A week or two ago, I noticed that my ING Direct interest rate had decreased from 2.2% to 1.85%! Still better than the almost zero percent I receive on other accounts, but discouraging all the same. There are other online and bricks and mortar banks with whom I could stash my slowly growing savings accounts, but I really do love the online environment at ING.
This did, however, start me thinking about other ways I could save money. One way is with 'rewards' credit cards. Since I'm pretty sure I've kicked the credit card habit. I pay my balance as soon as I possibly can---in full. Sometimes this takes a couple of months, but I've now come to a point where even having a $100 balance on my credit card makes me uncomfortable. Unless some huge tragedy occurs that forces me to put my LIFE on credit I don't foresee running a monthly balance regularly.
With that in mind, the rewards credit cards seem to be a nice deal---provided you use your credit card a LOT, AND pay it off every month. Here are three programs I recently came across on a CNN Money blog.
- Wells Fargo: My mortgage (well, the first mortgage, anyway) is held through Wells Fargo, which has a rewards credit card with which I could earn 1% of my purchases, to go toward my mortgage payment. Of course, even if I spend $200 a month using my credit card, that's only $2 extra toward my mortgage---I suppose every little bit helps, though! Also, it occurs to me that I'd be 'earning' around 6.9% on that $2, since that's what my interest rate is on my mortgage.
- Fidelity: Fidelity Investments has a program in which credit card holders can earn 2% of your purchases, which can then be added to an IRA, a 539 (college savings) account, or any other Fidelity investment vehicle. This means I'd be earning $4 a month on my $200 of purchases, which could then in turn earn interest.
- Schwab: Perhaps the best deal is on Schwab's 'Invest First' credit card, in which 2% of your purchases is deposited into a Schwab investment brokerage account. There are no fees, no minimums, no caps, AND you can either choose to access the cash directly, or use it to make trades (there are trading fees, of course)! This seems to have the most flexibility, in my opinion.