I'm sure you've guessed by now... this house no longer believes in credit cards. As you may have seen in #9 here, we do believe in working the system in order to use rewards. Tim has a card he uses for work. It's in his name, but they pay the bill. Since it's in his name, they let him decide if he wants to use the rewards program or not. The program has a $75 annual enrollment fee, but we earned more than that so it made it worth it for us.
So far with this year's rewards we got a new toaster and $100 gift card to Lowe's. We used the gift card from Lowe's to get a new lights for the family room (the one we had was from my dorm year).
We got a torchier and matching table lamp. We got %15 off the table lamp because it was the floor model (plus we got 2 lights included). We were also able to buy some energy efficient light bulbs and some rock salt for all the ice we've been having. All that and we still have about $10 left on the card. I didn't exactly find what I was looking for, but it's a definite upgrade from the one we had. What we have left is still equivalent to about $50, so we're definitely ahead this year.
The reward system I like even more is the National City Points. I don't know if I've talked about the program much here (quite possible since I'm always singing their praises). The best thing about this system is that we earn points FREE without doing any thing special. There isn't any annual fee. All we do is choose "Credit" instead of "Debit" when we're checking out. We earn 2-3 points for every $1 we spend. Since we use our debit card for every thing, it adds up fast. We also get 25 points for every bill pay we do on-line. The other thing I like about the National City Points is that there is a lot larger selection of rewards. You can get gift cards to a LOT of different places in a lot of different amounts. (The CC one only has 4 places to choose from and only when you reach $100 worth). So far this year we've used the NC Points to get a gift certificate to Target, where I got my crock pot and several other things we needed. We also got gift cards for a couple other people for gifts.
The best choice this year was definitely the gift cards to Toys R Us we used for Christmas. We got $100 worth of gift cards that we used towards Troy's play kitchen. This allowed us to get a much bigger kitchen than we normally would have. We got him this one on sale at Toys R Us. We only ended up spending $50 out of pocket for it. He LOVES it. I wanted one that would be big enough to allow both kids to play it as they got older. We were looking for a wood one originally, but since we some times get water in the basement, we decided it would be better to go with plastic for now. It's been a big hit. I might temporarily move it upstairs for the winter (we had to take out the insulation when we got water in the basement last spring), but I haven't decided for sure yet. We'll see.
We still have a lot of points left on our National City rewards too. We'll probably hold on to them for a little bit since we're expecting a HUGE reward when we refinance. Yes, we're refinancing our house. That's another post for another day.