Tag Archive: Purchase

10 Tips for Washing Your Car at Your Apartment Community

Don’t let random passersby deface your ride with “Wash Me” scrawled in windshield dirt. Instead, avoid the old “drive of shame” and give it a good old-fashioned scrub down with an apartment car wash.

Even if your apartment doesn’t have a car wash station on its list of amenities, that doesn’t mean you can’t still DIY this wet and wild chore. It just takes a few supplies and a little bit of strategy to get the job done.

A dirty car with someone writing

How do I wash my car if I live in an apartment?

Sure, you could drive somewhere for a car wash, but where’s the fun in that? Hand-washing a car is a great workout and an even better way to cool down in the summer months. Just follow these easy tips for an apartment car wash and you’ll soon have the ultimate clean car. Bonus points if you detail the inside, too!

1. Use a spigot and hose

The water’s going to have to come from somewhere, right? Even if you know where the spigot is already, it’s probably smart to check with management to make sure you can use it. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even spot you a hose for the job! If not, pick up an expandable hose at the local hardware store. Those are easier to store than the old-school variety.

2. Go waterless

A waterless car wash product is a solid option for cars that aren’t filthy to start off with. So, if you’ve just gone muddin’, skip ahead. These products are not for you. Waterless car wash is available in concentrated form (so you have to dilute it), or ready-to-use. Some even have built-in wax! To use, simply spray the product on and wipe it off with a soft towel. When the towel section gets dirty, use a different part.

3. Use a no-rinse product

Split the difference between waterless and a full wash by using a no-rinse product, like Optimum No Rinse. This three-in-one product functions as a rinseless wash, as well as a detailer and a lubricant. Just add the recommended amount to one or two gallons of water, then apply with a wash mitt or microfiber towel.

Car wheels being washed.

4. Be wheel wise

The wheels are not the same as the rest of the vehicle, so don’t treat them like they are. Clean them first because they’re the dirtiest parts of the car.

Spray with a good hose to dislodge dirt from crevices. Use a tire-specific cleaner and a towel/mitt to scrub it down. Don’t use that towel on the rest of the car because it’s likely pretty gross.

5. Go with waterless wipes

The waterless car wash product community is booming. There are waterless wipes already primed with cleaners available for purchase. Pick up a pack each for general washing, tire and trim and wax, if you want to go full-out.

Man washing his car.

6. Pick up a pump sprayer

Here’s another idea on the waterless front. If you want to avoid the hassle of a spigot and hose (or don’t have access to one), purchase a small pump sprayer. Such a device helps evenly apply a coat of waterless cleaner. Then, you just clean as normal with a mitt or microfiber towel. It can also rinse the car off with plain water (fill it up inside first), but the water pressure isn’t as good as the average hose.

7. Use a duster

If you can’t do a full wash apartment car wash at your complex or just don’t have time, use a California Duster to quickly get rid of dirt and dust and bring back the shine. This tool will buy you more time between washes, and is usable during full washes, as well.

8. Wipe aways bugs with dryer sheets

Sometimes dried up, dead bugs just don’t want to come off. Without the power of a professional car wash it is extra challenging. Before you start washing, use old dryer sheets to wipe bugs off. Then wash as normal.

Toothpaste on car.

9. Apply toothpaste (no, seriously!)

No need to buy a pricey product to put the finishing touches on your headlights. Squirt some toothpaste on a rag and polish up those headlights until they shine.

10. Create your own all-natural cleaner

For the final, streak-free rinse, opt for a green cleaner. Wash the car as normal. Then rinse the soap residue with a hose. Mix three parts vinegar to one part water in a spray bottle and spray the car. Then wipe down with a newspaper for a shiny, squeaky clean finish.

Hand washing a car.

General apartment car wash tips

Specific techniques aside, there are some general things to consider when doing an apartment car wash. Minding these suggestions make the whole process easier, not to mention more effective and enjoyable.

  • Do a quick once over: Before setting up for the apartment car wash, make sure your car isn’t leaking any fluids or oils. That won’t go over well with management.
  • Steer clear of storm drains. It’s bad for the environment, local wildlife and drinking water if soap from the car wash gets into the storm drain. Do your best to find a spot far away from storm drains to prevent any issues, or use an eco-friendly cleaner that is non-toxic and doesn’t have chlorine, fragrance, phosphates or petroleum-based ingredients.
  • Seek out the shade: It seems counterintuitive, but the sun causes streaks. So for the best finish possible, find a spot in the shade to do your apartment car wash.
  • Get your towels: Grab a few towels or wash mitts to get the job done. Make sure to have one each (at least) for the tires, body wash and for drying.
  • Conserve water: Don’t just leave the hose on indiscriminately. Doing so wastes about 10 gallons per minute! While you’re doing the wash — turn it off whenever you’re not rinsing or filling the bucket. Make it easier on yourself by attaching a nozzle that will automatically shut off the water when not in use.
  • Clean up after the clean-up: Other than waiting for water to dry, no one at your apartment should see any residue from your apartment car wash. Resist the easier, but less responsible urge to dump dirty water in the street. Instead, carry the bucket inside and dispose of it in a sink or toilet.

Other than these tips, use your common sense. If all goes well the first-time management is more likely to let you keep doing car washes from the comfort of your apartment parking lot.

Lather, rinse, repeat

Each and every time you wash your car by hand you’ll come up with ways to make an apartment car wash more efficient and easier. Eventually, you’ll be a well-oiled machine for…well, your well-oiled machine.

The post 10 Tips for Washing Your Car at Your Apartment Community appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

How To Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets in 11 Easy Steps

Getting your kitchen organized in a way that makes sense for your life will make a big difference in how you use the space and how much time you spend in it. Here’s how to organize your kitchen cabinets so you’ll love being in the kitchen!

1. Remove everything from your kitchen cabinets

To organize your kitchen cabinets, you’ll want to start by taking everything out of the drawers and cupboards — absolutely everything must come out.

You want to start with empty, clean places for everything. Don’t try to shuffle things around between them — this usually results in a bigger mess than when you started.

2. Clean the drawers and surfaces

Wipe down and disinfect all of the drawers, cabinets and shelves in your kitchen. Even a few crumbs in the bottom of a drawer can make it look gross and unorganized, so get everything looking as clean as possible.

how to organize kitchen cabinets with pots and pans

3. Take inventory of everything you have

Get a good idea of what you have. Sort items into categories, such as:

  • Pots and pans
  • Food storage containers
  • Bowls and plates
  • Cups
  • Eating utensils
  • Cooking utensils
  • Baking tools
  • Small appliances (electric mixer, waffle maker, toaster, etc.)
  • Spices
  • Dry foods (cereal, pasta, oatmeal, etc.)
  • Baking ingredients (flour, sugar, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, etc.)

Everything sorted? Now, you can see what all you have and how much of each item you’ll need to store.

4. Get rid of the items you don’t need

More isn’t always better, especially when you’re working with a finite amount of kitchen storage space. With everything sorted and you know exactly how much of everything you’ve got, decide what you need and what you don’t need.

Over time, you may have collected various kitchen items and you may not realize just how much you actually have. While it’s nice to have lots of pots and pans for cooking dinner for a group, you may find that you have three pots all the same size when, realistically, you only need one. The same thing goes for everything else — you may have accumulated 12 wooden spoons and you only need to have two. And that turkey baster collection? One will do — you get rid of the other two.

Get rid of things you haven’t used or have too many of — so fitting everything in your kitchen cabinets won’t give a game of Tetris a run for its money.

5. Group similar items together

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the extra stuff, you’ve got less stuff to fit into your kitchen. Woohoo!

Start by keeping similar items together and match them up with cabinets and drawers relative to their size and quantity. Pots and pans are bulky, so they’ll probably need a bigger cabinet. Spice jars are small, so they can go in a smaller cabinet.

Keep similar items together in the same place so they’re easy to find and you won’t end up opening every single cabinet and drawer in the kitchen each time you need something.

6. Put open items in bins and containers

When you’re limited on drawer space, using bins to store things can make it much easier to find what you need and keep things from falling out of cabinets when you open them.

Clear bins are best since you can see exactly what’s inside of them. You can store all of your baking ingredients in them — creating one for your sugars (regular sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, etc.) and one for chocolate chips (semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate, white chocolate, etc.).

Don’t forget to dedicate a bin or two for your snacks (granola bars, fruit snacks, etc.). Make bins for any items that make sense to keep together.

how to organize kitchen cabinets with clear storage

You can also store dry food items in clear, airtight containers. This allows you to see how much of everything you have, plus containers are stackable, resealable and won’t get smashed or lost easily in your pantry. Even Marie Kondo supports putting food into matching containers for organization!

7. Use drawer organizers for utensils

Kitchen drawers.

Putting dividers and organizers in drawers will help keep things sorted out and easy to find. Rather than a jumbled mess where it takes forever to dig up what you need, sort your regular utensils — forks, knives and spoons, as well as bigger cooking utensils like ladles, cooking spoons and spatulas.

8. Match up your food storage containers

how to organize kitchen cabinets with Food storage containers

It’s easy to throw all of the food storage containers and lids into a cabinet once they’re clean, but tale as old as time — when you need it, you end up having to dig through everything just to find a matching lid.

Put the lids on your food storage containers before putting them in the cabinet so you’re guaranteed to find a container and a matching lid each time you need it. You can nest them to save cabinet space while still keeping matches together.

No more digging through and trying to fit 12 lids on the same container before you find a match!

9. Keep frequently used items within easy reach

Put all of the items you use frequently in the easiest to reach and access places and keep the seldom-used items in harder-to-access places.

It doesn’t make sense to keep the drinking glasses you use every day on a high shelf that’s difficult to reach, nor it makes zero sense to store the electric mixer you use once a month in an eye-level cabinet right by the sink.

Your kitchen’s organization should make sense for your life and what you use often.

10. Store items in places that make sense

Store things in the most practical of places! Keep your cooking oil and spices near the stovetop, since that’s where you will use them the most. Put your eating utensils near the plates and bowls since they go together like peas in a pod. Put pots and pans near the stove because they’re always used on it.

11. Eliminate a junk drawer

Junk drawer.

Many people have a drawer for the miscellaneous items in their kitchen, often dubbed the “random” or “junk” drawer. It turns into a black hole where you end up placing small items you’re too lazy to find the correct spot for and once you need that item, you can’t remember where you put it.

This drawer defeats the purpose of organizing your kitchen— you should find everything quickly and easily without having to dig through a bunch of random stuff in a drawer. Don’t leave room for a junk drawer in your kitchen at all!

Other kitchen cabinet organization tips

Here are a few additional tips and ideas for organizing your kitchen cabinets.

  • Use hooks on the inside of cabinet doors to hang things like scrub brushes, pot lids and large spoons
  • Use shelf risers to give yourself extra stacking space in cabinets
  • Most cabinets have movable shelves, change the shelf placement to accommodate the items you’re putting into each cabinet
  • Add a magnetic knife strip to the wall above where you normally chop fruits and vegetables so you can keep your favorite knives at the ready without taking up drawer space
  • Store your cutting boards and baking sheets vertically instead of horizontally —that way, you can simply slide which sheet you want out on its side
  • Label containers and bins, especially if they’re opaque and not clear so that you know what’s stored inside of them without having to check
  • Add a lazy Susan to awkward corner cabinets with a small opening, so you can store things like spices and oils without needing to reach far into the cabinet and you can see everything easily
  • Limit your kitchen gadgets — yes, the banana slicer looks cool and helps you cut a banana in five seconds rather than 30, but do you really need it? Sparingly purchase gadgets to prevent clutter.

These aren’t necessary for keeping your kitchen cabinets organized, but they can certainly help make your kitchen all the more functional.

Staying organized requires discipline

Once you figure out how to organize your kitchen cabinets, your work isn’t completely done — you need to make sure they STAY organized. That means putting everything back into its proper place whenever you’re through using it. It’s easy to slip out of that habit, but once you do, your kitchen cabinets and drawers may end up a mess again.

Put forth a special effort to keep things where they belong!

The post How To Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets in 11 Easy Steps appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

9 Ways to Survive With No Dishwasher in Your Apartment

Even if your new rental unit ticked off most of your must-have boxes — great location, lots of light, budget-friendly — you might be disappointed about one thing: There’s no dishwasher in the apartment.

Not to worry! Here are some tips, tricks and shortcuts that take the drudgery out of washing dishes — and you may even end up enjoying the task.

1. Plan meals that use fewer dishes

Instant pot filled with food.

Instead of dirtying piles of cooking utensils, try incorporating some one-pot meals into the rotation. Slow cookers, instant-pots, woks and sheet pans will all minimize the amount of mess.

When baking, measure your dry ingredients first and then reuse the same measuring cups and spoons for wet ingredients.

You can also line your pans with aluminum foil before roasting vegetables or baking lasagna to cut down on washing time afterward.

Also, read a recipe through before you start cooking to see how many dishes you will need. By thinking ahead, you’ll have less to wash when you’re done eating.

2. Clean up as you cook

Washing a dirty pan with soap and water because there's no dishwasher in apartment

As you prepare your meal, get in the habit of tossing food scraps into the compost bin or garbage can. Plan to wash what you use as you’re cooking or place dirty dishes into the sink as you go.

Before you start chopping any ingredients, fill the sink with warm soapy water and soak your dirty dishes so food doesn’t become dry and caked on. Wash your prep tools as your food cooks.

3. Get the right tools for the job

Cleaning tools for dishwashing.

Toss that stinky kitchen dishcloth and pick up a few smart gadgets that will almost make you forget you don’t have a dishwasher in your apartment.

  • A dishwashing brush can handle even the crustiest food remnants, plus it dries completely — no more damp, germ-infested sponges lying around.
  • If you prefer a sponge, get a washable microfiber one that you can toss into the washing machine.
  • Silicone scrubbing gloves protect your hands, plus they provide some scrubbing power.
  • Using a blade brush is a safer way to clean sharp knives.
  • A food scraper or dish squeegee makes dishwashing easier and keeps your sudsy water cleaner.

4. Protect your drain

Sink clogged with water.

The last thing you need when you have no dishwasher in your apartment is a clogged kitchen sink.

Never pour oil or grease down the drain because they can coat the pipes and cause a blockage. Use a sink strainer to catch food particles and empty it regularly while you’re cleaning up.

5. Be efficient by learning how to clean stubborn dishes

Handwashing dishes.

For about $10, you can upgrade your kitchen faucet with a swivel tap aerator, which helps get into the nooks and crannies for more effective dishwashing.

Wash items from least to most dirty: Glasses and silverware first, then plates and bowls. Save the largest, dirtiest things for last. Some dishes, like glassware or anything oily need extra-hot water to get clean, while others do better with cold.

For example, dairy and starch rinse off easily under cold water, which prevents the residue from getting sticky. For scorched pots and pans, head to your laundry room to grab a dryer sheet: Soaking it with the pan in warm soapy water for an hour will remove caked-on grime.

6. Use the right kind and amount of dish soap

Soapy sponge because no dishwasher in apartment

If you don’t like wearing latex gloves to protect your hands, use a natural dish soap that will be gentler on your skin. For very greasy dishes, you might need a more advanced dish cleaner.

Don’t use too much soap, because it can leave a sticky residue on your dishes — one or two tablespoons per load is all you need.

Pouring your soap into a touchless foaming soap dispenser controls how much you use, saving you money.

7. Purchase space-saving drying racks

Dishes drying on a cleaning rack.

Why double the amount of work to hand-dry all your dishes when you can let them air-dry instead?

Since small apartment kitchens usually lack counter space, ditch the bulky dish-drying rack in favor of a more streamlined solution, such as hanging a wire shelf over the sink, or using a roll-up drying rack that stores away when not in use. Or, use a silicone dish-drying mat — it’s better than a fabric one because it prevents mold growth.

8. Treat yourself to a few luxuries

Man listening to music while doing dirty dishes in the kitchen with no dishwasher in apartment

Just because there’s no dishwasher in your apartment doesn’t mean you should dread cooking great meals for yourself or your loved ones. One thing that makes the task easier is creating the right mood for the job.

Pick up some great-smelling dish soap and soft linen kitchen towels, which dry faster than cotton and are naturally anti-microbial. Set up a waterproof Bluetooth speaker or wear wireless headphones so you can listen to your favorite tunes or podcast or light a few aromatherapy candles to make washing dishes more enjoyable.

9. Invest in a countertop dishwasher

Speaking of treating yourself: Sometimes, especially if you have a family to feed three times a day, hand-washing everything is just not realistic. Apartment dwellers have another option: A countertop dishwasher.

These appliances — ranging in size from 16 to 22 inches wide — sit on your counter, hook up to the faucet and wash up to six place settings at once. These dishwashers cost about $400.

Adapt to having no dishwasher in your apartment

While living in an apartment with no dishwasher can seem challenging at first, the transition to a wash-as-you-go lifestyle is easier when you plan ahead, use the right tools and shift your mindset.

The post 9 Ways to Survive With No Dishwasher in Your Apartment appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Charge an Electric Car at Your Apartment

Plugging a car into a socket to charge it instead of filling it up with gas once was something of a sci-fi fantasy. Now, electric vehicles — or EVs — are becoming more and more popular. From Nissan to BMW to Tesla, you’ll see all major car manufacturers are creating fully electric vehicles.

If you’re jumping on the trend and are considering purchasing or already own an EV, that’s great. However, you’ll want to consider how and where to charge it if you’re an apartment dweller.

Whether your apartment has electric car charging don’t worry! Here are some ways to fully charge your car at your apartment with — or without — EV charging on site.

Electric vehicles charging on the street.

Apartment electric car charging

It is slightly more difficult to own an electric car if your apartment doesn’t offer EV charging, but it’s not impossible. With a bit of creative thinking, you can give your car a jolt of energy and be off cruising in no time.

Find a supercharging station located near you

When your apartment doesn’t have an option for electric car charging, you’ll need to find car charging stations in your area. To do this, download apps like PlugShare or OpenChargeMap where you can type in your location and find supercharging stations near you. This is a great option because you’re likely to find several EV charging stations near your apartment. You can plug in your car to charge while you’re grocery shopping, running errands or at the gym.

Charge at your office

If you still commute to an office and aren’t solely work-from-home, you can charge your car at your office building. A lot of companies are installing EV charging stations for their employees, so you can drive to work, charge during the 9-to-5 and leave work with a fully charged car.

Electric vehicle charging.

Run a heavy-duty extension cord from your apartment to your car

If you’re lacking apartment electric car charging options, you can create a makeshift charging station by purchasing a heavy-duty extension cord and snaking it from your apartment to the car itself. This isn’t an ideal option because you may not have enough voltage for a full charge. However, if you’re in a pinch this can work.

Look for apartments with EV charging

If you currently lease or own an electric vehicle and you’re looking for a new place to rent, it’s smart to search for an apartment with EV charging stations already included. This will save you time and energy as you can simply plug your car in to charge at your dedicated parking spot.

When searching for apartments with specific amenities, you can use a search finder tool to narrow your search and find the perfect place for you. Put in the features you’re looking for — like two bedrooms, on-site gym, swimming pool and apartment electric car charging — and you’ll get a list of available rentals tailored to your needs.

Why not include the exact features you’re looking for so you can charge your car while at home?

Ask your landlord to install an EV charging station

The green movement and electric vehicle trend are here to stay.

Over time, landlords will start installing apartment EV charging stations on their properties. While some have already started doing this, as the tenant, you can also push for this and ask your landlord to consider installing an apartment electric car charging station. There are companies like ChargePoint that will work with property owners to install EV charging stations on site.

It may seem like a big ask to get your landlord to install an EV charging station, but it benefits both the tenant and the landlord in the long run. First, you’ll be a satisfied tenant. And second, it’ll make the property more appealing to future renters.

Electric vehicle charging station.

Types of EV charging

Just like there are different types of gas to purchase (regular, premium, diesel), there are different types of charges for EVs.

  • Level 1 charging: This is the basic level of charging and can use a standard 120V household option. If you’re using a heavy-duty extension cord from your apartment to your car, you’re going to get a level 1 charge. Typically, this will get you around 4 to 5 miles of range per hour. If you’re driving here and there but mostly stay at home, this is a sufficient charge.
  • Level 2 charging: With level 2 charging, you’ll get more mileage, typically 12 to 20 miles of range per hour. This type of charging requires 240 volts.
  • DC fast charging: This is high-voltage charging, typically 800+ volts, and allows your EV to rapidly charge. This is a great option but you won’t find this at your typical apartment complex in most cases.

Understanding the different types of charging options can help you decide how and when to charge your electric car at your apartment.

Go green at your apartment

As electric vehicles increase in popularity, you’ll start to see more and more rental complexes offer apartment electric car charging stations as an amenity. Until it becomes common practice though, you can still go green, drive an EV and rent an apartment with EV charging options.

The post How to Charge an Electric Car at Your Apartment appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

What Is Cash Back?

What Is Cash Back?

Cash back is a rewards benefit that many credit cards offer to cardholders. By taking advantage of it, you’ll receive back a prespecified percentage of certain purchases you make. Many credit card companies will provide higher cash back rates on certain types of purchases, such as airfare, gas, food and more. Cash back is just one way that credit cards offer rewards, as mileage and points are some alternatives.

Before you spend too much money with your credit cards, make sure you have a financial plan in place. Speak with a financial advisor today.

What Is Cash Back?

The most commonly recognized style of cash back is what you have likely seen advertised as cash back credit cards. This specifically refers to earning a certain percentage of your credit card purchases back as cash rewards. However, cash back rates vary widely, as do the categories that they apply to.

You usually won’t see credit card cash back rates higher than 5%, while 1% is the typically minimum you will earn. Cash back categorization is significantly more complex though, with a merchant category code (MCC) system being the main organizing force.

MCCs run the entire cash back industry, as they ultimately decide how each purchase you make is classified. These designations coincide with cash back rates set by the issuer of your card. For example, you could use your card for a $50 dinner at a steakhouse, which has a “restaurant” code. If your card offers a 2% cash back rate on all spending at restaurants, you’d earn $1 cash back.

Familiar alternatives to cash back include point- and mile-based programs, though many cardholders are partial to cash back. Cash back affords cardholders an independence that is ideal, since you can redeem it for nearly anything.

Popular Cash Back Credit Cards

What Is Cash Back?

Discover, American Express, Mastercard and Visa all have cash back rewards credit cards available for prospective cardholders. Each abide by their own set of regulations, though card issuers decide on cash back rates, promotions and bonuses. Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi and Capital One represent some of the most active card issuers on the market today.

Below are a few examples of what you can expect to earn when looking for a cash back credit card:

Cash Back Credit Cards Card Name Cash Back Rates Cash Back Bonus Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi 4% cash back on eligible gas up to $7,000 per year, 3% cash back on eligible travel and restaurants, 2% cash back in-store and online with Costco and 1% cash back elsewhere None Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card 3% cash back in a category of your choosing, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1% cash back on all other purchases (up to a quarterly cap of $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/choice category purchases) $200 bonus cash back for spending at least $1,000 over your first 90 days Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card Unlimited 1.5% cash back everywhere $150 cash back bonus when you spend $500 during your first three months Citi Double Cash Card 1% cash back on your purchases and another 1% cash back when you pay your bill None Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card Unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% cash back on groceries and 1% cash back elsewhere $300 cash back bonus for $3,000 spent over your first three months TD Cash Visa® Credit Card 3% cash back on dining, 2% cash back at supermarkets and 1% cash back on everything else Earn $150 cash back when spending $500 within the first 90 days (See Terms) USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Unlimited 1.5% cash back on everything None Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express 3% cash back on up to $6,000/year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1%), 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% cash back on other purchases $150 bonus cash back for spending $1,000 over your first six months Getting Cash Back at Retailers

What Is Cash Back?

Picture this: you’re buying some groceries on a Sunday morning, but know you’ll need $40 cash to fill up your car with some gas later. You could swipe your debit card at the supermarket and then head over to the ATM. Or you could ask for cash back right from the cashier, eliminating the extra errand.

The above situation represents the alternative definition of cash back. It’s ultimately the use of a cash register as if you were swiping your debit card at the ATM. When you request cash back from a cashier, your bank account will be charged the amount you asked for. This enables the funds to be pulled from your account so the cash can be placed in your hand.

Although this generally only applies to debit cards, there are a few exceptions for credit cards. Discover® allows cardholders to ask for cash back at more than 50 large retail stores without a transaction fee.

Bottom Line

There are many benefits to utilizing credit card rewards programs. But spending money that technically isn’t yours will always involve some level of risk. If you’re in good financial shape, though, cash back and other types of credit card rewards can help you take more vacations, save money on purchases and more.

Credit Card Tips

  • Managing your credit cards and any debt you accumulate using them is a major part of your long-term financial outlook. Consider working with a financial advisor to make sure you’re managing your money with your goals for the future in mind. SmartAsset’s free matching tool can connect you with up to three advisors in your area. Get started now.
  • If you’re someone who wants freedom when spending credit card rewards, you may prefer cash back to a points- or mileage-based reward system. However, keep in mind that cash back rates are sometimes less than those in point-centric programs.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which SmartAsset.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). SmartAsset.com does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/SIphotography, ©iStock.com/MJ_Prototype, Â©iStock.com/Juanmonino

The post What Is Cash Back? appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Source: smartasset.com

Make the most of an online shopping bonus category

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card made waves in early 2019 when it started offering cardholders the option to earn cash back on online shopping purchases. It’s still one of the only credit cards that rewards online shopping purchases so broadly. However, there are plenty of cards that reward online purchases from specific retailers or types of retailers.

With so many products available online, this can be a very lucrative bonus category. Whether you want to earn cash back on your grocery delivery or on your boutique hauls, you have plenty of credit cards to choose from.

But how exactly does an online shopping bonus category work? By understanding just how this bonus category works and what purchases qualify, you can get more out of your rewards card and boost your earning potential.

See related: The best credit cards for online shopping

How online purchases are identified

When a merchant or card processor sends a transaction to your credit card issuer, it is identified in a few different ways. Each merchant is assigned a merchant category code (varies by card network), to help issuers recognize which category your purchase falls under. But the transaction information is also classified as being made online or in-person.

If a transaction is noted as being made online, your issuer can then check the merchant category code to ensure the purchase meets any restrictions. Then, you receive any bonus points or cash back.

Which purchases count toward an online shopping bonus?

shopping portals offer points or cash back for making purchases at your favorite store through their link. By using one of these sites to make your online purchases, you can earn airline miles, hotel points or cash back on top of credit card rewards.

Pay using a merchant app

If you frequent merchants such as Starbucks that allow you to pay through their app, use this option whenever possible to rack up online shopping bonus category rewards on in-person purchases. You may also double-up on rewards this way by earning both credit card rewards and loyalty points with the retailer.

Use a cash back or rebate program

Cash back programs like Ibotta and Rakuten can help you squeeze every bit of cash back out of a single purchase. Each program works differently, but most allow you to shop online or within a mobile app, where you can browse cash back deals with specific retailers.

If you use your credit card to make a purchase through one of these programs, you can earn cash back twice – once with your credit card issuer and once with the cash back program.

See related: Our guide to the best cash back and rebate apps

Keep a close eye on your card’s terms and conditions

Each issuer has its own set of restrictions for which purchases qualify as online shopping. To make sure you aren’t missing out on rewards, check your credit card’s terms and conditions regularly and note any changes.

Cards that offer an online shopping bonus category

A few cards offer bonus points or cash back on online shopping, including the Bank of America Cash Rewards card.

Bank of America Cash Rewards card
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
Rewards rate
  • 3% cash back on a category of choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvements and furnishings)
  • 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale club purchases
  • $2,500 combined limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
Sign-up bonus $200 online cash rewards if you spend $1,000 in first 90 days
Annual fee $0
Estimated yearly rewards value ($1,325 monthly spend) $309

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card also allows cardholders to change their 3 percent bonus category once per calendar month. So if you spend more on online shopping one month, but will spend more on dining the next, you have the flexibility to adapt your rewards as your spending changes.

Bottom line

When it comes to credit card rewards bonus categories, online shopping is one of the most flexible options out there. By understanding which purchases rake in points and cash back, you can get even more out of your card.

See related: How merchant category codes can help you leverage card rewards, Bank of America Cash Rewards cardholders can now choose how they earn rewards

Source: creditcards.com