Curb Inflation With 5 Credit Cards Advantages | Smart Change: Personal Finance
With prices of goods and services continuing to rise due to inflation, cutting back is not the only way to free up money to cover essentials.
Credit cards can have valuable benefits for new applicants, whether your goal is to pay off debt or save costs. Even if you already have a card, you may be sitting on targeted offers, rewards, or benefits that can make a difference.
Here are some ways to maximize the value from a credit card.
1. Introductory presentations
If you have good credit (FICO score of 690 or higher) and big expenses coming in, consider financing it with a credit card that offers a 0% annual advance percentage on purchases and a sign up bonus. As long as you pay off the balance, you’ll save in interest fees and potentially recoup some of the purchase cost with this bonus.
If you have good credit but want to pay off existing debt, a balance transfer credit card may cut costs. It allows you to transfer high-interest debt from another issuer and pay it off at a lower interest rate – ideally at 0% APR for a period of time.
“there will be [balance transfer] Melissa Cox, certified financial planner and advisor at Fetterman Investments, a Dallas-based financial planning firm, says:
Aim for a fee of 3% of the transferred balance or less. Compare these fees to the cost of the long-term interest payments on your current card to determine which option saves more money. If a balance transfer makes sense, make a plan for it.
“If you know it’s going to be six months before the benefits start, you want to have a plan to pay off as much of that debt in those six months,” Cox says.
You can usually find promotional periods for balance transfers of less than two years. And you may not need to apply for a new credit card to get such a deal; Some card issuers offer targeted balance transfer offers to existing cardholders.
2. Buy now, pay later
Some major issuers have built-in ‘buy now, pay later’ options on their credit cards that allow you to pay off eligible purchases in installments for a flat fee or interest rate.
The predictability of these types of payments can make it easier to budget for, and these plans can save you money if their fee or interest rate is cheaper than your regular card’s APR. Plans don’t require a credit check, and you can generally earn rewards on purchases if the card offers it.
3. Rewards on purchases
A credit card that offers a 2% rewards rate on all purchases — or 3% or more again in certain categories — can help ease the pain of price hikes.
For example, let’s say you spend $500 a month at the supermarket. A credit card that earns 5% back on groceries can get you $25 in rewards per billing cycle. Over the course of a year, this adds up.
If your current credit card isn’t enough rewards for frequent spending categories like gas, dining out, or groceries, consider a card that best matches your spending.
4. Merchant specials
Some major credit card issuers offer discounts or rebates when you use a credit card to shop with certain merchants in categories such as everyday purchases, gifts, and travel. These one-time offers can be found in your account or email, and you usually have to “activate” them or add them to your card.
You’ll get more value if your eligible credit card also earns rewards on your purchase.
Money-saving benefits such as mobile phone insurance may be in your wallet. You can get a maximum coverage for damaged or stolen devices when you use cards with this feature to pay your monthly bill. There is usually a small discount, and terms usually apply.
For Tony Florida—the primary account holder for his family’s cell phone plan—the savings from cell phone protection added to his credit card. If he’s paying his mobile provider for the protection, it could cost $14 or more per device per month. Cell phone repairs can also be expensive. When his sister dropped and broke her phone, he made a claim using the feature on his card, paid the deductible and got a refund.
“They just gave me a credit statement for the estimated cost of the phone,” says Florida, who is also a content creator for YouTube channel Thrifty Tony. “They paid us over $500.”
The claims process is a bit tricky, according to Florida, but he says it’s still worth it because you don’t pay extra money for this feature.
If your card lacks this feature, it may have other features. For example, you might have price protection, which returns the difference in the price of an item that was advertised at a lower price elsewhere. To find out what benefits your credit card offers, contact the issuer or log into your account.
This article was written by NerdWallet and originally published by the Associated Press.