Rewards Cards Get Less Rewarding
A couple of popular credit cards rein in rewards. But you can still find a good deal.
(MONEY Magazine) – Last December, MONEY recommended the Citi Dividend Platinum Select card for its 5% cashback offer on charges at gas stations, supermarkets and drugstores. But alas, Citi is rolling back the red carpet: The issuer recently cut the reward to 2%, although it did expand qualifying charges to include convenience stores and utilities. Similarly, American Express said it would restrict its rewards on everyday purchases for some of its cards. Is this the start of a trend? Experts say issuers first offered rich rewards to encourage the use of plastic for routine spending. Now the best deals go to those who charge the most. Example: The new HSBC Direct Rewards card gives 5% back on gas, drugs and groceries; charge more than $3,000 and you get 1% back on all other purchases too.
SAVINGS NOTES AND SOURCES: CD and money-market account data as of Sept. 26 from 100 Highest Yields, a publication of Bankrate.com ($124 for 52 issues; 800-327-7717, ext. 11410); all have a minimum investment of $10,000 or less. Average tax-exempt and taxable money-market fund yields for the week ending Sept. 26 from Money Fund Report (imoneynet.com); all have a minimum investment of $10,000 or less and assets of $25 million or more. Average bond fund yields for the month ending Aug. 31 from Lipper; all are medium- and high-quality funds without sales loads and with average maturities of three years or less.  Manager absorbed all or some operating expenses. CREDIT NOTES AND SOURCES: All rates subject to change. Credit-card rates are for standard cards as of Sept. 26 from Bankrate.com and are variable unless otherwise indicated. Survey does not include Internet-only cards or AmEx Blue.  Fixed rate.  Visa only.  Platinum and gold cards.