Jump to content
DC

Credit Cards / Cash Back & Rewards Options

Recommended Posts

Again, this only works for manufacturer incentives, since their target is volume.

Agree completely with this. I am not talking about car manufacturers alone but purchasing with credit in a broader sense. If you pay 0 apr you pay somewhere else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The vast majority of consumers are not smart when making big purchases. That's how companies make money. I do quite a lot of research prior to making big purchases to ensure I get the best deal possible. When I bought my car, I found every possible rebate and credit offered by the manufacturer and dealership prior to going in, and I bought a new car at the very end of the model year. I ending up paying $7,000 less than MSRP with 0% financing. I got a grand for military discount, 3 grand for promotional credit from the manufacturer, 2 grand in dealer credits, and 1 grand in multi-car discount for buying a second car from the same dealer. I also got blue book value on my trade in.

95% of the time, companies still find a way to get their piece of the pie, but that 5% is out there where they are just looking to make the sale to reduce inventory, bump sales stats, etc. You can be that 5% with a little bit of research and planning. I'd also recommend reading the book Bargaining for Advantage.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The vast majority of consumers are not smart when making big purchases. That's how companies make money. I do quite a lot of research prior to making big purchases to ensure I get the best deal possible. When I bought my car, I found every possible rebate and credit offered by the manufacturer and dealership prior to going in, and I bought a new car at the very end of the model year. I ending up paying $7,000 less than MSRP with 0% financing. I got a grand for military discount, 3 grand for promotional credit from the manufacturer, 2 grand in dealer credits, and 1 grand in multi-car discount for buying a second car from the same dealer. I also got blue book value on my trade in.

95% of the time, companies still find a way to get their piece of the pie, but that 5% is out there where they are just looking to make the sale to reduce inventory, bump sales stats, etc. You can be that 5% with a little bit of research and planning. I'd also recommend reading the book Bargaining for Advantage.

Simply not possible. The buyer always loses. Sarcasm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, the retailers pass those costs onto everyone, including those paying cash. I would like to thank all the cash paying DR followers for subsiding my credit card rewards!

Bingo! This is actually a very true statement that I argue about with friends all the time. Seriously, cash payers are paying a "premium" by not taking advantage of the 2-5% premium that most prices already include due to the widespread use of CCs. There are still places out there that either won't accept CCs or have a higher rate (coincidentally about 5%) more for using CCs.

I have defended DR before, but I keep an open mind. The credit card stuff looks good, and I do dabble in some rewards programs. I think his point is, eventually, you will pay interest, and the they win. Probably not this group though, just the rest of the USA. I second the 0% interest thing, you paid for it somewhere, I would think usually in overall cost.

I was not a big fan of Ramsey either, but I actually think his real point is that you will spend more through plastic because it is easier to use than cash. I have tried it, and I think it is true. If I had to unfurl crinkled dollar bills for every beer at the bar, snack at the grocery store, or meal at the restaurant, it would have a much greater sting and I think I (and most people) will pay less. I don't think Ramsey ever actually argues that you will eventually pay interest/fees even if you are paying the card in full each month. His primary point, I believe, is to live beneath your means. Using plastic us just so much easier that people spend more than they would had they used cash.

Agree with Gravedigger, with one caveat. Another factor that affects your score is the average age of the credit line. So if you've been loyal to one card for 20 years, you have an average credit age of 20 years. If you go out tomorrow and sign up for 9 new cards looking to increase your credit to debt ratio, you will be drastically lowering your average credit age, which will hurt you. Just need to be smart about how you play the game.

I am sure excessive lines of credit is bad, but I would imagine the overall amount of credit available to you is one of the biggest factors, plus the amount of credit that you are using. I can see my credit score at all times through this identity guard thing I get through Costo. All 3 of my credit scores are regularly above 800 despite that fact that I have like 10 open credit cards. I notice that when I sign up for a new one, or if any one approaches about 75% of its limit, my credit scores dip below 800 for a month or two.

Do these credit cards recognize the commissary as a grocery store?

GREAT question. I hadn't researched that exact thing, but I don't think so. I found out the hard way that when using my AMEX blue for my 6% cash back, I don't get shit when I buy groceries at Wally World, Target, Costco, or any other places listed as "discounters." Basically, if you pay full price for groceries at regular name-brand grocery stores, it should show up in AMEX as eligible for the 6% cash back. Other than that, you won't get 6% for groceries bought at convienece stores, Walmart, or other places. Be wary.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

GREAT question. I hadn't researched that exact thing, but I don't think so. I found out the hard way that when using my AMEX blue for my 6% cash back, I don't get shit when I buy groceries at Wally World, Target, Costco, or any other places listed as "discounters." Basically, if you pay full price for groceries at regular name-brand grocery stores, it should show up in AMEX as eligible for the 6% cash back. Other than that, you won't get 6% for groceries bought at convienece stores, Walmart, or other places. Be wary.

For what it's worth, my AMEX did show the commissary as a grocery store always, not a "warehouse club" etc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not always true, though a savvy dealer will try to make you think that.

Most times the agreed price and the financing are separate for the 0% deals. The 0% financing comes from the manufacturer, not the dealer or his partner bank, and is not affected by price since the manufacturer charged true invoice regardless of what the dealer convinced you to pay.

Now, the dealer will try to keep the price higher by any means, to include implying that the low financing rate somehow merits a higher price. A skilled buyer will go into the dealer claiming he does not plan to finance, negotiate the cash price to a defined number, then ask about manufacturer 0% financing. They'll fuss, but not enough to make you leave.

Again, this only works for manufacturer incentives, since their target is volume.

Yet again I am not talking about car dealers specifically but interest in general. If you got a great deal then good on you. I would venture to guess you purchased a new vehicle?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Guys, to each his own.

I’m really glad that some of you have figured out ways to finagle reward point/miles using multiple credit cards. Someone reminded us earlier in the thread that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and they are right. You are spending time to work the system and categorize your purchases on multiple different types of cards, taking the time to make sure you stay within some type of budget (I presume), and then paying off the cards every month. You are paying for those benefits in the form of time spent working the system.
It’s obviously your right to criticize Dave Ramsey’s philosophies on money, debt, and credit. I am a pretty ardent follower of his, and I will be the first to admit that it is very “simple” (something for which he is constantly criticized). I have no problem admitting that a free flight every year, or a couple hundred bucks cash back is not worth the hassle to me. My household follows a zero-based budget. I’ve gotta tell you — it is a good feeling to know that when the dump truck full of money stops by the house on the 15th and end of month, we can do whatever we want with it, and it goes where we want it to go. We’re maxing out retirement accounts, fully funding a college fund (in addition to the GI Bill), and also budgeting for various yearly expenses (travel, gifts, etc). The only “bills” we have are a mortgage, utilities, cell phones, insurance and cable/internet. That’s it. Again, I will gladly sacrifice the relatively minuscule cash back/rewards for the time saved in having to track and pay off balances on multiple credit card accounts every month.
As for some of your assertions that DR’s plan is only for those who lack self control, I respectfully disagree. In fact, I would say that it takes a great deal of self control to live debt free. You make it sound like living debt free is synonymous with an alcoholic needing to stay out of a bar…. simply not the case. JS nailed it in his post—statistically, you spend less if you use cash. If for no other reason, it’s easier to keep track of. I cannot tell you the number of people I have encountered in my career that are in loads of debt and don’t even realize it because it’s “normal”… It’s normal to have multiple credit cards, normal to have a $300K mortgage in a non-metro area outside an AFB, normal to have multiple car payments, normal to nurse your student loan debt… I can go on and on. It’s not that I am anti-credit cards, it’s more that I am against living outside of your means just because you think it’s normal.
For the record, I haven’t had a car payment in almost 8 years and have paid cash for four decent cars in that time. I haven’t had a credit card (other than my required GTC) in 5 years. Had no problem in that time getting a mortgage, and even refinancing. Having credit just for the sake of maintaing a credit score is a self-licking ice cream cone.
Flame away, fellas. Enjoy the points.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Champ, I think you make great points, and I fully support any financial system that works for people. My critique in general is the idea that there is only one way to be successful financially.

I would not participate in Black Friday, no matter how good the deal, because I would be absolutely miserable. Others get enjoyment out of the experience, and the deal is a bonus. That's sort of like credit cards and loans to me. I find the process of playing the credit game enjoyable, and my time spent doing it (sts), is worth it for what I get in return. I recognize for a lot of people it is not at all worth the hassle, and that's fine. I have friends that spend several hours a week buying cash reload cards at drug stores to maximize points on every card they have, and calculating the reward vs. cost of the cash card on massive excel spreadsheets. That's a bit much for me. If it takes me 10 minutes to find and apply for a card that will give me $400 for purchases I was already making, that's totally worth it to me. Right now, there are 3 such cards out there, in case you're interested.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it takes me 10 minutes to find and apply for a card that will give me $400 for purchases I was already making, that's totally worth it to me. Right now, there are 3 such cards out there, in case you're interested.

It's not just ten minutes of your time though, is it? Unless you are using these cards for one-time purchases, you still have to devote time to picking what card you are going to spend on what purchases at set locations, and then make sure you stay within your budget in making those purchases, then pay off the balance on the card(s) to ensure you don't pay interest. Again, that takes time.

Question for you guys that use multiple cards every month... do you ever carry a positive balance on them? Maybe this is the way my mind works, but if I had a card that I only used for groceries, I could maybe make sense out of it by making an automatic monthly payment to that card of what my monthly grocery budget would be, and then just make sure I don't spend over that amount. Even that added effort isn't worth the $30-40 I'd make in the 5% cash back, but it's the only way I could make sense of it. As it stands now, we take out cash every week, and of that cash we have a set amount we spend per week on groceries (among other things). When that money is gone, it's gone. No overspending, no credit balances. It's not that we were ever undisciplined in our spending, but it simply prevents it from happening in the first place.

Edited by Champ Kind

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not just ten minutes of your time though, is it? Unless you are using these cards for one-time purchases, you still have to devote time to picking what card you are going to spend on what purchases at set locations, and then make sure you stay within your budget in making those purchases, then pay off the balance on the card(s) to ensure you don't pay interest. Again, that takes time.

Question for you guys that use multiple cards every month... do you ever carry a positive balance on them? Maybe this is the way my mind works, but if I had a card that I only used for groceries, I could maybe make sense out of it by making an automatic monthly payment to that card of what my monthly grocery budget would be, and then just make sure I don't spend over that amount. Even that added effort isn't worth the $30-40 I'd make in the 5% cash back, but it's the only way I could make sense of it. As it stands now, we take out cash every week, and of that cash we have a set amount we spend per week on groceries (among other things). When that money is gone, it's gone. No overspending, no credit balances. It's not that we were ever undisciplined in our spending, but it simply prevents it from happening in the first place.

Here's what I do, I find a card with a great deal (like $400 or $500 for spending $3,000 in 3 months) and I use that card exclusively until I reach the target dollar amount. Once I reach the target dollar amount, I cash out my benefits and move on to the next card, or go back to my go-to daily use cards like Chase Sapphire preferred or Chase Freedom if there aren't any good deals running. If I am buying plane tickets to Thailand or making big purchases, it might take me a month to hit the dollar amount, if I am not making big purchases, it might take me the full 3 months.

If I am taking a trip where I want to use up the free airline credits on my Amex cards, I will bring those cards with me and buy seat upgrades or drinks or movies or whatever just to use those benefits. For the Amex platinum, I might use it on two or three trips before I hit the $200 airline credit limit. Either way, the refunds post before the bill is due, so I pay it as soon as the refunds post, then put the card in the drawer until the next year.

At no point have I ever carried a balance on any card, because I don't want to ever pay a cent of interest. I have also never paid an annual fee, they are either waived for military every year, or I get the first year for free, then drop the card down to the non-annual fee version at the end of the year.

This might all sound like a lot of work, but you can easily manage all of it on your iPhone while taking a dump.

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This might all sound like a lot of work, but you can easily manage all of it on your iPhone while taking a dump.

But then how would I have time to check BODN?

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For the record, I haven’t had a car payment in almost 8 years and have paid cash for four decent cars in that time.

While I agree it is unwise to carry a lot of debt, you probably lost money with this plan. Debt free doesn't always equal most fiscally advantageous.

Also, it sounds like you're assuming people with multiple credit cards have a lot of debt; that's not always true. The Amex Platinum requires that you pay it off each month. Considering it was free, that thing paid for itself in one sitting at an airport lounge with an open bar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I agree it is unwise to carry a lot of debt, you probably lost money with this plan. Debt free doesn't always equal most fiscally advantageous.

I probably did "lose" money by executing a debt-free budget. Like I said in my post, I'm okay with that considering the opportunity cost of time to keep track of expenses spread across multiple cards with the amounts/period of time constraints as Gravedigger described. We have been doing just fine--that couple hundred, even a few thousand, that we "missed out" on by not using credit cards doesn't affect our lives because we weren't counting on credit card companies to supplement our income to begin with.

Also, it sounds like you're assuming people with multiple credit cards have a lot of debt; that's not always true. The Amex Platinum requires that you pay it off each month. Considering it was free, that thing paid for itself in one sitting at an airport lounge with an open bar.

Didn't mean to sound like I was equating multiple credit cards with a lot of debt. What I have seen a lot of though is fellow officers living outside of their means as I described (too big a house/mortgage, car payments, student loans, vacations, etc). And those same people use multiple credit cards, as you guys are describing.

As for the airport lounge perks...again, given the alternative, I'll soak up the cost of my own beers at the airport and avoid dealing with AMEX and the rest of them. No hard feelings toward them, just a choice we make, and like I said in my post earlier, I like keeping things simple. Besides....probably best I don't get too melty faced before a flight.

Edit: I didn't address the exact thing you quoted, which was the purchasing of the cars. We buy pre-owned vehicles so as not to take the instant hit in devaluation inherent with a brand new car. I researched the hell out of the year/make/models/trim for those vehicles (as Gravedigger pointed out), I figured out my bottom-line price (below retail), and then offered that amount and no lower. I found the negotiating to be easier when you tell them outright you aren't interested in financing, we are either going to cut a check or walk to the other dealership that has the same vehicle we want and see if they are interested. Trust me, I didn't lose money on those deals.

As far as the 0% financing deal goes... I don't fully own that car until it is paid off, regardless of interest. If I was financing it, I'd want to have that money put aside somewhere to pay it off in the event I experienced a loss of income. If I have that money put aside, I might as well just pay for it in cash and skip the financing tomfoolery. I know, the "loss of income" concept is probably remote, but it is also not unheard of, and it makes for a pretty worry-free life when you own your vehicles outright.

Edited by Champ Kind

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as the 0% financing deal goes... I don't fully own that car until it is paid off, regardless of interest. If I was financing it, I'd want to have that money put aside somewhere to pay it off in the event I experienced a loss of income. If I have that money put aside, I might as well just pay for it in cash and skip the financing tomfoolery. I know, the "loss of income" concept is probably remote, but it is also not unheard of, and it makes for a pretty worry-free life when you own your vehicles outright.

Agreed with everything you said but this. The cash that you are paying for that vehicle with (a strictly depreciating asset) you cold be using to invest in something, anything really that appreciates. Even if that something (bonds, CDs etc) does not beat inflation it is a better use of your cash than an asset that strictly depreciates.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed with everything you said but this. The cash that you are paying for that vehicle with (a strictly depreciating asset) you cold be using to invest in something, anything really that appreciates. Even if that something (bonds, CDs etc) does not beat inflation it is a better use of your cash than an asset that strictly depreciates.

I don't consider a vehicle an "asset". It's just a mode of transportation. I don't expect anything I own for that purpose at this point in my life to go up in value. Are you saying that financing makes it any better? In that situation, I'm continuing to pay for something that is losing value *as* I'm paying for it, interest or not. My assertion that it's not "mine" until I no longer owe anything on it still makes sense to me.

Besides that, as far as investing in anything else that appreciates, we have a set percentage that we put away for retirement. We've also set realistic expectations as to what those contributions will look like at various phases of life starting at age 55 based on some (very) conservative rates of return. I'm not worried that paying cash for a good deal on a car is negatively affecting our portfolio, or even our ability to plan a vacation in the short term.

Edited by Champ Kind

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You pay 15k cash for a vehicle on day zero.

I take out a 60 month, 0% loan.

I plop that same 15k cash in an interest bearing account and withdraw every month to make my loan payment.

In 5 years, we both have a paid in full, used vehicle. I have made money. You have not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You pay 15k cash for a vehicle on day zero.

I take out a 60 month, 0% loan.

I plop that same 15k cash in an interest bearing account and withdraw every month to make my loan payment.

In 5 years, we both have a paid in full, used vehicle. I have made money. You have not.

If you're earning enough interest to fund a car loan, are you not also paying tax on the earnings?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Read it again.

I'm not "earning enough interest to fund a car loan"

We both start with the same 15k lump of cash.

We both pay zero interest/financing fees.

I have interest income (that I'm happy to pay taxes on). You do not.

Yes, I'm paying more tax than you .... But I'm paying tax on income that you don't have. I'm still way ahead in the end.

It's definitely anti-ramsey. But it's not hard to understand.

Edited by HossHarris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You pay 15k cash for a vehicle on day zero.

I take out a 60 month, 0% loan.

I plop that same 15k cash in an interest bearing account and withdraw every month to make my loan payment.

In 5 years, we both have a paid in full, used vehicle. I have made money. You have not.

Who's giving 0% loans on used cars?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You pay 15k cash for a vehicle on day zero.

I take out a 60 month, 0% loan.

I plop that same 15k cash in an interest bearing account and withdraw every month to make my loan payment.

In 5 years, we both have a paid in full, used vehicle. I have made money. You have not.

Math doesn't lie. You are in fact correct.

However, what is USAA paying on money market accounts right now? 0.69 percent? On 20-30k over 5 years were talking about how much money in real dollars? I'm too lazy (and drunk) to do the math right now, but I've done it before and it just wasn't worth the hassle to not pay cash and be done with the car buying transaction. But if it's worth your time, then please enjoy the spoils.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With a 0%, 5-year, $25,000 loan, you save about $1,800-$2,000 over the life of the loan if you figure in inflation (~3%). That's no small chunk of change. With low interest rates and high inflation, it almost doesn't make sense to pay it off quickly. I might as well use Year 2020 dollars which are worth less than Year 2014 Dollars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An extra $400 a year? No thanks, I'll just keep paying cash and avoid the hassle. I think we'll be fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another anti-Ramsey here, although I wish like hell my in-laws that live paycheck to paycheck and are paying off several small purchases (TV, fridge, 2 cars, motorcycle) would listen to him.

I've got the Hilton VISA. My wife and I travel a lot, and in the last three years I've stayed in free rooms in NYC, Amsterdam, Budapest, Nashville, Berlin, DC, Cologne, London, Dublin and a few others I can't remember. I put everything on it and pay it off each month. With technology these days, it's all automatic, I don't even have to look at a bill (just browse what I bought every few weeks or so to prevent wife or fraud buffoonery). Zero time, and what is essentially a free timeshare in my pocket.

I also double the warranty of anything I buy, and get free rental insurance when I travel. Saying that cash is simpler is one thing, but arguing that it's somehow better than using credit responsibly doesn't add up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I make $400 to $500 per month on credit card cash back. I have the "old" Amex blue card that gives 5% cash back on groceries (including the Commissary). I buy about $1000 per week of Visa gift cards at my local grocery store, then use the gift cards to buy money orders at Wal-Mart. I deposit the money orders in my bank, pay Amex, and wait for the cash back to arrive.

I also buy all non-groceries exclusively in Visa gift cards. That gives me about 3.8% cash back on things that aren't groceries. It seems pretty elaborate, but I have it down to a process that fits with my daily life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×