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Promotions can boost rewards on a Valentine's Day splurge

Score points from both your honey and your credit card

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Cashing In
Cashing In columnist Cathleen McCarthy
Cathleen McCarthy is a journalist whose articles on travel, commerce and consumer topics have appeared in dozens of publications. She writes "Cashing In," a weekly column about credit card rewards programs, for CreditCards.com

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Question for the CreditCards.com expert Dear Cashing In,
I'm looking for a Valentine's Day gift for my girlfriend, but I'm a little strapped after all that Christmas spending. I notice my Freedom card is offering 12 percent cash back on flowers if you order them online. It made me wonder if there are even better deals out there. -- Brad

Answer for the CreditCards.com expert Dear Brad,
There are quite a few Valentine's Day promotions on offer. Some were recently announced and won't last long, so grab ‘em while you can.

That 12 percent cash back you mentioned on your Chase Freedom card is for flowers ordered through 1-800-Flowers. Sapphire and Ink cardholders can earn 13 points per dollar spent there or 16 points at FTD. The key is to order those flowers via the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal.

If you carry a Citi Visa card that offers ThankYou points, such as ThankYou Preferred or Premier, you can get 10 points per dollar by ordering flowers via FTD or ProFlowers via the ThankYou Rewards portal, or 9 points per dollar through 1-800-Flowers. (I'd stick with your Freedom card on that one.) United Mileage Plus is awarding 30 bonus miles per dollar spent on FTD.

If you decide to take your sweetheart to dinner, Chase offers points on that too, but only if you have a Sapphire in your wallet. (This won't work with your Freedom card.) Sapphire cardholders score a 2-points-per-dollar kickback on dinner at any time of the year.

Want to add chocolate or jewelry? You can earn 4 extra points per dollar by ordering Godiva through that Ultimate Rewards portal. For a more permanent token of your affection, Chase partners with the online jewelry retailer Blue Nile to offer 7 points per dollar. The offer rises to 9 points per dollar if you order jewelry from Red Envelope.

Citi ThankYou Rewards also partners with Blue Nile and Red Envelope on Valentine's Day deals. Between now and Feb. 15, cardholders who shop through the ThankYou rewards portal can earn 5 points per dollar on Blue Nile purchases and 6 points per dollar on Red Envelope purchases -- not quite as generous as the Chase deal, but much better than buying direct.

A $165 sterling silver heart bracelet from Blue Nile -- which you can have engraved -- will get you 825 ThankYou points, for example, and a pair of $1,300 diamond hoop earrings in 18-karat white gold would net 6,500 points. Since you're strapped, a $30 sterling heart and pearl necklace via Red Envelope might make more sense, and will net you 180 ThankYou points.

Standard deals (available any time, not just this month) via Citi ThankYou also include 6 points per dollar spent (via ThankYou portal) at Harry & David and 8 points per dollar at Ice.com.

If you have other rewards cards, it's always worth logging onto the loyalty program's website to see what deals are being offered. Shopping from their portals will score you extra points, with or without holiday promotions. If you want to compare offers, evreward tracks more than 40,000 rewards and coupons for more than 10,000 online retailers and services and allows you to compare deals at a glance.

See related: Infographic: The high cost of love, 7 ways to get the most from rewards credit cards, Love me, love my debt? No way, poll says

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Vexed by a personal finance problem? CreditCards.com's Q&A experts answer questions from readers every weekday. Ask a question, or click on any expert to see their previous answers.
Gary Foreman, New Frugal You columnist Gary Foreman,
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"Opening Credits"

Published: February 5, 2013


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Credit Card Rate Report

Updated: 09-02-2014

National Average 15.06%
Low Interest 10.37%
Balance Transfer 12.73%
Business 12.80%
Student 13.27%
Cash Back 14.94%
Reward 15.04%
Airline 15.46%
Bad Credit 22.73%
Instant Approval 28.00%

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