Fifteen  years ago frugalistas used to switch long distance carriers willy nilly when offered $50 or $75 to switch. It was a bit of a hassle but hey, it was 50 bucks. More recently, banks such as TCF have been enticing new customers by offering something a lot better than a waffle iron--$100. There a few hoops to go through such as buying checks and maybe even signing up for direct deposit, but generally the most onerous part is the 30 minutes it takes to open the account.


In early December Citibank sent me an offer I thought was too good to be true. Sign up for a no-annual-fee Citi Dividend World Mastercard and get a $500 cash back bonus if the cardholder spends $3,000 in the three months after application. I scoured the fine print looking for a catch and found none. There are other perks too including 5 percent back on purchases that change quarterly. One percent back on all other purchases.


Can I spend $3K in the next 90 days? Who couldn't? The trick is to do it without buying unncecessary stuff.  I'm now charging nearly everything on the card, even the measly $10 purchases and doctor visits. I'm not willing to charge stuff under $10 yet. It makes me feel a bit pathetic charging $2.09 at Taco John's on Tuesdays when three crispy tacos are 69 cents each plus tax.  

If I can't charge $3K by the end of March, there is a Plan B: Charge the first half of my property taxes to Hennepin County. Anyone can charge their property taxes, but there is a handling fee which will cost me about $80 I think. If the

property taxes put me over $3,000 and I get a check for $500, I still net $420. I'm happy.


In case you're wondering, the interest rate on the account is 16.99, but since I plan to pay off the balance each month, it's not something I seriously considered.

So how good is this deal? I think it's a great one, but it's premature to celebrate. I don't have my $500 check yet. I'll keep you updated on my spending and the rewards.

Beverly Herzog, a credit expert at said that the offer I received is no longer available, but she found several others. A Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit card gives you 50,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 within the first three months. The points can be redeemed for a $500 check or $625 toward travel expenses. But it has a $95 annual fee, free the first year.

Herzog also mentioned several $200 cash back offers going on now. Chase Freedom Visa the $200 back if you spend $500 in the first three months. A Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa card offers the same deal.  One caveat: You have to have really good credit to qualify. A score of 700 minimum and maybe even over 760 in some cases, said Herzog.

This is the best offer I've ever gotten from a credit card. I think it's a slam dunk deal. I'll let you know if it all works out. Would you accept such an offer if it showed up in your mailbox?