We’ve all been warned time and time again. Credit cards are evil and can ruin your life. While there is some validity to this statement, you must also remember that without consumers, those pieces of plastic would be powerless. Over the years, I’ve figured out how to use credit cards to my advantage and to help me keep more cash in my pocket. A few tips on how you can do the same:
1. Cash Back Rewards
Our household bills aren’t that exorbitant, but they’re enough to rack up a hefty sum of points our rewards card and redeem them for cash back. However, we immediately pay off any charges made to avoid interest.
Most service providers will take credit as a form of payment, but loan payments typically have to be paid in cash.
2. Complimentary Travel
Three years ago, we decided to forgo the cash back rewards for travel accommodations. We took a family trip family to Puerto Rico without spending a dime on lodging or flights. Since then, we’ve taken weekend getaways a few times a year, thanks to our points and the occasional stay one night, get another night free promotions.
3. Free Gas
Publix frequently offers a coupon for $10 off a $50 gas card when you make a purchase of $50 or more. I used to be very hesitant to capitalize on this deal until I realized I’d be buying gas until the day I stop driving.
So each time this coupon is featured in the weekly circular, I stock up on groceries and pay for the entire purchase with the hotel rewards card. From the transaction, I save $20 on gas while accumulate additional rewards points. Plus, I can eliminate fuel expenditures for the month from my budget.
4. Hidden Benefits
Did you know many of the major credit card issuers offer valuable perks to their cardholders? Those I’ve benefited from the most include:
- Charge backs. This feature has been a saving grace for those times I received a defective product and the retailer was unwilling to issue a refund.
- Price protection. Ever made a purchase only to discover shortly afterwards that someone was offering the item at a much cheaper price? With this benefit, you may be eligible for reimbursement of the price difference if you file a claim within 60 days of the initial purchase.
- Rental car insurance. I’ve often found that the coverage offered by the rental car companies exceed the daily rate of the rental. Bbut thanks to my credit card, I no longer have to worry about it. Be sure to consult with your credit card issuer and auto insurance provider to review coverage details and ensure you’re protected.
- Extended warranty. The last time I purchased a laptop, I made sure to use my MasterCard since they double the manufacturer’s warranty.
Be sure to reach out to your credit card issuer to confirm which benefits are available to you.
5. Interest-Free Loans
In the past, I’ve found myself strapped for cash and unable to take care of all my outstanding obligations for the month before the next paycheck rolled in. But thanks to the almighty plastic, I was able to survive until the income I was expecting hit my account.
Again, I must emphasize that this approach is most effective when you’re in a temporary crunch and will have the funds available to wipe out the balance before the grace period is over. Otherwise, a personal loan may be a more viable option.
A Final Thought
By no means am I suggesting you go out and apply for a ton of credit cards. In fact, doing so may come back to haunt you. However, capitalizing on the benefits your current cards offers could provide you with a financial boost.