Saving & Spending

How to Save Money by Using a Credit Card

January is a popular time to make New Year’s resolutions, and nearly half of Americans (44%) have financial goals for 2020, according to a new CreditWise from Capital One Financial Milestones survey. Of those surveyed who have a financial resolution, 71% are planning to save more money and 34% are planning to pay off debt.

To save more money, half (51%) of respondents are planning to eat out less, cancel unnecessary subscriptions (47%) and  cable (40%) and pack their lunch (21%).

However, there’s a way to save money on these expenses without skipping takeout from your favorite restaurant or denying yourself the pleasure of watching the latest Netflix series: pay with a credit card. The best credit cards can save you hundreds on dining out and restaurants, streaming subscriptions, groceries and other common spending categories.

Below, CNBC Select explains how a credit card can help you save money, so you don’t have to cut back on the things you enjoy.

How to save money by using a credit card

A credit card is a great asset that lets you earn rewards on all your spending. The average American can earn over $2,000 in rewards by using a credit card for everyday purchases such as food, gas, groceries and entertainment.

CNBC Select used a sample annual budget of approximately $21,852, provided by location intelligence firm Esri. This budget breaks down common spending categories, including groceries ($5,019), gas ($2,394), dining out ($3,365), travel ($2,154), utilities ($4,959) and general purchases ($3,961), which we used to calculate roughly how much money you can save over the course of a year and five years by using a credit card.

We looked at the categories Americans said they plan on cutting back on during 2020 (restaurants and subscriptions/entertainment) and chose the best credit cards that can earn you substantial cash back or rewards. The best part is that you don’t have to limit when you dine out, how many subscriptions you have or cancel cable to earn these rewards — simply put those charges on a credit card and see the rewards add up.

Of course, in order to reap the most rewards, always pay your bill on time and in full. Plus avoid overspending just to earn rewards since any cash back, points or miles you earn will be negated by the amount you owe in interest and fees.

Here are some of the best credit cards for dining out, subscriptions and entertainment.

Restaurants

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card
  • Rewards

    4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide and shop at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then it drops to 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Pros

  • Strong rewards program with 4X points earned on dining worldwide and 3X points earned on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
  • Up to $100 credit in airline fees, up to $120 in dining credits at participating partners and up to $100 hotel credit
  • 35,000 Membership Rewards® points welcome bonus after you spend $4,000 within first 3 months
  • Baggage insurance plan covers up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage that is damaged, lost or stolen
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • No introductory APR period
  • $250 annual fee
  • American Express isn’t as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard
  • This is a charge card, which means you have to pay off your balance in full each billing cycle
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $806
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,631

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

read more

On American Express’s secure website.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Rewards

    4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95, waived the first year

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 12 months on purchases; N/A on balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    16.24% to 25.24% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Pros

  • Unlimited 4% cash back on entertainment purchases
  • 8% cash back on all Vivid Seats ticket purchases through May 31, 2020
  • Ability to redeem rewards at any amount, unlike some other cards with $25 minimums
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee after the first year
  • Cable, digital streaming and membership services are excluded from the 4% cash-back rate
  • No introductory 0% financing offers for purchases or balance transfers
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $766
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,251

Rewards totals incorporate the cash back earned from the welcome bonus

read more

Information about the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Streaming subscriptions

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
  • Rewards

    6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 3% cash back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more and 1% cash back on other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases on your new card within the first 3 months

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    14.49% to 25.49% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Pros

  • High 6% cash back at U.S. supermarket spending (up to $6,000 a year, then 1%)
  • Unlimited 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • Unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit
  • A year of no interest on new purchases and balance transfers

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • 2.7% fee on purchases made abroad
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $680
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,401

Rewards totals incorporate the cash back earned from the welcome bonus

read more

On American Express’s Secure Site

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
  • Rewards

    3X points on dining out and ordering in; gas, rideshares and transit; flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals; and popular streaming services. 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    15.49% to 27.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Introductory fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater, for 120 days from account opening. After that, up to 5% for each balance transfer, with a minimum of $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • 0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • No blackout dates on air travel when redeemed through Go Far Rewards

Cons

  • Minimum reward redemption amount of 2,500 points
  • Balance transfers incur a 3% fee ($5 minimum)
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $572
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,059

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

read more

Information about the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Entertainment

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature®

U.S. Bank Cash+™  Visa Signature®
  • Rewards

    5% cash back on two categories you choose quarterly (on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter, then 1%); 2% cash back on one everyday category; 1% cash back on everything else

  • Welcome bonus

    $150 after you spend $500 within the first 90 days of account opening

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for the first 12 billing cycles on balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    15.49% to 24.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • High 5% cash back on select entertainment purchases, when you activate bonus categories
  • Low spending required to earn a good welcome bonus

Cons

  • 5% cash back is limited to $2,000 in combined purchases each quarter
  • Activation is required to earn 5% cash back
  • 2% to 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $562
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,212

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

read more

Information about the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Rewards

    3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% introductory APR for the first 15 months that your account is open

  • Regular APR

    15.74% to 25.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Pros

  • 3% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases and 2% at grocery stores
  • Ability to redeem rewards at any amount, unlike some other cards with $25 minimums
  • Competitive special financing offer on both new purchases and balance transfers
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • 3% fee for promotional balance transfer offers
  • Only consumers with good to excellent credit typically qualify
  • Estimated cash back earned after 1 year: $550
  • Estimated cash back earned after 5 years: $2,152

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

read more

Information about the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed 234 of the most popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company’s data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2018 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri’s data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $21,852 in retail spending. This budget is comprised of the most common spending categories, including groceries ($5,019), gas ($2,394), dining out ($3,365), travel ($2,154), utilities ($4,959) and general purchases ($3,961). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

While the five-year estimates we’ve included are derived from a budget similar to the average American’s spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

Source

neallesh@yahoo.co.uk

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