When most Americans think of credit cards, they don’t think of saving money. Instead, high interest rates and fees come to mind. However, if you use your credit cards responsibly, the reality is that it’s actually possible to save money on almost anything,
The trick? Use your credit card rewards to save on purchases, both big and small.
Cash back rewards
Cash back rewards are the easiest way to save money every time you swipe. You’ll get money back, and it’s like getting a discount on everything you buy.
When you receive cash back, you essentially receive a discount on your purchase. If you have a card that pays you a bonus for purchases such as groceries and gas, you can save even more. Rotating category cards can also be a great help. If you pay attention, you can save 5 percent every time you buy something in a particular category.
(Read more: Six Things to Know About Credit Card Rewards)
Perks and discounts with your credit card
Many credit cards come with various perks and discounts that can save you money. Some cards have special online shopping portals that can offer an extra 20 percent cash back. Others allow you to accrue points that you can exchange for gift cards.
You can also save by earning travel rewards so you can fly or stay in a hotel for free or at a discounted rate. In addition, your credit card might be able to help you get a discount on rental cars or give you free insurance when you use the card to book a rental car.
Other perks that can save you money include free extended warranty protection and price protection. Plus, some credit cards have arrangements with entertainment venues and companies that allow you to save money on, for example, concert and event tickets.
Don’t pay interest
It’s important to realize that all of these perks, discounts, and cash back benefits count for nothing if you’re stuck paying credit card interest on a carried balance. Once you carry a balance, all of that cash back and those rewards may be offset by a high interest rate. If you can’t keep your credit card spending within your regular budget, it’s best not to use credit cards at all.
If you can use your cards responsibly, though, let the rewards work for you. With discipline and the right spending plan, you can essentially receive a discount on anything by using your rewards credit card whenever you buy.
Keep your money in an interest-yielding checking account or a high-yield savings account. Let it earn a small amount of interest while you pay for your regular expenses with a credit card. Then, when the statement is due, use that money to pay off the balance—and avoid interest charges.
Miranda Marquit is a freelance writer and professional blogger specializing in personal finance, family finance and business topics. She writes for several online and offline publications. Miranda is the author of Confessions of a Professional Blogger: How I Make Money as an Online Writer and the writer behind PlantingMoneySeeds.com.
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