It’s time to admit it: I, Caitlin Higgins, am one of those credit card freaks. You know – the kind of person who reads blogs and forums about the best cards and redemptions and offers and points valuations and 5/24 strategies (that’s a deep cut for my fellow dorks out there, hi!!!)…and, well, I’m sure you get the picture, right?
That brings us to today’s post: I have a money-saving “hack” that I want to share with the class. You don’t need to sign up for anything, you don’t need to scan or upload receipts, you don’t need to mail anything in, and it’s saved me thousands (no joke – THOUSANDS) of dollars over the past few years while also allowing me to support brands, restaurants, and hotels (especially small ones!) that otherwise would have been a little out of my budget. You ready for the secret?
CHECK YOUR CREDIT CARD’S REWARD OFFERS. (Cue: sound of deflated balloon to play concurrently along this anticlimactic information.) I know, I know – it’s not rocket science, or a groundbreaking hack, or even a particularly novel idea (sorry), but I’m going to walk you through the entire process (and we’ll tally up my savings at the end, because what is a blog for if NOT consistently oversharing my personal financial information?). Let’s kick it off with…
1. Find Your Offers
Most major credit card providers have a section of their app or website dedicated to these rewards. Today, I’m going to show you screenshots of my actual American Express backend, but Chase and Bank of America also offer similar deals with similar brands (though in my experience, the AmEx offers are THE BEST out there). These rewards change frequently and new offers are added daily, so I like checking in once a week.
Before we get too excited, my inner meemaw needs to step in – I do want to remind you that having a 20% cashback offer from Chairish does not mean that you need to spend $750 at Chairish right now. These are awesome money-saving tools that have been built into credit cards that many of us already use, but please be careful! Budgeting is important. I don’t want anyone going on an impromptu spending spree – MEEMAW IS LOOKIN’ OUT FOR YOU, OK? These offers often have a pretty long shelf life, so you have a while to plan for your new purchases!
That said, these price qualifications (e.g. “spend $500”) also include the tax, shipping, incidentals, tip, etc. which I love! You can also stack them on top of a site-wide sale or coupon code for EXTRA SAVINGS. (We’ll get there.) But before you can earn big rewards, you need to…
2. Add An Offer To Your Card
It’s super simple – just click to add an offer to your card before making any purchases! I have 63 offers currently saved on my Amex, and WAY more across my other cards. Do I plan on using them all? No, but it’s nice to have them all in one place. When I realize I need something – be it bedding, or a hotel, or skincare, or a dress, or a restaurant recommendation – I can see if any relevant offers fit what I’m looking for.
I’m currently in the market for an extra pair of sheets, an outfit for my friend’s Elvis-themed birthday, more overnight moisturizer, and a not-dried-out mascara, so here are a few of the offers currently catching my eye:
- Spend $300, get $60 back at Parachute. I upgraded to a king bed and Em gave me a set of their linen sheets – they’re UNBELIEVABLE. (They’re also the only set of king-sized sheets I have so far and my cat recently vomited on them which led to an emergency 7 AM laundromat run, so this feels like it’s the most pressing.)
- Spend $250, get $50 back at Shopbop. So many of my favorite retailers!
- Spend $200, get $50 back at Alex Mill. This is pretty compelling – I’m crazy about their high-end basics, but they’re not always in the budget.
- Spend $400, get $80 back at Boll & Branch. I bought their bath sheets a few years ago and I love the size and weight – their bedding is just as nice!
- Spend $150, get $40 back at CUUP. THESE BRAS ROCK. I love them. I want more!
- Spend $150, get $30 back at Girlfriend Collective. Do I need new leggings right now? Yes. Is that my current priority? No (but I wish it were).
- Spend $10.99, get $10.99 back (up to 2 times) from Showtime. Two free months of binge-able TV? I can do that!
- Spend $150, get $30 back at Turo. I know Em has used Turo and she loves it – maybe this is a good car rental option for my east coast trip later this month?
- Spend $75, get $20 back at Armstrong Garden Centers. Catch me here this weekend as I try to buy some hanging spring planters!
- Spend $750, get $150 back at 1stDibs. I mean…this ROCKS.
3. Make Sure You’re Getting the Best Deal
If you have more than one card, cross-check your offers. Case in point, my AmEx and my Bank of America card both offer Parachute deals, but one seems to be superior for me:
If my cart total is greater than $300 – I suspect it will be – I’ll pay with my AmEx and get that sweet $60 statement credit. And if it’s less than $300, I’ll pay with my BoA card and happily collect my 10% cash back. (In a past life, I would have shoved stuff in my cart to reach the $300 threshold EVERY TIME – more savings! – but as an adult, I’ve had to come to terms with the whole “buying things you don’t actually need leaves you with too much inventory to manage, even if you think it’s saving you money” thing. My brain is constantly like “DON’T MISS OUT ON THE BIG DEAL,” but the big deal isn’t always worth it!!! It’s a work in progress over here 🙂
4. Make Your Purchase (and Stack Your Coupons!)
Lemme fill you in on the trifecta real quick:
- A Site-Wide Sale: These usually launch around holidays (or on the weekend). A lot of brands have standard discounts – like, you can almost always find a 15% off coupon with a little digging or by signing up to receive emails – but ideally, you’d be capitalizing on one of the bigger deals.
- The Sale Section: OH BABY. We all see these pop up occasionally – you know, with messaging like “take an extra 40% off sale items for a limited time” – and those are the BEST deals to grab, obviously.
- A Special Coupon Code: Think personalized birthday discounts or referral codes here. Example: in 2018, I was eyeing one of Madewell’s Transport Totes. The color I wanted (a deep green – it was around $160) went on sale, and then a site-wide holiday event knocked an additional 30% off the price. I used my birthday coupon to bring the cost down even further, and an AmEx offer got me $50 cash back. All in, I ended up paying about $40 for a bag I still love and use today! IT ROCKS.
5. Proof’s In The Pudding
OK. That brings us up to speed, right? Time for some first-hand, real-time documentation.
Parachute is currently running a “Last Chance” sale that offers an extra 20% off of sale items, so the stars have aligned for me. (It literally could not have happened at a better time – I am SO EXCITED to get a second set of sheets for my new bed.) Here’s what’s in my actual cart right now:
THAT’S A LOT OF STUFF. Ready to do the money math?
- The Traditional Purchase Price: $798. I know that number is pretty big and jarring (to me, at least), but I actually don’t think it’s unreasonable – I spend 4 months per year asleep; I keep and use my bedding for years; their linen feels incredible. I think it’s a totally fair price for this type of high quality product, but it’s definitely not anywhere CLOSE to being within my budget.
- New Sale Pricing: $679. We’re getting closer here!
- Plus An Extra 20% Off: $543.20. This is a pretty good deal, but still no dice.
- Combined With My AmEx Offer: $483.20. DING DING DING! We have a winner, folks! I was willing to save up to buy these sheets at full price, but this discount means that I can take the plunge and place my order now.
- Final Savings: $315. NOT TOO SHABBY, right?
I don’t want to sound flippant or out of touch – $483 is still a ton of money to me (it’s more than my car payment!!!) – but I’ve been budgeting for this splurge since I upgraded my mattress and I’m SO EXCITED to bring home some new bedding that I’ll enjoy using for many years, if not the rest of my life.
In any case, figuring out how to optimize these built-in credit card deals has made it possible for me to splurge on some nicer, heirloom-quality pieces without totally destroying my budget. I hope that maybe this can help you, too – even the smaller offers (you know, the “get $5-10 cash back” ones) REALLY add up over time. Happy saving, happy shopping, HAPPY FRIDAY. (PS. If you added any offers to your cards after reading this, I’d love to hear about it!!! Let’s chat??) xx
The post The Credit Card Hack That Has Saved Caitlin THOUSANDS Of Dollars appeared first on Emily Henderson.