 1.20% APY with a $500 minimum deposit. Ally Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 1.20% APY for all balance tiers. CIT Bank has a 11-month No Penalty CD at 1.15% APY with a $1,000 minimum deposit. You may wish to open multiple CDs in smaller increments for more flexibility.
  • Lafayette Federal Credit Union has a 12-month CD at 1.61% APY ($500 min). Early withdrawal penalty is 180 days of interest. Anyone can join via partner organization for one-time $10 fee. Note that you will have to park $50 in a share savings account while a member.

Money market mutual funds + Ultra-short bond ETFs
If you like to keep cash in a brokerage account, beware that many brokers pay out very little interest on their default cash sweep funds (and keep the difference for themselves). The following money market and ultra-short bond funds are NOT FDIC-insured and thus come with a possibility of principal loss, but may be a good option if you have idle cash and cheap/free commissions.

  • Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund currently pays an 0.32% SEC yield. The default sweep option is the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund which has an SEC yield of 0.20%. You can manually move the money over to Prime if you meet the $3,000 minimum investment.
  • Vanguard Ultra-Short-Term Bond Fund currently pays 1.61% SEC yield ($3,000 min) and 1.71% SEC Yield ($50,000 min). The average duration is ~1 year, so there is more interest rate risk.
  • The PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active Bond ETF (MINT) has a 1.87% SEC yield and the iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR) has a 1.83% SEC yield while holding a portfolio of investment-grade bonds with an average duration of ~6 months. Note that there was a slight drop in net asset value during the recent market stress.

Treasury Bills and Ultra-short Treasury ETFs
Another option is to buy individual Treasury bills which come in a variety of maturities from 4-weeks to 52-weeks. You can also invest in ETFs that hold a rotating basket of short-term Treasury Bills for you, while charging a small management fee for doing so. T-bill interest is exempt from state and local income taxes. Right now, this section probably isn’t very interesting as T-Bills are yielding close to zero!

  • You can build your own T-Bill ladder at TreasuryDirect.gov or via a brokerage account with a bond desk like Vanguard and Fidelity. Here are the current Treasury Bill rates. As of 6/2/2020, a new 4-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 0.12% annualized interest and a 52-week T-Bill had the equivalent of 0.17% annualized interest.
  • The Goldman Sachs Access Treasury 0-1 Year ETF (GBIL) has a 0.57% SEC yield and the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) has a -.04% (!) SEC yield. GBIL appears to have a slightly longer average maturity than BIL. Expect that GBIL yield to drop significantly as it is updated.

US Savings Bonds
Series I Savings Bonds offer rates that are linked to inflation and backed by the US government. You must hold them for at least a year. There are annual purchase limits. If you redeem them within 5 years there is a penalty of the last 3 months of interest.

  • “I Bonds” bought between May 2020 and October 2020 will earn a 1.06% rate for the first six months. The rate of the subsequent 6-month period will be based on inflation again. More info here.
  • In mid-October 2020, the CPI will be announced and you will have a short period where you will have a very close estimate of the rate for the next 12 months. I will have another post up at that time.

Prepaid Cards with Attached Savings Accounts
A small subset of prepaid debit cards have an “attached” FDIC-insured savings account with exceptionally high interest rates. The negatives are that balances are capped, and there are many fees that you must be careful to avoid (lest they eat up your interest). Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others do. There is a long list of previous offers that have already disappeared with little notice. I don’t personally recommend nor use any of these anymore.

  • The only notable card left in this category is Mango Money at 6% APY on up to $2,500, but there are many hoops to jump through. Requirements include $1,500+ in “signature” purchases and a minimum balance of $25.00 at the end of the month.

Rewards checking accounts
These unique checking accounts pay above-average interest rates, but with unique risks. You have to jump through certain hoops, and if you make a mistake you won’t earn any interest for that month. Some folks don’t mind the extra work and attention required, while others do. Rates can also drop to near-zero quickly, leaving a “bait-and-switch” feeling. I don’t use any of these anymore.

  • Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking (my review) still offers up to 4.09% APY on balances up to $10,000 if you make $500+ in ACH deposits, 12 debit card “signature” purchases, and spend $1,000 on their credit card each month. The Bank of Denver has a Free Kasasa Cash Checking offering 3% APY on balances up to $25,000 if you make 12 (temporarily 6) debit card purchases and at least 1 ACH credit or debit transaction per statement cycle. If you meet those qualifications, you can also link a savings account that pays 2% APY on up to $50k. Thanks to reader Bill for the tip. Find a locally-restricted rewards checking account at DepositAccounts.

Certificates of deposit (greater than 1 year)
CDs offer higher rates, but come with an early withdrawal penalty. By finding a bank CD with a reasonable early withdrawal penalty, you can enjoy higher rates but maintain access in a true emergency. Alternatively, consider building a CD ladder of different maturity lengths (ex. 1/2/3/4/5-years) such that you have access to part of the ladder each year, but your blended interest rate is higher than a savings account. When one CD matures, use that money to buy another 5-year CD to keep the ladder going. Some CDs also offer “add-ons” where you can deposit more funds if rates drop.

  • Lafayette Federal Credit Union has a 5-year certificate at 2.02% APY ($500 min). Beware that the early withdrawal penalty is 600 days of interest! Anyone can join via partner organization for one-time $10 fee. Note that you will have to park $50 in a share savings account while a member.
  • Pen Air Federal Credit Union has a 5-year certificate now at 1.85% APY ($500 minimum). Early withdrawal penalty is 180 days of interest. Their other terms are competitive (relatively), if you want build a CD ladder. Anyone can join this credit union via partner organization ($3 one-time fee).
  • You can buy certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. You may need an account to see the rates. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance and easy laddering, but they don’t come with predictable early withdrawal penalties. Vanguard has a 5-year at 1.05% APY right now. Be wary of higher rates from callable CDs listed by Fidelity.

Longer-term Instruments
I’d use these with caution due to increased interest rate risk, but I still track them to see the rest of the current yield curve.

  • Willing to lock up your money for 10 years? You can buy long-term certificates of deposit via the bond desks of Vanguard and Fidelity. These “brokered CDs” offer FDIC insurance, but they don’t come with predictable early withdrawal penalties. Watch out for higher rates from callable CDs from Fidelity.
  • How about two decades? Series EE Savings Bonds are not indexed to inflation, but they have a unique guarantee that the value will double in value in 20 years, which equals a guaranteed return of 3.5% a year. However, if you don’t hold for that long, you’ll be stuck with the normal rate which is quite low (currently a sad 0.10% rate). I view this as a huge early withdrawal penalty. But if holding for 20 years isn’t an issue, it can also serve as a hedge against prolonged deflation during that time. As of 6/2/2020, the 20-year Treasury Bond rate was 1.24%.

All rates were checked as of 6/2/2020.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve: Helpful New COVID-19 Benefits (Up to 7.5% Back on Groceries)

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card and Chase Sapphire Reserve card have been very popular for their generous travel and dining perks, but right now travel and dining aren’t really happening. Chase has wisely adjusted their rewards program for this new environment, in addition to the recently-added Doordash benefits. I will definitely be taking advantage of these new earning perks, although I’m still leaning slightly towards keeping my points to redeem toward a Hyatt hotel vacation one day…

Chase Sapphire Preferred new changes:

  • 3x points at grocery stores. Earn 3x total points on grocery store purchases from May 1 to June 30, 2020, on up to $1,500 each calendar month. No activation required. Includes Instacart.
  • Redeem Ultimate Rewards points at 1.25 cents per points towards grocery store, dining, and home improvement purchases. (Previously only travel through their portal.) “With the Pay Yourself BackSM tool, your Ultimate Rewards® points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for statement credits against purchases in our current categories: grocery stores, dining (including restaurants, takeout, and eligible delivery services), and home improvement stores such as Home Depot® and Lowes®. Just choose an eligible purchase you made in the past 90 days, apply points for all or part of the purchase, and you’ll get a statement credit. Take advantage of this promotion through September 30, 2020.1”

Since you can earn at 3 points per dollar spent and redeem at 1.25 cents per point at the grocery store, this is effectively makes the Sapphire Preferred a 3.75% cash back card towards groceries (up to $1,500 in purchase each month until 6/30/20). Keep in mind that you can buy many types of gift cards at grocery stores as well, including Amazon.

Chase Sapphire Reserve new changes:

  • 5x points at grocery stores. Earn 5x total points on grocery store purchases from May 1 to June 30, 2020, on up to $1,500 each calendar month. No activation required. Includes Instacart.
  • Redeem Ultimate Rewards points at 1.5 cents per points towards grocery store, dining, and home improvement purchases. (Previously only travel through their portal.) “With the Pay Yourself BackSM tool, your Ultimate Rewards® points are worth 50% more when you redeem them for statement credits against purchases in our current categories: grocery stores, dining (including restaurants, takeout, and eligible delivery services), and home improvement stores such as Home Depot® and Lowes®. Just choose an eligible purchase you made in the past 90 days, apply points for all or part of the purchase, and you’ll get a statement credit. Take advantage of this promotion through September 30, 2020.”
  • $300 annual travel credit counts towards gas station and grocery store purchases. “Now enjoy more flexibility with your annual $300 Travel Credit. From June 1 through December 31, 2020, gas station and grocery store purchases will also count toward earning your Travel Credit. You’ll also earn points on these purchases (and, as always, after your first $300 in travel purchases, you’ll immediately start earning 3x points on travel).”
  • Annual fee renewal $100 discount. Sapphire Reserve annual fee renewals through the end of 2020 will be $450 instead of the normal $550. This is only for renewals, not new cardmembers.

Since you can earn at 5 points per dollar spent and redeem at 1.5 cents per point at the grocery store, this is effectively makes the Sapphire Reserve a 7.5% cash back card towards groceries (up to $1,500 in purchases each month until 6/30/20). Keep in mind that you can buy many types of gift cards at grocery stores as well, including Amazon.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Citibank $200/$400/$700 Checking Account Bonus 2020

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

Citibank has tiered $200, $400, and $700 bonus offers when you open a new eligible Citi checking account by 6/30/20 and deposit and maintain a certain balance for 60 to 150 days. There is also a $1,500 bonus if you have $200,000 to move over. This offer is restricted to those who have not had a Citibank checking account within the last 180 calendar days. Here are the highlights followed by a few tips on how to optimize the bonus.

$200 bonus details:

  • Open a new eligible checking account in the Basic Banking Package during the offer period 4/01/2020 to 6/30/2020.
  • Within 30 days of opening your account, deposit $5,000 in New-to-Citibank funds into the new checking account.
  • Maintain a minimum balance of $5,000 for 60 consecutive calendar days.
  • You will receive your cash bonus within 90 days after you complete the required activities.
  • For the Basic Banking Package, to waive the $12 monthly service fee, make one qualifying direct deposit per statement period and one qualifying bill payment per statement period, or maintain a $1,500 or more combined average monthly balance in eligible linked accounts.

$400 bonus details:

  • Open new eligible checking and savings accounts in the Citibank® Account Package during the offer period 4/01/2020 to 6/30/2020.
  • Within 30 days of opening your account, deposit $15,000 in New-to-Citibank funds between the new checking and savings accounts.
  • Maintain a minimum balance of $15,000 between the checking and savings accounts for 60 consecutive calendar days.
  • You will receive your cash bonus within 90 days after you complete the required activities.
  • A monthly service fee of $25 and a $2.50 non-Citibank ATM fee apply to the checking account in the Citibank Account Package if a combined average monthly balance of $10,000 or more is not maintained.

$700 bonus details:

  • Open new eligible checking and savings accounts in the Citi Priority Account Package during the offer period 4/01/2020 to 6/30/2020.
  • Within 30 days of opening your account, deposit $50,000 in New-to-Citibank funds between the new checking and savings accounts.
  • Maintain a minimum balance of $50,000 between the checking and savings accounts for 60 consecutive calendar days.
  • You will receive your cash bonus within 90 days after you complete the required activities.
  • A monthly service fee of $30 applies to the checking account in the Citi Priority Account Package if a combined average monthly balance of $50,000 or more is not maintained. There is no monthly service fee for a checking account in the Citigold Account Package.

$1,500 bonus details:

  • Open new eligible checking and savings accounts in the Citigold Account Package during the offer period 4/01/2020 to 6/30/2020.
  • Within 30 days of opening your account, deposit $200,000 in New-to-Citibank funds between the new checking and savings accounts.
  • Maintain a minimum balance of $200,000 between the checking and savings accounts for 60 consecutive calendar days.
  • You will receive your cash bonus within 90 days after you complete the required activities.
  • If you do not maintain a minimum combined average monthly balance of $200,000 in eligible linked deposit, retirement and investment accounts, your Citigold Account Package will be converted to the Citi Priority Account Package and your accounts will be subject to the terms and conditions then in effect for that package.

Fine print analysis and value calculations. A tricky part of this bonus is the following fine print:

At the time the Cash Bonus is paid, it will be credited to the new Eligible Checking Account. If the Eligible Checking Account is closed, then the Cash Bonus will be credited to the new Eligible Savings Account. Open accounts must be in good standing.

You explicitly cannot “downgrade” your account to one with lower monthly fees during the 60 day maintenance period, but this seems to also suggest that you need to maintain the package that you opened until the bonus arrives. (It’s not 100% clear, but that is the conservative interpretation.) That means that in order to avoid the possibly hefty monthly fees, you would have to leave a certain amount of money in the account not for 60 days, but up to 150 days until the bonus is deposited.

After the 60 day maintenance period, you would want to withdraw everything not need to avoid the monthly fees, as both the checking and savings account pay negligible interest. Here’s how that would work for each tier:

  • $200 bonus tier. Deposit and maintain $5,000 for 60 days, then lower to $1,500 for 90 days.
  • $400 bonus tier. Deposit and maintain $15,000 for 60 days, then lower to $10,000 for 90 days.
  • $700 bonus tier. Deposit and maintain $50,000 for 150 days.
  • $1,500 bonus tier. Deposit and maintain $200,000 for 150 days. (There may be some alternatives like moving over some investments to satisfy the Citigold requirements.)

Bonus will be reported on 1099-INT (as should be expected). Here is the rough equivalent annualized APY earned from each bonus if you followed the schedule above exactly, got the promised bonus at the 150 day mark, and then downgraded/closed/moved your money out:

  • $200 bonus works out to ~16.5% annualized interest.
  • $400 bonus works out to ~8.0% annualized interest.
  • $700 bonus works out to ~3.4% annualized interest.
  • $1,500 bonus works out to ~1.8% annualized interest.

I have done Citibank bonuses in the past and haven’t had any issues, although they did wait until the last possible moment to post the bonus. I did not experience a hard credit check upon opening. However, others have reported having to call them up and ask for the bonus, and some have reported that they were denied the bonus improperly. Their above-average complaints of unreliability is a big reason why I would not downgrade the accounts, in order to help maintain proper bonus tracking. For all bank bonuses, be sure to keep track of your promotion details and transaction dates in a Google Doc or other spreadsheet.

Bottom line. Citibank has a set of tiered bonuses for opening a new checking and savings accounts with them, which I have broken down how to optimize based on the fine print. If you were planning on opening an account anyway, this can be a good offer. Be sure you understand the terms and conditions first.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

List of 529 Day (5/29) College Savings Plan Promotions

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

Promotions updated for 2020. 5/29 is “National 529 College Savings Plan Day” and certain state plans are offering promotions and/or giveaways. Some end on 5/29 and others end on 5/31, so that’s why I’m posting this early. Many are simply sweepstakes drawings which don’t really excite me, but here are some fixed bonuses:

  • California Scholarshare 529$50 bonus when you open a new ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plan account with a $50 contribution and sign up for ongoing automatic contributions of $25 or more per month for a minimum of 6 months between 5/26/20 and 5/31/20. 2019 Gold rating by Morningstar. No special state income tax considerations for contributions.
  • Minnesota 529 College Savings Plan (MNSAVES)$50 bonus when you open a new MNSAVES account with a $50 contribution and sign up for ongoing automatic contributions of $25 or more per month for a minimum of 6 months between 5/26/20 and 5/31/20. 2019 Silver rating by Morningstar.”For 2020, account owners, regardless of their relationship to a child, may be eligible to deduct up to $3,000 ($1,500 for single filers) from their Minnesota income tax. In lieu of the deduction, taxpayers may be eligible for a maximum state tax credit amount up to $500, subject to phase-out based on certain federal adjusted gross income thresholds.”
  • Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan (OCSP)$50 bonus when you open a new account with a $50 contribution and sign up for ongoing automatic contributions of $25 or more per month for a minimum of 6 months between 5/26/20 and 5/31/20. Neutral rating from Morningstar. However, Oklahoma taxpayers may qualify for up to $20,000 in state tax deductions from contributions made to an OCSP account.
  • Florida PrepaidUp to $50 bonus. “Open a Florida 529 Savings Plan, from now through May 29, and we’ll seed your account with $25. Set up an automatic monthly contribution of $25 or more, and we’ll add another $25.” In addition, if enroll in a new Prepaid plan by May 31st, your $50 application fee will be automatically waived and no payments will be due until July 2020. As noted, this is a prepaid type of 529 plan for Florida residents.
  • Idaho Ideal$25 bonus. “Open an IDeal – Idaho College Savings Program account online between May 1-29, 2020. Make an initial contribution of $25 or more and we’ll add $25 to your account. To qualify for the $25 match, the beneficiary of the account MUST BE age 5 or younger. This special offer is limited to the first 200 accounts opened during this period.”
  • Nebraska NEST 529$100 bonus. “Open a new NEST 529 College Savings account using the promo code “$100bonus”, for a child 8 or under, deposit at least $100 and we’ll give your account a $100 bonus! This offer is only available through July 31, 2020 for the first 200 new accounts.”

Let me know if I’ve missed any.

My brief take on 529 college savings plans in general. I believe that you should worry about having adequate emergency and retirement savings first. Take care of yourself, so your kids won’t have to take care of you financially in old age. That’s a gift to them as well. However, if you are on track otherwise, a 529 plan can be a handy package of automated savings, automated investment, no annual tax paperwork, and valuable tax savings. For example, setting up an auto-deposit of $50 every month could add up to nearly $20,000 at the end of 18 years (assuming 6% return).

In terms of picking a specific plan, remember to first consider your state-specific tax benefits via the tools from Morningstar, SavingForCollege, or Vanguard. Morningstar estimates that an upfront tax break of at least 5% can make it worth investing in your in-state plan even if it is not otherwise a top plan (assuming that is required to get the tax benefit).

If you don’t have anything compelling available, anyone can open a 529 plan from any state. You can open multiple 529 plans, and you can roll over your funds from one into another 529 plan once every rolling 12 months. (Watch out for tax-benefit recapture if you got a tax break initially.) Here are the most recent Morningstar Top 529 College Savings Plan Rankings. I personally invest in the Utah My529 Plan for my children due to their DIY glide path feature and DFA fund access, but would also recommend the Vanguard Nevada 529 Plan if you want something that is more “set-and-forget”. There are many other solid plan options, but those are my standard replies for those looking for a specific recommendation.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Chime Banking App Review: $50 Bonus via Referral

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

With rates drops everywhere and no end in sight, there are no high APY CDs to open, so I’ve been picking up various cash bonuses while stuck at home instead. Chime is a popular fintech bank app with a $50 cash bonus after a payroll direct deposit of $200+ within the first 45 days of new account opening. To get this offer, you must be referred by an existing user. Here is my Chime $50 referral link. Thanks if you use it! It’s a very simple bonus. Here is a screenshot of my bonus appearing nine minutes after my direct deposit:

Here is the fine print:

*In order for both the referred individual and the referring Chime member to each qualify for and receive the $50.00 referral reward, the following conditions must be met: The referred individual may not have previously opened a Chime Spending Account (“Account”); they must open a new Account between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020; they must open the new account using the referring Chime member’s unique referral link; and they must receive in the new Account a qualifying direct deposit of $200.00 or more within 45 days of opening. The qualifying direct deposit must be made by the referred individual’s employer, payroll provider, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit. Bank ACH transfers, Pay Friends transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer to peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, and cash loads or deposits are not qualifying direct deposits.

Why is Chime so popular? Chime is the second-most popular online-only bank in the US (only behind Ally) with over 3 million customers and a recent valuation of $5.8 billion. Yet, it pays no interest on checking and only a tiny interest on savings (thus my previous lack of interest). I learned that Chime is very attractive to those who are “unbanked” or underbanked”, those people who don’t like traditional banks due to their monthly fees and $35-a-pop overdraft charges. Instead, Chime offers:

  • No monthly fees. No minimum balance. No minimum opening deposit.
  • No credit check. No Chexsystems check.
  • Access to paycheck 2 days early. If you usually get paid on Friday, you can spend the money on Wednesday.
  • No overdraft fees, and they may even “spot” you up to $100 until you pay them back.
  • Free ATM withdrawals at 38,000+ MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

For many folks that have a lot of activity but maintain a low balance, this fee structure is better getting 4% APY or even 10% APY. The key is avoiding those crazy overdraft charges from the big banks and also the various $2 fees hidden inside many prepaid cards. Chime’s only major fee is a $2.50 fee if you make a cash withdrawal at an out-of-network ATM. Chime earns revenue via interchange fees when you buy things on your debit card.

As I opened an account, I noticed that Chime treats you like have never had a checking account before. The sign-up is easily done completely on your phone in a few minutes. You don’t need to deposit a single cent to open. They send basic “Chime 101” emails explaining the effect of bank holidays and how to set up direct deposit.

There is no credit check, so you can have bad credit and even a bad Chexsystems record (meaning you probably left another bank with a negative balance). Nearly every major bank uses Chexsystems to screen new customers. Otherwise, they are referred to as a “second chance” bank account. Chime might have the lowest fees of all such “second chance” banks.

Chime has the most of the usual bank stuff. Debit card. Paper check deposit via mobile app. Optional savings account that helps you save automatically (but pays astonishingly little interest, just like Bank of America and Chase!). FDIC-insured via partner banks, either Stride Bank or The Bancorp Bank. The only major thing missing besides bank branches is that they don’t provide paper checks. Depositing cash is available, but the third-party physical stores may charge a fee.

Bottom line. Chime is an interesting bank startup that targets the underbanked and unbanked by offering a much better fee structure to those with access to direct deposit. No overdraft fees, no credit checks, no Chexsystems. Currently, there is a $50 bonus available only via referral.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

M1 Finance Review: Custom Asset Allocation, Up to $1,500 Transfer Bonus

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

Updated. As noted in my post on best online brokers, my favorite option in the now-crowded “robo-advisor” category is now M1 Finance. Here’s a quick rundown of what makes them different:

  • Fully customizable. You pick your own target asset allocation “pie”. (You can add ETFs or individual stocks.) You can simply copy one of the many model portfolios out there, or customize it as you like. You have full control! M1 handles the boring stuff, like rebalancing or dividing a $100 contribution across 8 different ETFs. Here is my pie which I named the My Money Blog Portfolio.
  • No commissions. Free stock/ETF trades with a low $100 minimum account size for taxable accounts and a $500 minimum for retirement accounts.
  • 0.00% management fee! Most robo-advisors charge an annual management fee of 0.25% to 0.50% of assets (or force you to own something bad, like artificially low-interest cash).
  • Free automatic rebalancing. M1 will rebalance your portfolio back to the target allocation for you automatically (for free). You don’t need to do any math or maintain any spreadsheets.
  • Fractional share ownership. For example, you can just set it to automatically invest $100 a month, and your full amount will be spread across multiple ETFs. Dollar-based transactions were one of the good things about buying a mutual fund, but it seems that ETFs are the future due to their lower costs and tax-efficient structure. Fractional shares solve this problem.

M1 Finance nearly checks off all the boxes of my brokerage wish list. While I’m with them, they do all the managing for me, according to my rules. But since I can choose the exact ETFs that they purchase, if I decide to stop their service down the line, I just end up with a brokerage account filled with ETFs that I can easily move elsewhere. I don’t have to sell anything. I suppose the only thing they could add would be to have the high availability of customer service of a huge company like Fidelity or Schwab. Otherwise, I really like their feature set and I contributed $1,000 of my Roth IRA contribution in order to try them out.

Transfer bonus extended to June 15th. Transfer a brokerage account or IRA to M1 before June 15th and earn up to $2,500. Details here. Here are the bonus tiers:

Here is a screenshot of the email:

Valid for individual taxable, joint taxable, and IRA accounts. Account value of the qualifying account must remain equal to, or greater than, the value after the net deposit was made (minus any losses due to trading or market volatility or margin debit balances) for 60 days.

How do they make money? As commissions shrink, this is the business model for pretty much all online brokers now:

1) Interest on idle cash (can be minimized as you can auto-invest all idle cash in the investment account)
2) M1 Borrow (margin loan interest)
3) M1 Spending (debit card generates fees for them)
4) Payment for order flow (same as Robinhood and TD Ameritrade)
5) M1 Plus (premium subscription that gets you higher interest rates and debit card cash back).

Bottom line. M1 Finance is a new brokerage account that acts like a free, customizable robo-advisor with automatic rebalancing into a target portfolio. I deposited part of my annual Roth IRA contribution with them.

Disclosure: I am now an affiliate of M1 Finance, and may be compensated if you click through my referral link and open a new account.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Tastyworks Brokerage Bonus: 100 Free Shares, Worth $100 to $600

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

Free stock shares are the trendy bonus nowadays – WeBull, SoFi, Robinhood, Public, and more – but how about 100 free shares? Tastyworks wants your attention by offering 100 free shares of a randomly-picked stock valued between $1 and $6 per share. That means the total value will be between $100 and $600, with an average total value of $200-$220. Offer now extended until 6/30/2020. Details below.

The odds of specific stock allocation is implemented as follows: there is a 70% chance of receiving Stock priced under $2.00 per share, and a 30% chance of receiving Stock priced over $2.00 per share. The value of Stock received will average $200-$220 USD based on the price of shares at which the Stock is purchased by tastyworks.

Tastyworks is a discount brokerage targeted at active options traders. They offer $0 comission stock trades and options commissions at $1 to open and $0 to close. That means a open/close roundtrip on options costs $1.00. TD Ameritrade, Schwab, Fidelity, and E-Trade all charge $0.65 per contract, which is $1.30 for open/close roundtrip. Thus, Tastyworks is 30% cheaper than the big brokers for options trading while also having the full fancy options interface.

For this promotion, you have to fund a new account with at least $2,000. You get the 100 bonus shares after a week, but you have to keep your $2,000 plus the value of the bonus shares for at least 3 months (otherwise they yank it back). See quoted fine print below:

The funds deposited to Qualified Customer’s account, plus the initial value of the Stock received (less any losses on the Stock) are required to remain in Qualified Customer’s account for a minimum of three months starting the day shares deposited into account, subject to extension from date of entry, before withdrawal in order for Qualified Customer to receive the value of the Stock (“Three Month Period.”) The value of stock Qualified Customer receives will be credited to their account upon deposit, but will be debited out of Qualified Customer’s account if the Three Month Period requirement is not met, and will not count toward Qualified Customer’s buying power until the end of the Three Month Period. Qualified Customers can sell their Stock once deposited into their account, but the proceeds will be subject to the foregoing Three Month Period requirement.

All that fine print aside, a $200 average payout on a $2,000 deposit with a minimum 3 month holding period is a good ratio. Just don’t go nuts with the options trading!

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Webull App: $0 Stock Trades, $0 Options Trading, 2 Free Shares Bonus

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

Updated offer details. Webull is a brokerage app (PC and web version also available) that has unlimited free stock trades with no platform fees, free real-time quotes, and no minimum balance requirement. As of March 2020, it has now added $0 options trades with $0 per contract fees. (Fidelity, Schwab, E-Trade, and TD Ameritrade all still charge $0.65 per contract.)

Compared to Robinhood, Webull is more of a full-featured traditional brokerage shrunk down into an app. Robinhood has a sleeker minimalist feel, while Webull has a ton of options for real-time stock quotes, technical indicators, charting, etc. Webull has traditional margin accounts that allow shorting. You can’t short stocks at all on Robinhood. Most importantly to me, Webull has customer service available via 24/7 Live Chat or phone number. Robinhood only has an e-mail address.

Free stock bonus and transfer fee reimbursement. New users who are referred by another user can now get two free shares of stock:

  • First share worth between $2.50 and $250 for opening an account.
  • Second share worth between $12 to $1,400 for depositing at least $100.

Webull will also reimburse you up to $100 in transfer fees if you move at least $2,000 worth of assets over to them.

Here is my Webull referral link. It’s like a scratch-off ticket where most people will get the lowest tier, but you also have a small chance at something better. Thanks if you use it! I have received shares of TEVA, SNAP, SBUX, VG, and even one AAPL. After you get the new user bonus, you can refer other people as well.

Here are the full odds for the opening share bonus:

$2.50 to $10 value, odds are ~1:1.02
$10 to $50 value, odds are ~1:52.63
$80 to $100 value, odds are ~1:1111.11
$100 to $20 value, odds are ~1:10,000

Here are the full odds for the opening deposit bonus:

$12 to $30 value, odds are ~1:1.02
$30 to $100 value, odds are ~1:52.63
$100 to $200 value, odds are ~1:1111.11
$1,000 to $1,400 value, odds are ~1:10,000

You will need to sign-up initially either with a phone number or e-mail address, and then open an account after downloading the app (Android or iOS). Webull is a real SIPC-insured broker, and the application is the same (name, address, SSN, work questions, investing experience questions, etc).

Bottom line. Webull is a brokerage app with free stock trades + free options trading with no contract fees. The feel is more of a full-featured traditional brokerage account shrunk into your smartphone. New users who open an account and deposit $100+ can earn 2 free shares of stock. You can also get $100 in transfer fees reimbursed if you later move over at least $2,000 in assets.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

HMBradley Bank Review: 3% APY After Saving 20% Of Your Paycheck

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

HMBradley is another fintech bank startup that differs by offering customers up to 3% APY based on the percentage of their paycheck that they save. Deposits are FDIC-insured through Hatch Bank. What do you have to do to actually qualify for this rate? Will it be worth the hassle? Here’s my review of HMBradley after reading their FAQ, fee schedule, and deposit agreement. Thanks to reader Guarav for the tip.

Rate tiers. Interest is earned on balances up to $100,000 and is set each calendar quarter. The interest rate updates for all customers at the beginning of each calendar quarter: January 1st, April 1st, July 1st, and October 1st. In order to qualify for a “Savings Tier”, you must receive a direct deposit at least once per month and save at least 5% of your quarterly deposits.

New customers start in Tier 3 and stay there as long as they maintain at least one direct deposit per month. For example, if you open in May, the next reset date would be July 1st and your interest earned for the next 3 months is based on your activity in the previous 3 months. Here are the current rates for each tier:

$100 minimum to open. Interest is compounded daily and credited monthly.

Deposits vs. direct deposits. You must receive some sort of direct deposit each month, as defined below:

For our accounts, we define direct deposits as those deposits made by the customer’s employer or a federal or state government agency or retirement benefits administrator. These generally include payments made by corporations and other organizations. We do not consider deposits to an account that are made by an individual using online banking or other payment provider such as PayPal or Venmo as direct deposits.

However, for the calculations of “savings rates”, all deposits are considered including incoming transfers from another bank account. At the same time, your “spending” will also include any transfer out of your account, even if it’s just to another bank account that you own.

NOW account? No paper checks. It should be noted that HM Bradley’s account is actually a lesser-known form called a “negotiable order of withdrawal (NOW) account”, which per the CFPB which gives the bank the right to require at least seven days written notice of a withdrawal. Supposedly, this is rarely done in practice. Like a checking account, there are no limits on the number of withdrawals each month. However, unlike a checking account… there are no checks! You can probably work around most things using the online Billpay feature. I suspect that not having to deal with paper checks saves them a good chunk of money.

The Bank offers Negotiable Order of Withdrawal transaction checking accounts, which allows you to make deposits by check, ACH payment, transfer from another account at the Bank, or wire transfer. NOW accounts only are available to consumers for personal, family, or household purposes. The Bank does not offer business accounts and you agree not to use your HMBradley Account for business purposes. The Bank may request 7 days’ advance notice of a withdrawal or transfer of funds from the NOW account.

Features. No minimum balance, no monthly fees. No paper checks. There is fee-free ATM access via your Debit Mastercard at over 55,000 ATMs in the STAR and MoneyPass networks (or at any store that allows for cash back on debit purchases). There is online Billpay. However, there is currently no ability to deposit checks (including ATM deposits). In the future, they plan on having remote check deposit only. They may close your account without notice if you maintain a zero balance.

My thoughts. In the current rate environment, the ability to earn 3% APY on up to $100,000 is exceptional. I don’t know of any “rewards checking” account has a balance limit that high. However, there are a lot of moving parts here.

First, the short-term concerns. All new customers that open now (May) will earn 1% APY until July 1st, so there is a delay. If their savings rate is determined to be above 20% as of July 1st, then you will reach Tier 1, but will Tier 1 still be 3% APY then? There is no rate guarantee and they don’t promise to provide any set amount of advance notice. Given the recent Fed moves, there is going to be pressure for them to lower it. Their lower rate tiers have already dropped from what they initially advertised.

I’m also concerned about the long-term sustainability. I like the idea of promoting savings, but the system doesn’t seem to benefit “average” savers enough, while leaving it open to “high” savers. For an “average” saver, saving 15% of deposits is a lot especially if you already have a 401(k) plan, which means they’ll only earn 0.50% or 1% APY. Meanwhile, a “high” saver with sizable existing cash assets can qualify for the 3% easily and then park tens of thousands of dollars at HMBradley. All they have to do is switch over some amount of direct deposit and be careful with their withdrawals. Perhaps there will be enough customers satisfied with earning zero to 0.50% APY interest to subsidize the rest, but we’ll have to see.

Bottom line. HMBradley is a digital bank startup that differs by offering customers a high rate (currently up to 3% APY) based on the percentage of their paycheck that they save. The rules are a bit more complex than I’d like, but if the rates hold steady it can be a competitive offer for motivated savers.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Blue Cash Preferred from American Express Review: 6% Cash Back at US Supermarkets ($6,000/Year), Netflix, HBO Now, Spotify

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. Thank you for your support.

(Note: Due to the impact of COVID-19, for eligible Card accounts approved from December 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020 for which you are eligible for a welcome offer, the period to make eligible purchases to earn your American Express welcome bonus will be extended for an additional 3 months.)

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has been in heavy rotation recently: 6% cash back at US stand-alone supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases. If you spend $100 a week at supermarkets, that alone will earn you over $300 a year in rewards. Here are the updated highlights:

  • $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations.
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions. (NEW)
  • 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more. (NEW)
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • $95 annual fee.

It also worked out that they added 6% back on select US streaming subscriptions (see below for full list), all while removing the ability to earn 3% cash back at U.S. department stores.

Max out your benefit by buying gift cards at US supermarkets. I use this card to buy gift cards at a standalone US supermarket to use up the annual limit and get 6% back. My local Safeway has an entire wall of options, but I usually go with Amazon, Apple iTunes, or Starbucks. You can easily confirm that your purchase still gets 6% cash back on your account online:

Supermarkets details. “US stand-alone supermarkets” means that superstores, convenience stores and warehouse clubs are not considered supermarkets. This means no Super Wal-Mart, no Super Target, no Costco. Examples of merchants that count (and this is not a complete list!) are Safeway, Whole Foods, Meijer, Vons, Winn-Dixie, Gristedes, Shoprite, Stop and Shop, and online supermarkets such as FreshDirect.

Gasoline details. “US stand-alone gas stations” means that superstores, supermarkets, and warehouse clubs that sell gasoline are not considered gas stations. This means no Target, no Costco, no Sam’s Club. Examples of merchants that count (and this is not a complete list!) are Exxon, Mobil, Hess, Shell, Gulf, Murphy USA, Murphy Express.

US Streaming Subscriptions details. These are all included:

• Amazon Music
• Apple Music
• Audible
• CBS All Access
• Direct TV Now
• ESPN+
• Fubo TV
• HBO Now
• Hulu
• iHeartRadio
• Kindle Unlimited
• MLB.TV
• NBA League Pass
• Netflix
• NHL.TV
• Pandora
• Prime Video Unlimited
• Showtime
• Sling TV
• SiriusXM Streaming and Satellite
• Spotify
• YouTube Music Premium
• YouTube Premium
• YouTube TV

Annual fee. There is a $95 annual fee, so you’ll want to utilize that 6% cash back on groceries to maximize your value. If you spend the max cap of $500 a month at supermarkets, at 6% back that would net you $360 cash back in a year vs. $60 at 1% cash back. Note that simply spending $31 per week at supermarkets at 6% cash back will result in over $95 Reward Dollars per year to cover the annual fee.

If you don’t like the idea of paying an annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express offers 3% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases with no annual fee. It currently offers a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.

Cash back is officially given in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit, gift cards, and merchandise. I always just stick with statements credit to directly pay down my monthly bill.

Bottom line. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has the key feature of 6% cash back at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year). You can now also get 6% cash back on Netflix/Spotify/HBO Now as well as 3% cash back at US gas stations and transit (Uber/Lyft/train). This has been a “keeper” card for me for many years now. I treat it like one of my 5% cash back cards, except there are no rotating categories or activations to worry about.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.