Credit Card Bonuses for Cash (and Food) Lovers

Yup, Julia and I are back to our old tricks, aka credit cards. One of my husband’s relatives has been quietly doing this hobby on his own for years. I didn’t even know it till one day we started comparing notes. The only difference is, he will only sign up for credit cards that offer cash or gift cards that can be used for sensible things like food.

The guy is super practical, does not trust loyalty programs and has zero interest in miles or hotel points. There is literally nothing I can say to convince him otherwise.  So, I figured it was time to put a post together for people like him. Plus, there have been some interesting new offers that  appeared recently in our neck of the woods.

Check this list  for reference, and I will provide links for cards that are not on that page. The criteria is that the sign-up bonus has to be at least $200. Personally, I think that’s a bit low when you factor in  using a hard pull. Still, some of the perks and benefits  are worthwhile. This list consists of personal cards only. Without further ado:

Straight Cash

1) Wells Fargo Propel Visa

Nick from PFdigest has hunted this card down back in the day. While the offer does require some work (like possibly faxing your tax returns) and  a checking account, the bonus is nothing to sneeze at. You get $400 in cash back, plus I also got $100 reimbursement on my award ticket taxes. Not too shabby! So, the value is actually $500. This offer does not pay me, but if you are willing to jump through hoops, consider it. See my post for more on this card.

2) Chase Sapphire Preferred

Yes, that’s right. While it’s considered travesty to redeem points for cash back or statement credit, some people will prefer this option. And there is nothing wrong with that. I’ve done it before when we were broke and in debt. The bonus is currently increased to 55,000 points which equates to $550 cash. This is as high as this offer gets, and a good card to consider if you are just starting out in the hobby.

3)Amex Blue Cash Everyday

You get $250 when you spend $1,000 in 3 months. Since it’s an Amex, you get access to special discounts, so it’s a very good card to keep long-term. This non-affiliate link may or may not work, try it in different browsers.

4) BBVA Compass card

You get $200 when you spend $1,000 in 90 days. No annual fee (ever) when you apply for current offer. Here is the part that makes this card potentially smoking hot: “5x points on all purchases, not just NBA purchases, during the NBA All-Star Weekend and two weeks of the NBA Finals” 

If you are willing to buy Visa gift cards for future use, you should definitely consider this card. If you do MS, it’s a no-brainer. Read this post on Danny the Deal Guru that gives a good overview of the card.

5) Chase AARP card

You get $200 when you spend $500 in 3 months. An interesting thing about this product is the fact that it gives 3% cash back on gas stations and restaurants, which is pretty good. Read this post on DoC for more details and application link.

6) TD Cash Visa

  • Earn $200 cash back when you spend $1,500 within the first 90 days of account opening
  • 2% cash bonus on dining purchases from your local deli to fast food, coffee shops, casual restaurants and fine dining.
  • 1% on all other purchases — no categories or gimmicks — and earn points that never expire
  • 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles and 13.24%-23.24% variable APR thereafter; based on creditworthiness.
  • There is a 4% balance transfer fee (minimum $10) for each transfer. Minimum balance transfer request amount is $250.1
  • Redeem your cash rewards for over 400 options — cash back, electronics, gift cards, travel rewards and more — starting at $25
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee

Gift cards

1) Citi Thank You Premier Visa

While you can redeem the points for cash, the ratio is better when you use them for gift cards. The bonus of 50K points is good for $500 in Walmart gift cards, which you can in turn use for everyday purchases. You can also consider selling the cards to relatives or via an outlet listed on Giftcardgranny

Be careful when mailing in your cards. Read my guest post on DoC on how my first-time experience turned into fiasco. I got everything sorted out in the end, but next time I will do things differently.

2) Capital One Venture Rewards Visa

The bonus of 40K points can be redeemed for $400 Amazon or Target gift cards. Once again, most people will have no trouble utilizing those.

3) Amex Premier Rewards Gold 

If you get an offer of 50K points, it can be redeemed for $500 in gift cards to places like Home Depot. Buy paper towels and everyday items in that store. Boom.

4) Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa

Surprised? While you can redeem 50K points for airfare, you can also burn them on gift cards, including Amazon. Once again, 50K points=$500 gift card. If you deduct $99 annual fee (not waived), you are left with $401 value, nothing to sneeze at.

5) Citi Thank You Preferred

Earn 20,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $1,500 in card purchases within 3 months of account opening. No annual fee, and you can get a $200 Walmart gift card out of your bonus.

Honorable mention:

Citi Prestige

I wouldn’t sign up for it now (don’t do it!) because you will have a hard time double dipping when it comes to your $250 calendar year airfare allowance. But you can redeem 50K points for $500 Walmart gift card. Read my post here


Readers, what am I missing? Share in the comments.

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7 thoughts on “Credit Card Bonuses for Cash (and Food) Lovers

  1. My mom is like that, too. She did wade into the world of IHG and Southwest last year for our Spring Break trip, but that was only because I told her exactly what to do and then booked her hotel/flights. She puts all her spending on her Chase Freedom card because she understands it the best.


    • @Holly It is so hard to convince normal folks that loyalty programs are not a scam. Usually, they either have heard of a bad experience or had one themselves. Fair enough. Honestly, if everyone had the patience to deal with miles and points, all the current sweet spots would cease to exist. Obviously, I think normal families can easily take advantage of the low-hanging fruit, that’s why I’m typing away over here. But I don’t try to pursue like a dog those are are clearly not interested.


  2. I am planning on doing a year of this type of thing to pay for a Disneyworld trip either late in 2016 or early 2017. I have enough points for my next two trips to see my family in AZ so this is my goal for now. I still feel guilty for even THINKING about using MR points for cash, but to each his own. I value a WDW trip more than any other type of trip right now.


    • @HML There is no need to feel guilty about it. Everybody has different goals. What works for a single person making six figures will most likely not work for a middle-class family. It’s not that those guys are wrong when they are gushing about fancy redemptions, it’s just not applicable to normal folks.
      I recommend you take a look at your savings as well as debt. If the picture is out of balance at the moment, consider focusing on cash, whether it’s sign-up bonuses or redemptions. You don’t want to deplete your savings on Disney and simultaneously have a huge stash of miles. Right now, I’m focusing on cash myself. In fact, I’m thinking about burning UR points on a cruise so we can keep our savings account intact. When I manage to have some $ beyond emergency fund, I might be more picky about my redemptions.


    • @Nick You know, that Propel card was a major pain in a butt, faxing returns and all of that. Still, between my husband and I we got $1,000 out of this offer. It maybe took 1.5 hours to get everything together and make phone calls. How can you beat that ROI?


  3. Pingback: Can a Family of 8 Find Enough Award Tickets for a Trip to Lima? – Miles For Family

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