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Consumer Reports tool helps maximize cash-back credit card benefits

Posted August 1, 2016

— Consumer Reports analyzed more than 50 rewards credit cards to find the choices that can best help shoppers earn money back.

Whether you're buying gas, shopping for groceries or enjoying a dinner out, credit card companies claim that you can "make money by spending money" by using their cash-back rewards credit cards.

With so many different options, it can be difficult to find the best choice for you.

Consumer Reports created a free online tool to help shoppers find the right card for their spending patterns. Users enter their monthly spending for gas, groceries, restaurants, travel and other purchases, and a list of personalized card options is generated.

After a lot of tedious research, Audrey Mosello maximizes her benefits with three cash-back reward cards. Mosello uses one for gas and another for groceries, and she selected the third because it gave her a generous sign-up bonus.

“It’s great," said Mosello. "I love it. When you’re on a budget, it always helps to be able to save wherever you can.”

Out of the dozens of cash-back credit cards studied, Consumer Reports found three great deals.

Of the best cards is the American Express Blue Cash Preferred, which pays back six percent on groceries for the first $6,000 you spend a year, three percent on gas and one percent on everything else. Although it charges users an annual fee, it could save the average household more than $1,300 if it is used for at least three years.

The runners-up include the Citi Double Cash Card and the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature. With each, shoppers pay two percent on all purchases and are charged no annual fee, saving the average family around $1,200 in the first three years.

“It’s like found money," said user Mike Saccucci. "Depending on your particular spending scenario, you could save hundreds of dollars each year, maybe even thousands.”

It's important to keep in mind that, if you don’t pay the card off in full every month, your rewards can be wiped out by interest charges.

If any late fees are incurred on your card, you could lose your points for that month. Consumer Reports suggests that, with any cash-back card, it’s a good idea to check the card's website regularly to make sure the terms haven’t changed.


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