Let credit cards work together to save you money
With credit cards providing all sorts of benefits, choosy consumers can get a lot of mileage from having a decent assortment of plastic. Issuers are creating credit cards that target different categories of users, enabling smart consumers to apply for a number of credit cards and only use each credit card in a way that provides the maximum benefit.
However, this approach should not be taken by consumers who have trouble paying off their credit card balances each month, paying on time, or who have damaged credit histories. Those individuals who do better to limit the number of credit cards they hold.
When considering rewards credit cards, shoppers can drill down into the terms and conditions of the reward plan to find out such things as when the plan expires and if there is an annual limit to the amount of rewards they can earn.
Consumers may want to evaluate their own household needs, picking credit cards that will help the family the most. Perhaps the family could use a cash back credit card, a gas card and an airline credit card. Should both members of a married couple each have good credit scores, the husband and wife can separate their card applications, allowing them to take advantage of new deals from issuers who may have already signed up one spouse but not the other.
Consumers can select a main credit card that provides an appealing rebate, making any transactions with this card that do not fall into another category they have a card for.
Perhaps you will decide to use a credit card that provides 0 percent interest for one year on balance transfers or cash advances. Consumers should call their card issuer to find out the date the balance must be repaid by to avoid any interest charges, marking this date on their calendar. They may then decide to put this credit card aside and not use it for any purchases until the balance has been paid off. Check to see if the card charges fees for balance transfers.
Meanwhile, they can choose a credit card that offers benefits at places they spend a lot of money, such as home improvement stores or at restaurants.
After a year using their selection of credit cards, consumers may want to add up the total of how much they have earned and saved by using the right card at the right time. With card issuers often retooling rewards programs, consumers may also want to review the terms for the plastic they are carrying and decide if they would do better to make some swaps for cards that would provide greater benefits.
When juggling multiple credit cards, it is very important to keep up with payments so you don't get slammed with penalty fees and charges. Online bill payments can help, with consumers making sure they send an automatic payment to each credit card issuer before the payment's due date.
Published: October 25, 2006
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