Chase Freedom® Review – 5% Cash Back +$100 Bonus

The Chase Freedom® Visa is one of my personal favorites. If you need a card that gives cash back and 0% on purchases then this is a card to consider. This card offers 5% cash back on purchases like gas, home improvement, and department stores. If you are an online shopper this card is part of the Chase Rewards Plus program that offers up to 10% cash back when shopping online. An added perks is that this card does not charge an annual fee and new cardmembers can earn $100 cash back. Let’s check out the details.

Chase Freedom Features

  • Earn a $100 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases between 1/1/15—3/31/15 at grocery stores (not including Walmart® and Target® purchases), movie theaters, and Starbucks® stores
  • Earn a $25 Bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the intro period, a variable APR of 13.99-22.99%
  • You'll enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like restaurants, gas stations, and Amazon.com. It's free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% Cash Back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee and rewards never expire as long as your account is open

0% Introductory Rate

The card offers a 0% introductory rate on purchases for 15 months. This is ideal if you are making a big purchase and you know you will need some extra time to pay it off. If you need a balance transfer card then you’re in luck because this card also gives 15 months. When you combine both the 0% on purchases and 0% on balance transfers this card is a tough one to beat. After the introductory period is over your rate will be between 13.99%-22.99% (Variable), based on your creditworthiness.

Rewards Program

Let’s first talk about the nice bonus this card offers – $100 Cash Back. All you have to do is spend $500 within 3 months and you will earn $100 cash back. For rewards, you can earn 5% cash back categories like gas, home improvement and department stores. They are rotating categories which change every quarter so you have to stay on top of what the categories are so you can maximize your earning. On all purchases that fall outside the 5% categories you will earn 1% cash back with no spending tiers or caps. Chase also offers up to an additional 20% cash back at select merchants when you shop online through Chase.

Blueprint

The Chase Freedom® offers flexible payment options and online tracking to monitor your spending. With Blueprint, your payment and money management options include the following:

  • Full Pay: With full pay, you can select the categories of purchases you want to pay in full each month. Chase will then show these purchases separately on your bill, and you can pay them in full even while you carry a balance in other categories of purchases.
  • Split Pay: For larger purchases, you can set up a payment plan, and track your progress month to month.
  • Finish It: If you want to pay off your balance, you can set up a payment plan that will help you eliminate your credit card debt.
  • Track It: The tracking feature allows you to set spending goals by category and track your progress throughout the month. For example, you can set a spending limit for groceries or restaurants, and Blueprint will track your spending throughout the month. It can even send you alerts as you near your spending goal.
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Citi® Simplicity Card Review – 0% for 18 Months

Citi Simplicity ReviewThe Citi Simplicity® Card is ideal for those seeking a 0% offer on purchases and balance transfers. With this card there is no annual fee and there are no late fees or over the limit fees. This is a basic credit card with no rewards program and it is offered in both a MasterCard and Visa.

Citi Simplicity® Card Review

  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 12.99% - 22.99% based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • No late fees - EVER
  • No penalty rate - EVER
  • No annual fee - EVER
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day.

Citi Simplicity® Card Offers 0%

The Citi Simplicity® Card comes with a dual 0% offer on balance transfers for 18 Months* months and on purchases for 18 Months* months. Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. There are no fees associated with the 0% on purchases offer. Your variable rate will be 12.99% – 22.99%* Variable and is based on your creditworthiness. This rate may change based on the prime rate.

Additional Citi Simplicity® Card Benefits

This card offers a variety of additional benefits for being a card member. Here is a list of some of the additional benefits the card offers:

  • Virtual Account Numbers: With one click, you can generate a random credit card number and make it virtually impossible for anyone to steal your account number while shopping online. Then, you enter this number into the merchant’s form and complete your purchase without revealing your real card number.
  • Citi® Photocard: Citi® Photocard offers added security and a great form of photo identification by putting your picture and signature on the front of your Citi card. Now that’s something to smile about. Simply call the telephone number on the back of your card for details.
  • Retail Purchase Protection: Retail Purchase Protection protects most items purchased with your Citi card against theft or accidental damage up to 90 days from the date of purchase.
  • Extended Warranty: Extended Warranty coverage may provide extension of up to one additional year on manufacturers’ U.S. warranties of one year or less with most purchases on your card.
  • Paperless Statements: Receive monthly statements online only and get instant access to your last 12 statements in PDF format. Less paper in the mail means less chance of your sensitive information ending up in the wrong hands.
  • The Lost Wallet® Service: If your Citi card is lost or stolen, Citi will issue a new card at no cost. Citi can also provide you with emergency cash, subject to your available cash limit, and information to help you replace important documents.
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Discover Bank Savings Account Review – February 2015

Discover Bank Online Savings AccountDiscover Bank offers one of the highest yields available on a savings account. It’s current 0.90% APY is significantly higher than the national average. This is an excellent rate for a savings account that only requires a $500 minimum deposit.

Discover Bank Online Savings Account Review

Well known for its cash back credit cards, Discover also has an online bank. The Discover Bank Online Savings Account is one of the highest yielding FDIC insured savings accounts available. There are no monthly fees to maintain an account, the website is easy to use, and funds can be transferred to other accounts.

Discover Bank Savings Account Details

  • Go to Discover Bank Offer
  • Fees: No monthly maintenance fees
  • Credit Pull: Soft Pull from ChexSystems
  • Minimum Deposit Requirement: There is no minimum balance requirement, although there is a $500 initial deposit requirement to open an account.
  • Availability: All 50 states
  • Routing (ABA) number: 031100649
  • Established: August 30, 1911
  • FDIC certificate: 5649

Apply Now

Discover Bank Savings Account Summary

  •  Earn over 5X the National Savings Average1
  • Low $500 minimum opening deposit
  • No minimum balance or monthly maintenance fees
  • Deposits are FDIC insured up to the maximum allowed by law
  • Fund your savings account online from an existing bank account
  • Manage your savings account online or with our mobile banking app
  • Fast and free online money transfers
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Capital One 360 Checking Account Review

Capital One 360 checkingCapital One 360, formerly ING Direct, offers a no fee checking account with a competitive interest rate. The account is free to open, has no monthly maintenance fees, and offers interest on the checking account balance. It also offers more than 38,000 free ATMs.

Capital One 360 also has an excellent smartphone app that is easy to use. You can make a deposit by snapping a picture of a check, check balances, or transfer funds from one 360 account to another. I’ve used the smartphone app extensively and found it extremely easy to use.

Capital One 360 Checking Highlights

  • Fees: No hidden fees or minimums as you earn interest on your everyday money
  • ATMs:  38,000 fee-free Allpoint® ATMAutomatic Teller Machines and 2,000 Capital One® ATMs
  • Debit Card:  Free MasterCard® Debit Card for all purchases
  • Credit Pull: According to Capital One 360, they do a “soft” pull (won’t affect your credit score) when you apply for a checking account. However, they do a “hard” pull (may affect your credit score) if you apply for overdraft line of credit.
  • Direct Deposit: Yes
  • Minimum Deposit Requirement: There are no minimum balance requirements
  • Availability: All 50 states

Refer-a-Friend

Capital One 360 pays you when you refer a friend or family member. The current payout is $20 per referral, up to a total of $1,000. In addition, the friend you refer can get up to $50 in bonuses from CapOne360.

While they last, you can take advantage of the following refer-a-friend links to qualify for bonuses when you open an account with Capital One 360:

Capital One 360 Checking: Use this refer-a-friend link to get a $50 bonus on a new checking account, a $25 bonus on a new savings account, a $25 bonus on a kid’s savings account, or a $25 bonus on the Capital One 360 Money account.

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Discover Miles it Review – 1.5x Miles

Discover Miles itThe new Discover Miles it card is the first new addition since Discover transitioned from its More card lineup to its current it lineup. With the new card Discover enters the travel rewards card space with a card that offers 1.5% back. It’s a very competitive card.

Key Features of the Discover Miles it Card

  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar you spend on purchases
  • Exclusive offer: We double all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year
  • Pay for travel with your card. Then redeem Miles in any amount to credit your travel purchases, or get cash at any time
  • We’ll credit you up to $30 for your in-flight Wi-Fi purchases each year
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on your monthly statement, online and mobile

 Travel Rewards

The rewards offered by the Discover Miles it are very straightforward. Cardholders earn 1.5x miles for every dollar charged to the card. Each mile is worth 1 penny. Miles can be redeemed for cash or applied as a credit to travel purchases charged to the card. Here’s the actual language from the Discover website:

Redeem Miles: Starting at 1 Mile, you can redeem for cash as a electronic deposit to your bank account or for a credit for Travel Purchases on your statement made within in last 180 days. Travel Purchases include airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, travel agents, online travel sites and commuter transportation. Redemption may be delayed up to 48 hours if your card is lost or stolen. See Miles Terms and Conditions for details.

Other Benefits

In addition to the rewards, the Discover Miles it card offers several other perks:

0% APR: There is no interest for 12 months on purchases.

Free Wi-Fi: Discover will credit you up to $30 a year for wi-fi purchased on airplanes.

Free FICO Score: As with other Discover cards, you’ll get free access to your FICO score.

In the final analysis, the new Discover Miles it card is a good travel rewards card.

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Citi Double Cash Review – Earn 1% + 1% Cash Back

The Citi Double Cash credit card offers a unique cash back reward. You earn unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase + 1% cash back when you pay your credit card bill on time. There are other cards that pay 2%, but only if you use the rewards for travel (e.g., Capital One Venture) or have an account at Fidelity (e.g., American Express Fidelity card). With the Citi Double Cash card, there are no such requirements, as you’ll see in this review.

Citi Double Cash Card Features

  • The only card that earns you cash back twice on every purchase with: unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases*
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 12.99%-22.99%, based on your creditworthiness*
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • No Category Restrictions, No Caps, No Enrollments in Rotating Categories
  • No Annual Fee

How Double Cash Works

One draw to this card is its simplicity. There are no rotating categories and rewards do not need to be spent in a certain way to get the maximum benefit. Instead, simply use the card and make at least the minimum payment on time.

You’ll earn 1% on every purchase with the card. You’ll then earn another 1% when you make at least the minimum payment on time. There is no need to pay the card in full. If you do, however, you’ll speed up earning the second 1% cash back. The result is that you can earn a total of 2% of the value of your purchases, so long as you make the minimum monthly payment on time.

Redeeming rewards is easy. You can apply them as a statement credit to your bill or use them to buy gift cards. You can also ask Citi to send you a check.

Other Perks

The Citi Double Cash Card as a long list of additional benefits:

0% APR: The card offers a 0% APR introductory rate for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers. There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% fee of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater. This 0% deal compares favorably to the other no interest offers we track.

A late fee pass: Citi gives you a pass on your first late fee.

Citi® Private Pass®: As a Citi cardmember you’ll get access to purchase tickets to thousands of entertainment events and special experiences; including VIP packages, preferred & presale tickets to live concerts, family and comedy shows, plus sports clinics with celebrity athletes and culinary events with top chefs.

Citi Price Rewind: After you make a purchase, Citi searches for a lower price. If they find a lower price within 60 days, you can get a refund of the difference up to $300 per item (up to $1,200 per year).

EMV Chip Technology: The card has an EMV chip for added security.

Damage & Theft Purchase Protection: You are covered up to $1,000 per item, up to $50,000 per year if purchases made with your Citi card are damaged or stolen within 120 days of purchase (90 days for New York residents).

Extended Warranty: You may be able to add up to a year on your warranty of five years or less. You’re covered for up to $10,000 per year.

Citi with Apple Pay: You can use ApplePay with your Citi Double Cash card.

Citi® Identity Theft Solutions: Citi offers assistance if your identity is stolen.

$0 liability for unauthorized charges

The Lost Wallet® Service: Citi will replace your card usually within 24 hours. They will also provide you with emergency cash subject to your available cash advance limit.

Worldwide Car Rental Insurance: You may be covered against theft or damage up to $50,000 for any rental car in any country when you pay with your Citi card and decline the rental company’s collision loss/damage insurance.

Trip Cancellation & Interruption Protection: If certain unforeseen events get in the way of your trip, you may be reimbursed for non–refundable trip expenses, like change fees, up to $1,500 per year provided you paid for the trip with your Citi card.

Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance: Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance may offer some financial help to you or your loved ones if a tragic accident does occur, up to $250,000 in compensation.

Our Concierge Service: Similar to a personal assistant, Citi’s concierge service is available 24/7 to help you with everything from making travel arrangements and dinner reservations, to ordinary conveniences like scheduling a cleaning service and finding a dog walker.

Advantages of the Citi Double Cash Card

  • Excellent cash back rewards
  • Rewards can be redeemed in several ways, including a statement credit or check
  • No annual fee
  • Very good 0% APR offer on balance transfers and purchases
  • Excellent services from Citibank

Disadvantages of the Citi Double Cash Card

  • Excellent credit is required
  • No bonus offer on sign-up

 

 

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Discover it Review–0% for 14 Months

The Discover it® comes in two versions. The long balance transfer version offers a 0% APR for 18 months, but 0% APR on purchases for just 6 months. With this version, you get 0% APR on both balance transfers and purchases for 14 months.

Discover has always been best known for offering 5% cash back in rotating categories and that hasn’t changed. The new card offers other nice perks too, like 0% on purchases and balance transfers and no annual fee. Here’s an overview of what the card is offering:

  • 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 14 months—then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • Over 7,000 cardmembers rated 4.8 out of 5 stars* and J.D. Power awarded Discover “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Credit Card Companies. Tied in 2014.”+
  • 5% Cashback Bonus for gas and ground transportation on up to $1500 in purchases from Jan. through Mar. 2015 after you sign up for 5% Cashback Bonus. 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on monthly statements, online and in our mobile app.*
  • No annual fee, no late fee for your first late payment, APR won’t go up for paying late, no overlimit fee and no foreign transaction fee.*
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it’s unusual, you’re alerted by e-mail, phone or text-and never responsible for unauthorized Discover card purchases.
  • 100% U.S.- based customer service— day or night.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms and other info by clicking “Apply.”

0% Introductory Offer

Let’s start with the 0% offer that is perfect if you are making a big purchase. The card offers an introductory rate of 0% for 14 Months on purchases and 14 Months on balance transfers. After the introductory rate, the APR you receive is 10.99% – 22.99%* Variable, based on your creditworthiness.

Rewards Program

The Discover it® is still offering the same great 5% cash back deal as before. The categories in which you earn the 5% change quarterly so you have to keep up-to-date on what purchases allow you to earn. You also have to enroll in each spending category each time it changes to be eligible. Discover has enhanced the card by now giving you 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Redeeming Your Points

When it comes to cashing in your points you have many options on how to redeem your cash back rewards. You can still use the rewards as a statement credit or get direct deposit of the cash back directly to your bank account. You also have other options too.

For example, you can use your rewards to get gift cards or merchandise. With gift cards, you can redeem your rewards for a gift card with a value exceeding the amount of your rewards. If you have $20 in cash back that might be enough to get you a $25 gift card. You also always have the option to buy merchandise online and get free shipping.

Cashback Concierge

This feature deserves a special mention because it’s a step up in customer service. Discover has added a “Cashback Concierge” service for cardmembers. This allows you to get on the phone with a Discover representative, and they will look at your account to help you get the most out of your cash back rewards.

Additional Discover it® Details

As expected the card offers a variety of other great benefits. What stands out the most are the fees they aren’t charging.

  • No annual fee
  • No late fee for your first late payment
  • No overlimit fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • 100% U.S. based customer service available any time
  • Paying late won’t increase your APR
  • Pay for millions of items with your rewards at Amazon.com
  • Pay your bill ’til midnight (ET) the day it’s due by phone or online
  • Choose your payment due date online or by phone
  • Lower rate, lower payment or other help after job loss
  • Automatic expedited delivery of your new card

How to Apply for the Discover it®

Applying for this credit card is quick and easy. We’ve provided a link below that will take you to the official Discover it® website. From this page, you can click on the apply now button to go to the Discover it® secure online application. The application takes just a few minutes to complete, and they will even notify you about the outcome of your application.

To get started, visit Discover’s official website.

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Major Changes for the AmEx Membership Rewards Program

The American Express rewards program used to be great for gift giving. You could earn points with your spending, and then transfer your Membership Points to literally any other AmEx account. So if you wanted to give your kid some points for her birthday, or make a wedding gift of points that the happy couple could use for traveling, you could just transfer the points over to their account.

Unfortunately, American Express Membership Rewards recently changed that rule. Now, you can only transfer Membership Rewards to another account if your name is on that account, as well. So if your name matches the cardmember’s name or the name of the authorized user, you can still transfer the points. Otherwise, you won’t be able to.

So don’t count on using American Express Membership Rewards as a gift on someone else’s account anymore. You’ll have to actually go shopping for those wedding gifts this summer!

American Express Announces a Major Change to Membership Rewards – Points Miles and Martinis

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The Top 3 Cash Back Credit Cards for Everyday Use

When you’re choosing a credit card that works for you, the key is to pick a card that works for you every single day. So rather than choosing a card just because it has a great sign-up bonus, choose one that offers everyday rewards that you’ll actually use.

Everyday rewards are what make these three credit cards some of the best cash back cards for using every day. You won’t have to think much about where or how to spend money with these cards. Just spend like you normally do, and you’ll reap the cash back rewards. That’s what makes these cards some of our favorites:

Discover it®

The Discover it® card has long been one of our favorites for many reasons. For one thing, it charges no annual fee, no overlimit fee, and no transaction fee. And you can make this credit card payment at the very last minute without getting charged a fee. Plus, Discover it® is currently running a great 0% APR introductory rate for balance transfers, which sweetens the deal even more.

Plus, the cash back rewards are great. You’ll get 1% cash back on any purchase, anywhere. Even though 1% isn’t fabulous, as far as cash back rewards go, this category has no limits. So earning cash back with the Discover it® is a no-brainer. Any time you swipe the card, you’ll earn 1% cash back.

And then there are the bonus categories. In these categories. you’ll earn 5% bonus cash back on your first $1,500 spent in one of the rotating categories. Every three months, the categories change. And Discover does quite a good job of choosing bonus categories that just make sense. In 2014, the categories include:

  • Restaurants and Movies (January through March)
  • Home Improvement Stores, Furniture Stores, and Bed Bath & Beyond (April through June)
  • Gas Stations (July through September)
  • Holiday Shopping (October through December)

Just remember to sign up at the beginning of each quarter, and you’ll start earning those 5% bonus rewards!

BarclayCard® Rewards MasterCard®

This is another cash back card that’s easy to use to earn great points-based rewards. You can then use your points to earn cash back towards your balance, or other rewards.

The BarclayCard® also has no annual fee, and you don’t have to worry about blackout dates, redemption fees, points limits, and other nonsense with this credit card. Plus, this card is excellent for individuals who are building credit. Its average approved credit score is 658 – about average – and it comes with a free monthly FICO® Score for active cardmembers.

On to the points: With the BarclayCard® Rewards MasterCard®, you can earn 2 points per $1 on gas, grocery, and utility purchases, making this card a great option for paying everyday bills. And then you’ll earn 1 point per $1 spent on any other purchases.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card offers excellent rewards on groceries and gas – things that most of us spend a good chunk of change on each month. And, again, this is a no annual fee credit card, making it easy to make your points worthwhile. Also, like the Discover it® card, this one has a good 0% introductory APR on balance transfers.

The Blue Cash Preferred® has a decent sign-on offer of $100 back when you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of owning your card. That’s a full 10% cash back, if you’re not a math whiz! It’s not the best sign-on offer out there, but it’s not bad, either.

As far as everyday rewards go, the Blue Cash Preferred® offers 3% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, and 2% cash back at US gas stations and certain department stores. It offers 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Which is best for you?

If you’re really interested in making the most of your money, your best bet may be to combine these great everyday cash back cards. For instance, use the Discover it® card for the rotating categories, the BarclayCard® for utilities payments and gas for the car, and the Blue Cash Preferred® card for groceries.

But if you don’t want to mess with having multiple credit cards in your wallet, then just choose the card that will work best for your lifestyle. If you spend the most money on gas and utilities, go with the BarclayCard®. If you’ll take full advantage of the whopping 5% cash back on the Discover it® card, pick that one up. Or if you spend a fortune on groceries every month, use the Blue Cash Preferred® for at least your first $6,000 in grocery shopping.

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Big Changes with the Vanilla Visa Card

The Vanilla Visa card has long been a popular option among prepaid cards. It comes in three versions: Vanilla Gift Card, OneVanilla Prepaid Card, and MyVanilla Card. They’re really just your basic prepaid or gift cards – reloadable and charged with minor fees.

OneVanilla

However, credit card miles aficionados like Million Mile Secrets have long use the Vanilla Reload card to load the American Express Bluebird card. This prepaid card is a low-fee way to pay your bills. But why would you choose to pay your bills with a prepaid card when you have a credit card and probably a checking account?

Well, here’s how it worked for Million Mile Secrets (and plenty of other credit card users):

  1. Get a Bluebird card.
  2. Buy Vanilla Reload cards using your rewards-earning credit card.
  3. Use your Vanilla Reload cards to put money on the Bluebird card.
  4. Use points-earning debit cards to reload your Bluebird card for free at Walmart.
  5. Use the Bluebird card to pay your bills – including your credit card bill.

Do you see the advantage? By using points-earning credit cards and debit cards to load your Bluebird card, you earn points. You can then use the money on your Bluebird card to pay your mortgage or car payment – transactions you can’t normally make with a credit card. You can even use Bluebird to pay your credit card bill – so you can get debit card points to pay your credit card bill.

Obviously it can get a little confusing to move money around like this, but many people have made this work as a way to earn tons of miles and other credit card rewards.

But it looks like the gravy train may be over for these points-earning Vanilla and Bluebird users. Recently, Walmart – who runs the Bluebird card – shut down the ability to load the card using a Vanilla Visa or Vanilla One card. Some users are having luck loading the Bluebird card at Walmart with gift cards purchased elsewhere, but this, too, may change in the future.

It Just Goes to Show…

In all, these changes for the Vanilla Visa cards aren’t a huge tragedy for Bluebird users and earners-of-miles. It’s just another change in the game. And this is really how it works any time you find a loophole in the system that lets you earn more credit card rewards than companies were intending.

So the bottom line here is that you should never depend solely on these workarounds for earning credit card miles. They can be helpful to use while they work, but you also want to choose everyday rewards credit cards that will work for you year after year after year.

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