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When it comes to credit card rewards, I almost always prefer to earn miles or points over cash back. But I don’t run a full-time business, and I don’t have any children to look after. My schedule is just about as flexible as it gets.
For those with busier lives, the simplicity of cash back has a value that goes beyond the numbers. And there are plenty of excellent cash back cards to choose from.
Save Time & Headaches With Cash Back
You don’t need to spend much time digging around miles & points blogs before you stumble across great tales of exceptional award redemptions. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else. It is easy to talk about the expensive flights you can book for pennies on the dollar with miles and overlook the extra effort it takes to earn and use those miles.
So if you’ve been stressing over how to squeeze every last cent of value from your points – don’t sweat it. The cash price is only one way to measure something’s value, and there are a lot more valuable things in life than cash.
Here are 3 reasons cash back is the way to go if you’re short on time and energy.
1. You Can Travel When You Want Without Headaches
If you’re trying to manage a family or a new business (which isn’t much different than a baby), your time and mental energy are premium resources.
While miles can be super valuable and useful, they can leave you high and dry. This is especially true if you want to travel during peak seasons.
The following has happened to just about everyone. You open that shiny new credit card and earn the big bonus only to realize you can’t use the miles to get where you want to go when you want to get there.
In reality, there likely is a way to use your miles to achieve your travel goals (especially if you’ve earned flexible rewards). But, to figure out how to book your award, you could be on the hook for hours of research and re-research as you navigate airline routing rules and partnerships.
With cash back you just make the booking and you’re done with it. This is vital if you have limited or restricted vacation days. Maybe you’re a teacher and can only travel during the summer, which is peak season for a lot of popular destinations. In that case, you might find cash back to be more useful.
2. You’ll Always Know the Value You’re Getting
I’ve used points to book $7,000 First Class flights and expensive hotels\ stays and got oversized value from my rewards. But I’ve also used far too many points to book inexpensive flights and accommodations and got less in return than I could have.
Sure, you can score big with miles & points, but it can be a double-edged sword. And managing that dance, once again, takes time and energy.
Once you’ve earned lots of great flexible rewards with your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or American Express® Gold Card, there is a learning curve to figuring out how to get the most value from them. While you can redeem those points at a set rate for travel if that is your plan, I suggest just opening a cash back card instead.
The reason is because banks are always adding new application restrictions. For example, AMEX will only let you earn an intro bonus on each card once per lifetime.
So if you open an AMEX card now, you won’t be able to collect a bonus on that specific card again. Then later on, once you have the time or knowledge to make use of more complicated rewards, you might have limited your potential to earn those points.
Cash back will always be cash back. So it’s the perfect type of credit card reward to start with.
3. You Won’t Need to Manage Multiple Credit Cards
Collecting miles & points can quickly become a part-time job. Managing 12+ cards for you and your partner in addition to twice that many loyalty accounts is a lot to juggle. Add to that keeping track of annual fees, bonus spending categories, and targeted promotions. It’s easy to see how it isn’t for everyone.
It takes time and energy.
But there is no shortage of solid cash rewards cards that don’t come with the hassle or expense of an annual fee. If you want cash back, these options all earn 1.5% back on every purchase with no limit on how much you can earn AND no annual fee:
- Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
- Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
- Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
There are even some cards that have a higher rate of return. With the Citi® Double Cash Card you earn 1% cash back on every purchase and you earn another 1% cash back when you pay your bill. There’s also the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card, which earns 2% cash back on every purchase when you deposit your rewards into an eligible Fidelity account.
What’s your favorite no annual fee cash back card?
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