I recently read an article on CNN/Money’s website titled “Credit card rewards are a real rip off“. The page starts with a legitimate gripe, “You got burned with frequent flier miles, which were nearly impossible to redeem and hardly worth the hassle, so credit card issuers turned to other kinds of incentives to entice you to charge more.” Now, I’d be hard pressed to argue with that. I typically use the miles to upgrade to first class on longer flights for a more comfortable ride, but rarely have been able to use miles to get the original ticket, too few seats are available per flight, and tend to get booked well in advance.
But CNN goes on to trash other reward programs as well, suggesting that “though rewards do spur consumers to spend more, the study found that confusing rules and restrictions make most reward cards more trouble than they’re worth.” Really? Let me share my card reward experience:
I use Amex Open. It rebates 5% on gas from dollar one. I calculate the rebate at $600+/yr on just that. Same 5% on any office supply store purchases.
A Fidelity Mastercard that gives 2% (they changed to 1.5 for new applicants, but I kept the 2%) into a 529 account. My child is 10 and we will have a full semester of college paid free with the cards rebates. We only charge what we can pay in full each month.
There is responsible credit card use. We prove that. If one will be too tempted and run the card up on purchases they cannot pay in full, they should use cash only. Me, I’ll enjoy the rebates.
(Well, just when I finished setting up this post, the mail came, and Amex advised me, that due to the high cost of gasoline, they were reducing the gas rebates down to 3% on this card. Still, that’s cash back in my pocket, just no so much.)