Big retailers are teaming up with cards, offering rebates

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Personal Finance Writer
Rewards expert who writes the “Cashing In” reader Q&A column for CreditCards.com

Banks cracking down on reward card applications

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date. Please see the bank’s website for the most current version of card offers.

By now, you’ve probably heard of the main strategies for
boosting your rewards on holiday shopping. You should use your card’s category
bonuses
to earn extra points at certain merchants. You should familiarize
yourself with your card company’s shopping
portal
, too, for bonuses when shopping online. 

But there is also an emerging category of deals that you
will want to be aware of for some credit cards from the biggest issuers.
Historically, cards for a long time have had what are known as targeted offers
– special deals open to certain customers. These traditionally have come in the
form of mailings, and maybe they offered bonus reward points for spending a
predetermined amount over a period of months. 

Now, though, with technology, card issuers are making these
offers more routine and more available to everyday shoppers. And the issuers
are teaming with merchants to offer not points, but rebates when you use your
card.

The biggest player in this space has been American
Express
. It has offers for dozens of merchants, most of whom provide a
rebate when you spend a certain amount at their stores – such as a $15
statement credit when you spend $100 at Macy’s, or $50 back when you spend $200
or more at Sunglass Hut. To get the rebate, you have to sign up for the deal on
American Express’ website.

Chase and Bank of America join in on the offers game

Now, though, other banks are also getting into the offers
game. Chase recently launched Chase
Offers
, a similar concept for holders of its Chase Marriott Rewards Visa
(annual fee: $85) and Chase Slate (no annual fee) cards. It is easy to imagine
Chase expanding this to other cards. Bank of America also has a similar program
for its cards called BankAmeriDeals.

The partnerships card issuers are forging with merchants are
clearly meant to steer you toward those merchants. But you can save money if
you are planning to shop at those stores anyway.

I took advantage of one of these offers in August. At the
time, American Express was offering a $40 rebate after spending $50 or more on
Martha Stewart Wine. I previously knew nothing about Martha Stewart Wine, other
than what the company represented on its website, that it offered “wine
personally chosen by Martha Stewart.”

At my house, we enjoy wine, but we are
nowhere near connoisseurs. At the same time, Martha Stewart Wine was offering a
special: six bottles for $75, which included shipping. I bought the bottles on
my American Express card. It was charged $75, then the $40 rebate appeared a
few days later. The wine arrived the following week, at a total cost to me of
$35. It was good wine – much better than what you can usually find for $6 a
bottle.

Offers are now one alert away

When shopping, the tricky part with these offers is
remembering which card offers a discount where. Here, too, the card companies
have devised a solution. If you use their apps on your mobile phone and allow
the apps to view your location, you can be notified on your phone when you pass
near a store with an offer.

For years, card companies have been saying that
mobile rewards are the wave of the future, as they can immediately alter
shopping habits and make rewards instantly relevant to card holders. Card
issuers like it because it makes their cards more valuable. Retailers like it
because it steers business to their stores.

To find these deals, check out your card’s website to see if
there are any offers. It’s one way that instead of getting you into debt this
holiday season, your credit cards can save you some money instead.

See Related: What rewards should I get for holiday shopping?, How to score more rewards with your holiday shopping




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