Due to all of the talk around gas prices at the moment, I started to think about all of the ways I am maximizing the cash back or discounts I can potentially earn whenever I purchase gas. So I wanted to share those with you!
Gas prices are currently at or near decade lows depending on what area of the country you live in. Due to a gas price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, an over supply of gasoline is being created. Combine that with the fact that people around the world are social distancing, working from home, or not working at all due to the Coronavirus, this is making the issue worse as there's a lot less demand on the purchase of gas due to less driving.
This is why I wanted to talk about my favorite combinations of how I am able to get a discount or increase cash back at the pump, by stacking cash back.
There are a few cash back strategies I use when getting gas. The largest cash back stacking strategy combination when it comes to gas, involves a credit card and three apps. The first level of every cash back strategy you can use should first start with a cash back credit card, and the credit card I use to maximize cash back at the pump is the Costco Credit Card. With Costco I receive 4% Cash Back whenever and wherever I buy gas, not just at Costco!
Level 2 - GetUpside App
The 2nd level is the GetUpside Cashback App. With GetUpside, there are several gas stations including Shell, Exxon Mobile and others which work with GetUpside to provide you with cash back whenever you buy gas. If you're not familiar with GetUpside, I have a video detailing how the app works, but essentially you open the app and use the map to locate your nearest gas stations. Once you've found one near you that offers cash back, you can then select it, and you have a 4 hour window to buy gas and then upload your receipt into the GetUpside App. Now the amount of cashback you can receive will vary each time you check the app, even if you're going to the same gas station. So be sure to check for other gas stations in your area to ensure you are getting the maximum cash back, while also considering the cost per gallon and the station you choose. Getting more cash back is a bad reason to pay more for gas, so ensure that you are getting the best overall value with the lowest total spent on your gas! As an example, at the time of this recording, the Shell gas station nearest me is providing 21cents cash back per gallon, and I also have a bonus .15cents per gallon cash back I received for inviting another user to GetUpside, which brings the price per gallon down to $1.49 theoretically. However the actual price per gallon I pay at the pump is $1.85 per gallon, and I'll receive a total credit of 36cents per gallon in the GetUpside app the next time I pump gas. This would be a total of $5-$6 cash back, as it usually takes 15-17 gallons to fill my tank. Now not including my bonus 15cents per gallon, the 21cents I am seeing in the app at the time of recording is on the high end of what I normally see. This could be as low as 1cent, or as high as 25cents which I've seen in the past even without an invite bonus. If I were to use an average of 15cents cash back per gallon, with gas at $2 per gallon, that would equal out to 7.5% cash back using GetUpside! However with currently low gas prices, and an extra bonus from inviting another user, my cash back percentage is actually higher today at 19.5% per gallon!
Level 3 - Bits of Stock App
In order to go to the 3rd and 4th level, it does take some coordination and decision making on the brand of gas you will consistently shop with. On the first level it didn't matter, because you're getting 4% at any gas station. On the 2nd level there are several gas stations to choose from, but not all gas stations, even from the same company, will give you cash back. And the amount of cash back will vary on a day to day basis. So once you've used the GetUpside app on a regular basis you may find a gas station which is consistently giving a good cash back to price per gallon ratio for you, and you now need to align it to the next app which is the Bits of Stock App! With Bits of Stock, you receive cash back at certain gas stations which are available in the app, and that cash back is used to purchase fractional shares of stock. For me the two gas stations which work out the best for me, as far as aligning with the GetUpside app, are Shell and Exxon Mobile. Every time I buy gas from either Shell or Exxon, I receive .50% cash back on all of my purchases, as long as the credit card I use is linked to their app. In this case, my Costco Credit Card! This is done automatically, and there's no need to upload a receipt or complete the transaction within a certain time period. Just swipe and receive the credit within a few days in the app. This cash back then turns into Shell or Exxon Mobile stock. Now the amount of cash back is very minimal in the grand scheme of things at only half a percent, but this will add up over time. Not only that, but since you receive it back in stock, those bits of stock (pun intended) turn into larger and larger shares. Unless you have an electric vehicle, or don't drive, you will need to buy gas eventually. So why not maximize on your purchases and receive free stock in the process as well!
Level 4 - The Bumped App
The 4th level follows the same premise, and that is with the Bumped app. But there is a slight difference on how they work. With the Bumped app you can only choose one gas station and there are only 4 options to choose from, so this is really getting you into brand loyalty territory. With this app I ended up sticking with Shell, since Shell has the best cashback/price per gallon ratio in my area. In fact, where I live there is not an Exxon Mobile gas station nearby that provides cash back at all via GetUpside. I tend to run into more eligible Exxon Mobile's when I travel away from home. The other 2 options within the Bumped app are BP and Chevron. No matter which of the 4 options you choose, you will receive .50% cash back which is also used to purchase fractional shares of stock! With all 3 of the 4 companies you have the option to choose either the VTI ETF as your stock, or the actual company stock of ExxonMobil/Chevron or BP. Shell only has the option to receive fractional shares of VTI, which is my preference anyway. So I receive half a percent of my gas purchase which is used to purchase the VTI ETF whenever I buy gas.
So in Total, my favorite cash back stack receives 4% from Costco Credit card + an average of 7.5% from the GetUpside App + half % from Bits of Stock + another half % from the Bumped App, bringing my average cash back at the pump to a total of 12.5% cash back! With the average person using over 600 gallons of gas per year, and using an average price per gallon of $2, that's about $150 worth of cash back every year! If gas cost more in your area, then your cash back amount would be higher as well.
Alternate 2 Level Stack
However this cash back combination isn't always the best value. Remember, the actual price per gallon of gas also matters. Like I mentioned, my average cash back from the GetUpside app is 7.5%. So if I can buy gas at another gas station, which has a higher percentage savings vs the percent of cash back per gallon using get-upside, then that is the better value.
This takes me to my most often used stack, which is simply Costco!
Costco gas in my area is typically 15 to 20 cents lower than all of the surrounding gas stations. So if gas is $2 at Shell, in many cases gas at Costco will be in the $1.85 to $1.80 range. That's 7.5% to 10% cheaper on a pretty consistent basis. If my cash back from GetUpside isn't more, then here's my 2 level stack! 4% Cash back with the Costco Credit Card, and then .50% cash back with the Bits of Stock App! Yes, Costco is also available in the Bits of Stock app, and you get cash back with their gas station or whenever you shop inside of Costco. This makes my Cash Back stack at a minimum, 4.5% when I buy gas using my Costco Card at Costco Gas Stations.
Now if you happen to have a credit card which provides a higher cash back amount than the Costco Credit card, then certainly use that card. The Sam's Club credit card offers 5% cash back year round, and the Chase Freedom and Discover IT 5% Cash back for 1 quarter out of the year. So definitely use the credit card which provides the most cash back on a consistent basis for you.
If you are not familiar with any of the apps mentioned above, or don't currently use them, be sure to use my referral links in the description and comment section below. With GetUpside you will receive a bonus 15cents per gallon on your first gas purchases when using the app. And there's also an automated feature to receive cash back without uploading a receipt, just look for the gas stations with a Blue Lightning Bolt next to their location. What credit cards and cash back apps do you use to maximize your cash back? Think you have a better Cash Back Stack? Let us know in the comment section below!
Apparently there's a TikTok video going around stating that the Stimulus Checks the government is sending out for the Economic Impact Payments from the CARES Act, have to be paid back on next years taxes. Here's why this is completely false, and all it takes is a little math and understanding of what a Tax Credit is to debunk this notion.
The one truthful thing the guy mentions in his video, is that the Stimulus Check is an Advance on a Tax Credit on your 2020 tax return.
What Is An Advance?
What is an advance? An advance is when you receive something before you were originally scheduled to receive it. Typically you may hear this in regards to maybe an employer or a bank which will give you your "paycheck" a week earlier than you normally would have received it. Typically banks and other businesses who provide this service will charge you a flat fee or a percentage of the amount that you want to advance. But what they are giving you is what you are already going to receive anyway! So when you receive what you were going to receive anyway, it is then your job to "pay back" what you borrowed.
I believe this is why the maker of the viral TikTok video confused their statement, either intentionally or unintentionally, and stated that you will have to pay back the money next year. But this is false.
What is a Tax Credit?
Next let's talk about the definition of a Tax Credit. A Tax Credit is a dollar amount used to reduce your tax bill as a whole, or provide you with a refund if it is a refundable tax credit. This is different from a Tax Deduction, which reduces your taxable income, not your actual tax bill dollar for dollar. So let's break this down.
Let's say you should have paid $10K in taxes, but instead you only paid $8K in taxes. This would mean that you owe the IRS $2K in taxes, so you would have a tax bill. However let's also state that you have a $2K tax credit. Since Tax Credits are dollar for dollar credits towards your tax bill, this would completely wipe out your tax bill and you owe the IRS nothing.
However let's flip it, and say that you paid $12K, only owed $10K in taxes, and now you have an overpayment of $2K. This means that the IRS owes you a $2K refund, because you paid more in taxes than you really needed to. As a reminder...this is the only way you receive a REFUND, that's why it's called a refund! You overpaid! But, since you also have a $2K REFUNDABLE Tax Credit, now the IRS owes you $4K. $2K + $2K = $4K
Now that you are clear on how a Refundable Tax Credit works, let's now look at the Stimulus Check, which is being provided as an advance tax credit, on your 2020 taxes.
In example 1, you owed $2K in taxes, but because you had a $2K tax credit, your tax bill was cut to zero. Now let's add an additional $2K tax credit for the coronavirus stimulus check. Since this is a refundable tax credit, the IRS now owes you $2K! Doesn't that sound awesome? But wait...the IRS already gave you the $2K in April of 2020, so when you file your 2020 taxes in early 2021, you won't actually get the additional $2K in your pocket at that time...you've probably already spent it! This means that your tax bill stays the same as it would have been without the stimulus, which was ZERO!
It is the same case in example 2. Remember in example 2 the taxpayer paid $2K more than they should have paid in the year 2020. Now because of the $2K stimulus check, they are now owed $4K since the stimulus check is a refundable tax credit! Wrong! Why? Because they already gave you the $2K check in April of 2020, which means that your tax refund stays the same at $2K!
If You Didn't Receive Stimulus...
Now, where people will likely bring up that there's an issue, while others will think that they received a larger refund once they file taxes in 2021 is if you were a person who worked less than you typically would have if not for the coronavirus pandemic. Your taxes may look significantly different than it normally would, but the reason won't be because of the advance tax credit you received via the Stimulus Check. If you don't receive an economic impact payment now based on your 2018/2019 taxes, and you end up qualifying in 2021 due to lower income once you submit your 2020 taxes, then you would see a difference in your actual tax return. Since you didn't receive the stimulus check in 2020, the tax credit you receive once you file your 2020 taxes will be impacted by the new tax credit!
I hope this was helpful in debunking the fake news from the TikTok video which went viral. I'm sure there are similar videos out from multiple people, but I wanted to make sure that people understand what is really going on with these stimulus checks, and that any differences in your taxes when filed next year won't be due to the coronavirus stimulus check if you already received payment.
The Coronavirus is making a global impact. What we thought of as a virus half way across the globe, back in late 2019 and early 2020, has now spread to the United States, and cases are popping up in nearly every country in the world. It is officially a pandemic! This is not only effecting the health of people around the globe, but the economy, and thus our personal finances.
As Congress and the President passed the CARES Act, providing its citizens with the Economic Impact Payment based on your income eligibility, you now have a good problem to figure out. How to spend your coronavirus stimulus check! Here are a few ideas, in order of importance, depending on your personal financial situation.
Pay Your Bills
The first and most obvious thing you may need to spend this money on are your bills. If you lost your job, were furloughed, currently seeing a reduction in hours, or think there is a chance one of those 3 will occur in the next couple of months, then you should use these funds for your essential needs. Food, housing, and transportation. For some this stimulus will be exactly what they need to make it for another month, while for others it will not be enough to survive another month. If the latter is the case for you, this is a great time to reevaluate your current expenses. Cut out any non-essential bills you have, or find ways to reduce the costs of things that are essential. Based on several articles I've read, the percentage of Americans living paycheck to paycheck is between 50%-75% for those who make under $50K per year. This means that missing just one pay period, for any reason, will setback over half of Americans financially. For those who make over $150K it's not much better, about 25% of these higher income individuals are also living paycheck to paycheck. So we know that higher income is not the only answer to resolving financial concerns, even if it is the largest factor. You still have to control your spending and save money!
Which brings us to the next option. Create an Emergency Fund! If there's any uncertainty with your current employment situation, then you may want to save this money instead if you don't already have an emergency fund. Or even if you already have one, use this money to make it larger. Your emergency fund should not be your only savings. An emergency fund is the foundation of your savings, meaning theoretically you should have additional savings outside of this fund. If you don't already have one, and you don't need to use your stimulus for your current expenses, use this check to jump start your emergency fund. Then work towards creating 3-6 months of reserves.
Contribute to your Retirement
If you receive a Coronavirus Stimulus Check, and you don't need to use it for essentials, you could technically use this towards your HSA or IRA. In fact, I would lean towards using it for your HSA if you have not already maxed it out, and of course assuming you have a High Deductible Health Plan already. This way if you need to use the funds for potential health reasons, due to Coronavirus or otherwise, the funds will be available for withdrawal or to make payments to your healthcare provider.
Most people know April 15th as typically the last day you can file taxes without being penalized. Well this year Tax Day is being postponed 90 days, so the new date is July 15th. Along with this date is also the last day you can contribute to an IRA or HSA to be claimed on your taxes for the prior year! HSA and Traditional IRA contributions are tax deductible, so this could also be a way to help lower your taxable income, thus lowering your tax bill or perhaps increasing your refund if you overpaid! You can also contribute to a Roth IRA, although you won't receive any tax reduction benefits for doing so, you are still eligible to use this additional time. With a Roth IRA your tax benefit will come in retirement, as you won't be required to pay taxes on your Roth IRA withdrawals. So if you don't have any specific thing you need to use the stimulus check for, use it to boost your retirement accounts and take advantage of the current drop in the market.
Start a Business
If you're currently not working either due to being fired or furloughed, now is a great time to start the business you've always wanted to start. Or maybe just start a business that you can afford to start with the $1200 or more you receive from the Stimulus. Many of you may think this is not a lot of money to start, but there are many businesses that either do not require any capital at all, or that you can get started with as little as $100. In fact there's a great book called the $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, and you can use your stimulus check to purchase the book to gather some ideas. Or use your local library and/or the Libby App to access the book for free! You can start a website with a free trial, you can start a food delivery service with pre-orders, you can start a YouTube channel, a podcast, or many other things for free or definitely less than $1200. The key is to get started, and use these funds wisely to jumpstart the growth of your side hustle to turn it into a small business. Use your time and money wisely, especially if you find yourself currently with more time than money. There are a lot of great resources whether on YouTube, Podcasts, or via books at your local library or via apps like Libby.
Last but not least, you should spend your Stimulus Check. While this is the last option, for many of you it will be the first option, and it is also the option the government expects you to use. Their expectation is that most Americans will spend their money, by choice or by force since many will need to use it for their essentials. But for those who don't need it for their essentials, already have an emergency fund, have already maxed out their retirement, and already have additional streams of income, then spending it may actually be a good idea. There are many businesses, small and large, which actually need you to go out and spend your stimulus check so that they can stay in business. Personally I would lean towards supporting small businesses when you get the chance. When will that chance occur? Who knows, because many non-essential businesses are currently closed or have modified the way you can interact with them, or perhaps if this stimulus isn't enough, they may never reopen their doors again. You can also spend it on people you know are in need, as spending the money doesn't just mean buying things for yourself. Take the time to help someone in need, or donate to an organization who is helping those in need.
I just signed up for my first Travel Rewards Credit Card, so I wanted to talk about how I planned out making the minimum spend for the signup bonus, while also planning out my Travel for the rest of the year. Travel Rewards Credit Cards award you points toward travel with every purchase that you make. If you travel a lot, using a travel rewards credit card can actually help you towards gaining free travel. Especially when you take advantage of the initial bonus offer when you sign up.
One of the most popular travel rewards credit cards is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. This card has a $95 Annual fee, however with the Bonus points and the rewards you gain from your regular purchases, it can be well worth it. But before I even get into the bonus points, what does this $95 annual fee card give you that your typical no fee credit card may not give you.
What Is The Pei App?
The Pei App is one of the newer cash back apps around. Although it is a newer app, the number of available stores in the application has increased significantly in my area over the past couple months of my use. I expect as more users join they will continue to increase the number of retail stores and restaurants available. However it's always nice to get the surprise notification that I just earned cash back at a store I was not expecting! Pei works by connecting your credit card or debit card without using a pin number. Once your card is connected you will also need to turn on your phone's location so that Pei can properly recognize your purchase with the location of the store in order to confirm a successful transaction. After the initial search through the application to find stores in my area that I'm most likely to shop at, I personally don't even open up the app unless I'm making a decision between two places. If I know I can get cash back via Pei or another cash back app, it may make me lean towards one restaurant vs the other.
If you use Uber (3%) or Lyft (1%) often, then the Cash back they provide could be a nice incentive. Other than that, their list of preferred merchants is slim for their "Online Deals". Only local options for restaurants are of any real benefit to me personally.
Their Cashback Boost is a nice feature as well. Use the Cashback Boost to increase your Cashback rewards by 1% anywhere you shop, for a 48 hour period, and the retailer is NOT required to be a Pei Partner. So if you plan on having a major shopping day sometime soon, or on vacation, be sure to activate the boost option to gain some additional cash back. This is a nice general increase to the normal cashback from your credit card provider, although it has limited use. In order to activate the boost you must first unlock it by hitting 20 points.
+1 Link a new card
+2 Invite a Friend
+1 Gift Card Cashout: Choose the gift card option to cash out at least once, instead of PayPal or Bitcoin.
+1 5X Loyalty: Get the 5X Loyalty Bonus for shopping at a merchant 5 times.
+2 Preferred Merchants: Shop at a Pei Preferred merchant.
With the Cash Boost you will receive 1% bonus over a 48 hour period, no matter where you shop, but you can only gain a max of 500 points during that time. $500 is not a difficult number to stay under considering you would have to spend $50,000 during that 48 hour period in order to max it out! Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or perhaps a vacation would be a great time for you to activate your Cashback Boost!
Get $2.50 sign up bonus after the first time you make a purchase with a Pei merchant. There's a limit of 50 referral bonuses you can receive for inviting friends and family. Payments are made via PayPal, Bitcoin, or Gift Cards, with a $25 minimum to cash out.
Invest Your Cash Back!
Want to do something smart with your cash back? How about use it to pay off student loan or credit card debt. You can also use that cash as essentially free money to invest in the stock market. Webull is currently giving away 2 free shares of stock to any new user who deposits at least $100 in their Webull trading account during the sign up process. These 2 free shares of stock are valued between $12 to $1400. This is a great way to get started investing just by doing your normal online and in-store shopping, receiving cash back, then putting that cash back to work in the stock market.
The Pei App is in my Top 7 Cash Back Apps, so if you haven't watched that video, be sure to check out my Top 7. Is the Pei App an app you would want to use given this information? I use the Pei App along with many others to ensure I'm always stacking my cash back rewards, and you should too. Let us know what you think or your experience with the Pei App in the comments below.
Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates, provides cashback when shopping in-store at certain restaurants and retailers, through their mobile app, or using the browser extension on your laptop or desktop computer to make online purchases. Rakuten is maybe the most popular cash back app available, and certainly has the widest selection of online stores to choose from. Rakuten bought out Ebates which is also one of the oldest cash back Apps around.
How Do I Earn Cash Back?
The Dosh App is a Cash Back App which provides cashback when using your credit or debit card via in store purchases, purchases within the Dosh App, as well as via online purchases on your laptop or desktop! When using a Debit Card you must make a credit card transaction, meaning not to use your pin number. Otherwise transactions won't be recognized. The reason it does not work with debit transactions is because Dosh, like many cash back apps, works through the credit card processing company. Debit transactions go straight to the bank instead of a credit card processor. But with Dosh every purchase doesn't need to start within the app to receive credit! Any "Online Offer" listed in the app will receive credit from Dosh once they receive confirmation of the transaction from the credit card processor, and you don't have to start your transaction from within the Dosh App. All of their "Online Offers" are stores where you receive cash back automatically! Receiving cash back can take up to 30 to 45 days before it is available for withdrawal. The reason it COULD take this long is to ensure items are not returned, as this is a typical return period for most retail stores. Your cash back may continue to show as "pending" during this time period.
Did you know you don't have to use the HSA Provider your company has selected? That's right, you can choose the option you feel is best for you, and which may have less fees and better features. Of course if you receive any additional benefits like an initial deposit from your employer, it may be easier to use the HSA Provider they work with. However every dollar you deposit afterwards can instead go towards an HSA Provider of your choosing
Lively is one such option you can choose from. Lively is an HSA Provider which allows you to save and invest in your HSA Account outside of what your employer may or may not provide. For the investment side of the HSA, Lively works with TD Ameritrade, the most popular trading platform available which now also has free stock trading
How Does It Work?
If you use a car, which most Americans do, then this app is for you! GetUpside provides you with cashback for all of your gas purchases. Every time you get ready to fill up your gas tank, pop open the GetUpside App to check for the Cashback offers near your location. You can view the nearest participating gas stations, the price of gas at these stations, and how much cashback GetUpside will pay YOU per gallon for using a particular gas station. After you first signup you will receive a bonus of 15 cents cashback per gallon when using code FAB72. With the average gas tank taking over 15 gallons to fill, that's about $2.25 back on your first use! Just claim the offer via the app when you're headed to the gas station, and fill up your tank using your credit card during the claim period. After filling up, take a photo of the receipt and upload it in the app, and within a few hours or days receive cashback for your gas purchase! Yes, it's that simple! You do have to use a credit or debit card for your purchases, even though you do not have to link a credit/debit card in the application. Cash and prepaid debit/credit cards are not accepted. If you choose, you can also link your credit card to the application that way you don't have to upload your receipts, but this is not a requirement. For those who like to automate things, this is a great option for you.
After your initial purchase the cashback offer will vary. I've seen as little as 1 cent up to 20 cents as the cashback offer, depending on your area. Larger cities seem to have the better cashback deals since there's more gas station competition. You must purchase your gas, and upload your receipt during the claim period. Claim periods are set for 4 hours. It may be beneficial in some cases, to claim the offer prior to going to the gas station, in case you see an offer that is higher than normal. The amount of cash back provided per gallon will change from day to day, so if you use the same gas station often you may start to recognize a pattern. If you invite a friend to use the GetUpside app, you receive the same 15 cents per gallon bonus every time a friend signs up! In addition to the initial bonus, you also receive 1 cent per gallon for every future gas purchase your friends make! This can add up over time, especially if you have friends who commute a lot or go on road trips often.
I'm Cashin' Out!
The Drop Rewards App. Within this app you have two ways to gain cashback. You can connect your credit card to automatically receive cashback when you shop in-store or online using their Power Offers Power Offers are pre-selected stores where you ALWAYS receive cashback. As a new user you can only have 2 Power Offers for automatic cashback. I was able to select Chipotle and Starbucks as my preferred Power Offer options. The 2nd way to earn cash back is to shop within their app making ad hoc purchases with the available stores in the app. (name some stores) If you prefer using a laptop or desktop to shop, for the larger screen, you can email links to yourself to ensure you get the referral when shopping on your computer!
AJ Mobile Money
Husband | Father | YouTuber | Former ATLien
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