Credit cards offer reward bonuses for many spending categories, including unsexy expenses such as utilities
Dear Cashing In,
A couple of years ago it was quite popular for telecom companies to set up credit card programs where I as a customer could get quite good rewards. How common is that today and what existing programs would you say are the best right now? – Bosse
One of the top strategies for amassing points or miles with credit cards is to charge as much as you can in spending categories that let you pile up points. We often hear ads for cards that promise to help you rack up those rewards for fun spending, such as for travel or dining out. You rarely hear about opportunities for rewards on such unglamorous activities as paying cable-TV, cellphone or Internet service bills.
However, if you spend a lot of money on utilities, there are a few cards geared toward those expenditures, too.
The best-known rewards card in this category is probably the Chase Ink Plus Visa (annual fee: $95). In addition to a 60,000-point sign-up bonus, it gives you 5 points per dollar spent on telecom — cellphone, landline, Internet and cable-TV expenses — along with some healthy bonuses in other categories such as office supplies, hotels and gas. It is a business card, so you will need to have a hobby or activity that can count as a side business if you are not a business owner.
Some telecom providers also offer co-branded cards in conjunction with a bank. For instance, AT&T and Citi offer the AT&T Access More card (annual fee: $95). It gives you 3 points per dollar at online retail and travel merchants and on AT&T expenses. It also comes with an offer for a free cellphone of up to $650 if you use the card to buy a new phone from AT&T at full price with no annual contract. That could be a valuable feature if you are considering buying a phone.
Beyond that, there are not a lot of options on utility expenses. Some telecom companies do offer prepaid reward cards when you sign up or switch companies. Those deals tend to be targeted and tend to depend on a lot of factors, so it would be nearly impossible to say what company offers the best current deal across the board. If you are considering switching telecom providers, call some rivals and see what deals they will offer you.
If none of those cards or offers appeals to you, then just find a solid reward card you like and charge your utility bills to it. Rewards can really rack up with every dollar you spend.