Daily List of ALL things Equity Trading and Personal Financing for the Smart 2014 Canadian Investor.
Smart Investor Tip of the Day
Credit cards come with all kinds of perks including promotions, points, rewards, and cash backs. But to get access to them you must actually use your card, leaving you open to dreaded fees and finance charges. So what is the best approach one can do to get the most out of their cards while avoiding all the common mistakes?
First and foremost is to never close old credit card accounts. The oldest cards are one of the biggest impact factors on your credit score. So even if you don’t use the card often try to use it once in a while to keep things in check.
Always go for cards with the lowest interest rates. Although it seems obvious and natural for anyone opening a new account to seek out the lowest rates, most people tend to get caught up on rewards or promotions that they forget to peruse the fine print which usually entails a spike in interest rates to compensate for those upfront benefits.
Ideally you want to make purchases on your credit cards and pay back the balance in full before the statement due date each month. This way you are pretty much given a short-term interest-free loan for whatever you like to do. Unfortunately most people think paying the minimum amount is all that is needed to stay financially healthy but doing so actually makes you lose more money in the long-term. And gleefully credit card companies know most people never pay their balances in full so they are making out like bandits.
If your credit card is blessed with reward features try not to make it your primary reason for shopping. Too much focus on it can easily make you carry an unnecessary high balance that ends up leaving you with finance charges that out way the benefits of those rewards.
Although the most popular types of rewards like air mile points get all the ink most credit card holders don’t know that they may be entitled to other non-rewards benefits such as extended warranties, collision waivers (when renting vehicles), travel protection insurance (lost luggage), and others. Always make sure to read the pamphlets that accompany your new cards to find out new, less advertised, surprises.
So although credit cards tend to get a bad rap for putting many people into serious debt, with responsible financial managing on your part, you can take full advantage of credit card benefits and not end up losing your shirt in the process.