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The 2 Best No Annual Fee Cashback Cards: Fidelity AMEX and Discover it® Cashback Match™

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Or, you’re crazy not to get these 2 cards. They’re free money!

I’m reviewing my cards because it’s getting to the end of the year and doing a little maintenance on what needs to get dumped or renewed.

On the dump list is:

I need to clear out some clutter because I recently added:

Out with the old, in with the new as they say.

But, there are 2 cashback cards definitely worth keeping and/or getting. And yes, there’s a distinction.

Keep the Fidelity AMEX forever

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Swapping AMEX for Citi: Bye Platinum, Hello Prestige? And Bye, EveryDay Preferred, Hello ThankYou Premier?

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And, bye EveryDay Preferred, hello ThankYou Premier?

Recently, I’ve seriously been pondering why it is I hang on to my AMEX cards.

I’ve had at least 2 since 2012, and haven’t accumulated enough points to actually do much.

Membership Rewards… meh.

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No Annual Fee Cards + Personal Finance: Why You Need (At Least) One

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Like it or not, in this country you need good credit. It’s as avoidable as death or taxes. As in, not at all.

Starting out with credit cards, you’ll encounter a catch-22: you need good credit to get a credit card, but you need a credit card to build good credit.

No annual fee cards are NOT boring. In fact, they have some innovative rewards!

No annual fee cards are NOT boring. In fact, they have some innovative rewards!

A good place to start is no annual fee cards.

For beginners

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List of AMEX Cards NOT Issued by American Express

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Spoiler alert. On this list, I find the FIA Fidelity AMEX to be the most valuable. I just love that card so much.

List of AMEX Cards NOT Issued by American Express

Thank you for being a friend – and for NOT being issued by American Express

And this post is gonna be focused on Serve.

Note: It is possible to send money between Serve and REDbird, or Serve and Bluebird.

So if you’re managing multiple cards, you can get a Serve card, load it up for $1,000 each month, and send it to Bluebird or REDbird to pay bills that normally don’t accept credit cards. Like student loans, utilities, mortgage payments, or anyone else.

List of AMEX Cards NOT Issued by American Express: 

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Cardmatch Offer: 30K Points for AMEX EveryDay Preferred

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The Points Guy posted about a couple of offers that came up on Cardmatch today:

  • 100K points for AMEX Platinum personal/biz
  • 50K points for AMEX PRG personal / Gold biz

And the commenters mentioned a couple of other offers.

What’s my offer?

So I headed to Cardmatch on CreditCards.com to see what came up… cuz I would’ve totally gone for the 100K Platinum biz offer.

was targeted for the 100K Platinum personal offer, but I already have that card.

Then I scrolled down and noticed:

30K Points for the AMEX EveryDay Preferred

30K Points for the AMEX EveryDay Preferred

That’s a good deal!

I’ve written about the AMEX EveryDay Preferred card before.

I got the card with a 15K bonus over a year ago. Just paid the $95 annual fee on it and can say this one’s definitely a keeper (unlike the US Bank Club Carlson Visa Signature, Chase British Airways Visa Signature, and Barclaycard Arrival Plus).

I use the card as intended, mostly at grocery stores and Costco (for now), with a couple of other purchases here and there. (I use Amazon Allowance to help me meet 30 transactions per month to trigger 1.5 AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 spent.)

I also wrote about my experience getting the card. It’s the only card I’ve ever been straight-up denied for. Until I called AMEX and asked WTF? and then they approved me anyway.

Bottom line

Along with the stellar offers for 100K points for AMEX Platinum and 50K points for AMEX PRG, add this one to the pool.

It’s double the usual sign-up bonus and is a very worthwhile card to have.

Check Cardmatch on CreditCards.com to see if you were targeted (under “Free Interactive Tools” on the right).

I’ve had the card for a year now and really recommend it. It has 0% interest for 15 months to start out, and you can always downgrade it to the no annual fee version after 11 months if you don’t like it.

Were you targeted for anything good on Cardmatch? Was your offer different? 

Is the Fidelity Amex the best cashback card in the universe?

<3

<3

Sorry for the hyperbole slash clickbait-y title. I thought I was being on trend.

But seriously, I love this card. I’m close to being obsessed with it:

We all love our points and miles. But I’ve been reading about straight cashback cards for a sec now, and the poor Fidelity Amex always gets swept under the rug.

Well no longer. This card is a gem. It has so much going for it. And it might just be the ace in the back pocket of cashback cards, which by default makes it the best cashback card in the universe.

Let me extoll the ways

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Exploring Amex Serve for free money and handy uses after April 16th

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Since I’m without REDbird and just have Serve as an option here in NYC, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to best use Serve following its move to Amex-only cards after April 16th.

They’re really not leaving consumers with a whole lot of options, but there are a few ways to get some great value and/or handy uses out of Serve using just American Express cards.

But don’t get them from American Express

In this post, I produced a list of all the Amex cards that are not issued by American Express.

Why?

Credit cards issued by American Express will not earn points and will not count toward minimum spend when used to load Serve. Which is so lame. I’d love to be able to use the Amex EveryDay Preferred to load this puppy up.

But alas, we take what we can get.

The FIA Fidelity Amex (!!!)

Why don’t other bloggers talk about this card more? This is my number one use of this card following April 16th. I’ve written about this card in detail many times before.

The transactions post flawlessly and are coded as purchases and earn free money.

I loaded up my Serve this month with my Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard for $990 to take AAdvantage of the 50% bonus that I was targeted for a few weeks ago to earn some extra free miles.

But then I loaded up the remaining $10 to my FIA Fidelity Amex to see how it would post.

Serve reloads code as purchases with FIA

Serve reloads code as purchases with FIA

And points post without any issue

And points post without any issue

What does this mean?

You can earn an extra completely, totally 100% free $240 to credit toward an IRA, brokerage account, or checking account for 1 minute of “work” each month. I use the Serve iPhone app to blearily load up my Serve account from bed the first 5 days of each month. It takes me literally seconds. This is the easiest money I’ve ever earned in my life, I think. I consider this, by far, the best use of the Serve card after April 16th.

Why?

The FIA Fidelity Amex has no annual fee and earns an unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase… including Serve reloads.

Say you get the FIA Fidelity Amex, which is free, and the Serve card, which is also free, and load up $1,000 each month and then pay it off.

You’d be stashing away a free $240 annually into a retirement account with very little effort.

I plugged in my own numbers into Bloomberg’s retirement calculator, and, assuming I contribute nothing but the $240 each year (and it grows at 7% annually) between now and when I’m 68, I’d have a totally free $40,000+ waiting for me on the other side.

My $240 a year would grow to over $40,000 for my retirement

My $240 a year would grow to over $40,000 for my retirement

This whole Serve reload thing probably won’t last for the next 38 years, but take the free money while you can. I like to stash away at least $200-$400 per month into my IRA, and the extra $20 isn’t much but with compound interest on your side, a little truly goes a long way. And this is completely free money. Which is awesome, and there is no reason not to take advantage of this if you can.

Get some free miles

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Earning Points with Serve Reloads After April 16th

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I haven’t fallen off the earth or anything like that. Real estate in NYC is heating up, and my past few days have been pretty crazy with gearing up for the busy summer season.

I still intend to post the remaining 2 reviews from my recent NOLA excursion and have a few other things in the pipeline for ol’ Out and Out. And of course I’ve been keeping up with the latest points and miles news.

And here is a post in which I clutch at straws.

REDbird Part 2

Boo hissss

Boo hissss

After having a terrible time reloading the REDbird card at my local Target in Brooklyn, I brutally dumped it and opened a new Serve account.

So, I was pretty dismayed when I found out they were going to restrict credit card reloads to only include American Express cards starting April 16th.

“Manufacturing spend” in New York City is already hard enough, and this is definitely an added blow. But there are 2 things I can find here that still might make Serve worth it for some people.

1. Even without earning points, this is a great way to pay bills that would not otherwise accept credit cards

2. There are at least 2 Amex cards that are NOT issued by American Express that may still earn points

The first point. Although there are better ways to pay rent than with Serve, if you need to float your payments through a charge card for a month or so, you can still use your Serve account to pay your bill and give you a little extra wiggle room, which could help a lot with cash flow from month to month.

The second point. It is up to the individual card issuers about whether or not to issue points for a purchase. American Express has decided they will not issue points for their own credit cards. But what about Amex cards that are not issued by American Express?

FIA and Citi + others

Two that I can think of right away are the FIA Fidelity Amex and the Citibank Platinum AAdvantage Amex. Both banks do not currently impose cash advance fees for Serve reloads (someone correct me if I’m wrong here), and both banks should continue to issue points since the reloads code as a purchase.

American Express may not give you points, but FIA and Citi still might. And this might continue to be a good way to get either 12,000 AAdvantage miles per year for minimal effort or $240 free dollars contributed toward an IRA with Fidelity.

Then, going back to the first point, you’d still earn miles and/or points for loading up your Serve card, and then can pay rent, student loans, mortgage payments, etc. to merchants who wouldn’t otherwise accept credit cards.

List of Amex cards not issued by American Express, by issuer

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Bye, REDbird; Hello again, Serve

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From the I-knew-if-was-too-good-to-be-true files…

Well, consider this a data point if anything.

Oh, kwitcher cryin'

Oh, kwitcher cryin’

Tonight, I decided I was done messing with the REDbird card in New York City. It’s just too hard. The closest Target to me is the one at Atlantic Terminal, and they no longer accept credit cards for reloads – only cash and debit cards – which makes this product useless to me.

I’ve heard the one in Harlem is still accepting credit cards, but from my vantage point in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, it might as well be on the other side of the moon. I will go far for points and miles – but not that far.

At about 6 hours round-trip (yes, I am serious. New York City is huge and the MTA is a nightmare), I have to weigh my opportunity costs as well as my time. And while loading $5,000 per month is obviously more than $1,000 per month, at least I can run my Serve reloads from the app on my phone while I’m still lying in bed.

Time required: seconds. Opportunity cost: slight delay on coffee in the morning. 

My REDbird story

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Money transfer works between REDbird and Serve

Screenshot 2015-02-02 11.40.35

The funds were sent from REDbird

There’s nothing too remarkable about the image above, except that I received funds in my Serve account – and they were sent from a REDbird account.

It’s not surprising given that it’s literally the exact same interface copy and pasted (and turned red instead of blue).

To send money between Serve and REDbird, you just click “Pay & Transfer” then “Send Money.” Just be sure to use the email address associated with the account, and you should have no issue. The funds transferred right away, and I logged into my Serve account and paid a bill with the online bill pay.

Just make sure the emails or phone numbers match

Just make sure the emails or phone numbers match

This might be useful for some.

I am in the middle of loading up my Serve for the last time (day 2 of 5 right now), after which, I will cancel my account online and activate my own REDcard. The timing is great because I can max out the limits on both cards in February – even if it is a short month!

I know some of you are currently waiting on REDbird to arrive or don’t have a Target nearby – but in case you need to send from from Serve to REDbird, or vice versa, you’ll be totally fine.

Bottom line

Just wanted to throw this up, PSA-style, in case anyone else was in an in-between phase with these two cards and needed to send money to a friend or family member. I suspect it would also work with Bluebird, but I’d do a small transfer (like $5) just to test it out before I went full hog.

Having this transfer capability allowed me to pay my rent on time this month, and I was glad the two cards “talked to each other.”

In any regard, between Serve, REDbird, and PayPal My Cash cards, I am pretty well set for this month.

I *do* want to make sure US Bank cards are good with REDbird at Target because I really love Club Carlson points. I’ve heard US Bank is super weird about the REDbird reloads, so aside from that – now that I’m 100% I can load REDbird in NYC – I’m ready to get my permanent card and start this ball a-rollin’.

Using credit cards + REDbird to pay off large debts – and earn major points

This topic came up a lot last night at the NYC Miles and Points Meetup, so I thought I’d do a post about it.

Lots of people were planning to use REDbird + points/miles credit cards to pay off large sums of debt, meet minimum spend requirements, and reach threshold bonuses offered by certain credit cards.

It’s an incredibly easy but effective idea.

Run all your bill payments through REDbird

REDbird

REDbird

REDbird lets you load up $5,000 per month – for free – using a points or miles credit card.

If you max that out for a year, that’s $60,000 run through a credit card.

My own personal example is my student loan. I’m so tired of it hanging over my head and I’m about ready to turn around and kick that sucker in the face – but I’m gonna get a free vacation out of it!

For roundness or whatever, let’s say you owe $50,000 to:

  • Student loans
  • Your car payment
  • A mortgage
  • Medical bills
  • Credit cards
  • Or any or company or even person

You can add any company as a payee on the REDbird website.

At the top of the site, hover over “Pay & Transfer” and a dropdown menu will appear.

Where to add payees

Where to add payees

From there, click “Add Payee” and get rockin’ and rollin’.

What you get out of it

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Is British Airways planning to eliminate fuel surcharges?

My, my, my. British Airways. Now you’ve gone and done it – changed your award chart again.

I don’t care about the changes they’ve made to mileage earned for the various fare buckets – I mean, it truly sucks if you’re loyal to them as a frequent flyer. My relationship with British Airways is as an earner of Avios and redeemer of short haul flights on partner airlines.

I’ll admit, though, I was enamored of the idea of the Travel Together ticket until I woke up today and tried to get through their mess of an explanation email.

Screenshot 2015-01-28 23.10.11

Wait. What happened?

In the end, I feel relatively unscathed. The only thing I want, as an US-based flyer is those partner short-haul awards. Ooooh, yasss.

But, this does change things

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