My Personal Finance Journey

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HGW4 = 10% Off All Restaurant Bills (CFI)

Contributed by mm | August 7, 2004 6:47 PM PST

BusinessWeek is correct in predicting that a credit car war is imminent in its August 9 cover story. Actually, I can already feel it.

When I browsed FatWallet Finance Forum last week, a 10% instant rebate offer from MBNA caught my eyes. The exact offer is:null

Bonus Rebate: 10% Instant rebate on many everday pruchases automatically (credit back to account in two days, limit $25 per month)until 6/05
Cash Back: unlimited 1% continuous cash back on purchase (no limit, request $25 credit once spend $2500) spend $100 before 6/05, get $10 (rebate credit) plus $0.9 (cash back earnings $90x1%), after that will be $1.
APR: 0% Introductory APR for cash advance checks and balance transfers until 6/05
No Annual Fee

The 10% statement credit rebate will be applied to net retail purchase transactions made with the Account during the Eligibility Period (June 17, 2004 through June 30, 2005, inclusive) at retail merchant locations assigned one of the following merchant category codes as designated by MBNA: 5200, 5251, 5411, 5499, 5812, 5813, 5814, 5912.

5200--Home Supply Warehouse Stores
5251--Hardware Stores
5411--Grocery Stores, Supermarkets
5499--Miscellaneous Food Stores -- Specialty, Markets, Convenience
5812--Eating Places, Restaurants
5813--Drinking Places, Bars, Nightclubs, Discotheques
5814--Fast Food
5912--Drugstores and Pharmacies

This offer is apparently only advertised by mass mailing. I applied by dailing 1-800-437-0180 and was asked for a series of digits printed in the mail offer. I mentioned the offer code HGW4 and the CSR allowed me through. After providing the regular information like name, income, etc., I was referred to a credit specialist, who cheerfully and promptly approved my request. (As I already have three cards with MBNA, I asked to transfer $5,000 balance from another card.) I received the card yesterday and the offer is exactly as described above.null

Now, I will basically see this card as restaurant-only card. Yes, the 10% offer is also applicable to grocery store purchases, but because there is a monthly cap of $25, and my monthly dining-out bill is around $250-$300, it's actually wise for me to reserve the $25 instant rebate for restaurant bills only and divert my grocery bills to the 5% Citi card. If I cannot come up with $250 total restaurant purchases, I will make some grocery purchases using this card, to get additional 5% benefits.

As the offer will expire in June 2005, I still have 10 billing periods, during which I expect to achieve full $250 savings. Adding the ~$30/month rebate from Citi on grocery shopping and gas purchases and ~$20/month rebate from 1.5%-cashback MBNA Fidelity Rewards on everything else, I am expecting $75/month cashback in the next 10 months just from carefully diverting my credit card purchases among my plastic portfolio.

If I can find this kind of easy and painless saving opportunities every week, my early retirement goal can be reached months or years earlier.

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