Start Lining Up Your Date Nights

For the last quarter of the year (October 1 to December 31, 2009), Discover is offering a 5% cashback bonus on up to $400 in purchases made at grocery stores, restaurants, movie theatres and video rental services.  If you make the maximum amount of $400 in eligibile purchases, you will get $20 in cashback, which can be turned into a $25 gift card from certain retailers such as Banana Republic and Brooks Brothers.  So remember to sign up.  Then get out there and start making plans for some great date nights!

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Competing for a Slot in Your Wallet

Big news: Chase is unveiling a new Ultimate Rewards program for its credit cards to compete directly with American Express’ Membership Rewards loyalty program and Citi’s Thank You Network program.  For now, the program doesn’t seem as large or rewarding as Citi’s ThankYou Network.  You can only earn points through two credit cards (the Freedom and the new Sapphire), where you get a point for every dollar spent or three points for every dollar spent in categories (restaurants, clothing, gas) that change each quarter.  This is similar but still not as good as Discover’s 5% Cashback Bonus program.  You can also earn points by shopping from retailers through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, much like the Thank You Bonus Center and ShopDiscover.  You don’t, however, get extra points by linking your Chase bank account to the rewards program, and although Chase doesn’t have an Expedia counterpart, you can also earn points by booking travel on the Ultimate Rewards website.  Regardless, having one more choice in the credit world is good from a consumer’s prespective and hopefully Chase will improve its new rewards progam to make it more appealling and more competitive.