Rewards junkies take cash back credit cards to the max
The Chengs are better at earning cash back than you.
At least they hope to be. For consumers out to squeeze every dollar in rewards from their cash back credit card, people like Michael and Nicole Cheng of Centerville, Virginia, stand out either as an example to imitate or challengers to outpace.
According to an article in the Washington Post that used a profile of the couple as an entryway into the world of serious reward credit card aficionados, the Chengs were able to maximize their rewards to the tune of $1,121 in 2006 by carefully using certain credit cards for certain purchases. They also employ Post-it notes and spreadsheets to regulate and record their reward credit card usage.
As the article noted, gaming the credit card system this way only works when cardholders always pay off monthly balances in full. Revolving a balance from month to month means interest charges, which can effectively wipe out any cash back earned. The Chengs do this, and also apparently pay no annual fees.
In addition to the danger of running up debt in pursuit of rewards, some critics worry that consumers may spend more than they otherwise might just to nab a few extra reward points. These consumers will end up with larger rebate checks from their card issuers, but they end up with larger credit card statements, too.
But conscientious consumers can really rack up the points.
What techniques and tricks have you used to maximize credit card rewards? How many points or dollars have you been able to earn with one major purchase? How about in one month or one year? What kind of perks, merchandise or experiences have you turned that cash back or those rewards points into?
Most impressive answer gets to buy me lunch on their rewards credit card.