January 20, 2015

Using Credit Cards Wisely

Photo Source: The BOOM

I am an active credit card user for several years now.

Before I was using not only one, but four credit cards at the same time. I used almost every bank that issued to me. After being impulsive in using different credit cards, it gave me and Mommy headaches in paying dues. Because of this, I have to give up other credit cards and retain only one.

I want to share some tips, based on my experience, on how to use your credit cards wisely and properly.

As much as possible keep only one credit card
Having too much cards will really give you problem when due date comes. But if you really need those cards, try to have at most two with different payment due dates.

Do not get hooked by “False Promos”
Some cards, especially those newly issued, offer freebies but need to spend a minimum amount. Freebies comes in gadgets, shoes, apparels, gift checks or one time cash rebate.

Before accepting the offer, think of these first:
Are the freebies or promos more important than your spending?
Is it worthy to spend the needed amount just to have the freebies?

Do not overspend just to avail of the promos.

Pay your dues in full and on time
As much as possible, pay the full amount on your bill on or before the due date. This will get you rid of the finance and late payment charges.

If you don’t have enough amount to pay in full, do not settle the stated minimum amount due only. In most cases, the minimum amount due is often smaller compared to the charges that will be incurred on your statement.

Aside from charges in not paying on time, your card might be suspended until you paid the full amount in your monthly bill.

Use your card after the cut-off date
You should know when is the cut-off date. Some cut-offs are fixed while others are "movable" if that particular date falls on weekends and/or holidays. It will be safer to make purchases 2-3 days after the cut-off.

All transactions made after the cut-off will be credited on the next billing statement giving you more time to save for the payment.

Pay your utility bills using your credit cards
I pay my electricity and internet bills through credit card. If you have an online access to your credit card account, try to explore if you can pay utility bills.

For example, my credit card cut-off is every 16th and payment due date will be on every 3rd of the following month while my electric bill’s due date is on the 24th of the same month. If I am going to pay the electricity bill on its due date, let us say January 24. This will be reflected on my credit card’s next billing statement which is February 16 and will be paid on or before 3rd of the following month and that is March 03.

You can also earn bonus points when you pay utilities too.

Use your card in shopping/groceries
Though Mommy and I had money on hand, we still use credit card on our purchases on department stores and groceries but we only spend the amount we had, as much as possible. This helps earning bonus points faster.

Ask for annual fee to be waived
Most credit cards have annual usage fees but only few knows that these can be waived and refunded on the next billing. Just call the customer and ask for your annual usage fee to be waived.

However, asking for a waived annual fee will offer you to choose on either spend using your credit card or avail of one of their promos offered.

Spending usually gives you a minimum amount and you need hit that within 30 days. On the other hand, promos offered are usually availing the balance transfer from other credit cards (of course with corresponding interest).

With the two options, I always pick the first one since the needed amount to be spend is almost the same as our monthly consumption (groceries, electric and internet bills)

Redeem your points
Keep on checking the rewards catalogue if the points earned can also redeem some items like appliances, annual usage fees and gift checks.

Last year, I redeemed a 500peso-worth of gift certificate in exchange of the 20K points I earned. Earning points will be faster if you focus on a single credit card only.

Again, do not spend too much because you are hitting a number of points needed to redeem the item you want.

Most important tip: You must have a discipline in using your credit cards. Self- explanatory, I assume.

Again, these tips are based on my own experience and for me, these are very effective in using my credit card wisely.

Do you have some tips on how to use credit cards too?