It Can Pay To Be Credit Savvy

Using credit cards can be tricky, but mastering the skill has its benefits. While credit cards used to be the way to buy now and pay later, companies have been adding more incentives for consumers to choose and use their cards. If, any only if, you can keep a handle on your bills by paying them off monthly, you can use these rewards systems to your advantage.

Rewards come in multiple varieties, so it’s an important feature to pay attention to when first selecting your credit card of choice. Choose a card that has rewards you will use. If you are an avid traveler, choose a card that offers airline miles or cruise rewards. If you have kids, Walt Disney World offers a rewards card to help pay for family vacations. If you are an avid shopper, choose a card that offers either gift cards or cash back as a reward so you can fulfill your shopping desires without accruing additional debt. No matter what your passion, there is most likely a reward credit card for you.

No matter what method you use to accrue points, be sure to pay off your balances before your grace period ends to avoid financing charges. Paying more for your purchases by adding interest negates any reward deal you may earn. Here are some easy suggestions to build up your rewards points:

  • Pay your utilities with one specific rewards card. Not only will you increase your rewards balance with items you pay for anyways, but you can set up your payments to be made automatically each month. Remembering one due date and writing one check makes things easier!
  • Use your reward card to pay for work expenses that will be reimbursed. The key to this being successful is that once you receive the reimbursement check, be sure to use that money to pay off the card.
  • Using your reward card when you travel instead of carrying traveler’s checks and cash gives you both rewards and added protection. Be sure to read your card agreement regarding the protection they offer for foreign destinations. Also, be aware of foreign transaction fees and account for those costs when budgeting.
  • Track all of your daily expenses by using your rewards credit card for daily purchases. You can then use the monthly statement to review your budget. How much do you really spend on that daily latte? Make sure you pay off your balances in full before the grace period ends; otherwise this method can snowball quickly leaving you with a heap of debt.

About the Author

The preceding is a post from Anessa Gross, our resident sale diva and a Certified Personal Finance Counselor who works for Consolidated Credit in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Central Florida and is a current graduate student at the Huizenga Business School at Nova Southeastern University.