Photo Credit: barsen via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: barsen via Compfight cc

It’s all about the rewards! I love using my credit cards to pay for things and get cashback and gift cards. Since I pay it off each month I don’t accumulate any interest and the rewards are just a bonus on top of what I normally would spend anyway. Some people are probably tempted to spend more to get more rewards, but that’s not the way I operate.

Of course some people shouldn’t be using credit cards or don’t want to use them at all. Rewards credit cards also have very high interest rates that are definitely not in the best interest of the consumer. I would not use rewards credit cards if I couldn’t manage my money correctly and have a balance on it. The high interest rates would keep me in debt for quite a long time. There are other ways to get rewards without having a rewards credit cards though. Your bank debit card might have a rewards program and there are online sites devoted to just rewards.

Bank debit card
I have a regular checking and savings account with Bank of America. Online I can sign up for special cashback deals and get the rewards when I shop for those certain stores. It’s pretty limited though and only about ten stores or so are on there at a time. Check to see if your bank has a reward program. To compete against credit cards I’m sure they have something going on.

Ebates
I just started using Ebates not too long ago but it’s been pretty useful. They have a very long extensive list of online stores that you can shop at and get cashback. Every three months if your cashback total is over $5.01 they’ll send you a check! You just have to make sure that when you do any online shopping that you go to their site first and click through to get your rewards.

Swagbucks
This is actually an entire rewards site where you can earn rewards not just by shopping, but also by doing certain activities and completing surveys and such. I use this all the time because it doesn’t take much effort and the easiest thing to do is use their search to get rewards every now and then. They don’t literally give cashback but you get giftcards instead. You can get a $5 Amazon giftcard for 450 rewards points. I’ve gotten quite a few of these already!

 

What cashback programs do you use that aren’t tied to a credit card?

 

 


Photo Credit: SimonQ錫濛譙 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: SimonQ錫濛譙 via Compfight cc

Depending on your perspective, credit cards might be the epitome of evil, or they can be the best thing that ever happened to you! When used unwisely, they can sink you into deep debt, but if you have some self control and know the tricks, then you can really get a lot out of credit cards. I’m in the latter category where I like to use credit cards for rewards. I don’t spend more than I have in the bank, and I pay it off each month. My rewards just add up over the year and it’s worth it for me.

If you don’t keep track of your expenses and tend to have a lot of impulse purchases, then I wouldn’t be using credit cards if I were you. It’s much too easy to charge something and think that it’ll be okay later. Paying with cash hurts a lot more and will help curb impulses. There’s nothing like seeing a stack of cash disappear! If your finances are in order, you live under your means, and you can curb your impulse buying, then read on!

Pay it all off each month
Rewards credit cards will always have the highest interest rates possible. If you pay only the minimum each month, then that credit card debt will start adding up quickly! Only charge what you can pay off in full each month. Having a balance in there really means that you paid too much for what you charged. I put all my accounts in Mint.com so that I can see the total amount of credit card debt in one place. This really helps me to make sure I don’t charge too much. When in doubt, pay with a debit card, check, or cash.

Racking up rewards
I like the cards with cash rewards or that give you a higher value for gift cards. Using credit cards over a year will get me a few hundred in rewards points. Always make sure to use those rewards! The credit card companies aren’t going to remind you if you don’t!

Using multiple cards to get the most points
I have three rewards credit cards I like to use. Chase Freedom, Discover, and my Costco AmEx card! Chase and Discover have different categories each quarter where you can get 5% back. The AmEx gets 3% on gas, 2% on restaurants and travel, and 1% on everything else. Between the three of these cards, I’m bound to get the most cash back possible!

Set up a reminder system for payments
I don’t trust that the email reminders credit cards companies send you will always work. I did have one scare where one email never came through and I ended up being 2 days late. Since I had never been late before, they waived the fee and didn’t report it. Whoosh. I was pretty relieved. After that though, I set up my own reminder system so it would never happen again.

Check your transactions
I log in a few times a week to check that transactions have gone through and are correct. If you have a dispute, make sure to contact the credit card company as soon as possible so you don’t pay more than you should. This is also a good way to check for fraud. I’ve had fraudulent charges on my Chase card twice but they’ve always taken care of it.

 

Using credit cards really isn’t for everyone. If you’re not really organized and are forgetful, then it’s probably a bit risky. Unfortunately, it’s like gambling where a much larger proportion of people lose than win. If you’re careful though, you can get a lot out of them!

Are you a fan of credit cards or do you freeze them in ice?