1. Use a cash back credit card.
Many people sign up for credit cards to get frequent flyer points as sign up bonuses. For your regular purchases, you should be using a credit card that gives you cash back. There are some that hover around 2% with no annual fee. If you put $20,000 on the card in a year, you’ll get $400 cash back – a very nice saving!
This tip applies if you travel coach and would rather have flexibility about your airline and hotel choices, rather than be locked into one brand. By all means, still sign up for other cards to get the initial sign up bonuses. For your regular purchases, I favor cold hard cash back (lol).
2. Move your regular purchases to your credit card.
If you have a card that gives cash back, you’re now saving money for every charge you put on your credit card. Go through any bills you have that you pay from your checking account and see if you can move them to your credit card. Take a look at your check book to see any checks you’ve written in the last 6 months that could have been paid on your card.
3. Are there any regular purchases where you can purchase through an “online mall” for additional cashback or points?
For example, whenever I order my phone refill card from Wal-mart, I going through the American Airlines shopping portal. This earns one frequent flyer point per $1 spent.
You can also use sites like ebates.com where you’ll get at least 1% cash back on virtually any online purchase.
If you shop a lot at Amazon and have an existing card that gives you a high % of rewards for purchases at supermarkets, another trick is to buy Amazon giftcards at your supermarket and then use those cards to shop on Amazon.
These may seem like small savings but if you spend say $30,000 a year on shopping for your family’s expenses, then averaging 3% cashback is a $900 saving. It’s worth putting up to 10 or so hours into developing systems for HOW you make your purchases so that you can save on autopilot.
4. Get smart about extended warranties.
Buying the extended warranty from the store where you buy the item is rarely the best deal. Shop around online for other extended warranty options. And, consider whether you need the extended warranty at all. Amex cards can be used to get extended warranty protection in many cases. Just make sure you use the Amex for the purchase and not a gift card.
5. Check for duplicate benefits.
Check for services you are paying for twice. For example, my car insurance already provides roadside assistance benefits so I don’t need a AAA membership.
My credit card covers collision damage on rental car hires.
I have an audiobook subscription but I’m thinking about giving it up because so many of the audiobooks I want are available from my public library. They also have lots of titles for your kindle too. If you have a library card, you may not need to duplicate with purchases. Whenever I need to place a hold on an item, I typically only need to wait a few days till I get an email saying the item is now ready for download.
7. Limit the time you spend on these strategies.
It would be easy to obsess of getting the absolute top amount of cash back for every purchase. However that is rarely a smart use of time. Basically making sure you are getting something back EVERY time you make an online purchase is the best strategy, EXCEPT where you are making more than several thousand dollars a year of purchases through a channel. When it gets to that level, you want to make sure you’re getting the best % back.
photo credit: Unhindered by Talent via photopin CC