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Maximizing Your Credit Card Rewards

Rewards Credit Card Image Courtesy of Points Guy
Rewards Credit Card Image Courtesy of Points Guy

It’s no secret. Whenever you even start looking into getting a credit card, you’re bombarded with so many options. Should you get one from a bank, or from a retailer? Who should you get it with? What are they offering you, and how do you know if it’s better than what you could get somewhere else? I’ll be honest with you: there are a lot of risks associated with getting a credit card, and if your credit is already in bad shape, there’s not much you can do to game the system in your favor. But, if you have good credit and pay off your card on time, there are many opportunities for you to take advantage of the system to get the most out of it.

Keep in mind that if you’re searching for as many ways to gain as possible, that premium credit card are a good option for those of you with good credit, but to keep this post concise, we’re going to stick with basic credit cards.

Let’s start simple: if you want to make the most money possible, then it would be best to not spend money in the first place, right? Not quite! There are several no annual fee, cashback credit cards that actually pay you between 1% and 5% when you charge your card. Contrary to popular believe, you can actually make money off of credit card if you’re smart about it. So, if you’re living in the United States right now, you have some pretty solid choices in this regard: The Chase Freedom program, the Amex Blue Everyday Card, and the Capital One QuickSilver. What makes these cards particularly unique? You don’t have to pay for any of these cards, in fact, you get paid for having them! They all have no annual fee attached, have between 12-18 months of interest-free APR, and most alluringly, all have $100-$150 worth of free bonuses when you sign up and spend anywhere between $500 or $1000 in the first three months of card membership.

You’ve probably also heard of APR. If no one has explained it to you yet, it just stands for Annual Percentage Rate. To explain it simply, it’s the agreed upon interest fees you’ll be charged if you go some time without paying your balance in full. For many credit cards, if you do not pay your balance in full, your interest will be compounded on a DAILY basis after a certain amount of time has passed. However, with all of the above cards offering a 0% APR promotional period of 12-18 months, that essential means you get to use your credit card during that period without having to be afraid of burdensome fees!

Also, many of these cards offer cashback bonuses! Read the fine print, as it will only apply to some purchases, such as groceries, but some cards go up as high as 5% cash back on some items! Normally, most products you buy will be in the 1%-2% range, however. If you choose something other than a cashback card, for instance, something that uses points like airline miles, you’ll see similar rates pop up, but instead of getting money back, you’ll be earning it towards your next plane ticket.

If you want to take full advantage of this, always keep in mind where your credit card gives the highest returns, and make sure to use it when buying those items! For instance, if your credit card gives 5% cashback at gas stations or grocery stores, make sure you never go to fill your car or on a grocery trip without that card on you!

Most importantly: always remember to pay your balance back on time, preferably in full. This keeps your credit in good condition, and you will have your bank stumbling over themselves to offer you more perks with your card! Plus, you won’t have to pay any interest whatsoever! So, get out there and game the system!

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