How to Maximize Credit Card Cash Back… $885 Worth!

Posted by Madison on September 12, 2011

My 5% cash back on my Chase AARP card came to close last month. But I wanted to go out with a bang, so I set the wheels in motion to squeeze every possible penny of cash back out of the card before it expired.

I also wanted to maximize the amount of charges I had on the card to ride out the next six months of 0% on the purchases. And after a fun month, I’d consider the $885 cash back checks I received for August a success!

Here were some of my strategies above and beyond everyday spending:

How to Maximize Cash Back

  • Prepaid Utilities. I called our utility companies and asked how much I can prepay. One company allowed $500, the other $600, so I charged the maximum at both places, minimizing the fee. For the next few months, I’ll have a credit on each account. You can pay directly if your company allows it or use ChargeSmart utility payments.
  • American Express Gift Cards. I purchased American Express Gift cards for use in the future using the code EMDADWL (expires 9/30/2011) to waive the purchase fees.
  • Sending Money Online. I sent some money via paypal to some willing friends and family. The cash back more than covered the fees associated with sending the money.
  • Amazon Payments. I also gave Amazon Payments a try for the first time. It was easy to send money and best of all… no fees! I think Amazon Payments will probably give Paypal some good competition.
  • Gift Cards. I considered some of what our spending will be for the fall and purchased gift cards for any of the restaurants and clothing stores we’ll be using for the next few months.
  • Tax Payments. I made lots of large tax payments with our credit card for the year including property taxes, state withholding, federal withholding, and business taxes.
  • Prepaying Bills. I also sent one time payments to various bills that allow credit card payments: cell phone, internet, satellite, etc.

Final charges for the month of August: $17,700. Cash back: $885

Tips and Tricks

Credit Limit. In my final month, I exceeded my $10,000 credit card limit. In order to keep the spending going, I paid off the purchases the day after I made them to keep enough open credit on the card for additional purchases.

Don’t Get Greedy. With Chase handing out the money on this one, it’s easy to think you could rinse and repeat for multiple times what I did every month. And I’m sure some people are doing this. However, I do like to keep my options open with Chase in the future and getting adverse action from them isn’t ideal for taking advantage of deals in the long run. I tried to keep all my purchases somewhat reasonable and avoid excessive purchases from any one vendor.

Don’t forget the double dip. My only regret? I forgot to link our envaulted account to this card until half way through my spending spree! I’m embarrassed that I missed about $150 of cash back on that mistake.

Action Plan

Now that my Chase run is over, I’m turning all of my attention to the American Express 6% Cash Back Credit Card with even more possibilities…

How did you do with the Chase card?

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Comments to How to Maximize Credit Card Cash Back… $885 Worth!

  1. Not sure about Chase AARP but Chase Freedom 5% cash back is good till end of Sept.

    FYI – New 5% cashback for Chase Freedom for Oct-Dec applies to dining, dept stores, and movie theaters.


  2. This may maximize your cash back, but what does it do to your credit report? It sounds like your debt to available credit ratio is now way out of whack…


    • Hi Tenley,

      Since the credit card companies don’t report until the end of the cycle, the ratio comes through fine.

      (Although, I do have lots of credit cards, so this particular card doesn’t have much impact on our overall credit report).

      It is something for people to be aware of though, if it is the only card you carry.


  3. How do you send money through Amazon payments? Do you say the payment is for “Goods/Services” or “Cash Advance”? What is the % fee that you pay to do this?


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