XKCD on Credit Card Reward Optimization

XKCD has some clever observations about the pursuit of credit card rewards:


I definitely spend more time thinking about optimizing things than is… optimal? rational? That’s why I started a website, so I can justify it as a business pursuit! 🙂 Here’s another good one from XKCD:


Don’t forget the time cost of “Arguing with strangers on internet about A vs B”.

Final mention: XKCD Remix: The Secret Life of Personal Finance Bloggers.


  1. This is great, I think we all do it.

    My last time was when I looked at a 6% reward card. But only at supermarket, and with $95 fee. Not bad, but. The 6% is only good for first $6000 in purchases. So the benefit is the extra 4% (my regular card gives 2%) or $240, less the $95. $145 extra. I suppose if I would like to spend the time tracking, the $140/yr is still money. But it didn’t seem enough to add another card to my mix.

  2. The tooltip you get when you mouse over the comic strip is added bonus. 😀

  3. Somewhat related to this, I remember a professor in a consumer behavior class I took in college talking about a type of consumer who would do extensive comparison shopping and evaluation to the point of mental exhaustion — and then just purchase the alternative they were considering at that moment.

    For myself, I have to keep things like reward cards — as fun as they are — in their proper context. No one ever spent their way to financial well being. We use a Hilton Honors Am Exp as our main card because Hilton brand hotels are generally our preferred lodging. Is it the absolute best reward card? Probably not, but it’s not something I’m going to spend a lot of time sweating until if and when the value proposition noticeably declines. However that does not stop me from being opportunistic. I just recently accepted an offer for a new reward card with a 15 month interest free period — only because we are planning a big vacation out west next year and it will come in handy to stretch the cost of it over time.

    In my younger years I agonized over things such as the best mutual funds to invest in and the right brokerage firm to open an account with — which I think is a bit more justified than reward credit cards. I’m glad I’ve reached a point where I have most of that on autopilot and just adjust my allocation as needed.

  4. I sent the xkcd cartoon to my daughter, and she said, “That’s you, Dad!”

    Thanks for sharing.

Speak Your Mind