Cash Back approaches, Which one is best?

I get the money!!!

Cash back is cash back is cash back, right?

Different cards have different approaches to how you earn your cash back rewards through their cards.

Point redemption

Cards like the Amex Delta Reserve, Amex Hilton Aspire, Wells Fargo Propel, have you earn points per dollar.  As you build your point base, you can pick out a number of ways to redeem your points.

The Good

You can different value back on your point spend. While TPG evaluates the Hilton point at $.005, I can get as high as $.008-.009.  Over time and thousands of points, this can add up!

The Not so Good

Redeeming these points will usually never leave you with a zero balance.  For example, I earned 47k and some change pointe from Wells Fargo with their Propel card.  For 20k points, I got a $200 Amazon Gift Card. And another 25k points got me a $250 Amazon Gift Card.  What about the 2k and some change points left over? They’re sitting there until I earn enough to redeem them for another rewards.

Cash Back, Cash Back

This is the sort of redemption I see from Chase, Bank of America, and US Bank.  My cash back grows until I’m ready to pull the trigger.  I log into the website, or the mobile app and request the money.  It may slide right into my checking account, or arrive via a physical check, and sometimes just as a statement credit.  But I see the full redemption value.  If I’ve earned $158.33, then I get $158.33.  Plain and simple.

Hey Keith! Why would you want to have a card that pays less than a penny a point?  And those cards are your primary use cards?!

Great question, reader.  Point for point, I may not be making the same across the cards.  But when you take a look at what some of those cards bring above and beyond cash back you’ll see greater value above and beyond a penny a point.

For example, the Amex Hilton Aspire card gets me 34 PPD, and those points are worth $.005.  That means I’m earning $.17 per dollar spent!  

And let’s not forget this use case.

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