If you have a Citi Card you might be familiar with their Extra Cash program. However, its really anything but cash. The way it works is that you get $1 of extra cash for every $10 spend, similar in some ways to rewards cards or points you can get for other credit cards out there. It sounds good, however, in order to use the “extra cash” you have to spend more money. When you first sign up for a card they will give you $100 of “extra cash” and as you can imagine it builds up fast if you use your credit card to pay all your bills. Which is what I do and then I pay it all off at the end of the month, so I write less checks and get out of the checkout lines faster.
For instance you can get gift cards with extra cash, but the extra cash only gives you a discount on the gift cards, meaning you will have to spend the rest. For instance they give you $5 off $50 gift cards, $10 off $100 gift cards and $50 off $500 dollar gift cards. Now this is good if you know you are going to go on a shopping spree, but the stores they offer the gift cards for are ones you probably won’t use very often. They have gift cards for Old Navy, Gap, Land’s End/Sears/K-mart and several others but you won’t find any for Target or Wal-Mart.
You can also use your extra cash for discounts on car rentals, local stores, airline tickets, etc but don’t expect to save more than a few dollars and the selection of outlets is kind of limited. The extra cash program also has deals on selected merchandise (clothes, electronics, etc) that you can get discounts on. Most of the discounts aren’t very good and the items they feature usually cost too much anyway, but it’s really there so you think you are saving money and spending the extra cash you earned, but its just their way of getting you to spend more money.
They have a deal of the day every day at 1pm EST, where they offer a higher discount on certain items and sometimes the item is rather good, but the quantity is very low. So you have to login for that 1 day its offered right away and hope you get one of them. Probably the most popular offer they do every month or so is a $50 Wal-Mart gift card for $25, assuming you have another $25 in extra cash, but its very limited, so expect it to be gone in 10 minutes or less.
So basically the extra cash you have will keep building up and up and you probably won’t be able to use it all. But this is on purpose, they really don’t want you to use it, they want you to feel as though you need to keep your credit card with them, because you have earned so much. They had to offer some kind of rewards card, because their competition is doing so. And they could argue they do offer good deals, but they are so limited they are making their customers fight over that small quantity.
Don’t be fooled, even if you have had this credit card for awhile, you need to shop around again to get better deals. And sure most reward cards out there really don’t give you much money back or decent items for whatever points you earn. But there are some out there will at least give you something more usable, without having to spend more money on top of what you have already spent.