Maximizing points when financing a large purchase

All travel cards come with great benefits but they also come with a hefty APR. The interest you will pay will far outweigh the value of the points you obtain. To finance a large purchase you want to use a card that offers 0% APR that way you don’t pay interest but also receive points. Luckily for us, there are several cards that give you the possibility to earn American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points. There are also a few cash back cards offering between 2-3% cash back. Lets look at the options below:

American Express Membership Rewards

American Express Everyday Preferred

Points Earned: 3x points per dollar on groceries (up to $6000 in annual spending then 1x per dollar), 2x per dollar on gas stations, 1x point per dollar on all other purchases, 50% bonus if you use your card 30 or more times in a month effectively earning 4.5x, 3x, and 1.5x points per dollar respectively

Sign up bonus: 15,000 points after spending $1000 dollars in 3 months

Length of 0% APR: 15 months

APR after 15 months: 13.49-23.49% depending on creditworthiness

Annual Fee: $95 dollars

American Express Everyday

Points Earned: 2x point per dollar on groceries, 1x point per dollar on all purchases, 20% bonus on points if you make 20 or more purchases each month effectively earning 2.4x and 1.2x points per dollar respectively

Sign up bonus: 10,000 points after spending $1000 dollars in 3 months

Length of 0% APR: 15 months

APR after 15 months: 13.49-23.49% depending on creditworthiness

Annual Fee: None

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Freedom

Points Earned: 1x point per dollar on all purchases and 5x points per dollar on quarterly categories

Sign up bonus: 15,000 points after spending $500 dollars in 3 months

Length of 0% APR: 15 months

APR after 15 months: 15.49-24.24% depending on creditworthiness

Annual Fee: None

Chase Freedom

Points Earned: 1.5x point per dollar on all purchases

Sign up bonus: 15,000 points after spending $500 dollars in 3 months

Length of 0% APR: 15 months

APR after 15 months: 15.49-24.24% depending on creditworthiness

Annual Fee: None

Citi ThankYou Points

Citi ThankYou Preferred 

Points Earned: 2x points per dollar on dining and entertainment, 1x point per dollar on all other purchases

Sign up bonus: 15,000 points after spending $1000 dollars in 3 months

Length of 0% APR: 12 months

APR after 15 months: 13.49-23.49% depending on creditworthiness

Annual Fee: None

If you are a college student it’s worth noting the Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students offers 0% APR for 7 months while earning 2x points per dollar on dining and entertainment and 1x point per dollar on all other purchases. It does not have an annual fee.

Cash Back

Discover it Miles

Cash Back Earned: 1.5% cash back which doubles after 12 billing cycles effectively earning 3% cash back

Sign up bonus: None (an existing Discover it Miles card holder may be able to refer you offer you and them both $50 dollars in cash back after your first purchase)

Length of 0% APR: 14 months

APR after 15 months: 11.49-23.49% depending on creditworthiness

Annual Fee: None

Discover itCash Back Earned: 1% cash back on all purchases and 5% cash back on quarterly categories which doubles after 12 billing cycles effectively earning 2% and 10% cash back respectively

Sign up bonus: None, although an existing card holder can refer you earning both you and them $50 dollars after your first purchase. I currently hold this card and am able to invite you. Please send an email to nick@pointstutor.com

Length of 0% APR: 14 months

APR after 15 months: 11.49-23.49% depending on creditworthiness

Annual Fee: None

Citi Double Cash

Cash Back Earned: 1% on purchases and 1% after you pay your statement

Length of 0% APR: 15 months

APR after 15 months: 13.49-23.49% depending on creditworthiness

Annual Fee: None

Two cash back cards I omitted where the American Express Blue Cash Preferred and American Express Blue Cash Everyday. The reason for this is due to them only earning 1% cash back on non bonus purchases. Both cards do offer 3% and 2% cash back respectively on Department stores. They both offer 0% APR for 15 months. The American Express Blue Cash Preferred has a $75 dollar annual fee while the American Express Blue Cash Everyday has no annual fee.

Which card should you pick?

I value American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards at 2.0 cents a point while I value Citi ThankYou Points at 1.6 cents per point. Lets take a took at which card yields the highest return (these are all assuming non bonus category spending):

Credit Card Effective earning after considering points value Sign up bonus
Chase Freedom Unlimited 3.0 cents per dollar (1.5x times 2.0 cents value) 15,000 points after spending $500 dollars in 3 months
American Express Everyday Preferred 3.0 cents per dollar (1.5x times 2.0 cents value) 15,000 points after spending $1000 dollars in 3 months
Discover it Miles 3.0 cents per dollar (after the double at 12 billing cycles) None
American Express Everyday 2.4 cents per dollar (1.2x times 2.0 cents value) 10,000 points after spending $1000 dollars in 3 months
Chase Freedom 2.0 cents per dollar 15,000 points after $500 dollars in 3 moths
Citi Double Cash 2.0 cents per dollar None
Discover it 2.0 cents per dollar (after the double at 12 billing cycles) $50 dollars if referred by existing card member
Citi ThankYou Preferred 1.6 cents per dollar (1x times 1.6 cents value) 15,000 points after spending $1000 dollars in 3 months

I personally would choose either the American Express Everyday Preferred or Chase Freedom Unlimited. I personally value points now rather than later which is which I’m not considering the Discover it Miles. Which card would you pick and why?

-Nick a.k.a. Points Tutor