Credit cards are great tools for consumers to track spending and earn rewards, but if you are not careful they can also create expensive debt. There is a fine line to march when using a credit card to reap the rewards, without going into debt. Here are a few guidelines for proper credit card use.
Know your Spending Habits
In order to have a healthy relationship with your credit card, it is important to have a handle on your spending. Many people don’t know how much they are spending on a monthly basis. Before you start regularly using a credit card, it is important that you are able to pay it off each month. Carrying a balance on a credit card is what can get you into trouble. If you would like to ease in, start by only using a credit card for eating out, filling up your gas tank, or big purchases that you know you can pay off.
Prioritize your Benefits
Once you are comfortable with your spending, its time to decide what credit card reward benefits best suit your lifestyle. Credit cards offer a plethora of rewards from points for dining and takeout, gas rewards, cash back and travel perks. When you understand your spending habits, it makes it easier to decide which card’s rewards system could benefit you the most. But beware of annual fees and interest rates! Make sure you fully understand the fee structure before signing up.
Don’t be Loyal
It may be easy to choose a credit card and stick with it, but you could be missing out on new opportunities. It is important to reevaluate every few years to see if there is a better card available to fit your lifestyle. Are you spending more on groceries than eating out this year? It may be time to pick-up a card that earns cash back at the store. Do you have a big trip coming up? A signing or introduction bonus could help pay for flights. Make sure you are taking the time every few years to re-evaluate your card selection.
In conclusion, it is important that you are not missing payments and are paying your credit card in full before focusing on rewards. Never spend above your means just to earn miles. A few great resources that we like to reference are: https://thepointsguy.com/, https://www.nerdwallet.com/credit-cards, and https://www.creditcardinsider.com/. If you would like to discuss credit card usage, along with a plethora of other planning topics, schedule a time to meet with one of our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™ today.