Credit cards can be used in even more creative ways beyond just helping make big purchases and they can often have unexpected perks. Here are five thoughtful tips from real credit card users on how you can make your credit card work harder and in turn, give you additional benefits.
“My husband and I used our credit cards to pay for our wedding, knowing we had been saving for it and could pay it off without it snowballing. We used all of the points we earned to take our honeymoon!”
Whether you’re planning ahead for a wedding, vacation or other event with more than one expense, putting all of the charges on a single card will likely provide better rewards than if you segmented the payments with multiple funding sources. Using the accrued rewards to pay for a trip’s flights, transportation and meals may even enable you to put the bonus toward something special.
“I have used my credit card to donate to charities and organizations while racking up mile points to buy an airline ticket to go someplace. If I want to fly a friend out to visit me or family, I purchase the airline ticket for him or her as a gift – it’s the card that keeps on giving: doing good for the community, while doing good for yourself or for others.”
When presented with the opportunity to give back, making a charitable donation or helping a family member by using your credit card can sometimes be a wise move. Not only will the money support a cause you value, but it can also contribute to your rewards and possibly offer a small personal return in the long run.
“I have used my credit card to back up my checking account for the last 10-plus years. It has only been utilized once or twice, but if I ever go over [the checking account limit], my credit card catches the amount and serves as overdraft protection.”
If you primarily use your checking account to make purchases, you can use your credit card as a safety net for emergencies. If you accidentally exceed the amount of cash available on a debit card, your credit card can cover the extra costs. While this is one form of overdraft protection, it’s not the only method. Setting up alerts, choosing another backup funding method and closely monitoring your account can also protect you in the event of a funding shortage.
“I opened a store card when purchasing an item for my wedding. Opening the card gave me a deep discount on the item, plus I had an interest free grace period and paid it off in full so it helped bump up my credit score.”
If you’re a loyal shopper at a particular store, opening a credit card with the retailer can offer advantages like special pricing and other perks. If you’re considering making a big purchase like a television or furniture, it may be of benefit to open a credit card at the retailer in which you’re interested in buying from. Often times, stores offer discounts on the day you open a credit card, and it may provide an additional discount to the item you’ve been eyeing. Plus, keeping the card open and not using it means you have higher available credit, which should bump up your credit score.
“Years ago, I got a second credit card that I only use for business purposes. That way, it’s easier for me to manage my expense reports. If there’s a coffee charge on that particular card, I know it was a business meeting. I even have both my personal and ‘business’ credit cards in my app for metered parking downtown. I toggle between my personal card and business credit card numbers when I park for business or pleasure.”
If your job frequently requires you to make purchases that will be expensed, you might consider using a separate credit card that can be used solely for this purpose. When it comes time to file an expense report, you’ll be able to look back easily and see exactly what you paid for without needing to filter out personal purchases.