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Thread: Americans: Rewards credit card recommendations?

  1. #61
    Senior Member Flixy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnaught View Post
    I'm simply given a discount for cash, any tax-related explanations for that discount is mere innuendo. The discount is higher than the sales tax.

    However, one can't help but see how the piling-on of taxation at every corner gives people ample inclination to dodge taxes at every corner. Hence, Greece, Italy and other economic/tax fixtures of southern Europe. It gets insulting when I'm asked to pay sales tax on a 40 year old used car in addition to state registration fees, insurance taxes, garage taxes and gas taxes. The state certainly has a role in registration, insurance, road maintenance. The fact that it also has to tax the purchase of something so old is where people inevitably wish they could find ways to cut corner.
    It's not just that, there's also quite a different culture in Southern Europe, more particularist, which gives less of a sense that you should pay the taxes in your particular situation. Combine with a lot of corruption and lack of enforcement, I think that is the biggest problem. I mean, taxes are higher here but there is less tax evasion, because of a relatively simple tax code (for sales tax at least), effective enforcement, and generally a sense that dodging taxes is wrong to begin with. And cash is more attractive if banks are not trusted so well, or have poor services.
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  2. #62
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnaught View Post
    I'm simply given a discount for cash, any tax-related explanations for that discount is mere innuendo. The discount is higher than the sales tax.
    Just to add to my previous statement, you do realize that they're not paying any tax on cash, not just a sales tax, right? So they could easily give you a 10-20% discount.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  3. #63
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnaught View Post
    If we raise taxes so high everyone wants things in cash, we'll end up like Greece.
    There was a blurb the other day on CNN about "local currency" becoming popular in many states. Some might call them vendor coupons, or see them like gift cards, but they're really another form of cash that can only be spent in certain commerce zones. Y'know, like Buffalo Bucks or Memphis Money. Instead of getting USD cash back in change, they give you that local currency. It turns out to be more 'valuable' than cash or credit for the user, and keeps the money moving locally.

    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    Indeed.

    (Also, GGT, even if what you say were true, which it isn't, gas rewards through grocery stores aren't anywhere near enough to beat a cash back card. Unless you've got a gas-guzzler with a big tank, your rebate will top out at 1%, max. Even with a big fill-up on a larger car, you'll be lucky to get 2%. Regardless, I have never had method of payment affect in-store deals or rewards programs. It just doesn't happen.)
    I can get a $10 gas card for every $50 I buy in groceries with cash. Not using manufacturer coupons or credit cards means that $50 grocery bill adds up faster. Since gas is getting more expensive--and faster--than food, I figure that's a damn good deal.

  4. #64
    Quote Originally Posted by GGT View Post
    There was a blurb the other day on CNN about "local currency" becoming popular in many states. Some might call them vendor coupons, or see them like gift cards, but they're really another form of cash that can only be spent in certain commerce zones. Y'know, like Buffalo Bucks or Memphis Money. Instead of getting USD cash back in change, they give you that local currency. It turns out to be more 'valuable' than cash or credit for the user, and keeps the money moving locally.
    This is rich coming from the person who is opposed to the Fed's monetary easing.

    I can get a $10 gas card for every $50 I buy in groceries with cash. Not using manufacturer coupons or credit cards means that $50 grocery bill adds up faster. Since gas is getting more expensive--and faster--than food, I figure that's a damn good deal.
    20% back is indeed impressive, and if I had that option I'd jump on it in a heartbeat (not that I spend anywhere near 20% of my grocery bill on gas, but that's a separate issue). I'm afraid that your experience is the exception and not the norm, though.

  5. #65
    Publix does weekly deals on gas gift cards. It varies, but its usually a $50 gas card for $40 for evey $40-$100 you spend on purchases in the store. Payment matters not.
    "In a field where an overlooked bug could cost millions, you want people who will speak their minds, even if they’re sometimes obnoxious about it."

  6. #66
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    Just to add to my previous statement, you do realize that they're not paying any tax on cash, not just a sales tax, right? So they could easily give you a 10-20% discount.
    This would be illegal, maybe some shady places do it, but no major or respectable place of business would.

  7. #67
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lebanese Dragon View Post
    This would be illegal, maybe some shady places do it, but no major or respectable place of business would.
    And how many "respectable places" (which you seem to use synonymously with big business) of business would give you a 20% discount for using cash? Thought so.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  8. #68
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    And how many "respectable places" (which you seem to use synonymously with big business) of business would give you a 20% discount for using cash? Thought so.
    Actually i seperated them intentionally. Respectable places will be honest on an issue like this because they're respectable, and a big business will be honest on an issue like this because the risk is too great not to be.

    I just refuse to accept the baseless claims that anyone that does this is participating in illegal activity when there is rational justification to do it for reasons that are all legal.

    Anyway I think Big Business often don't do it, is becasue they don't trust employees with anything semi-complicated or especially with haggling, perhaps they could invent a new cash register, where if they pay in cash you ring up the total then press the cash button which provides a discount, which I could see happening in the future.

    I don't really try for the cash off discount ask GGT for a list, but I have seen it done before. A friend of mine has done it at places we've went to.

  9. #69
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lebanese Dragon View Post
    I just refuse to accept the baseless claims that anyone that does this is participating in illegal activity when there is rational justification to do it for reasons that are all legal.
    Let me know when you return from your self-imposed utopia to the real world then.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    Let me know when you return from your self-imposed utopia to the real world then.
    Everyone*

    If we were speaking to eachother you would've understood by tone.

  11. #71
    Administrator Dreadnaught's Avatar
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    In an abrupt reversal, I decided to get my first credit card. I had to remove the security freeze on my credit to refinance my mortgage (3.75% ). Plus I realized credit cards are useful to me for basically two things:

    1) Car rentals (paying with debit, they usually put a $300-$500 hold for up to a month). Plus, credit cards offer car rental insurance.

    2) International travel (assuming you have a card that doesn't charge for foreign transactions).

    So I'm going with a Capital One card with zero annual fees.

  12. #72
    Capital one is pretty good for international travel. They have a decent cash rewards card (1% IIRC), though if you do a lot of travel you might want their travel rewards system instead. I agree having a no-fee card for int'l travel is key - currently my Penfed card fits the bill, but I'll probably move on to something else eventually since they moved to a points system. The rental insurance is a nice plus, too - saves a few bucks every time I need a car.

  13. #73
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    And how many "respectable places" (which you seem to use synonymously with big business) of business would give you a 20% discount for using cash? Thought so.
    Read what Lebbie said. He was correct. Many established businesses advertise 10% cash discounts, and they only have to pay sales tax. They don't have to pay the "hidden tax" to the issuing bank's credit card on top. Many people don't realize that using credit cards is a service the merchant/vendor also pays for, and will ultimately pass those costs to the consumer.

  14. #74
    Senior Member Enoch the Red's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GGT View Post
    Read what Lebbie said. He was correct. Many established businesses advertise 10% cash discounts, and they only have to pay sales tax. They don't have to pay the "hidden tax" to the issuing bank's credit card on top. Many people don't realize that using credit cards is a service the merchant/vendor also pays for, and will ultimately pass those costs to the consumer.
    Many established businesses advertise 10% cash discounts?

    I can't think of a single one, outside of a chain of gas stations around here, that make that offer, and even then I don't think it begins to approach 10%.

  15. #75
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    That's because you live in Indiana.

  16. #76
    I've lived in three geographically distinct cities and have spent significant time in another half dozen or so. In all of these, I've only seen cash discounts advertised at gas stations (and it ain't 10%). I've known about a handful of other small businesses that will give you one if you negotiate, but that's about it.

    I also fail to see how a 10% cash discount would make any sense - interchange fees are far lower than 10%, so they're losing money, esp. when you factor in the costs of handling cash. I'm not on the bandwagon of 'they must be cheating on their taxes', but certainly there's something that's more complex than just avoiding credit card fees.

  17. #77
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GGT View Post
    Read what Lebbie said. He was correct. Many established businesses advertise 10% cash discounts, and they only have to pay sales tax. They don't have to pay the "hidden tax" to the issuing bank's credit card on top. Many people don't realize that using credit cards is a service the merchant/vendor also pays for, and will ultimately pass those costs to the consumer.
    Use your brain. The credit cards charge 2-3%. The stores are giving 10% discounts. Where are the other 7-8% coming from.

    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    I also fail to see how a 10% cash discount would make any sense - interchange fees are far lower than 10%, so they're losing money, esp. when you factor in the costs of handling cash. I'm not on the bandwagon of 'they must be cheating on their taxes', but certainly there's something that's more complex than just avoiding credit card fees.
    Why dismiss the obvious explanation? It's certainly true based on my experience with people who own or work in small businesses. Now there are certain instances where a small store is desperate to sell something, and might get you a discount if you negotiate with them. But that discount wouldn't be contingent on you using cash in that scenario.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  18. #78
    SEŃOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    Update from the frozen north where the laws of credit card physics may be different: we've settled on Amex and been very happy so far. It's tied to the airline we use the most often as well as to the broader Star Alliance programme. Amex sends out a 2-for-1 voucher once you pass a certain threshold in a given calendar year, which we can expect to do every year for the next few years. Since we'll be spending that money anyway and the value of the voucher, rewards and perks etc have consistently surpassed the fee, we'll be sticking with this one for the foreseeable future. The only downside is that many merchants here don't take Amex, but the vast majority do, and we can route our largest monthly expenses through it at no extra cost thanks to another loyalty programme that also gives us extra points. I mostly got this in order to get free long-distance trips for my mum but the ancillary benefits have also been satisfying

    Ymmv in the US of course.
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  19. #79
    Administrator Dreadnaught's Avatar
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    What is this 2-for-1 voucher and what level of funny money does it involve?

    Interesting to see my 2012 post here, as that was before my first long-term deployment to combat socialism in Berlin. The card remains the one credit card I have (now at 1.5% cash back). I still believe that credit cards are fundamentally a trap designed to lubricate you into believing that spending more will yield you some kind of tangible return that will be worth the added spending.

    I use my card primarily for larger purchases and clusters of purchases that go under one line item in my budget spreadsheet (EG multiple purchases of kids clothes due to shit/growth, or attempts-at-dating expenses).

  20. #80
    SEŃOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnaught View Post
    What is this 2-for-1 voucher and what level of funny money does it involve?
    Amex has some partnerships where you get a voucher that doubles the value of your miles if you spend a certain amount in a calendar year. In our case, that's 17k USD.

    The voucher can be used to book a trip for up to two people and you don't have to be one of the two travelers so if you expect to exceed that level anyway it may be a good deal. It works out for us because we're at a stage in our lives where we expect to have large expenses regularly and can choose to route those expenses through the card as needed, at no extra cost (rather than paying directly) and because usually when we're out with friends they let me pay and send me the money using a mobile payment system. If this were not the case, if the fee were higher, or if we had to pay any interest (or if I placed any monetary value on mucking about with this nonsense on my free time) this would be a very bad or at least cumbersome deal. It's especially good because I like to send my mum off on fun trips abroad once or twice a year anyway so this system makes that cheaper, albeit more complicated.

    I still believe that credit cards are fundamentally a trap designed to lubricate you into believing that spending more will yield you some kind of tangible return that will be worth the added spending.
    The vast overwhelming majority of reward programmes are only "worthwhile" if you really want to spend money on luxuries or if you travel a lot--or if you are absolutely certain you would have spent that amount of money anyway (eg. on a car, home repairs and upgrades etc). From a strictly financial perspective most of us would be better off just investing the annual fee and not spending money.

    That being said, I do value some of the rewards higher than their strict monetary value because they are things I can't easily access at an appealing price (eg. special events, good tickets, interesting products etc). I've also come to appreciate the slightly higher chance of being upgraded. There's no such thing as a free lunch but they can make the lunch you want a little easier to get.

    I use my card primarily for larger purchases and clusters of purchases that go under one line item in my budget spreadsheet (EG multiple purchases of kids clothes due to shit/growth, or attempts-at-dating expenses).
    Don't let your accountant see your dating spreadsheet.
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  21. #81
    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    From a strictly financial perspective most of us would be better off just investing the annual fee and not spending money.
    How common is this outside the US? None of my cards (discover, american express, visa, mastercard) have an annual fee.

    I mainly use my credit card(s) to pay the monthly bills, food and gas for the car. Pay it off, then on my next bill I'll have a bit of rewards that I usually use on amazon to pay for the cat or dog food.
    Last edited by Ominous Gamer; 05-01-2017 at 08:57 PM.
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  22. #82
    SEŃOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    How common is this outside the US? None of my cards (discover, american express, visa, mastercard) have an annual fee.

    I mainly use my card to pay the monthly bills, food and gas. Pay it off, then on my next bill I'll have a bit of rewards that I usually use on amazon to pay for the cat or dog food.
    Most banks here charge a small fee for their combined credit and debit cards. The credit offered is fairly low and they are typically not used as credit cards (no point other than for travel insurance etc). There are a number of free offerings from banks as well as from other companies.

    My impression is that credit cards are less important in Sweden than they are in the US. While having a bad rating is undesirable, no one here really cares about a "good" rating. For renting etc. people are more interested in references. For buying things in credit, companies only care if you have any record of failing to make payments (or paying so extremely late that it's been reported to a govt. agency). The only reason I have a dedicated credit card is that I wanted to try it out and when we ran the numbers it seemed worthwhile.

    Most of our friends and acquaintances don't have dedicated credit cards--just the cheap or free combined debit and credit cards from their banks. Families are more likely to have a free credit card in order to take advantage of perks such as cashback on fuel (typically a little over 1%).

    Amex is less common in Sweden and the market is small so I guess that's why it's hard to find an Amex card that doesn't charge an annual fee here.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
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  23. #83
    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    Most banks here charge a small fee for their combined credit and debit cards. The credit offered is fairly low and they are typically not used as credit cards (no point other than for travel insurance etc). There are a number of free offerings from banks as well as from other companies.
    In comparison my available credit comes to around $60,000.
    "In a field where an overlooked bug could cost millions, you want people who will speak their minds, even if they’re sometimes obnoxious about it."

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