June 7th, 2010
REVIEW: Chase RealCash Debit Card
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If you crave the rewards a credit card offers but need the security of a debit card, Chase’s new RealCash Debit Card comes close to a perfect union of the two. RealCash’s cash back program turns your debit card into a moneymaker, minus the risks of paying interest, getting charged fees, and piling up debt that a credit card poses.
Chase’s RealCash card pays you up to 3% cash back on what you spend for the month. Here’s how it works:
- If your total debit card purchases for the month are up to $499, you earn 1% back on your “qualifying purchases” of that month in grocery, gas, coffee, fast food, and drugstore purchases.
- If you spend a total of up to $999 on your debit, you earn 2% cash back on the same categories of qualifying purchases.
- If you exceed $1,000 in total debit purchases, you earn the highest rate of 3% cash back on qualifying purchases.
- Chase caps your total annual cash back earned to $500.
- You can also earn up to whopping 20% cash back when you shop online at the Chase RealCash Mall.
Chase also rewards you for acting fast. You receive a $10 bonus after your first non-PIN purchase on a RealCash debit card. Also, if you open a RealCash debit card before July 31, you receive double cash back (up to $50) on qualifying purchases for the first 2 months after opening the card. Extra rewards on top of rewards make the RealCash debit card more appealing.
Reward debit cards are growing in popularity because, in lieu of a rewards credit card, you get the perks without having to face the consequences that come with mismanaging a credit card (debt, steep charges, exorbitant APR, credit score damage, you name it). Other rewards debit cards include PerkStreet Financial’s debit card offering music and gift card rewards, Chase’s own United Airline and Continental card with airline mile rewards, and Citibank offering redeemable points and miles. But not many issuers offer actual cash back, giving RealCash an edge in a market where cash is king.
However, while cash back debit cards usually offer about 1% cash back, Chase’s RealCash offers 1-3% cash back on only “qualifying purchases”, which is a smaller percentage of specific categories of your total monthly spending. Another downside is that RealCash comes with a $25 annual fee. But if you spend in the highest percentage tier and spend a big chunk on “qualifying purchases” to offset the annual fee and maximize your earning potential, then this debit card’s rewards is worth its weight in plastic.