How TPG staffers are using credit cards to beat inflation
If you feel like life is more expensive right now, you aren’t wrong. Inflation has risen to a 40-year high, reaching 8.2% this year through September, according to recent data.
With that in mind, we're sharing tips and tricks on how you can earn extra rewards, cash back or discounts on your daily spending to help offset rising costs and ease the pinch of inflation.
Credit cards may not be the first thing you think of for combatting increasing costs. However, using a credit card that provides a quality return on your spending can help. So let’s kick things off by looking at our favorite credit cards for beating inflation.
Use the right card and maximize your rewards on everyday purchases. Try it today with the free TPG App.
Credit cards we’re using to beat inflation
Which credit cards do we personally use to help beat inflation? Here’s what some TPG staff members said when I asked them:
Senitra Horbrook, credit cards editor
I look for opportunities to use my Chase Freedom Flex each quarter because it offers 5% cash back (or 5 points per dollar spent when combined with Ultimate Rewards points-earning cards) on rotating categories. For the fourth quarter of 2022, the categories are Walmart and purchases with PayPal.
(Note that earning 5% cash back or 5 points per dollar is limited to the first $1,500 spent in the bonus categories each quarter.)
Emily Thompson, credit cards writer
I am paying my utilities and internet/streaming services with my U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card (see rates and fees). I choose this as my 5% cash-back category each quarter, and I love that this is a bonus that doesn’t require any extra work or thought on my part.
(Note that the 5% cash back is limited to the first $2,000 spent in your chosen category each quarter.)
Gabe Travers, senior director of product management
I’m enjoying the solid earning rate of 4 points per dollar at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on up to the first $25,000 per year, then 1 point per dollar) with my American Express® Gold Card. According to TPG valuations, that earning rate is equivalent to an 8% return on my spending in these categories, which is almost the same percentage rate as inflation, effectively negating its effect.
Also, the $10 monthly dining statement credit, which I choose to use with Wine.com, is a nice “treat yourself” bonus (enrollment is required in advance to receive the credit).
Katharine Leitch, director of business growth
For the first time, I’m earning points on (very expensive New York City) rent with the no-annual-fee Bilt Mastercard®. I’ve already paid for a flight with Bilt points this year. Also, I use it at restaurants to earn 3 points per dollar spent when dining out.
TPG founder Brian Kelly is a Bilt advisor and investor.
Matt Moffitt, senior credit cards editor
Like Gabe said, the American Express Gold Card provides an unbeatable return on grocery purchases: 4 points per dollar on the first $25,000 spent annually at U.S. supermarkets. Given the higher costs of eating out, I’m cooking at home more than before, so my grocery spending has increased and I want the best return on it.
The Platinum Card® from American Express is also helping. I’m keeping a closer eye on Amex Offers, which help me save money year-round. I stacked an Amex Offer for $20 off a $100-plus purchase at Lululemon with Texas’ sales tax holiday, taking a total of 26.25% off my $100 purchase.
Kyle Olsen, points and miles reporter
Although points and miles are nice, sometimes cash is better. For the last three years, I've been enjoying my quarterly 5% restaurant cash back on my Discover it Cash Back Credit Card (up to $75 back per quarter).
Now that we're into the final quarter of the year, I'll continue maximizing the 5% Amazon.com quarterly category. While next year's categories are yet to be announced, I'm hoping for the same rewarding categories that we've seen this year.
The information for the Discover it card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
My wife takes the bus to and from work every day. The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns us 3 points per dollar spent on travel, which is giving us a 6% return on this necessary spending, according to TPG’s latest valuations. If we hadn’t already used the annual $300 travel credit on this card, bus passes would qualify. That means we wouldn’t earn bonus points but instead would get a statement credit erasing these purchases.
We also get $10 per month in Gopuff credit on this card, which we are using for free groceries. Furthermore, I’m excited about the new Instacart benefits on the card, providing free delivery and $15 per month in statement credits.
The Platinum Card from American Express also provides perks that help us save money. The Walmart+ membership statement credit grants us waived grocery delivery fees and 10 cents per gallon in gas discounts at Exxon and Mobil gas stations. That’s on top of providing free streaming services with the digital entertainment credit, so we are using this perk to watch movies for free instead of paying to go to movie theaters. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
As you probably know, credit cards can offer some great travel perks. Getting the most out of your cards’ perks and benefits, like lounge access, is key to offsetting the annual fee (if there is one).
However, perks and benefits that help you beat inflation by providing a valuable return on spending or discounts on daily necessities also can be important — maybe now more than ever.