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Quit Wasting Money On PPC Advertising

Dec 13, 2007
If you're a high-level arbitrageur or any other sort of PPC mastermind, you're likely doing well over $1,000 a month in pay-per-click advertising and floating the charges on one or more credit cards--which means that if you're not using some sort of rewards card, you're simply letting the credit card companies keep thousands of dollars every year that should be going into your pocket.

The real problem is that trying to sort through the myriad rewards cards out there to find the best one for PPC can be a nightmare, primarily because of the two secrets the credit card companies do their best to keep hidden.

The Dirty Little Secrets of Rewards Cards

Look hard enough, and you'll find almost as many different rewards programs and combinations as there are rewards cards--everything from cash back credit cards that pay up to 5%, to the GM credit card and Subaru credit card that allow you to earn money toward the purchase of a new car. Read the fine print closely enough, though, and you'll uncover the secrets they don't want you to know.

Dirty Little Secret #1

The vast majority of rewards cards just give you the equivalent of 1% cash back. It may be in the form of Starbuck's coffee, merchandise from Amazon.com, or any number of other retail rewards, but it's basically just a 1% refund--or even less. Not only would cash be better (because you can spend it in more places), but you'll definitely use it, unlike some of the merchandise rewards you might accumulate.

Dirty Little Secret #2

Virtually all rewards cards offering more than 1% back have a tiny cap on the rewards that makes them worthless for someone who charges $1,000 or more every month. Look at the fine print on any of them, and you'll see what we mean. The GM card, for example, limits the amount you can apply toward a new vehicle to just $1,000 in most cases. It's not like you can earn enough to actually get a new car for free--although that's definitely the impression that they want you to have.

The Few Rewards Cards That Stand Out

Despite the high number of cards offering measly rewards, there are a handful of rewards cards that do stand head and shoulders above the rest for people doing a lot of PPC spending. We would highly recommend any of these, based on what types of rewards you prefer, and we think you'll find them superior to the card(s) you're using now when you compare the terms side by side.

Get the Most Cash Back

The most obvious reward is pure cash back, and for this we recommend the Blue Cash from American Express. Most cash-back cards offer a flat 1% up to some low maximum, but this card gives you cash back at a tiered level.

For the first $6,500 you spend with the card each year, you earn 0.5% cash back--lower than most other cash-back cards--but after that, you start earning 1.5% back. That's obviously a much better setup for people like you who spend significant amounts on online advertising every year.

Here are some examples of how that would play out:

Monthly SpendingAnnual Earnings - Other 1% CardsAnnual Earnings - Blue Cash

Earn Airline Miles

Credit cards offering airline miles have become very popular over the years, but, as Capital One has so effectively communicated with their commercials, the limitations and restrictions can be significant. When taking a trip, most people want to be able to take the most affordable flight that fits their schedule, but with the blackout dates and single-airline restrictions that come with most airline rewards cards that isn't possible.

The No Hassle Miles Visa Signature card from Capital One eliminates that problem, with points that can be applied to any airline on any date. And not only are restrictions no longer a problem, the No Hassle Miles card pays double what most other airline miles cards do--2 points for every dollar spent, or roughly 2% back. (The one downside is a $39 annual fee, but the rewards from the first $2,000 you spend will cover that.)

Here are some examples of how much you could earn with the No Hassle Miles card:

Monthly SpendingAnnual Earnings - Other CardsAnnual Earnings - Capital One

$1,00012,000 Mi. ($120)24,000 Mi. ($240 - $39 = $201)
$10,000120,000 Mi. ($1,200)240,000 Mi. ($2,400 - $39 = $2,361)
$100,0001,200,000 Mi. ($12,000)2,400,000 Mi ($24,000 - $39 = $23,961)

Get the Best Travel Rewards

Airline cards do offer great rewards for those who travel a lot, but for those who only take the occasional trip, a better option may be a hotel rewards card.

For this we recommend the Hilton HHonors Platinum Card. It provides 3 points for every dollar spent--equivalent to about 3% cash back on all purchases you make. On top of that, they also offer 10,000 bonus points after your first purchase and an additional 15,000 bonus points if you spend $5,000 in the first five months--which shouldn't be a problem for you.

Monthly SpendingFirst Year EarningsAnnual Earnings

$1,00061,000 points (about $610)36,000 points (about $360)
$10,000385,000 points (about $3,850)360,000 points (about $3,600)
$100,0003,625,000 points (about $36,250)3,600,000 points (about $36,000)

Strategies for Getting Around Credit Limits

If none of these cards appeal to you, or if you simply prefer to keep using the one you're using right now, there are strategies that can help you get a higher cap on your rewards:

1. Call your credit card company and ask them to raise your limit. If you're spending thousands of dollars a month and have kept current on your payments, you'll probably have success here.

2. Spread your charges over multiple credit cards to maximize your benefits from each one.

3. Pay off your credit card mid-month either by mail, by phone or online.

Are You Wasting Money on PPC?

So now that you know what the credit card companies don't want you to know, are you maximizing your rewards, or are you throwing money away that you could be putting into your own pocket? Take some time to look at the terms of the cards you're using to see how they compare to these, and don't hesitate to let us know if you have any questions!
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