21. Save $50 per month – Save money on credit cards – Transfer credit card high APR balance into low APR credit cards
For instance you can shop for lower-APR credit cards, or transfer balances between relatives, like husband/wife, girlfriend/boyfriend with lower APR.
This includes refinancing car loans or a refinance of a mortgage by relatives with higher credit score and thus lower APR. Or get a joint finance at lower APR.
Watch your statement: On top of hidden fees, you may also find double or fraudulent charges that you will need to dispute.
Pay credit card bills on time. Companies charge late fees, sometimes as much as $50 per month. And do not go over your credit limit—that offers just one more way for your credit card company to get rich off your poor judgment.
Call your credit card company and ask for a rate reduction. Take any of your credit cards that are carrying a balance, flip them over, and call the number on the back. Tell them that you want an interest rate reduction or you’ll take your business elsewhere. If the first person you talk to won’t do it, ask to talk to a supervisor. If you have a $5,000 balance, even a 3% rate reduction saves you $150 a year.
Also, use the credit card that gives you 5% cash back. Apply to bill, and pay off each month.
Use credit card rewards programs if you can pay off your monthly bill in full every month. One reader puts all the family’s expenses on their Discover credit card for the cash back rewards. This way, they rack up the 1% cash back and buy gift cards for holiday presents. Plus there are some added bonuses a cardholder receives: rewards gift cards may actually be valued at a higher price than what one ends up spending for them in “cash back dollars” (e.g. get a $25 gift card for $20 in cash back dollars). To find out more, check out our piece on Discover credit card rewards.
Request a reduction in the interest rate on your credit cards. As with home equity loans, credit card companies sometimes are willing to reduce the interest rate. It can’t hurt to ask. If your credit card company won’t help you, switch to a low interest credit card or a one of several 0% APR credit cards.
Don’t pay interest on credit cards. This is obvious, but I soon as you fail to pay off the credit card in full, the high interest payments start to eat away at your monthly budget. If the temptation to spend more than you can pay on a credit card is to great, get rid of the credit card (and ignore the previous tip!).
Take advantage of 0% credit card offers. I’ve saved thousands of dollars using 0% balance transfer credit cards. Again, as long as the cards won’t cause you to spend more, they can offer substantial savings. Make sure, however, that you keep an eye on the balance transfer fee, which can wipe out your savings.
Stick it to the banks
Banks are fiercely competing for your business, and thanks to a few cash-back rewards programs, you can come out the winner. At the risk of sounding like advertisements for the man, we’ll recap some of the benefits, since you really can make some easy dough here: With Chase’s Chase Freedom Card, you receive $100 bonus cash back if you spend $800 in the first three months, and you’ll score five percent back at selected venues (i.e. grocery shops or drug stores) in a given quarter, plus one percent on all other purchases. An annual fee of $25 applies, but that will pay for itself in a month if you spend a total of $1,000 per month on these items. Citi’s Dividend credit cards (creditcards.citi.com) offer the same sort of deal, scoring you two percent back on all your credit-card purchases for the first six months and one percent thereafter, and $5 on balance transfers of $1,500 or more. Capital One’s No Hassle Cash Rewards card (capitalone.com) gives you two percent back on all gas and grocery-store purchases, plus one percent on everything else you buy with plastic.
To keep banking fees at a minimum consider trying the following:
- Keep a minimum balance in the account. Often banks will waive monthly fees if a minimum balance is kept in the account at all times.
- Try to pay bills in alternate ways. Perhaps you can visit the department store where your credit card payment is sent or you can visit a kiosk at the company that supplies your electricity to pay the bill. Often companies will have payment drop-off boxes that may be on your way home from work. Paying this way can save ATM fees.
- Withdraw as much cash as you’ll need for the week. Instead of taking $20 out 5 times in the span of a week, withdraw $100 once a week. By doing that you’ve already saved four ATM transactions for the month. This could keep you under the minimum and also not paying extra fees for usage.
- Bank at a large institution with lots of ATMs in convenient locations to avoid the cost of using other banks' machines—as much as $4 per withdrawal. And use the no-fee cash-back option at supermarkets.
If your credit card has never been paid in full each month then stop using it. Best of all cut it up or place it in a sealed envelope and ask a trusted friend or family member to keep it for you. Tell them that they are not to let you have it on any account.
Pay the highest interest cards and debt first, making sure you still make some payment on due date to other loans.
Employers and Insurance Companies Look at Your Credit Score
With FICO becoming more pervasive, there has been an increase with insurance companies and some employers checking your credit score.
FICO scores can be lower if you close your credit cards and lower your credit utilization. For some people, that’s not a big deal as they are not focusing on FICO scores, but it could be a problem for you.
Perkstreet Cash-back Debit Card: My PerkStreet 2% cash-back debit card is my new favorite financial product. A lot of people like to use rewards credit cards so they can get cash back from their purchases, but just one late payment can completely negate any rewards earned that month. But when you find a debit card that pays rewards just as good (if not better) as most credit card rewards programs it seems like a pretty simple decision to me. I have been banking with PerkStreet the last two months and have earned $147 in rewards over that 2 month period – not too bad!
Make sure you pay at least 10 days before the due date. If the credit card company does not receive your payment by the due date, your rate may increase dramatically and it may actually increase the rates on other cards.
Pay off your credit card balance each month. You'll avoid frittering away hundreds and even thousands of dollars to interest and fees every year.
Keep receipts on all purchases. Unfortunately many products are made cheaply. With a receipt, you can bring back the product for a replacement or refund.
Forget credit card disability insurance. It will make debt worse, if it ever kicks in. Even though you don't have to make payments, the debt piles up all along.
Pay more than the minimum. It'll take forever to pay off your balance if you only pay the minimum.