Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Credit Card Series: Making Money off your Credit Cards

Most people are happy to have our income meet our outflow, pay our credit card bills on time and have a good credit score for the day we want to a mortgage. But some people are more aggressive. We want our credit cards to work for us. We want more than the regular rewards associated with points. Yes, we are willing to spend hours of internet searching to figure out how to get free airline tickets and free gifts cards with out credit cards.

My husband is one of those people and he has sucked me into his universe. Here are the top credit card money making ideas I have found.

1) Mastercard Marketplace: This website allows Mastercard users to access special deals. Most of the deals are run of the mill discounts. You can usually find better deals by waiting for a sale. However the "Overwhelming Offers" are great. There is usually one overwhelming offer released per day and quantities of this offer are limited. To find out what the offer is in advance you should sign up to receive sneak peek e-mails. The best offers involve 75$ off 150$ at a retailer like Barnes and Noble. You are required to lay out the full amount on your Mastercard and then your card is credited a rebate.

Sounds pretty useless right? After all you did not want 150$ worth of stuff from Barnes and Noble. Well, often you can buy gift cards. You can get a 150$ gift card for 75$. You can then sell that gift card for 140$ (see my post on turning gift cards into cash) This means you net 65$! You can also get items you really want and were going to buy anyway - like that eReader you've been eyeing for the past month. There have been some great deals on both the kindle and the nook. There have also been deals for and priceline - a great way to save cash if you were traveling anyway.

What's the catch? The offers have a limited quantity so you need to be at your computer right when they are released to have a shot at claiming one. You will need to type in a verification code, and practicing this step is crucial to making sure you are first in line for that offer. Some offers sell out in 5 seconds! In addition, you must be very careful to follow the instructions provided to redeem your offer. You can't just go to Barnes and Noble and buy a gift card. You need to click through the "Buy it Now" link Mastercard Marketplace creates for you. This way they can track your deal and properly credit your card. You cannot combine this deal with any other offers or coupons. If you try, you will not get your rebate. Not every offer comes with a gift card option - so make sure you read the fine print.

There has been talk of instituting a penalty for those who do not use the offers they claim. So make sure to only reserve offers you will use and then follow through before the offer expiration date. Entire forums have opened about how to get the most out of Mastercard Marketplace. It's some pretty creative reading material.

2) American Express Daily Wish - This program is similar to the Mastercard program but it is for AMEX users. There are several differences from the MAstercard website. The first is that you can sign up for a weekly e-mail detailing what this weeks offers will be. The second is that there is no word verification to type. To obtain these offers you just need to be logged into your account and clicking at the right time. Offers still sell out very quickly. In addition, the quality of the offer varies. I find AMEX has deals on a lot of luxury items that I cannot use, and rarely has gift cards. They focus more on selling you an actual item. The other day I claimed an offer that qualified me for a gift card when I bought a certain amount of items at my grocery store - purchases I was going to make anyway. But those deals are less common than deals for jet skis and smartphones. However, when AMEX decides to have a good deal they go all out. Around the holidays they offered ipods for dirt cheap. Better yet, they were giving away free money. A limited amount of people were able to get visa gift cards for half of their ticket price.

What's the catch ? Offers are very limited. You must follow their instructions to the letter. Make sure to use the AMEX card with which you registered on Daily Wish to make the actual purchase - otherwise it won't work!

3) Maximizing your miles - There's nothing like flying around the world for free. How do you maximize your airline miles? The guys at flerytalk will tell you. These people have devoted their lives to figuring out how to get the most miles from their cards. Ideas range from opening up new credit cards and bank accounts (for the sign on bonus) to making purchases at certain store that qualify for double or triple miles. Just do a thread search and find out the best ways to use your card to increase your mileage. I've gotten tickets to Israel, Portugal and Switzerland for free thanks to their advice.

What's the catch? These people are obsessed and clearly have a lot of time on their hands. Some of their suggestions are extremely time intensive and borderline unethical. You need to sift through those ideas to find the ones that work for you. You also need to be really organized to pull this off.


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