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Cash Back Credit Card II: rebate category madness

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(Update 07-28-2010) I found Citi® Platinum Select® AAdvantage® World MasterCard® to be interesting. AA actually offers 3 cards: Master Card, American Express or Visa. They has a 30,000 miles promotion as of now. Another card, which is more useful in our daily lives, is the Upromise® World MasterCard® credit card with Dining & Grocery Rewards, offered by BoA. But I think I will go for the Subaru card, for the 3% cash back (Subaru dollars, good at Subaru dealers for purchase or service).

(Original)Costco American Express Card
3% gasoline
3% Restaurant
2% Travel
1% everything else (including Costco purchase)

Discover card
5% gasoline, hotels, movie and theme parks (July 1st to Sept 30). Discover rotates the 5% cash back category every quarter.
1% for everything else (after meeting those $2,000, $3,000 spending requirements, as I said in earlier post)

Citi Dividend Card
Citi Dividend changed its policy from July 1. It no longer offers 2% (3%?) cash back on groceries etc. Instead it’s taking a page from Discover Cash Bonus Card, doing the rotating category thing. For instance, for this quarter (July 1 to Sept 30) it offers 5% for restaurant (needs enrollment).

It offers 1% for everything else.

Citi Professional
3% cash back on gas station, restaurant, office supplies and car rental;
1% on everything else

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Discover Card

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Who is better positioned to weather the recession (or depression as some people like FT Martin Wolf said), American Express (NYSE: AXP) or Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS)? I got some DFS last week so my opinion maybe biased, but wait: I hold Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) which in turns holds significant number of AXP shares so I think I am ok here.

Fun aside, I think DFS is better positioned in this downturn because their consumer (like yours truely) continue to use them for daily stuff. On the other hand, American Express, which derives significant amount of revenue from high end consumers and business travel, has experienced and will continue to experience challenges in the near term. It’s about affordability or necessity.

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Discover Financial Services DFS

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(Update July 4) Did not see any filings at SEC web site but got Q2 2007 earning at Discover’s own web site. Quote below.

“Riverwoods, IL, June 20, 2007 – Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFSWI) today reported net income of $209 million for the quarter ended May 31, 2007, compared with record net income of $343 million for the second quarter of 2006. The second quarter of 2007 included approximately $20 million of pretax costs related to the spin-off from Morgan Stanley that will take place on June 30, 2007. The second quarter of 2006 benefited from low bankruptcy filings in the United States following the bankruptcy legislation that became effective in October 2005. Return on managed receivables for the second quarter of 2007 was 1.65%, down from 2.90% in the second quarter of 2006.

Managed credit card receivables were $51.4 billion as of May 31, 2007 reflecting growth of 6% over last year. Sales volume of $25.4 billion was up 6% from the second quarter of 2006. Total transactions processed on the Discover® and PULSE® networks grew 14% over the same period last year.

Credit quality remained strong with the managed over 30 day delinquency rate of 3.12% at an all time low reflecting record low U.S. delinquencies partially offset by higher delinquencies in the United Kingdom. The managed net charge-off rate for the quarter was 4.23%, up 93 basis points from the same period last year.”

I also read its outlook, I think we can wait it go down a little more (24?) to pull the trigger.

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I like Discover Card

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Yesterday after I bought air ticket, and refurbished iPod nano, I received an unexpected call from Discover card. It’s from “fraud prevention” department. Very good. This is a kind of customer service phone call that I like to hear. Because credit card threft (and identity threft) is not uncommon these days.

I like discover card also because of  its various bonus (5%) cash rebate program. It’s a bit complicated, but essentially they gave out 5% cash back for different things every three months. For instance, when I bought my last air ticket in the Jan., I got 5% cash back (about $50 for a $1090 ticket).