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Q&A: What Does “Transfer” Mean? How Do You Transfer Rewards?

June 27, 2013
Credit Cards
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I’m really new to credit cards in general, much less cash back credit cards (although I do have good credit for paying my student loans on time). Could you explain how it would be possible to transfer the cash rewards from the credit card account to a separate checking account? How do you find out if there are fees for doing this, and what they are? With the 2% Fidelity AmEx card, is it possible to transfer the cashback received to a separate checking account? Obviously, it’s an investment account, so that complicates things.

The way that you get your cash back rewards depends on the card. For example, with the Chase Freedom, you can direct-deposit your rewards into a Chase checking or savings account, get a check mailed to you, or redeem your rewards as a statement credit, which reduces the amount you pay on your monthly statement.

With the American Express Blue Cash, on the other hand, you redeem as a statement credit. The BankAmericard Cash Rewards lets you redeem as a statement credit or check, but increases your rewards by 10% if you direct-deposit into a BofA or Merrill Lynch account.

Unfortunately, the Fidelity Amex card makes redemption a little more difficult. If you want to get full value, you can deposit into a Fidelity brokerage account and then withdraw the money, but you’re honestly better off just leaving it in the account to grow.

Now, onto the transfer question. When we say “transfer: none” for the intro APR promotion, we’re actually talking about balance transfers, not rewards. A balance transfer is when you have debt on a high interest credit card, and want to move that balance to another, lower interest card. If you had $10,000 in debt on a Bank of America card and transferred it to a Citi credit card, Citibank would basically pay Bank of America $10,000, and you’d owe that amount to Citi instead.

Some cards offer 0% interest on balance transfers for a certain period of time – anywhere from 6 to 18 months – making them attractive propositions if you have a lot of credit card debt. But if a card’s intro APR is listed as “transfer: none,” it doesn’t have an introductory offer. You’ll just have the standard interest rate on your transferred debt from day one.