UPDATE (2.2.23) -> Update to Core Cashback Credit Cards
Lately, I’ve been super passionate in my free time learning about cashback credit cards. I’m actually not too sure how I drifted into this. Part of me thinks it came about as a new hobby out of the covid pandemic and another part of me thinks it came as a result of the path I had already been on since my thru-hike.
I don’t want to add too much back story, but basically, I started looking into financial independence, which came about thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I originally started to think about this on my Appalachian Trail thru-hike, but then really started to think about it after when I didn’t have a source of income and was living with my parents. Prior to the Appalachian Trial, I lived with my parents (naturally), then college with various paid internships in a field that just happened to be in demand (Computer Science), and then those internships lead to a paying job, so until I was 25, I didn’t really know what an empty bank account looked like or meant. Obviously, my parent’s were there for me, but didn’t have the freedoms I once did. In a desperate attempt to get back those freedoms, I started to look into different life styles, such as vanlife and minimalism, which is more about intentionalism than cutting back. After I established what I believed was a realistic goal, I went for it.
What was the “it?” The “it” was an investment in myself. I wanted to grow even more, but into a person I could respect. The journey was not a straight line. There nights were I was angry with myself. Times when I wished I had dealt with my internal suffering and peace earlier, like in college when you’re “supposed” to explore. I’m a bit off topic, but the sub point I’m trying to make is that this transformation, into the self I am today was no easy feat. Privileges aside, I worked my 🍑 off to be where I am today (still am 😉), though there was a point where I got lucky. I don’t mean magical fantasy luck. I mean being at the cross roads of preparedness and being in the right place at the right time. It was the first time I felt I was being rewarded for my efforts. It felt earned. A sign that my puzzle piece had a place in the world. From there continuing to be true to myself, my options opened up and I got this sweet job, where most of the time I feel like I am dreaming, wide awake.
Now that I’m back to a point of comfort, on my own terms, as a newer version of me, I started to look back into things I’d want, taking account into what I had learned through my journey up until this point. It was clear freedom is the biggest want, which ultimately lead to the thought process of financial independence and then credit cards, which is a incredibly small piece to the eventual goal of financial independence. It is not a required step, but it can really save you a ton of 🤑, though requires a bit of self control. You don’t want to let your savings go to your head. Avoid spending any money you never intended/planned to spend. For example, saving 5% on Target purchases with your RedCard is great, but even better if you didn’t spend that money at all if you did not need nor plan to.
With how much of my free time I have spent, I thought about making a page where I talk about my current credit card system, but I didn’t like the idea of advertising this information on the website in which I primary use for travel flexing…I mean hiking information. 😂 It’s not solely about the flexing though:
- I am passionate with my setup, but my setup is geared toward my life style, which may not always apply to everyone else who visits my site. For example, there is an Amazon credit card that gives you 5% cashback back on all Amazon purchases, but in order to get the card you need a Prime membership that I do not subscribe to.
- I’m not a financial advisor of any sort. I’m just a guy that wants to save money anyway I can.
- I think I’d have the time to keep updating the page, but I have way too many interests to promise such things. 😁
That aside, I’ve broken down the following credit cards into my expense categories:
|Grocery||Verizon Visa – 4%|
|Eating Out||U.S. Bank Altitude Go Card – 4%|
|Gas Stations||Verizon Visa – 4%|
|Online Shopping/Subscriptions||Bank of America Cash Rewards – 3%|
|Gym||U.S. Bank Cash+ – 5%|
|Cell Phone||U.S. Bank Cash+ – 5%|
|Health/Medical||N/A – HSA|
|Quarterly Cashback||Discover It (2021):|
-> Quarter 1: Grocery Stores – 10%
-> Quarter 2: Gas Stations – 10%
-> Quarter 3: Eating Out & Paypal – 10%
-> Quarter 4: Amazon.com & Walmart.com & Target.com – 10%
|Everything||Discover It – 2%|
Things to be Aware Of:
- I feel like this goes without saying, but the benefits to these cards will be meaningless if you don’t pay at least the statement balance by or before the payment due date of your credit cards.
- Quarterly Reward Cards Need to be activated prior to the quarter so they require a bit of maintenance.
- The Verizon Credit Card requires you to have an Verizon active account. Can only use the cashback to pay your credit card statement balance, Verizon Bill, or towards a Verizon purchase. I’m tempted to use the cashback to re-up for a new phone every 3-4 years, though we’ll see.
- Highest cashback on everything you can get consistently is the Discover Miles card at 3%, however since you can only apply for one card per year with Discover, you would want to use that to reapply for the Discover It card, which is arguably a better deal for your wallet.
- There is no limit (as of now) to the number of times you can reapply for the annual cashback match with Discover.
- I don’t have a travel category card. Most of the travel cards use a point system which is actually quite complex so I’ll have to do a bit more research into these before committing to a card. I’ve heard good things about the Chase Freedom Flex card as a non-annual fee card, but that you are restricted to the 5% cashback using their portal. Another contender I’ve thought about is Venmo’s credit card which offers 3% back on your largest category expenditure each month up to $10,000 annually.
- I will admit this set up is a bit over the top and requires a bit of maintenance. If this is not really your thing and want simplicity, I recommend looking into the common 2% cashback cards (on everything), without an annual fee such as the following:Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature card
- Citi Double Cash card
- Paypal Cashback Mastercard card
- X1 card (will become 3% cashback if you managed to spend at least $15,000 annually)
- The majority of these cards will require good credit, so be sure to research the credit required prior to applying, for each application is recorded. If your credit is not that great or non-existent, I recommend checking out WalletHub – Best Credit Cards to Build Credit and NerdWallet – 8 Ways to Build Credit Fast. My first credit card was Discover’s Student card and then likely as a result of my internship at the time, I was upgraded by Discover to their More card.
- None of the links on this page are affiliated links. As of now and likely the future, there are no affiliated links at all on LoneGrowth.