This Financial Planning Month, plan to use your credit cards to your advantage. No matter how much you try to avoid them, we all use credit cards sometimes. Having money set aside for unplanned expenses is one way to avoid overspending on your card. Here are some credit card tips and tricks from Bank of America’s Better Money Habits so when you do use your card, you can earn cash back and receive rewards on some of your transactions.
While it’s great to earn rewards, points and cash back on a credit card, don’t open unnecessary accounts. Your credit score is affected each time you apply for a new line of credit because the lender pulls your credit report with a “hard inquiry.” The more credit cards you use, the more bills you’ll have to monitor. Practice good savings habits so you won’t have to rely on credit cards.
Did you know you can receive cash back on some of your purchases? If you’re someone who uses your credit card routinely to cover day to day expenses like lunch at work, gas for your car or utility bills, you might want to enroll in a cash back program so you can earn money when you swipe your card.
Contact your current credit card lender to see if they offer cash back rewards. You may be able to upgrade from a basic card to one that offers benefits with the same provider. If you’re not able to upgrade your card, consider limiting your spending on this particular card since there’s no reward for using it.
When you begin receiving cash back, try not to overspend in hopes of earning money in return. You’ll still have to pay your credit card bill with added interest, so a few dollars back is not worth an oversized credit card statement at the end of your billing cycle.
With the right rewards card, you can earn enough points to cover your next flight or hotel stay. Your travel rewards card might offer flight and hotel upgrades, roadside assistance, and protections in case you lose your luggage, experience travel delays or have a medical emergency on the road.
Be sure to compare your options before signing up for a card. You can choose a general travel rewards card that accrues points on regular, non-travel related card usage; or you can choose an airline or hotel specific card that only earns points when you book travel specifically through them.
If you choose the latter, be sure to calculate the amount you have to spend before actually earning enough points for a trip. If it’s a large amount, you’ll be better off with a general travel rewards card.
If you’re obsessed with shopping at a particular store or website, consider opening a credit card with them. Some retail stores offer discounts as soon as you open your account. Others incentivize your shopping by providing rewards as you spend.
Having a credit card at your favorite store is a great way to earn rewards from your usual spending, but don’t overspend just because you have a card. Be sure to double check the terms and conditions like the interest rate before signing up. >> Learn five ways you can save while you shop.
Planning for a large expense can be stressful, but if you've been saving money you can use some of your savings instead of relying on your credit card.
If you do have to use your card, be sure to use the one with the lowest interest rate for any of your large credit card purchases. This way, you won’t be charged an arm and a leg in interest when it’s time to pay back on your card. >> Learn about how interest rates affect you.
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#FinancialTip: Save money so when you have an unplanned expense you can use your own savings to pay for it. But when you actually have to use your credit card, here are some tips to use it to your advantage. v/@AmericaSaves! http://bit.ly/2QvipU4