Best Airline Credit Cards to Get You Off the Ground

Stack of traveling luggage in airport terminal and passenger plane flying over sky

Are you ready to explore the world? Whether you travel frequently for business or always look forward to your next vacation, airline credit cards are the great choice for saving on airline miles and other travel expenses is essential. You want to spend less on transportation and hotels so that you can spend more on experiences that create memories you’ll never forget.

7 Airline Credit Cards to Get You Off the Ground for Less

Airline credit cards are a subcategory of travel credit cards that allow you to earn free airline miles and other perks. They can substantially reduce the cost of travel if you fly even occasionally. You may also use your airline credit cards to book more direct flights or bump your seat up to first class. The more miles you accumulate, the more comfortable your flights may become.

Get ready to explore some of the leading airline credit cards available today! The first step to selecting a credit card is to compare credit cards online. We compiled a list of some of the most rewarding credit cards to get you started.

1. Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express CardDelta may become your preferred airline if you’re looking for airline credit cards that give you a variety of options to earn miles. You can earn two miles for every dollar spent at restaurants and supermarkets, and the same deal extends to all purchases with Delta. If you spend at least $10,000 on your card over the course of one calendar year, you can earn an additional $100 in-flight credits.

The Delta Gold credit card also entitles you to one free checked bag and access to priority boarding when you fly with Delta. Redeeming your points is easy because you can pay with the miles rather than waiting for credits or cash to hit your account before you can book a trip.

Pros:

  • Earn miles and flight credits
  • Earn free bag checks and priority boarding
  • Annual fee is one of the lowest offered by Delta
  • Pay with your miles

Cons:

  • $99 annual fee after the first year
  • Lowest APR is more than 16%
  • Good to excellent credit required

2. JetBlue Credit Card

JetBlue Credit CardJetBlue offers one of the most competitive airline credit cards because it allows you to earn miles for every purchase made with the card. Many cards limit your rewards miles to select purchases, but you will earn at least one mile for every dollar that you charge on this card. That makes it a great choice for an everyday credit card. You can use it for all of your daily purchases and then pay it off by the end of the month to accumulate points quickly without paying interest.

All of your JetBlue purchases will earn you three points per dollar. Purchases at restaurants and supermarkets will earn you two points per dollar spent. All other purchases are limited to one point per dollar spent.

Pros:

  • No annual fee
  • 10,000 bonus points intro offer
  • Earn points on all purchases
  • 50% off some inflight purchases

Cons:

  • Not chip enabled

3. Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express CardForbes recognized this card as one of the best airline credit cards for first-time airline card-holders. It allows you to earn unlimited airline miles, and they never expire. There are also no blackout dates when scheduling your rewards flights. That means you don’t have to plan your travel dates around your airline miles.

Delta requires an annual fee of $550 on some of their rewards cards, but this one requires no annual fee. Other cards may offer more lucrative rewards programs, but you have to consider that high annual fee when determining which ones will save you the most on travel.

Delta often offers thousands of bonus miles for those opening cards during promotional periods. Comparing credit card rates and rewards programs online is a great first step, but make sure to check for temporary promotions to see if you can grab some extra miles just by timing your application correctly.

Pros:

  • No annual fee
  • No blackout or expiration dates

Cons:

  • Lowest APR is over 16%
  • Excellent credit score required

4. Capital One Venture Rewards Card

Capital One Venture Rewards CardWhile Capital One requires an excellent credit score, this credit card lender is known to accept credit rates that are immediately denied by many others. The card comes with a lot of perks even though it does have a $95 annual fee that kicks in starting your second year. For starters, you can make purchases outside of the United States without any added fees.

You can also transfer earned points to other Capital One rewards programs. If you have other rewards credit cards from this lender, you may have the option of transferring points earned on those cards to your Venture cared as well, which allows you to save even more on travel expenses. All points earned on this card are redeemable for airline miles, hotel stays and a variety of additional travel expenses. That gives you more flexibility when redeeming your rewards.

You will earn two points for every dollar spent on this card. The type of purchase doesn’t matter.

Pros:

  • Earn points on every purchase
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles
  • Annual fee waived the first year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Transfer points to other Capital One rewards programs

Cons:

  • Excellent credit score required
  • $95 annual fee after the first year
  • Interest rates start over 17%

5. Capital One VentureOne Rewards Card

Capital One VentureOne Rewards CardThis is the upgraded version of Capital One’s popular Venture credit card. You will need a high credit score to get approved, but the lack of an annual fee immediately saves you some money over the Venture card and many other airline credit cards. The VentureOne card also offers credit cards with low-interest rates. Interest under 15% for select consumers, which is lower than many other rewards cards.

You will earn 1.25 points for every point spent on this credit card. That’s a slight increase over the points rewarded for the Venture card. If you spend at least $1,000 in the first three months, you’ll also receive a bonus of 20,000 points. You can transfer those points to other Capital One Rewards programs as needed, allowing you to maximize savings if you have access to multiple cards from the lender.

Pros:

  • No annual fee
  • 20,000-point introductory offer
  • Starting APR under 15%
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons:

  • Excellent credit score required

6. Alaska Airlines Signature Visa Card

Alaska Airlines Signature Visa CardIf you rarely travel alone, this is possibly one of the most lucrative airline credit cards for your wallet. It allows you to earn discounts on companion fare, so you’re not the only one who gets to fly for less. You earn this perk every year on your account anniversary, and companion fares start at $121 with no blackout dates. Your card also entitles you to a free checked bag, and up to six guests can share this perk when they check in with you.

All purchases made on this card will earn you one mile per dollar spent.  All purchases from Alaska Airlines will earn you three miles per dollar spent. When you buy day passes to airport lounges, you’ll pay half price when paying with your card, and inflight purchases are discounted by 20%. There is no limit to the number of miles you can earn, which makes this a great choice for a daily use card. Just make sure to pay your balance off each month to avoid paying interest.

Are you worried about timing your trips to take advantage of all miles earned before they expire? That madness is eliminated with this card because your miles never expire as long as your account is in active status. Your miles are redeemable with Alaska Airlines and a list of affiliated partners, including Korean Air, British Airways, and American Airlines.

Pros:

  • Earn discounts on companion airfare
  • Introductory rewards package offered
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Miles never expire
  • Not limited to Alaska Airlines

Cons:

  • $75 annual fee
  • Miles are limited to select airlines
  • Excellent credit score required

7. Chase United Explorer Card

Chase United Explorer CardThis is one of those airline credit cards that may not seem competitive at first glance. It does require higher interest rates than some of our other top picks, but it’s still worth considering if you travel with a companion at times or want to take advantage of travel perks beyond airline miles. Not only will you receive one free checked bag each time you fly, but your companion will receive the same benefit when checking in with you.

If you spend $3,000 or more on the card within your first three months, you’ll receive 60,000 bonus miles. The card allows you to earn at least one mile for every dollar spent, and you can earn two miles per dollar for all purchases from hotels and restaurants. You need to use your card to pay for your hotel stays directly through the hotel, so purchases from travel deal websites won’t earn you the miles. Purchases from United will also earn you two miles per dollar spent.

Chase offers some travel benefits that move beyond airline miles, which may make the card’s higher interest rates and annual fee worth the bargain. For instance, you’ll receive a statement credit of $100 every four years when you use your card to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. Remember, the interest rate doesn’t matter much if you pay your charges off each month. This could work as a daily use card that delivers a lot of free miles, free checked bags and other travel-related discounts.

Pros:

  • Annual fee waived for the first year
  • Intro offer worth 60,000 bonus miles
  • Companion checked bag benefits
  • Earn miles for all purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Tap-to-pay technology
  • Other travel benefits for cardholders

Cons:

  • $95 annual fee after the first year
  • Interest rates start at close to 18%

LOANRY MAKES CREDIT CARDS SHOPPING SIMPLE AND FAST

Are Airline Credit Cards Available with the Shopping Trick?

The airline credit card factors to considerThe credit card shopping trick allows you to secure fast credit card approval for store cards. While shopping with select retailers, you’ll receive a popup asking if you want to apply for a credit card. If you accept the opportunity, you may receive an offer of credit instantly. In some cases, the offer is extended without a hard pull on your credit, but that isn’t always the case. Always assume you will receive a hard inquiry and consider it a plus if you don’t with some cards.

If you have bad credit, this trick may appeal to you, but there are some downsides. The cards offered are limited to those backed by select financial institutions, namely Comenity Bank. The big retail stores that you may shop regularly may not offer credit cards with approval through pop-ups, so you may end up with credit cards that you will rarely use. You won’t find many airline credit cards offered if any.

What the shopping card trick may do for you is help you re-establish your credit so that you can qualify for the airline credit cards you do want. If you open a few credit cards through the shopping trick and then make small purchases and pay them off each month, you can boost your credit score and prove you’re a responsible credit card user. Simply having those accounts open may also increase your available credit, which can help you achieve a lower utilization rate if you don’t charge them up.

That may open the door to the most lucrative rewards credit cards, which are often offered only to those with high credit scores and limited blemishes on their credit reports.

Are Airline Credit Cards the Best Type of Rewards Card?

Airline miles are valuable rewards for making everyday purchases with a credit card, but there are other types of rewards credit cards that may make traveling more affordable and/or comfortable. If you don’t fly frequently or just want to weigh your options before applying for credit cards, you should consider a few other reward card options before making your final decisions.

Other types of rewards credit cards worth considering include:

  • Gas Credit Cards – The number of genuine gas credit cards is dwindling, but you may still find one here and there. They allow you to redeem points for free gas fill-ups, which may reduce the cost of everyday driving or cut the expense of a road trip.
  • Cashback Credit Cards – These cards allow you to earn cash without limiting what you spend it on. You may receive the cash as a credit on your statement or cash transferred to your bank account. Some cards give you the option to transfer your rewards balance to gift cards for a variety of retail stores and restaurants, which you could apply to food expenses and other supplies needed while traveling.
  • Luxury Credit Cards – Some luxury cards will give you access to VIP lounges and other upscale perks that make traveling more comfortable. If you only want to secure one rewards credit card, weigh the perks of a luxury carefully against the option to simply earn miles toward your next flight.

If you travel a lot or would travel more if it were affordable, you may secure multiple reward cards to enjoy a wider variety of benefits. One strategy is to use credit cards for everyday purchases and then pay the cards off within the same month. Instead of using money from your debit card or cash to make those purchases, you simply pay with a credit card to earn the rewards. And then use your bank account to pay it off so you don’t carry debt and pay interest.

Conclusion

Some airline credit cards have annual fees while others make it more difficult to redeem points earned. It’s important to figure out those cons before you start actively using the card. The most ideal airline credit cards will minimize fees while making the reward redemption process quick and easy. If there are too many restrictions on how you may redeem your rewards, you may never get the rewards that you worked so hard to earn.

The 7 Best Credit Cards That Give You a Sign-Up Bonus?

Just about every American over the age of 21 has a credit card. Many of us have more than one. It is rare to meet someone that does not have any credit card debt. It is possible but can be incredibly challenging. We live in a world where it is expected that you buy things on credit and pay them back over time. There are some benefits to having a credit card.

There are also some negatives to having one. The credit card itself is not the problem. The problem comes in when people do not use them responsibly. Whether this is your first credit card, or you have had them for a long time, you should make sure you use them in a way the benefits you and does not hurt you. When looking for a new credit card, you want to find one that works for you. The best way to do this is with one that has a sign-up bonus. Continue reading to find out all the information you need to know.

Top Credit Cards With The Sign-Up Bonus

A credit card is a square piece of plastic that has information embedded in it. The numbers on the card used to be raised but on other cards, they are just printed on the card. It also has your name on the card. The cards have a chip on the front and a magnetic stripe on the back. When you want to use it, you can swipe the card, insert it in a card reader, or tap it on the top of the card reader. When you do that, the machine is reading the information on the card, which includes your name, account information, and PIN number. The machine sends a message to the bank that funds your credit card company including the amount of your purchase. The bank responds with an approval or denial based on the available credit you have.

Take your time and do research. There are many cards that offer a sign-up bonus. Compare credit cards and understand each of them and pick the best one for you. I am going to list 7 of the top credit cards that you should check out on your quest for a card with a sign-up bonus.

Card Option #1: Citibank Double Cash Card

The first one is the Citibank Double Cash Card. This card is backed by Citibank, a well-known bank. It gives you two percent cash back on all purchases. You get one percent when you make the purchase and the other percent when you pay for the purchase. This card gives you an incentive for paying off your credit card each month, so you can get your cash-back faster. This card does not have an annual fee, so you do not have to pay to keep it. There are no caps to how much money you can get back. Just like most credit cards, you must pay the minimum amount on time.

The Double Cash Card is available for balance transfers, but you will not receive cash-back on transfers. You must make any balance transfer within the first four months of having the card. There is a charge of $5 or 3 percent of the balance transfer, whichever is higher. In the first 18 months, you have the card, you do have 0 percent interest, so you do not have to pay interest on the money you borrow for a year and a half. Another the first 18 months, you will have an interest rate of anywhere between 15.49 and 25.49 percent.

Card Option #2: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The next sign-up bonus credit card that you should consider is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. This card is usually reserved for those with good to excellent credit. You earn 2 times the miles on every purchase you make. There is no limit on how many miles you can earn. The miles you earn will not expire. Every 10,000 miles you earn is equal to about $100 dollars. The bonus for this card is once you spend $3,000 in the first three months after you open this credit card, you receive 50,000 miles. That is the equivalent to $500 in money for travel. You also receive a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA Pre-check.

You are able to use your miles for any airline or any hotel at any time. There are no black dates when you cannot use your miles. You can also transfer your miles in more than 15 travel loyalty programs. This card does not have a foreign transaction fee. This card does have an annual fee of $95, but it is waived for the first year. The interest rate on this card is 17.24 to 24.49 percent. This card does not allow balance transfers.

Card Option #3: Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card

The next credit card with a sign-up bonus that you want to consider is the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card. This card gives you a one time $200 online cash rewards bonus. You only receive that once you make purchases of $1,000 and they must be in the first 90 days of opening this credit card account. This card has a tiered rewards program. You receive two percent back on grocery store purchases and wholesale club purchases. There is a limit of $2,500 cash-back on these purchases quarterly. You then receive three percent cash back on any category that you choose. You then get one percent back on all other purchases. This is unlimited so there is no cap on how much you can earn.

This card does not have an annual fee. If you are a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn up to 25 to 75 percent back on every single purchase. The rewards never expire. There is an intro rate of 0 percent interest for 15 billing cycles. There is also an intro 0 percent interest on all balance transfers made within 60 days. You have 0 percent interest on the amount you transfer for 15 billing cycles. After the 15 months, your interest rate may be 15.49 to 25.49 percent. After the 60 days, there is a minimum fee of $10, or 3 percent, for all balance transfers.

Card Option #4: Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

The next credit card with a sign-up bonus that you should check out is the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card. This card offers a high tiered rewards system that includes earning 3 times the points on dining, no matter if it is eating out or eating in. You get 3 times the points for all travel, which include airline flights, hotels, and car rentals. You earn 3 times the points on gas stations, public transportation, and ride-sharing. Also, there are 3 times the points on streaming services. All other purchases receive 1 times the points. The point system works so that every 10,000 points you receive equals $100.

If you make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months after you opened your credit card, you will earn 20,000 bonus points. That equals $200 in cash. This card does not have an annual fee. It also does not have a foreign currency charge. The Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card gives you 0 percent interest for 12 months. After that, you can expect an interest rate of 15.49 to 27.49 percent. It also offers you 0 percent interest on balance transfers for the first 12 months.

Card Option #5: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The next credit card with a sign-up bonus to consider is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. You can earn 5 times the points on all Lyft rides through March 2022. That is an additional 3 times the points added to the 2X points you already earn on travel. You also earn 2 times the points on dining out at restaurants worldwide. You receive 1 time the point on all other purchases. That means you get 1 point for every dollar you spend. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card gives you 60,000 bonus points once you have spent $4,000 on purchases. You must spend that within 3 months of opening the credit card account. That is up to $750 you can use for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

If you spend your points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you get more value, up to 25 percent more. An example is 60,000 points equals $750 towards travel, whereas it would be $600 elsewhere. You can get $0 delivery charge when you make an order over $12 with DashPass, which is a subscription service with DoorDash. You must activate this by 12/31/21. This card does have an annual fee of $95. The interest rate is anywhere between 17.49 to 24.49 percent.

Card Option #6: Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card

The next card with a sign-up bonus that you should consider is Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card. It offers you 1.8 percent cash rewards on qualified digital wallet purchases, with services such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, which is within the first 12 months from when you opened your account. You also earn 1.5 percent cash on all purchases. It is an unlimited 1.5 percent. There are no categories and you do not have to sign up for any rewards, it happens automatically. The rewards do not expire.

This card offers a bonus of $150 cash rewards if you spend $500 in the first 3 months of opening your credit card. You can also receive up to $600 cell phone protection against damage (subject to restrictions) or theft. You must pay your monthly cell phone bill with your Wells Fargo to qualify for this protection. There is no annual fee. This card offers 0 percent interest for the first 15 months. The interest rate ranges from 15.49 to 27.49 percent after that.

Card Option #7: Citi Rewards Credit Card

The last card with a sign-up bonus that you should consider is the Citi Rewards Credit Card. You receive 2 times the points at grocery stores and gas stations for $6,000 per year. After that, it goes to 1 point for every dollar spent. You earn 1 point for every dollar for every other purchase. This Citi card rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase. There is no limit to the rounding up of your points. After you spend $1,000, you can earn 15,000 bonus points, as long as it is within 3 months of opening the credit card. You can use this for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com. This Citi card gives you 0 percent interest on all purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. The interest rate goes from 14.99 to 24.99 percent.

How To Pick A Credit Card?

There are many credit cards from which you can pick, so the key is finding one with the best sign-up bonus. You want a credit card that suits your needs. There is a credit card shopping trick or two that you should be aware of.

You should know the bank that is offering the credit card. Make sure it is a legitimate offer and not a scam. If you are not familiar with the bank that is offering you a credit card, you might want to look elsewhere. You should understand what you want in a credit card. Do you want one with rewards? Or perhaps one with a low-interest rate? Maybe you need one that will allow you to do balance transfers. You should be careful with how many credit cards you have. Too many with high balances will cause your credit score to decline.

You want to know what fees the bank may charge you. All of the fees must be listed in their documents. It is your responsibility to read and understand the fees. You must know when your payment is due and at what point the bank considers it late. Some cards have an annual fee, while many do not. Check to see if you want to have an annual fee. Then you have to decide if it is worth paying the fee. Some cards with an annual fee offer such good rewards that it might be worth it to you to pay the fee.

You have to understand that interest rates. You must know that if you do not have a 0 percent interest rate and you do not pay your balance every month, you will have to pay interest on your purchases. Be sure that you understand the rewards that come with any card you want. They are all different. Even each card that the bank offers are different from each other. You want to make sure that the rewards offered are ones that are meaningful to you. You also want to pick a credit card this is accepted anywhere you go.

Learn More About How Credit Cards Works

When you apply for a credit card, there is a bank that funds it. A credit card company gives you a revolving line of credit. The issue you a credit line of a certain amount of money. That is your credit limit. You can use as much of your credit limit as you want. You have to pay interest on the money you use. As you pay on the balance used, it becomes available to you. This is called recurring credit. If you pay the full amount you owe, you do not have to pay interest.

When you purchase something with your credit card, you have about 20 to 30 days to pay the full amount of your balance due. If you cannot pay the full amount, you should pay at least the minimum balance. If you do not pay the minimum balance, you will have to pay a fee on top of what you owe. Many cards offer a sign-up bonus, so you should look for that type of card. This is often the best first credit card you can find. You want a card that is going to work for you.

Conclusion

There are a number of credit cards that offer a sign-up bonus. The key is to find the right card for your situation. No matter which credit card you choose, you need to use it responsibly. You should work hard to pay off your credit card each month. If you cannot pay the full amount, you should pay as much as possible, and at least the minimum payment. It is important that you use your credit card so that it works for you and not against you.

Credit Cards For Building Credit When Credit is Due

Credit cards in leather wallet on wooden background

Most of us understand that credit is a vital part of our financial lives. Our creditworthiness can have an impact on everything from our ability to get a job, own a home, and everything in between. Using credit wisely is a key tool when it comes to building credit. Many people find themselves in two different positions. As a younger person, you may not have credit and maybe trying to establish credit. Conversely, you may have made credit mistakes and find yourself having to nurse your handicapped credit back to good health. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of different types of credit cards that make this possible.

Use Credit Cards to Build Your Credit

Credit cards allow us to acquire things without having to pay for them outright. That $600 flat screen can be purchased instantly and loaded into your trunk without you having to touch a dime of your actual money right away. You are allowed to enjoy your purchase and pay for it over time or at a later date when it’s more convenient for you.

In addition to being able to pay for things using the bank’s money initially, the more you handle your credit responsibly, the more of it you have access to. This means that if you are approved for a credit card with an initial thousand dollar limit and you honor the terms of the card, in as little as six months your credit limit might be increased two or three-fold. The benefits of using credit properly don’t stop there, however. Using credit responsibly also grows your credit score, showing the financial world that you’re a worthy risk for bigger purchases, like a home or a car. Credit can be a financially beneficial tool if it’s handled properly.

Before You Start Your Credit Card Hunt…

Before you apply for any credit card you should start by pulling your credit report from all three credit reporting agencies and going over it with a fine-tooth comb. If there are mistakes, you need to challenge or dispute them. It’s necessary to make sure that your credit report is accurate before you start your credit hunt. To improve your credit, you must first understand where you are in the credit game and what’s on your credit. Understand that several keys go into determining your creditworthiness and they include payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, as well as other variables.

Five Power Moves for Building or Rebuilding Credit

The path to rebuilding or building credit must be paved and lit using the correct information and knowing the best types of credit cards for your unique situation.

Review Your Credit Report

Check your credit report and make sure it’s accurate. You need to know what creditors have or haven’t reported about your credit usage habits. Moreover, you need to verify that what has been reported is accurate. If it’s not, take steps to dispute or challenge the inaccuracies.

Get a Good Credit Card

Secondly, GET A CREDIT CARD. Using credit is essential to building credit or rebuilding it. You will need to do your homework to determine which credit card is best for you if your aim is building credit. You can start by considering credit card companies below. These companies are reputable and trustworthy, and remember, Loanry is the best place you can go to for anything finance-related, including credit cards. So thank you for coming here, and we hope you’ll find the right credit card for you.

Pay Your Bills on Time

Third, pay your credit card bill on time. Part of creditworthiness is honoring the terms of your credit agreement. This includes paying your credit cards by the due date

Use Your Credit Carefully

Fourth, manage your credit utilization. In other words, don’t max out your credit cards. Credit card companies look at the amount of debt you have on all of your lines of revolving credit. This is the second most important factor when it comes to your creditworthiness. This is important because credit card companies don’t have access to your income information. Instead, they make decisions based upon how much of your credit you have used. For example, you may have three credit cards and each card has a $2,000 limit and all three have a used balance of at least $1,700. To creditors, your credit utilization is almost completely exhausted. This reflects poorly on your credit, particularly if you are seeking more. It may appear that you can’t truly afford the credit you do have and you’re using credit cards improperly.

Get to Know The Risk Factors

Last but not least, get acquainted with your risk factors. This may require spending a little money. You can pull your credit report but it won’t give you your credit score. What you need to know is your score and the negative factors that are affecting it. You can get a peek at your risk factors by paying for a full credit report. All three credit reporting agencies offer this as well as a report that delves into your credit risk factors. Your credit risk is evaluated by credit reporting agencies that consider over 300 risk factors.

To proactively build your credit, you need to know your risk factors. The details of these risk factors can function as a road map or guide, showing you areas of improvement and what you can do. This report might reveal a particular account that is adversely affecting your credit score.
Conversely, things you don’t have can be a risk factor as well. For example, not being a homeowner could be a risk factor in some situations. However, there may be other ways that you can tilt the credit odds in your favor.

The Downfall of Mishandled Credit

Conversely, if you’re someone that has handled credit negligently, you’ll find many doors closing for you. You may receive credit card offers but the interest rate for your credit card may be significantly higher. Depending on how bad your credit is, you may not be able to require a conventional credit card as well. You may be limited to secured credit cards to help rebuild or re-establish your credit until you can prove that you can handle credit responsibly.

Secured credit card requires you to pay a certain amount of deposit and in turn, you are given credit equal to your deposit typically. The interest rates may be high on a secured credit card as well. It should also be noted that certain types of credit cards may not be available to someone with poor credit. For example, you may not receive credit card offers for balance transfers or with low or zero percent interest rates. For all practical purposes, you are considered a credit risk and most banks will handle you cautiously, requiring you to prove yourself by honoring your credit terms over time, before extending more credit or offering you better interest rates. However, if you can get a credit card, you have a fighting chance, no-a good chance of building credit if you make your payments on time and honor the terms of your credit card.

The Yellow Brick Road to Credit Worthiness

Once you’ve chosen to conquer your poor credit or lack of credit, you need to look for a simple credit card that will allow you to achieve this without too much effort. In other words, you need to look for a credit card that will allow you to do this pretty easily. However, the type of credit card you pursue should be largely based on your unique situation.

Those That Have Little or No Credit

If you are someone that doesn’t have much credit, choosing the right card and getting approved for it can seem a bit daunting. However, there are credit cards geared to people with low or no credit. For example, if you are a college student who’s never had a credit card or any type of credit before, many credit card companies have starter credit cards for people new to credit. Many of these cards offer perks that people with established credit enjoy. For example, zero percent introductory fees and cashback on purchases.  Cards with zero percent annual percentage interest rates help new credit card users save on the amount of interest they will be paying as time passes. Also, there are a whole host of other perks and benefits that credit card companies may offer to beginner credit card users.

Conversely, it’s safe to say that you won’t have credit card offers pouring from the sky when you have little to no credit. There is a chance that you might have to start with a secured card to initially establish your credit. You may even consider joining a credit union and attempting to get a credit card through your credit union.

Regardless of Your No Credit, Poor Credit Do This…

Regardless of whether you have no credit or poor credit, you mustn’t waste your time applying for credit cards that aren’t a good fit. This is one of the main reasons why you need to develop both a fundamental and intimate understanding of your unique credit situation. Your credit report provides this information and you must pull all three. They won’t all have the same information and your credit score can vary from one credit reporting agency to the next.

However, the idea is to know for sure what’s on your credit report so that you know which credit cards will be best for you. Every time you apply for credit it creates an inquiry. If you are denied it can reflect negatively on your credit. This is why you need to make educated and practical choices when you apply for a credit card by applying for cards with good approval rated for people with your credit situation. You can’t do this unless you know what you’re working with.

Essentially, know your credit score as well as what’s on your credit. This will help you make good decisions when it comes to applying for credit cards that you have a good chance of approval. In essence, only apply for credit cards with good approval odds. In other words, if you have a credit score of 550, that Platinum Visa is probably not for you and you probably won’t be approved. However, you may qualify for that secured credit card offer that just came in the mail. Also, it’s not a good idea to apply for a lot of credit cards at once if your goal is to start building credit. Be conservative and apply for cards you know you have a good chance of getting. This is honestly the best credit card shopping trick.

Secured Credit Cards to Build Credit

These types of credit cards are honestly good for a wide variety of people for many different reasons. Your creditworthiness is not usually on trial with these types of cards. People with little or no credit as well as poor credit can use secured credit cards if they are unable to qualify for conventional credit. Consider a secured credit card a starter credit card. Secured credit cards require you to make a deposit equal to the amount of credit you are seeking. More often than not, secured credit cards are dressed down versions of traditional credit cards. They don’t usually offer too many perks and your interest rates may still be high.

These types of credit cards usually don’t offer perks like cash back, sky milers, or rewards. However, these credit cards do give people with no credit or poor credit an opportunity to rebuild or establish a good credit history. Making payments on time and not maxing out the credit card usually reflect positively on credit history. And can lead to an increase in your credit limit and more credit card offers once you have a history of making payments on time.

The Nuts and Bolts of Secured Credit

Secured credit cards usually offer automatic approval without a credit check, although some may require approval and may even consider your credit. Some may even require you to have a checking account. When you apply for a secured credit card you submit your deposit along with your application. Your credit limit is usually equal to your deposit. Some cards may return your deposit after a certain amount of time has passed and you’ve made on-time payments.

Using Secured Credit Cards to Build Credit

Once you’ve established credit via a secured credit card, there are tips you can exercise to boost your creditworthiness. Use your card modestly and pay off your balance every month. This shows credit card companies that you are responsible and don’t overspend. You can show this by making small purchases and paying them off. Also, make sure you’re paying your bill by the due date or before. This also shows responsibility. Even secured credit cards report to the different credit agencies. Your good faith efforts will be notated, although you have a secured credit card. Credit is credit, plain and simple. Once you’re handling your credit card responsibly, check your credit score periodically. As it improvers, you may be able to request a credit increase or an unsecured credit card which will also reflect positively on your credit.

Other Considerations Regarding Secured Credit Cards

Often, secured credit cards are better options than credit cards geared towards people with bad credit. The interest rates may be higher on secured credit cards. But they are often lower than credit cards that specifically target people with poor credit. Credit cards that target people with poor credit often have high non-refundable fees in addition to high-interest rates. This is one of the key reasons whey secured credit cards may be favorable for people looking to build credit because they don’t have any and people who have poor credit.

What Secured Credit Cards won’t Do…Typically

Secured credit cards usually don’t allow you to spend beyond the amount of your credit limit which is equal to your security deposit. Some credit card companies offer partially secured credit cards which may give you a credit limit that exceeds your deposit. However, most credit limits for secured cards are equal to your deposit.

Traditional Credit Cards (Unsecured)

In some situations, your credit may not be so poor that you can’t get a traditional credit card to build credit. In situations like this, it’s a good idea to look for a credit card with certain basic characteristics that make any card attractive. Low-interest rates are usually part of the key determining factors when it comes to choosing a credit card. Comparison shop and consider what’s important to you and any perks, aside from the basic things, that each card offers.

Conclusion

The road to good credit isn’t paved overnight. It takes time. Credit card companies need to see a steady history of on-time payments and responsible credit urs. However, proving your creditworthiness to credit card companies may not take as long as you think it will. In some situations, your credit score can improve significantly enough, within as little as six months, to yield better credit card offers along with a higher credit score.

All of this is possible through fundamental information and a thorough understanding of your credit situation. Know where you are on the credit map. Is your credit history fraught with bankruptcies, charge offs, and repossessions? Don’t apply for that platinum visa, choose a secured or basic credit card instead. Are you a student that has never had a credit card and whats to start building credit? Seek credit cards geared for students and beginning credit users and honor the credit terms. The key is picking a credit card that is right for you. Follow all the terms and conditions of the card. You’re bound to see improvement fairly quickly. If you can learn to incorporate the advice, tips, and tricks, you are on your way to building credit.

 

How to Find Credit Cards With No Annual Fee?

Credit cards can be a tricky subject. They can be a great financial tool to help you on your way to financial freedom. They can also be the fastest way to send yourself in a debt spiral and you may not be able to get out. It is really easy to use your credit card without any real knowledge about how it is impacting you. The best thing you can do is truly understand how credit cards work for you and against you. When you have a better understanding of how credit cards work, you can use them to your benefit. Armed with knowledge, you can look for the right credit card for you, including credit cards with no annual fee. Continue reading to find out more credit card information.

The Basics Of A Credit Card

I always like to start at the beginning with the most basic elements. After all, how can you find a credit card with no annual fee that is right for you if you do not understand the basics of a credit card. If you begin using a credit card without really understanding how it works, you are setting yourself up for financial disaster. How about you make a promise to yourself right now not to set yourself on a path for disaster?

The basic premise behind credit cards is the same. Some credit cards offer different promotions and the fees may vary. There are also credit cards with no annual fee. A credit card is literally a plastic card that is backed by a bank or something other financial institution. When you are given a credit card, it has a credit limit. This is called revolving credit. For purposes of this article, I will say you are given a credit card with a limit of $2,000. That means that you have $2,000 at your disposal to use how you want.

The catch is you have to pay back whatever you use in about 30 days. If you do not pay the full amount back, you are charged interest. The bank gives you a minimum amount that you have to pay each month. It is a percentage of how much you have used. The more credit you use that means the higher your minimum payment is. Whatever money you pay back, you have available for your use. That is why it is called revolving credit.

The Basics In Numbers

To illustrate, I will show you this example with numbers:

$2,000 available credit

You spend $500.

You now have $1,500 available credit

In 30 days, you have a minimum payment of $75. That means you have to pay at least $75. You pay $500.

Your available credit is now $2,000.

Same example, except you only pay $300. Your available credit is up to $1,800 and you have to pay interest on what you did not pay. If your credit card has an interest rate of 15 percent, that is $45, so your new balance is $345. And if you do not use your credit card for the entire month, you will owe $345 on your next bill. If you do not pay that entire amount, you will have interest charges again.

What Is An Annual Fee?

Credit cards with no annual fee are just that, a fee that the credit card charges you every year simply to use their credit card. The annual fee can start around $39 and easily go up to $550. That jaw-dropping amount is for the Platinum American Express card. There are many perks to pay for this card, including free Global Entry. These perks are geared to someone who travels often and in first class. This group of people is not your average run of the mill credit card holders and can afford to spend $550 for the benefit, which there are many, of carrying a platinum Amex card. For some, this card is worth the price. I am going to go out on a limb and guess that you are not one of those people.

The bottom line is you want to look for credit cards with no annual fee. There are plenty of them so there really is no reason to pay a fee. Now, that being said, some credit cards offer an amazing deal on say, airline miles. If you use your credit card properly, you can get many free airline tickets per year. That could save you thousands of dollars. So, it may be worth it to you to pay $100 a year to save thousands. However, you have to travel often anyway and make good use of those points for it to be worth it. You have to determine for yourself if this is the right credit card for you.

The Best Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

There are many credit cards with no annual fee that you can select. While doing the research is fairly simple, I have also done some research for you and found the top credit cards with no annual fee. I am listing them here so you can review them to get an idea of the type of credit card that is right for you.

CapitalOne QuickSilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

CapitalOne QuickSilver Cash Rewards Credit CardThe CapitalOne QuickSilver is a great credit card with no annual fee option. This card offers a promotion of 0 percent interest for 15 months. Keep in mind, the rate will go up to between 15.74 percent to 25.74 percent after the 15 month period ends. This credit card also offers 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases. That is unlimited cash back and you do not have to activate any offers to get the cash back.

The cash back does not expire and there is no limit to how much you can earn or cash in. Capital One also offers a one time cash bonus of $150 once you spend $500 in the first 3 months of opening the account. If you do not spend $500 within the first 3 months, you will not receive the $150. They do not have any foreign transaction fees.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit CardThe Chase Freedom Unlimited Card also no annual fee and also has a promotional offer of 15 months with 0 percent interest. After that 15 month period, the interest rate may go up to between 16.74 and 25.49 percent. This card offers an unlimited 1.5 percent back on all purchases. There is no minimum for redeeming the cash back. Even better, the cash back does not expire. If you spend more than $500 in your first 3 months after opening the account, you get a $150 bonus.

DiscoverIt Chrome

DiscoverIt ChromeDiscover offers on of the best credit cards with no annual fee. In addition to not having an annual fee, they give you cash back and then they match the cash back. You do not have to sign up for any of the cash back options, but the percentage changes based on the items you purchase. So you can earn 2 percent cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 of purchases at those types of retailers per quarter.

You then earn 1 percent cash back on every other purchases. And yes, Discover matches it all. There is no limit. These rewards never expire and you can redeem them at any time. Discover’s customer service department is 100 percent located in the US. They offer you a FICO score card to help you keep an eye on your credit score. You can also sign up for credit alerts for free.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express CardThe Wells Fargo Propel American Express card is a credit card with no annual fee. This card gives you bonus points when you make purchases. You receive 3x the points on restaurants, travel such as airline tickets, hotels, and car rentals, gas purchases. And you earn 1x the points for all other purchases. You get bonus points so that when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months, you get 30,000 bonus points. 30,000 bonus points equals $300 in cash. This card does not have a foreign currency fee.

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit CardThe Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card does not have an annual fee. If you make $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening the credit card, you receive $200 cash bonus rewards. This card offers an introductory interest rate of 0 percent. This rate is good for 15 months. After that, you can expect the interest rate to go up to anywhere between 15.49 to 25.49 percent. The cash back is tiered and may seem a little complicated.

You get 3 percent back on a category of your choosing, so ideally you would pick the category in which you spend the most money. You get 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, but there is a limit of $2,500 in combined purchases per quarter. All other purchases have a 1 percent unlimited cash back. You also have the opportunity to become a preferred rewards member, which gets you 25 to 75 percent more back per purchase.

How Do I Pick Credit Cards With No Annual Fee?

I am sure you know by now that there are a ton of credit cards available to you. So how do you pick the right credit cards with no annual fee?

When you are looking for the right credit card for you, there are some points to which you should pay attention. Always make sure you know the lender who is offering the credit card. If you have not heard of this lender, it could be a scam. You want to make sure you protect yourself. Make sure this credit card gives you what you want and need.

For example, if you are looking for a credit card to which you want to transfer a balance, you want one with a 0 percent balance transfer. If a credit card is not going to meet your needs, look for another one. There are too many available for you to settle on the wrong one. Always, always, always be sure to read the fine print. Hidden in the details is the information you really need to know. This is where you will find fees, end dates for promotions, and the dreaded interest.

The best way to do some credit card research is to use a website to compare credit cards. This is a credit card shopping trick that many people may not want to share. These types of websites compare major credit cards and outline the positives and negatives of all of them. It tells you what promotions they are offering to help you select the right credit card for you. It even highlights credit cards with no annual fee.

There are many sites available with information about the best credit cards with no annual fee. They compile the best of the best for you, so you do not have to do a lot of digging to find one. These sites list all the pros and cons of all credit cards with no annual fee and even gives you the ability to see a side by side comparison. Once you select the card you want, you are able to click the apply button directly from these sites. Usually, that redirects to the website of the credit card. You can fill out the application and provide any required documents directly from the website. Usually, you have a response in minutes letting you know if you are approved.

Key Reminders About Credit Card Use

While credit cards with no annual fee are a great tool for you, I also want to take a moment to remind you to use your credit card responsibly. It can be very easy to fall into the dangerous zone of not being able to afford your credit card bill. A credit card company is in the business of making money. They make money when you accrue interest on your balance. The more interest you accrue, that means the more money they make. They do prefer that you pay your bills, but like it when you get interest on your bill.

Another pitfall of credit cards is that it becomes really easy to purchase items that you just cannot afford. Since you are not paying for it right away, there is a tendency to forget that you still have to pay the bill at some point. It is also easy to be unaware of how much you are spending and not realize it until you get your bill with the minimum payment. It is at that point that you realize you can only afford the minimum payment and this begins the dangerous slide. Let me show you with numbers what happens when you can only afford the minimum payment.

You have a credit limit of $2,000. You spend $1,800 of it. Your minimum payment is $200. You can only afford a $200 payment. Now you owe $1,600. You are hit with a 20 percent interest of $320, so know you owe $1,820. Your minimum payment is $210 and that is all you can afford. Now, you owe $1610, but you get hit with another $320 in interest and it goes back up to $1830. Do you see the nasty cycle you can get yourself caught in? The best thing you can do for yourself is not get caught in that cycle. Do not spend more money than you can afford to pay.

Conclusion

I have talked quite a bit about credit cards with no annual fee and how they can benefit you. It is important that you have a complete understanding of credit cards before you begin using them. If you do not understand how they work, you are surely setting yourself up for financial disaster. Make sure that credit cards are right for you before you begin to use them.

While there are many credit cards with no annual fee available to you, it can become overwhelming trying to determine which one to select. The best way to do this is to use a website that compares the credit cards for you and gives you all the benefits they have to offer. This makes your selection process much easier.

Cash Back Credit Cards That Have Your Back

You might think you already did everything possible to create the perfect budget, but if you have not started using a cash back credit card, you have not yet. You can earn back cash or miles for travel using one of these credit cards. If you just started college, you can potentially get one of these amazing cards to help pay for your monthly expenses.

These cash back credit cards let you earn back a small percentage of what you purchase with them each month. Depending on your expenses each month, that can create a significant payback for you.

What Are Cash Back Credit Cards?

Cash back credit cards offer a rebate or refund of a percentage of your monthly charges. Typically, the rates offered by this type of credit card range between one and two percent.

These cash back credit cards fall into the category of rewards cards. If you do the research, you will see that more than half the companies offering rewards credit cards offer a cash back card.

Cash Back Cards to Try

Discover it Cash Back

Discover it Cash BackThe Discover it Cash Back card offers 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 each quarter. You need to activate the bonus categories to get that rate. It offers a no annual fee. Some retailers do not accept Discover, but you can earn back money from those that do.

Double Cash Card

Double Cash CardWe’re not sure how Citibank affords the Double Cash Card, but you earn two percent cash back on all purchases – one percent when you buy, one percent when you pay. There are no categories, caps and no annual fee. You have to pay the minimum payment due on time to keep earning. It also allows balance transfers although you do not earn cash back on those. You do get zero percent APR on the transfers for the first 18 months you have the card. Thereafter, it switches to a variable 15.49 percent to 25.49 percent. You must make the balance transfer within the first four months you have the card. You will pay a fee of $5 or 3 percent of the amount transferee, whichever is greater.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card

American Express Blue Cash Preferred CardThe American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card costs a whopping $95 per year annual fee, but you will make it back pretty easily. You earn six percent cash back when you buy groceries in any US supermarkets, up to a $6,000 per year cap. Then you switch to a one percent cash back. You get the cash back as reward dollars redeemable as a statement credit.

Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card

Amazon Rewards Visa Signature CardIf you have excellent credit, apply for the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, a branded cashback credit card from Chase Bank. It offers no annual fee. You earn cash back of one to three percent and earn a signup bonus of $50. The variable APR ranges from 16.24 to 24.24 percent. Enjoy no foreign transaction fees and cash back on gas of up to two percent for every $1 spent. Amazon Prime members earn five percent back when shopping at Amazon.com and Whole Foods and three percent back for non-Prime members. But you need at least a credit score of 690 for this luxury card that gets you the best rates at 900 luxury hotels worldwide and concierge, plus Travel Accident Insurance, Baggage Delay Insurance, and Lost Luggage Reimbursement.

Discover It Secured Credit Card

Discover It Secured Credit CardIf you have not so awesome credit, apply for the Discover It Secured Credit Card. You will need to put down a refundable security deposit and that amount varies depending on how much you want your credit limit to be. It allows balance transfers with an applicable APR of 25.24 percent. You can obtain a balance transfer 10.99 percent for up to six months. You can qualify for this card with a credit score between 300 and 700. There is no annual fee and a cash back rate of up to two percent. If you carry a balance, avoid this card. Improve your credit or build it.

How Much You Earn Back

Most cards offer a one percent rate of return. If you charge $1,000 in a single month, you earn back $10. While that may not sound like much, if you charge a lot each month or use your credit card for business expenses, you could amass significant charges. Spending $10,000 per month would earn you back $100.

Cash back credit cards come in four reward rate types:

  • Flat,
  • Variable,
  • Accelerated,
  • Rotating.

A flat rate credit card pays the same percentage of cash back regardless of your spending or the items on which you spend it. A variable rate offers different rates for various spending categories while an accelerated credit card offers a higher percentage reward for purchases in one or more categories. Typically, the higher rate reaches 5 or 6 percent while the main rate remains one percent. You might be capped on how much you can earn in the higher-rate categories annually.

A rotating rate provides the higher reward for each various category, but not all categories at one time. Rather, some cards, rotate to a new spending category every quarter. This lets customers benefit from making major categories to earn the higher, five percent cash back rate. This is a feature you must activate, such as that of the Chase Freedom credit card.

Specialized Cards with Multiple Rewards

You will need to choose a cash back credit card based on your spending habits and the credit card’s rewards structure. Many of these cards only pay you back when you purchase travel or when you shop at specific stores. The ideal credit card offers a rewards structure that fits your existing buying habits.

Some cash back credit cards offer a sign-up bonus. It may require you to spend a specified amount within a time frame to qualify. For example, you must charge $500 in the first three months you have the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa to earn its $150 cash back bonus. A good rule of thumb is to choose a cash back credit card with a higher cash back reward percentage and small sign-up bonus.

With some cash back credit cards, you earn points that convert to a cash back amount. These often have point caps that limit how many points you can earn during a specified period, such as a per month, quarter or annually. Other cash back cards offer cash value refunds issued as gift cards. In this case, you need to ensure that the gift cards are for stores you use. The point is moot if they issue Visa gift cards since you can spend those anywhere.

Keep in Mind Your Existing Habits

Do you want a credit card with a standardized reward or one with accelerated earnings for a specific type of purchases? Typical accelerated earning categories include gas, groceries, dining out, drugstores and travel. Some incentivize parking or paying for your utilities.

Some cash back credit cards limit their rewards earnings to specific stores, gas stations or restaurant chains. Choose a credit card that lets you earn at places you are already a regular. Your cash back credit card should let you spend as you usually do and still earn rewards. The idea is to reward your existing expenses, not to change where you shop.

You might have to register online to earn the cash back. If you forget to register, you can invalidate your purpose for getting the card. This also applies to special promotions from the credit card.

Typical Cash Back Credit Card Requirements

Okay, let me be totally honest with you here. You need a terrific credit score to get a cash back card. Rewards cards are tough to come by. You can count on the required credit score being in the very good to excellent range.

While there are good credit cards for bad credit, they are not typically cash back cards. A few, like the Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa with Cash Back Rewards, may extend credit to those with good scores.

You need to know where on the FICO scale your credit score falls before you attempt to apply for any credit card.

FICO Score Guide

300-579 Very Poor 16% not offered credit or only secured credit

580-669 Fair 17% subprime borrowers who obtain high APR credit cards

670-739 Good 21% average borrowers who pay bills on time

740-799 Very Good 25% obtain receive better than average APRs

800-850 Exceptional 21% obtain the best APRs on credit cards

The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on Cash Back Credit Cards

Cash Back Credit Cards were made for people who pay their bills off completely at the end of the month. That is because this type of credit cards generally features a higher interest rate than others. You are paying for the privilege of getting money back every month. By paying your bill in full every month, you avoid the interest payments. This increases in importance as the interest rate rises.

You need to pay it off completely every month so that the interest does not eat up the payback. The idea to devise every possible angle to max out the cash back reward.

Read the card details very carefully. It may offer a low sign up introductory interest rate, but that could jump to a high interest rate six to twelve months into the life of the card. One example of this card is the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa card. It gives you a zero percent rate for 15 months which then jumps to 15.49 to 27.49 percent, a variable interest rate.

Prepare for the Fees on Cash Back Credit Cards

If you are accustomed to no-fee credit cards, prepare for a shock. These cards typically carry annual fees ranging from $50 to $100. The higher fee cards usually offer bigger cash rewards for purchases.

How do you know if the fee is worth the cash back reward? Calculate how much you would get paid if you moved all your spending to the cash back card. If it more than covers the fee and you can avoid the interest payments, it makes the card worth it. If you would lose money though, look for a credit card with no annual fee or a low annual fee.

Never pay late. You will get charged a late fee and it will hurt your credit. Just one of these fees can cancel out the money you made on the cash back. You must make timely payments.

Do you travel to other countries? Do you shop on international websites? You will get charged a foreign transaction fee. Shop around for credit cards with no or a low foreign transaction fee.

How to Redeem Points on a Cash Back Credit Cards

You will have a selection of ways to choose from regarding how you want to get paid. Different cards offer different ways to redeem or cash out your earned points. You could do any of the following:

  • Mail a check.
  • Have a direct deposit sent to your bank account.
  • Apply the cash back reward to your credit card balance.
  • Get a gift card for a retail store such as Amazon or Walmart.
  • Donate the cash back to a charity you choose.

Most cards allow you to cash out from the bank’s website or by phoning their customer service center.

How Often Do You Get Money Back?

How often you get paid varies by the card. You might get a percentage back every month or you might have to wait until you hit a minimum payout amount such as $20.

Depending on the cash back credit card, the rewards can expire. Here’s where you need to very carefully read the credit card agreement, check your credit card’s expiration date and check its website for the forfeit policy. Some credit cards do not expire. As long as you keep your card active, you keep your earned points.

There are also cards that enforce a cutoff time for redemption. This typically falls between one and five years. If your points do expire, redeem them on a regular basis of six to twelve months. If you ever decide to close your credit card, redeem the points first. This also applies to if you decide to transfer your balance to another card to save money on your exorbitant interest rate. Do not forget because if you zero out your balance, you could render your card inactive thus losing all of your points. Yikes!

How Do You Get a Cash Back Credit Card?

These cards make a perfect fit for you if you have good credit and you can pay your balance every month. The better your credit score, the better interest rates, and higher payback percentages you will get. You also need to have predictable spending habits. You need to spend enough on the card each month to earn the rewards, but little enough that you can pay it in full at the end of the month.

Start at Loanry.com. This credit card shopping trick can help you find the ideal credit card for you. It makes it really easy to shop for a good credit card for you.  Every time you apply for a credit card or a loan, your application results in the creditor making a hard hit to your credit report to obtain a copy and report that you asked them for money. But Loanry does a soft check, so there’s only one of many advantages.

You Got It!

After your card arrives, you need to carefully review what you can spend on the credit card. If you go over your limit, they will charge you fees which will drive you further over your limit.

Also, pay attention to what you can earn points or cash back on and what you cannot. You will not see cash advances listed as something on which you can earn cash back. Remember that when you see the ATM after the fourth or fifth beer. You cannot earn cash back on a cash advance. Cash back only comes from purchases.

The opposite will happen when you make a cash advance. The credit card company charges you the money for the ATM use. If they do not own it, the company that owns it will charge you, too.

Then you get hit with the cash advance fee. You think the $3.50 or $5 non-member ATM fee was a lot. Wait until you see your credit card statement and find out that the cash advance cost you $25. Wait? That was all the available credit you had left? Nope. They do not care. It is theirs now.

First, pay it off every month in full and do not let your credit limit get near the maximum.

Be ready. Those fees will kill you.

Final Thoughts

As great as cash back credit cards sound, they have much higher fees and interest rates. Be careful if you decide to take one out without having a full-time job and a savings account capable of covering a few months full payments. They can help you make back some money in the right situation. If you travel a lot and want free flights or hotels, go for it. If you just want a starter card, a simple credit card, go for something with a super low-interest rate and low fees. That makes a great card for learning the ropes.

The 11 Top Business Credit Cards: CEO Approved

It’s no secret that running a business- whether a large or small one- takes money. Sometimes, when expenses pop up, resources may not be fluid, so you need an alternative option. Business credit cards can be a great way to take care of these expenses. If you have the right one and handle it well. That’s what we are going to talk about today. The ups and downs and ins and outs of business credit cards.

Basics of Business Credit Cards

Before applying for a credit card, it is important to educate yourself. The first things you need to understand are the similarities difference between personal credit cards and business credit cards. On a very basic level, business credit cards and personal cards work the same. You use the money to pay for things, and then you repay the money. In this sense, a credit card is just a credit card. When you dig past the surface, though, there are some important differences.

Rewards and Bonuses

As business credit cards are intended for businesses, the rewards and bonuses offered appeal more to businesses than to individuals. For instance, business cards usually have better options on categories such as:

  • Travel- hotel stays, rental cars, airfare
  • Office supplies
  • Technology
  • Even advertising

Some personal cards use these categories, too, but you will likely see bonuses and rewards for personal cards such as:

  • Groceries
  • Home improvement purchases
  • Entertainment

Sometimes these categories will be found on both personal and business credit cards, but not always.

Reported Differently

Even if a business card is under your personal identification, the credit does not show up under your personal credit utilization. This is a very good thing as you want to keep your business and personal finances separate.

Higher Interest and Fees

You will often find that business credit cards charge much higher interest rates and tack on much higher fees than personal cards. And, worse, they can increase those interest rates, fees, and any potential fees without giving you a bit of warning. You can imagine that such a scenario would be no fun for anyone trying to run a business.


Anyone Can Apply for Either

Just because they are called business cards does not mean you need to have a physical location and employees to apply. If you are a freelancer or simply have a side hustle and want to keep your business expenses separate, you can apply for business credit cards with your personal information as a sole proprietor. In the same vein, a business owner might consider a personal credit card instead of a lower interest.

11 Great Business Credit Cards

1. Capital One Spark Cash for Business Card

Capital One Spark Cash for Business Card

This is a great card for the everyday expenses you face. You can earn 2% cash back on all purchases, so whether you are purchasing a pack of pens from Office Depot or gassing up the jet to fly off to your meeting across the country, you earn. Best of all, there are no caps on that earning.

There is an annual $95 fee, which is waived the first year, and you may also earn $2,000 or more for signing up and completing the spending requirements. This particular sign on bonus may not last forever, but there are usually some good incentives. It comes with free employee cards and even some protections, such as purchase protection, extended warranty, and price protection.

2. Capital One Spark Miles for Business

Capital One Spark Miles for BusinessIf your business pays for a lot of travel, you may consider the Capital One Spark Miles for Business card, as there are some pretty sweet perks. First, you get 5 miles for every dollar you spend on hotel and rental cars through Capital One Travel, and 2 miles for every dollar you spend on all of your other purchases. There are no foreign transaction fees, and the annual $95 fee is waived for the first year.

This card also gets you up to a $100 credit if you enroll in Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, and employee cards are free. Additionally, you get the same purchase protection, extended warranty and price protection of the Spark Cash card, but also travel protections that include:

  • Travel accident insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver

3. The Business Platinum Card from American Express

The Business Platinum Card from American ExpressAnother great credit card for business travel is from American Express. This card comes with an automatic Gold status for the Hilton and Marriott. If you book your travel through AMEX Travel, you get a 35% points rebate for flights in first or business class as well as a $200 annual airline fee credit and 5 membership points for every dollar spent.

The Business Platinum Card from AMEX also gives you 1.5 points on your purchases of $5,000 and up, and then 1 point for every dollar you spend on anything else. Often, they run a sign up special that gets you free airline points. There is an annual fee of $595, but there are no foreign transaction fees. Do some math: if you or your employees travel enough that you will save more than the $595 annual fee, this might be the credit card for you.

4. Brex Corporate Card for Startups

Brex Corporate Card for StartupsBrex offers an excellent option for some businesses. Let’s start by pointing out that this card is given depending on the information gathered from your EIN, so the self-employed, sole proprietorships, and so on will not get approved- move to the next card. If you are incorporated though, continue reading.

The Brex Corporate Card credit limit depends on the amount your business has raised, but generally, the limits are 10% to 20% higher than small business cards. The first five cards are included in sign up. Any additional cards cost $5 per user per month. There are no annual fees at all, no interest, and no foreign transaction fees. At the end of 30 days, the payment is automatically debited from your account, meaning you do not even have to think about it.

If all of that does not sound good enough, there is more. You earn 7 points on rideshares, 4 points on Brex travel, 3 points on restaurants, 2 points on recurring software, and 1 point on everything else. They even have partnerships with Quickbooks, Xero, Google Ads, and more. Check them out to see what they can do for your business. As it does not revolve around your personal credit, it will not hurt your credit to apply.

5. U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard

U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite MastercardThe U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard lets you earn an unlimited 3% cash back on cell phone services as well as gas station and office supply store purchases. The rewards never expire and there is no limit to how much you can earn. You also earn a 25% Annual Cash Rewards bonus of up to $250.

You can transfer balances to this card for 0% interest for the first 15 billing cycles, but there is a 5% or $10 cash advance fee. There is a 2% to 3% foreign transaction fee, depending on the purchase. However, there is no annual fee and an introductory 0% interest rate, which lasts for 15 billing cycles.

6. Ink Business Preferred Credit Card from Chase

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card from ChaseInk is a great card to consider for any business, but especially digital ones. This is because you can get 3 Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar you spend on advertising on search engines and social media sites. Those same rewards points go for travel, Internet, cable, and phone services, and shipping purchases. On everything else, you earn 1 point per dollar spent.

With this card also comes primary rental car insurance, free employee cards, and cell phone insurance. There are no foreign transaction fees, but there is a $95 annual fee. Currently, there is a sign-up bonus of 80,000 points when you meet the spending requirements and extra points for booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

7. CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard

CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World MastercardThis is another good card to consider for travel. You receive 2 AAdvantage miles for every dollar you spend on American Airlines, and 2 miles for every dollar you spend on telecommunications, cable and satellite, car rentals and gas. For all other purchasing categories, you get 1 mile per dollar spent.

Additionally, you get baggage checked for free and even four companions. It comes with free employee cards, too. There are no foreign transaction fees. There is a $99 annual fee but it is waived for the first year. They also run sign up deals that give you bonus miles when you meet spending requirements.

8. The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Business CardThis card starts off with Hilton Gold elite status, which gives you a 25% point bonus on certain spending, free nights, and more. You then earn 12 Hilton Honors points for every dollar spent at Hilton properties, 6 points per dollar for gas, at restaurants, and with flights and car rentals from certain companies, and 3 points per dollar on everything else.

Employee cards are free and you even get access to expenses tracking tools. This card also gives you travel protections like baggage insurance, travel insurance, roadside assistance, and more. There are no foreign transaction fees, though there is a $95 annual fee.

9. U.S. Bank FlexPerks Business Travel Rewards Card

U.S. Bank FlexPerks Business Travel Rewards CardThe U.S. Bank FlexPerks Business Travel Rewards Card does not earn as many points as some others, but it comes with its own perks. You earn 2 points per dollar on purchases of office supplies, gas, airline tickets, or whatever you spend the most on every month, as well as 2 points for purchases through cell phone providers. An exciting thing, though, is that you can also earn 2 points per dollar on eligible charitable donations. You then earn 1 point per dollar spent on other purchases.

You can receive a $25 Airline Allowance per round trip for things such as baggage fees, seat upgrades, or food and drinks on the plane. Your points can be redeemed for different items, such as gift cards, airline tickets, cash back, hotel stays, and more. There are no foreign transaction fees. You get travel insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, emergency assistance, and more. There is a $55 annual fee, but it is waived for the first year.

10. American Express Blue Business Cash Card

American Express Blue Business Cash CardThis card is good for businesses looking to grow. First, you earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases that amount to $50,000 per calendar year. After that $50,000, it drops to 1%. For those that need to spend more than their credit limit, the Blue business card has an Expanded Buying Power option where you can go over your limit. How much over depends on your payment history and more, but it is an option.

There is a balance transfer option, which costs either $5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer- whichever is greater, though there is no fee on transfers in the first year. You get charged 2.7% on all foreign transactions. In the first year, purchases have 0% interest. Extras include purchase protection, extended warranty coverage, car rental loss and damage insurance, and more.

11. Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express CardFor those businesses whose travels land them at the Marriott pretty often, why not have a Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card? You get six Marriott Rewards points for every dollar you spend at Marriott properties. And you also get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite Status. You even receive a free night every year you keep the account active. If you spend $60,000 on the card in a calendar year, you get another free night.

That isn’t all, though. You earn 4 points per dollar spent at restaurants, gas stations, and cell phone services, and 2 points per dollar on other purchases. The card comes with baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, roadside assistance, and car rental damage and loss. There are no foreign transaction fees, but there is an annual fee of $125. If you have or have had a Marriott business card recently, you may not qualify for the application bonus, so check the fine print before you sign.

Pros of Business Credit Cards

There are plenty of good reasons to apply for business credit cards.

  • You can usually get approved for a business credit card much quicker than you can get approved for a personal one. As odd as it may sound, even if the lender is looking at your personal credit score, they tend to be more lenient with the credit cards. This is not always the case, but it typically is.
  • The rewards, bonuses, promos, and other incentives can be incredibly helpful. For instance, getting a 0% interest introductory rate for a year can give you that full year to work on increasing your income. This is great for startups and small businesses as it gives them a chance to get money coming in. Also, as mentioned above, earning points towards things you use can help you save. If you are going to have a credit card anyway, you might as well have one that will help you where you need to save.
  • Like a personal credit card, they can help build your business credit- something businesses desperately need to have.
  • When you run into problems, like equipment malfunctions, credit cards can help you take care of the problem quickly.

Cons of Business Credit Cards

Of course, there are downsides to business credit cards, as well. Two big ones are:

  • Interest rates are often high for business credit cards.
  • Fraudulent charges may slip through the crack. Because there are usually so many charges put on a business credit card, it is easy to overlook something that you did not put there. Often, it is easier for an identity thief to get his hands on a business’s credit card information than it is an individual’s. Also, as much as I wish it weren’t so, employees may use a business card for things other than business expenses, especially if they feel they are not being monitored. The best solution is to be sure that someone is going through every charge on your credit card bill. If something looks like it should not be there, investigate. This will ensure that you catch fraudulent charges more quickly. Also, if you are making your employees explain the charges they make, they will be much less likely to charge things that they should not.

Promotions and Bonuses

Credit card companies are similar to every other industry- they have to be competitive to win your business. This competition often results in promotions when customers sign up. These promotions can be a great benefit to businesses, but if you are not careful, they may also cost you. You have to weigh the promotions out.

Some credit cards come with a 0% interest promo for the first year, which is a great deal. If the interest shoots up to 29% after that first year, though, you need to have it paid off before the end of that 12 months and have a lower interest card at your disposal.

Another of the many types of credit card promotions they run you see will be something along the lines of “Get 80,000 airline miles if you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months”. This is not necessarily a bad thing. If you travel for your business and you already spend $50,000 on business purchases in six months, this promo might be worth it for you. Just do not let something like this push you to spend more than you normally would. Also, if you don’t fly, those airline miles are useless. You are better off finding a card with something you will use.

Here is a credit card shopping trick that many people try: Sign up for a card with 0% interest for the first year and perks you can use. At the end of that year, find another card that has 0% interest for a year, and close the first one so you are not charged any annual fees. Sometimes, though, rather than lose your business, your first credit card company will give you another good deal- it’s always worth trying to ask them.

If that does not work, you can sign up for a new card at the end of each promotion, unless of course your contract says otherwise. For this to work well, though, you will need to do one of two things: either make sure your balance is paid in full before the end of the promotional period, or make sure your new card allows for balance transfers and transfer that balance at least a month in advance. That way, by the time your promotional period is over, you have nothing on that card.

Business Loans vs Business Credit Cards

At times, you may find it more beneficial to get a business loan than to use a business credit card. When you need to make a large purchase, an installment loan might be a better idea. This is because the interest is usually lower than credit card interest, and you can make payments over time.

The repayment term usually depends on the amount of money you borrow. Probably the only time a credit card would be better is if you are at the beginning of your 0% interest period. And you know for a fact that you can repay the amount prior to the end of the period.

A business line of credit is another option here. These are similar to credit cards as they are a revolving line of credit. You take what you need, you pay it back, and you can take it back out if you need it. It actually is not a bad idea to have both a business credit card and a business line of credit. When you need to borrow money, compare the current interest rates for each and determine which will charge you less. Having both available to you opens up your options, which is very helpful when you need to make a large purchase.

Handling Business Credit Cards Responsibly

You need to be as careful with your business credit cards as you are with your personal credit cards. Well, unless you are not responsible with your personal cards. If that is the case, it is time to be responsible with all of them. Here are a few tips to do so:

  • Only give cards to employees who you feel will be responsible with them, and then check to make sure that they are doing that.
  • Set limits on the cards so that neither you nor your employees can do any large spending without you authorizing it first.
  • Only spend money that you have either planned to spend or need to spend.
  • Set a budget for your spending and stick with it.
  • Try to have savings set aside for unexpected expenses instead of having to use your credit card all of the time.
  • Pay your bill on time every month.
  • Pay more than the minimum balance required. As stated above, if it is at all possible, try to pay your balance off every single month.
  • Remember that 0% interest is not a green light to spend like crazy. The amount you charge during that period needs to be paid off before the end of the promotion. Otherwise, interest will be added.

Conclusion

Running a business requires time, commitment, and money. Though credit cards can only take care of the money side of things, having the funds already available can save you time and make it easier to keep your head in the game. I said above that having a business line of credit and a business credit card available to you opens up your options. So does having more than one business credit card.

It might be beneficial for you to have two or three business cards open. First, when done well, they will help your business credit. Second, if you have three that offer different perks and cash back for different purchases, you can choose the best card for each move you need to make. Look into a few that you feel will benefit your business the most and apply.

Additionally, if you are currently in credit card debt that you cannot seem to dig your way out of, there is hope. Getting an installment loan can give you the funds you need to pay off your credit cards. Then, instead of making multiple payments and gaining insane amounts of interest every month, you have one simple payment to make.

How to Evaluate a Credit Card Offer: Credit 411


You probably get a ton of credit card offers in the mail and via email. Every week another credit card company seems to want you to apply. You are pre-approved, they claim.

Ah, but what does this really mean? Pre-approved?

It does not necessarily mean they will send you the credit card they advertise. In fact, those advertisements get away with sounding so good by hiding tiny caveats in the small print at the bottom of the page or on the back of the offer letter. You need to become an expert at spotting a scam, so you can report it and save yourself and others money. Here is the best way to determine which offers really live up to the hype and which to skip, so you can build your creditworthiness.

How to Evaluate Credit Card Offers

How do you know which card advertisement is honest? And how can you tell a trap from a treat?

Read on and I’ll explain, in detail. As you will learn, the details really matter. You can evaluate any card offer in ten steps. There is no such thing as a simple credit card offer, so you have to know your stuff.

10 Steps to Evaluate a Credit Card Offer

  1. Evaluate the bank or financial institution offer the credit card. Avoid applying for a credit card from a lender with whom you are unfamiliar. It could be a scam. Unsolicited credit card offers typically do not offer the best interest rates or other terms.
  2. Determine if it meets the criteria of the credit card you desire. If you need a balance transfer card, but the offer extends a potential rewards card, it does not meet the card requirements of what you need. Taking out a credit card you do not need just mess up your credit more.
  3. Study the fee schedule. How easily avoidable are they? I once had a card with a bank that got into huge trouble with pretty much every financial oversight agency because they left off the caveats of their fee schedule. One of their no-nos was claiming a person had paid late if they paid at 5:01 pm on the due date – in their time zone. That is illegal. The credit company has to fully explain all fees and card terms in the documentation they give you. That bank got sued and had to pay back numerous “late fees” to people who had paid their payments on the day they were due. I learned the hard way not to do business with new organizations or “re-structured” banks.
  4. Do the math to determine the value of the annual fee. You may have the option to take out the card with an annual fee or the one without. Calculate which provides a better deal. Grab a calculator and pen and paper. Make notes so you can keep the various credit cards straight.
  5. Calculate the cost of financing purchases on each credit card offer. Be honest with yourself. Lying to yourself about how you handle money only hurts you. It is one of the biggest credit card mistakes. If you typically make only the minimum payment, then you won’t want a card with a mid- to high-interest rate. If you never carry a balance month to month, this has little bearing, so long as you have enough savings to keep paying the card in full if you lost your job.
  6. Closely examine any rewards program offered. The reward rates vary on these cards and everyone is different. Typically, different types of purchases earn different payouts. You need to reference your budget to determine where you spend money. That will tell you whether the rewards card will benefit you. If it pays you back on airline flights, but you only fly somewhere once every five years, that will not benefit you. Also, consider for what items you can redeem credit card rewards. Common items include cash, travel, gift cards, charitable contributions, and merchandise.
  7. Study the credit card offer for other card benefits, such as shopping and travel protections. The credit card information also covers other provisions the bank may extend include price and purchase protection. The card might include trip cancellation and interruption protection, car rental insurance and lost baggage protection. Cards with EMV chips have become more popular and this factor keeps your finances safer since credit cards with this feature are much tougher to hack.
  8. Consider the bank issuing the card and which retailers accept it. While four ..major payment networks exist — Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, only the former two are widely accepted.
  9. Check if the card issuer extends credit to those with your credit score. Also, check for other application qualifiers. You can enhance your approval rating by only applying for what you genuinely qualify. If you have a low-income, do not apply for a platinum card. If you have bad credit, do not apply for cards offering prime rates. Make sure you already meet income threshold requirements or membership requirements.
  10. Read the fine print carefully. Read it a few times. You need to fully understand everything in the fine print. Some credit cards will actually repossess the items you purchased with them rather as a bank takes back your car if you miss the payments.

Let’s go into some of those topics in greater detail. First, let’s talk about the main types of credit cards available to you.

Credit Card Types

You typically come across four types of credit cards, balance transfer, rewards, temporary zero interest and secured. Each offers vastly different benefits.

Balance Transfer Credit Cards

These cards let you pay off existing credit card debt by transferring the balances to a card with a low-interest rate or no interest rate. You should use these to pay off high-interest rate cards. You may pay a fee to transfer but will probably make it back through the interest saved.

Rewards Credit Cards

You can earn cashback or other rewards by using these cards. If you pay off your balance in full each month you can use these cards to make money. Some provide a signup bonus that pays you when you hit the required spending minimum within a specific time period.

Introductory Zero Percent APR

Often, this gets offered in conjunction with balance transfer cards. Typically, these offer zero percent interest on purchases and balance transfers for six to 18 months.

Secured Credit Card

Secured cards let an individual re-establish their credit by matching the credit limit with a deposit of the same amount. They can help a person with poor or limited credit obtain a card to prove their creditworthiness. These differ from prepaid cards because you still must make timely payments and your payment activity gets reported to the credit bureaus.

If the card offer you receive does not meet your needs, ignore it. Do not apply for every card offer you get since this will ruin your credit score. Every time you apply for credit of any type, the creditor requests your credit report from a credit bureau. This activity results in what those in the financial sector call a hard hit to your credit score. Every application drops your score by two to five points. You can quickly tank a decent score by applying for only a few cards. The 10 to 25 points a score drops from five applications can take a 700 to 675. That means going from a “very good” to a “good” score. Only apply when you feel certain you will get accepted for the card. That means you ensure you meet all of the criteria before you try.

The Fees, The Fees!

Every credit card has fees. There is no way around it. The bank wants to make money, and they charge you at every possible juncture to do so. These fees are a method of risk reduction.

Financial lending institutions are typically quite risk-averse. They like very low-risk situations only. Like an insurance agent not wanting to extend a wind policy on the east coast of Texas because they would have to pay a claim so often, a bank or credit union does not want to extend a credit card to those with low credit scores because they are doubtful they will get paid on time or at all.

Individuals with high credit scores obtain credit cards with much lower fees. Those cards also charge far fewer fees. Check the credit card offer for the full fee schedule. Look for the following.

Annual Fee

Every year you will get charged for the privilege using the card provides. This could amount to $25 a year or $200. Annual fees are all over the place. The range is huge. Higher fees typically provide higher rewards.

Late Payment Fee

Nearly every credit card charges late fees. They might vary, but you should expect an average cost of about $35 if you pay late. The bonus is you can avoid this by paying on time. Set up automatic payments so you do not need to worry.

Cash Advance Fee

Another fee you cannot avoid the credit card having is your cash advance fee. If you use the card to get money back from the ATM or bank branch, you get charged a cash back fee. You will never need to pay this if you do not use the card for advances. If you use it for an advance though, you do pay the cash advance fee as well as a higher APR. Also, advances do not provide a grace period, so you will get charged interest from the first day you take out the advance.

You also need to watch for situational fees. The most common of these is the foreign transaction fee.

Foreign Transaction Fee

You only incur this foreign transaction fee when you use your credit card in another country. This percentage-based fee, typically three to four percent, gets charged every time you make any purchase in another country. To avoid it, just do not make a charge using that card when you travel to another country.

Calculate the Annual Fees

Up there in step two, you read about comparing types of cards and now we covered many potential fees, too. The annual fee requires your closest attention.

As mentioned in step four, credit cards can have two annual fee options, one with and one without. You need to compare the costs with the credit card’s benefits. Some are more straightforward than others. Here’s the math.

Let’s say you have two versions of the same card, one with a fee, one without. Both feature a sign up bonus, but in different amounts. You need to find the y, in this case, how long it takes for the cards to exhibit equal benefit. Since you only get charged $89 in years two and thereafter, you need to figure out how many years the bonus pays for as compared to the bonus you get with the no annual fee card.

Card A: $400 signup bonus, $89 annual fee waived the first year

Card B: $200 signup bonus, no annual fee

The Math for Card A
$400
$400/$89 = 4.49 (round to 4.5)
4.5 + 1 = 5.5 years of annual fees paid

The Math for Card B = 200
Provides you with a flat rate.
You do not pay any annual fee, so the $200 is yours to spend as you like. You could pay it to the card once you have purchases to avoid paying interest.

If the card with higher bonus has better rewards, use the $400 and the fee waived year to earn rewards, then just before year five’s annual fee occurs, transfer any remaining balance to a balance transfer card after cashing out your rewards. You made money on the deal.

Compare rewards rates, too. Some cards with an annual fee provide more points per dollar spent. The only time you benefit from this though is if you spend money on what the card rewards are.

Fees Credit Card Companies Don’t Want You to Know

Bait and Switch: It Is Illegal

So, remember way up there where I mentioned that the card offer you get in the mail is not necessarily the card you get? Yeah. That happens all the time, but it is not supposed to happen.

Advertising one product, but switching in another after the contract gets signed or the product gets purchased is against the law.

Credit card companies try it all the time though. That keeps the lawyers busy.

So, you sifted through the whole pile. You worked your way through all the math on multiple orders. And you chose the card. You applied to the pre-approved offer. Then you got a letter that says you are approved but wait. You got approved for a different card than you applied for from the pre-approved offer. Somewhere in this letter, perhaps in very teeny, tiny print, it says something to the effect of, “Well, dude, you did not quite qualify for that one credit card, but we have this nearly, equally fabulous card for which you do qualify. Here it is, all wrapped up with a bow on the front card face and an [insert way obscene credit limit for your actual credit situation].”

Guess what? It is not equal to the other card. But, you will not know that unless you remain super calm and read every, single, solitary word in front of you just as you did the prior pre-approved credit card. What you probably got sent has higher interest rates or higher fees or some awful surprise.

Resist the urge to go buy a new TV and computer. Instead, do the reading and the math. For one thing, you were pre-approved. That means that they already knew your credit score. They should not have sent the letter with pre-approval if you did not actually qualify. When you find the hidden fee or the catch, you will know whether or not you should reject the card. You probably should because it typically will be a huge diference.

That’s how they get you. You excitedly tear open the envelope, recognizing the address and company on the outside. And you remember applying. But you do not read the letter. You just rip the card of the front, sign the back and go shopping! So, protect yourself. Read the letter anally. Double check everything against your pre-approval letter. (Yes, you should have kept it.)

If the card is not up to par, as my CPA pal would say, reject it. Phone the company and let them know you will not accept the new card terms. Close the account without charging to it. Doing this can save you from massive fees you did not expect. The great news is that you will only be out the two or five credit score points from the hard hit to your credit report for the check. That is much better than a surprise $200 setup fee or $100 annual fee or interest rate 10 points higher than the original.

A Credit Card Shopping Trick

If you’re looking for a magic credit card shopping trick, here’s something that may interest you. Conduct wise shopping for a credit card. You need to use combination of Creditry and Loanry to best protect your credit and to find really high quality credit cards.

Wait. Why would I say you would need Loanry when you keep getting offers in the mail for credit cards?

Simple. Those offers may not be good credit cards for you. You may actually need a credit card because you need to shop online at certain retailers that do not let you use pre-paid cards. You might need to rent a car and the rental companies typically do not rent to people without a credit card. They want to be able to tack on fees, charges and extra rental days, just in case you keep the car extra time.

So, eventually you will need a credit card. When you do, you need to be choosy about to which you apply.

The ones they mail to you in the offers may not be appropriate, but somewhere, there is a credit card perfect for you.

Loanry works like a mall. You know how you go shopping for jeans or a sweater? Loanry lets you apply the same concept to loans.

The brief form you complete on it front page may only contain basic info like your name, address and the last four digits of your Social Security Number, but it acts like a personal shopper gathering potential blue jeans for you to try on in the fitting room. Loanry makes a soft hit to your credit report that does not ding your credit score for any points. It then may find a good fit and you may get the name, URL and essential details of the credit product to you.

The site handles the research of for which credit cards you may qualify for you. You then simply read through the information and pick the offer for which you want to apply. You apply knowing that you already meet the minimum qualifications for the card.

Managing Your Credit

You need to be a smart cookie about your credit. You can use a simple website like Creditry.com to help you manage your debt and develop your credit score. If you already have credit, be sure to use a debt tracker to monitor all of the credit lines you have open.

The advantage to using a service like Creditry is that it helps you track everything that has to do with your credit. You can quickly find mistakes on your credit report and improve your credit score.

Creditry can help you watch for things that lead to credit damage and zombie debt like:

  • identity theft,
  • computer error,
  • fraud.

Those things can happen more easily than you think. Take identity mix ups, for example. Right after graduating from graduate school, I landed a job at a major university. The school benefits office unintentionally mis-entered my information and that of another woman who worked on a different campus. They had confused us since one has the middle initial “R” and the other has the middle initial “L.” Paperwork gets confusing when you see hundreds of the same form everyday and they were short-staffed on data entry clerks.

They fixed it, but it took time. For months, we similarly named women traded benefits paperwork through campus mail between the main campus and health sciences campus. We laughed about it and struck up a telephone friendship. We chuckled when I got notices about her then teen’s braces (and I have never had kids) and she got the ones of my physical therapy for a mountain biking knee injury (and she had never mountain biked).

Creditry can help you watch your credit report for the craziness like that. We just lucked out that we were both anal about paying our bills and sending paperwork back and forth. The benefits office eventually got it straightened out. It takes time and commitment to solve such problems. It took us months and we had a friendly benefits clerk, plus it was our employer.

Vigilance about keeping watch over your credit score can help protect your credit score and/or help you rebuild it. Use services like Creditry to monitor your credit report. Quickly respond to the credit bureau to question any unusual data.

Final Thoughts

Credit card companies will try to draw you into their lair. Tame their attempts by fully examining and analyzing each offer. If you only receive offers that do not meet your credit needs, turn to Loanry or Cashry to find the right option. The best plan is to have few credit cards with large credit lines that you do not max out. Manage your money and your credit wisely.

The brands within Goalry can help with that. We unified finance to help make shopping for loans, credit, money and real estate more efficient. These sites work together to help you achieve the goal of financial independence. To begin building wealth, you first must get out of debt. Your next step is saving with a third step of establishing and building great credit. Start now and get a handle on the credit card offers in your mailbox.

You have to be careful with your credit. Your credit cards should serve you. You should be their master. MasterCard should not be yours.

 

Rewards Credit Cards for a Rewarding Experience

Rewards credit cards are a way to earn money back, points, or miles for your spending. You could get rewards for specific categories or you could get a flat rate for purchases. When shopping for a rewards card, you can see that the cards will vary widely in whether or not there are a sign-up bonus and annual fee, and the kind of rewards that are offered. Cash back cards may not have any annual fees but many travel cards will.

Different Types of Rewards Credit Cards

There are a number of different types of rewards credit cards, including airline loyalty cards, hotel, and cash back cards, along with gas and retail cards. About 60% of credit cards that are issued in the country are actually tied to a rewards program.

Gas

These can also be called fuel cards. This type of credit card started back in the 1920s for convenience. New rewards cards have pretty much replaced the gas credit card. However, there can still be some generous rewards for these types of cards and they only require a fair credit score to apply. If you are on the road a lot, this can be a good option for you.

Travel

There are different types of travel rewards cards, including general purpose, hotel, and airline. Some cards will reward you with an extra boost in your points through a redemption portal. This is a good option if you are okay with not traveling with a particular brand. If you choose a hotel or airline card that partners with specific brands, you can redeem your points for those brands. Since hotel partnerships are so large you are able to access hundreds of hotels in many different countries with just a single card.

Cash Back

Discover originally started the cash back program as a way to give money back at the end of the year based on the charges. This has since expanded to cards that give cash back in bank accounts, checks, and statement credits. Many cash back cards will give you a certain percentage for everything and there may be quarterly categories that give you more cash back.

Retail

This type of rewards card is tied to a department store or store brand. The cards can give high percentages of cash back for first purchases and can help you save when you shop at that store.

Luxury

If you travel often then a luxury card can be a good choice since you get access to airport lounges and concierge services.

Business

You can get cash back for business-related spending with this type of card. If you spend a lot on business items then this type of card might make sense.

Popular Credit Card Rewards Programs

There are many different types of credit card rewards programs and you are sure to find one that suits your needs.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

This is a travel portal that you can use. Chase offers two types of rewards cardschase ultimate rewards for a total of six cards. There are some with an annual fee and some without an annual fee. You can earn points through travel and dining, and for rotating categories, such as groceries, gas, and more. With the portal, you can book all types of travel, as well as enjoy redemptions for merchandise and gift cards.

American Express Membership Rewards

American Express Membership Rewards

You can use these rewards on eligible airfare, hotel stays, retail purchases, car rentals, and more. There are also eligible business purchases, such as office supplies, that can be used.

Hilton Honors

This includes other brands, such as Homewood Suites and Waldorf Astoria. You get the chance to earn points through partners for car rentals, cruises, and more. You can use the points as a gift by purchasing gift cards or treating yourself to a weekend away. Use the points toward flights, vehicle upgrades, and more.

Citi ThankYou RewardsРезултат слика за Citi ThankYou Rewards

This program is offered through a handful of Citi cards with options to redeem for travel, gift cards, electronics, merchandise, and more. Depending on the product, you can earn 1.25x points when you book travel in the same way that some of the Chase cards are structured. There are about 15 different airline partners in this program.

Wells Fargo Go Far RewardsРезултат слика за Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards

There are two ways to earn rewards with this program. You can get them by spending with a Wells Fargo credit card or by shopping on the Earn More Mall site. Unlike other programs, these rewards can’t be transferred to an airline partner. Redemptions can come in the form of cash back, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, or travel.

Bank of America Preferred RewardsРезултат слика за Bank of America Preferred Rewards

This program works a little differently from other card issuer programs. It also rewards you for how much you keep in your Bank of American bank accounts.


Ways of Earning Credit Card Rewards

If you want to understand credit card rewards better, you need to get how they work. Choosing a credit card is much easier if you know what you are looking for. And if you know what you can gain from it. So here we go.

Understanding How Rewards Credit Cards Work with Points

Points are one of three ways to earn rewards; the others are cash back or miles. Cardholders can receive points in different ways. With these cards, you usually get at least 1 point per $1 spent on purchases. Some cards offer the same amount of points across every purchase, while others have reward categories such as restaurants, groceries, or gas that offer extra points. You can usually redeem credit card points for merchandise, cash back, gift cards, or travel.

How to Earn Points

The best way to earn credit card points is to spend responsibly for everyday purchases. While you want to utilize your credit card every month, you don’t want to exceed 30% of your credit line. Don’t overspend as a way to just get more rewards. It’s not worth the extra few points if you end up going into debt.

Day-to-Day Spending: For every dollar you spend, you get rewards. Pay attention to any special categories that could be offering you more rewards.

Initial Bonuses: Many cards allow you to get a large sum of points when you first get the card. You either have to make your first purchase or spend a certain amount of money within a certain timeframe.

Milestones: Some cards will give you some bonus points every year on the anniversary of you opening the card as a way to thank you for your continued use. Others reward you for making certain purchases per month or spending so much in a year.

Adding an Authorized User: Cards may offer you some extra points if you add an authored user. That person usually has to make a purchase or spend a certain amount before you actually get the bonus.

Referring a Friend: Some credit card issuers will reward you for bringing on new customers. You create a referral link to share with your family and friends and if those people are approved for the card then you get more points.

How to Redeem Credit Card Points

The points redemption process will differ by the credit card issuer. You would normally start by logging into your online account and then from there navigate to the rewards area. Some issuers have a separate website dedicated to reward redemption, in order to make things easier for you. You may also be able to redeem rewards through third-party sites, such as Amazon. Once you know how to redeem your rewards, you then need to decide what to spend them on.

Travel: Cards that are marketed as travel rewards cards will give you the best value for travel redemption. You will be able to trade points for hotel stays, airfare, and more. Depending on the card, you may use your points immediately when you book or you might be able to redeem points to help with your purchases after the fact.

Gift Cards: Many credit cards allow you to trade points for gift cards to various retailers.

Merchandise: You may be able to spend your points in an online shopping mall to buy products ranging from kitchenware to electronics to clothes.

Cash Back: You may also able to trade in your points for a statement credit or check in the mail. If the cards aren’t meant for cash back redemption then sometimes you won’t get as good of a value.

Loyalty Programs: Some cards let you transfer points from the card to the loyalty programs of hotels or airlines. Doing it this way can give you a better value on your redemption.

Third-Party Sites: This includes things like shopping with points on Amazon or using your points for different services, such as Uber.

Charitable Donations: You can also donate your points to charity. Usually, your points aren’t worth very much with this method and it may be better to redeem them for cash back and then handle a donation on your own.

How Do Credit Card Miles Work?

Credit card miles are a type of loyalty benefit that some credit cards give customers. The more you spend, the more miles you accumulate. The credit card issuer and airline partner define the value for each credit card mile. Once you have enough miles then you can redeem them for a seat on the partner airline. The airlines and not the credit card issuer will set the miles required for a flight. Depending on how many miles you have, you may get the flight for free or you can purchase additional miles to make up the difference. If the credit card miles are tied to the frequent flier program then you can also use the rewards to qualify for things such as free companion tickets, priority boarding and seat upgrades.

If you are a member of an airline frequent flyer program then you typically only get miles on your flights so it can take years to build up enough miles for a flight. This is why many people turn to travel rewards cards since you don’t have to fly in order to earn miles. You just have to use the card. Credit card miles can be taken away even after added to an account. For example, if you return a purchase then the miles for that purchase will be deducted from the account. You can also lose miles if you fall behind on payments or your account isn’t in good standing. And you won’t get the forfeited miles back once you bring your account back to good standing so it’s even more important to stay on top of credit card payments.

You can check how many miles you have on your recent statement or by logging into your credit card account. It can take a few days from the transaction you made for the credit to show in your account. It helps to keep track of your miles so you can protect them from theft. Thieves can gain access to your account and can also redeem your miles. If you aren’t paying attention then it can be months before you notice they are gone. Protect your miles with strong passwords, check your miles often, and notify the credit card issuer if you think there is something suspicious.

Once you have enough miles then you can redeem them. You will need to keep your schedule flexible if redeeming miles for your flight since airlines only have a certain number of rewards seats for each flight. Be sure to pay attention to any fine print if you are going to combine or transfer miles. The exact method of redeeming your miles will depend on the credit card you are using. When you purchase your flight through the credit card’s booking tool, you have the option to use your miles directly for the flight. You may also have the option to buy credit card online miles to get a discounted ticket if you don’t have enough for a free one.

How to Choose a Rewards Credit Card

When choosing between different rewards credit cards, there are some things to keep in mind.

Travel or Cash Back Rewards: Determine if you prefer a cash back or travel rewards card.

How to Earn Rewards: See how to earn the rewards and if this would make sense with your current financial plans.

How Credits Are Redeemed: See how the rewards are redeemed with the card.

Minimum Spending: Make sure that you are able to meet any minimum spending requirements to actually earn the rewards.

When choosing a card, one credit card shopping trick is to pay attention to the sign-up bonus. See if there are any additional perks, such as access to airport lounges or tickets to some special events. Annual fees will vary from one credit card to another and can range from zero to several hundred dollars. You need to see if the annual fee is going to be worth the rewards you are getting. Some cards will also waive foreign transaction fees when using your card abroad. This may make sense for you if you travel abroad a lot.

Are Rewards Credit Cards Right for You?

Here on Loanry, you can find reputable lenders and consider applying for a reward credit card with them. You can even put in your information in the form below, and get offers from lenders.

In order to qualify for the best rewards credit cards, there will be certain qualifications that you must meet. Meeting these requirements can help you decide if rewards credit cards are right for you.

Good to Excellent Credit

You have an excellent or at least good credit score to qualify for the best rewards credit cards, including travel and cash back cards. The one exception is a secured credit card, which can be used to build credit and may still be able to earn rewards.

Using a Credit Card for Everyday Purchases

If you are regularly using your credit card for everyday purchases then you might as well start earning points and other benefits for every dollar you are spending.

You Pay Your Balance in Full

It makes good financial sense to pay off your credit card balance in full every month. This is especially important for rewards credit cards that may have higher interest costs and can potentially negate the benefits of rewards cards.

You Are Loyal to a Particular Airline or Hotel

If cash back isn’t your preference you can find great travel cards with a certain airline or hotel. This can help you get points even faster by concentrating your spending with just one hotel or airline.

You Travel Regularly

If you travel frequently then you can use your regular spending to help give you points toward your next trip when you have a credit card.

Which Is Better for You?

One of the main decisions you have to make is whether or not to choose a card with miles or with cash back. When you compare credit cards online, note that comparing cash back and mile rewards can be difficult. A dollar is a dollar no matter which cash back credit card you have. However, the number of miles required for redemption will vary by credit card or frequent flier program.

Many cash back cards are simple. Even those with tiered rewards systems can be easier to navigate than the travel rewards card. In order to get the most out of a travel rewards card, you need to understand and know the difference in the rewards programs. Not only will you have to learn how to maximize the rewards and take advantage of the other perks but you also must know how to redeem rewards, including booking instructions and blackout dates.

If you are a big traveler then you can find value in travel rewards cards. If you aren’t a big traveler then many consumers find value from the versatility of cash rewards cards.

Pros and Cons of Rewards Credit Cards

If you are going to have a credit card, it makes sense to use a rewards credit card or else you could be leaving money on the table. There can be great benefits, including waived fees, accrued points, and cash back. However, if you have trouble meeting the budget and tend to overspend with a credit card then these cards may not be the best option for you.

Pros

One of the main pros is you get points, miles, or cash back. Rewards cards can offer extended warranties, shopping and travel benefits, and rental car insurance. Just with other credit cards, rewards cards can be used as a way to build your credit, as long as you pay your bill on time each month. Another benefit is the fees waived on some of the best travel cards. Many of these cards don’t have any foreign transaction fees and some even waive the annual fee for the first year.

Cons

Even with so many positives of rewards credit cards, it helps to be aware of the cons. There may be a higher credit score required in order to qualify. While it’s possible to qualify with a lower score, the cards with better rewards tend to need a higher credit score. Be sure to check the required score of a card you are interested in before you apply. Some rewards cards can cost you in time since you have to spend some time to maximize cash or points. Some travel cards also have blackout dates that can limit your choices.

If you don’t want to invest any time then there are some rewards cards with flat rates. While it’s easy to improve your score each month with on-time payments, if you aren’t careful, the cards can destroy your score if you carry high balances. You also don’t want to destroy your budget if you aren’t paying attention to your spending and are only focusing on the rewards. Interest rates on some rewards cards may be higher. If you are going to pay off your card each month then it’s not a problem but that’s not always the case.

How to Maximize Credit Card Rewards

If you are spending wisely then you can earn a lot of cash back or points when you take advantage of rewards credit cards.

Choose a Card That Gives Rewards for Your Type of Spending

If you are loyal to a certain airline then their co-branded credit card can be a good option for you. When you choose a card that rewards where you spend the most money then you can get the most rewards possible. If you don’t travel much then you won’t benefit from a travel rewards credit card. In order to figure out what you spend the most money on, go through your credit card statements from the past few years to help you pick a card that lets you maximize your rewards.

Look at the Sign-Up Bonus

Cards offer a sign-up bonus as a way to get new customers. It’s a good way to be able to quickly get lots of rewards. If a sign-up bonus looks good to you, make sure you know the terms of the bonus. To earn the bonus, you likely need to spend a specific amount of money in a specified time frame. Be sure you are able to pay off what you spend with that sign-up bonus. If you don’t then the points you accumulate may not be worth the interest you are paying. Also, note what purchases qualify for the bonus offer. Things like balance transfers may not qualify.

Use the Card for Everyday Expenses

When you use your card for everyday expenses that you were going to purchase anyway, it’s a great way to get lots of rewards. Add utility bills, grocery shopping, gas, and streaming services to your card. Since these are things you are already paying for then they are likely to fit in your monthly budget. You may even get rewards for these spending categories.

Add Authorized Users to the Account

When you add an authorized user, it can help build up your rewards. People will usually like to add family members, such as a child or spouse. You are responsible for paying off the purchases that the authorized user makes so be sure it is someone you trust.

Look for Other Opportunities

Some credit cards have revolving quarterly categories that give you more cash back. These cash back categories can include restaurants, gas stations, and rideshares. If you have one of these credit cards then try planning your spending throughout the year to get more rewards. Some rewards portals let you get more cash back if you purchase through online retailers when you link the card to their sites.

Pick Just One or Two Store Cards

During the holidays, every store you visit tries to get you to apply for its store credit card. The key to getting the most rewards is to hold back and then just have one or two cards that offer the most rewards at the stores you shop at the most.

Pay in Full

If you can’t pay in full then you aren’t getting the most out of your rewards and will be paying more in interest.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of different rewards credit cards to choose from that can help you earn miles, cash back, or points on purchases that you make. Choosing rewards credit cards will depend on your personal financial goals. If you travel often, you may find a travel rewards card is better suited for your needs. Keep in mind that there are pros and cons to rewards credit cards, just as there are to regular credit cards. Once you choose rewards credit cards, learn more about the program and some tips and tricks to maximize your rewards.

Fees Credit Card Companies Don’t Want You to Know

Credit cards can be one of the most helpful and convenient things. They can handle emergencies and other unexpected expenses, gas and necessities in between checks, and more. The question is whether or not those nifty little pieces of plastic are worth the cost. Even more important: do you actually know what your credit card costs you? Let’s take a look.

The Price of Credit Cards

There would be a lot of financial stress off of people if the $20 they charge for pizza would only cost that same $20 to pay off. Unfortunately, that is so not the case. At the same time, though, if that were the case, credit cards probably would not exist. Why not? Because there would be no incentive to loan the money to us.

At their most basic, credit cards are simply loans. Credit card companies loan you money and you repay them- with some extra, of course, as a sort of fee to let you borrow that money. So paying a little extra to borrow that money is not so bad. If we pay the fees, we keep getting to borrow the money.

Here’s the thing, though: you do not have to pay as much as some credit card companies want you to. To pay as little as possible, there are some things you need to know and pay attention to- things that credit card companies would rather you did not know. (Hey, pssst, we are going to tell you anyway.) There are two big things to look out for: interest rates and fees. Let’s break them down.

Interest Rates

The most commonly known extra added onto a credit card bill is the interest rate. This is the very basic, “I loan you this money, this is how much you owe me back since I let you borrow it.” It is just like a loan in that sense.

There are a couple of good things about credit card interest rates. First, you know how much that interest rate is prior to taking out the card. When you apply for a card, they will inform you about the interest rate. Cards with a fixed interest rate will continue to charge that same rate. Some, though, may have adjustable rates. This means you can expect a fluctuating interest rate. Again, though, they will inform you of the type of interest rate you are looking at up front.

Another awesome thing is that if you repay what you borrow before the close of the billing cycle, some companies will not charge interest. This gives borrowers a chance to get out of debt before it grows. If at all possible, pay your entire bill every month before the interest is tacked on. If you cannot, pay as much as you can so you will at least be knocking your debt down.

Beware Intro Interest Rates

Introductory interest rates can be awesome- especially if you get one with a very low or 0% interest rate. The problem? That introductory period comes to an end at some point. It is imperative that you know when that point is. Put it on your wall calendar, in your Google calendar, write it on your forehead if you must- just do not overlook it.

Otherwise, you might go out and put $1,000 on your card right after your intro period ends and you suddenly get a bill for $1,360. You might stare at the bill in silence, scream, freak out, or pass out, but nothing changes the fact that your interest rate suddenly jumped from 0% to 36%. Do not let the date sneak up on you.

When you notice the date is approaching, you have a few options. First, consider giving your credit card company a call to renegotiate your interest rate. There is no guarantee that it will work, but if they fear they might lose you as a customer, it is possible. It really never hurts to check.
Another option is to look for another card with a good introductory rate. You should not have a problem locating another one at all. This is because credit card companies all over will do what they can to attract more customers.

You might also keep your current card put away for extreme- like really, really extreme dire straits. However, if you are sure that you will no longer use it at all, close the account. If you do not and that credit card company charges any fees, you may still get a bill.

Credit Card Fees

Now, let’s get into the less well known credit card fees. Not every card will charge all of these fees, but you need to know what to look out for. Here are some of the common credit card fees.

Late Fees

Just as every other bill has a habit of adding on pesky late fees, so do credit card companies. While these late fees may vary slightly, the most common late fee that I have seen is around $39. It is entirely possible that you simply forgot to pay your bill. It does actually happen.

However, there are many people- me being one of them- who have not paid a bill on time due to the lack of money to pay it. For those of us who are lacking the money to pay the bill, it is not going to be any easier to pay a late fee. And, worse, once that late fee is added to your balance, it is fair game. It will accumulate interest.

So, imagine this: you swipe your card at Domino’s for a $20 total and you are late paying the bill. Now, $39 is added on to that $20, meaning you now owe $59. Ah, but wait- there’s more. Your card charges 15% or 17% interest, so that adds on another $10 or so. You went from a $20 charge to a $69 bill. That’s an extra $50- that’s more than you paid for the pizza! And that is if you even get it paid off this month. If not, there will be more interest added to the next bill.

Sometimes late fees cannot be avoided. Life can get in the way and throw us off track. It happens to everybody. You might not be able to avoid the late fee, but try to find the one with the lowest late fee (and lowest interest rate). That way, even if you are late, it will not add on too much.

Balance Transfer Fees

Oh, some companies have no shame in playing on our weaknesses- one of which being debt. If you owe hundreds- or even thousands- to credit card companies and you are suddenly offered a balance transfer card with 0% interest for the first six months or year, it can be so tempting to jump on it.

However, these cards tend to charge a balance transfer fee. Granted, they may boast a 3% fee, which sounds like a cake walk, but 3% of a large balance is still a large amount. If you really want to transfer your balance, you will need to do some math. Figure out how much it will cost you to transfer the balance. Then, think about what you currently pay in interest on these other cards. Which is lowest and has the best terms? That is the one to go with.

Annual Fees

Annual fees, or membership fees, are pretty common with credit cards, though not all cards charge them. Those that do often offer the best perks, such as cash back on gas and groceries, airline miles, and so on. I have seen annual fees as low as around $25, but more often they are closer to $100. Before jumping on a card with an annual fee, it is important to understand the ins and outs of the cards.

Really read the fine print- maybe have a friend read it, too- to make sure you know what you are getting into. Even getting 50% cash back on gas does not help if you only take the bus. You need to know all the details and determine if those perks will benefit you (more on this below).

Foreign Transaction Fees

If you never, ever purchase anything at all that involves a foreign entity or bank, you can probably ignore this fee. You may think, as many do, that a foreign transaction fee is added when you physically go out of the country and purchase something. This is not the case. You can be sitting on your couch in your pajamas in Anytown, U.S.A., but if you purchase something that involves a foreign bank at all, you just might see this charge. It will likely be anywhere from 1% to 3% of the charge. The only ways to avoid it is to avoid international business or make sure that your card does not charge you for this type of fee.

Cash Advance Fees

Not all cards let you withdraw cash, but those that do charge a fee with interest starting the day it is charged. You not only pay that interest, but you also pay a fee of about 5% of the withdrawal amount. There are also limits involved. If you find yourself needing cash too often, you may need to consider a new income stream because withdrawals fees will eat through your wallet in no time.

Returned Payments

If you try to make a payment on your credit card bill that does not clear for some reason, there is a chance you will incur a returned payment fee. It is basically like a “bounced check fee”. There is a chance that you can avoid the fee if you are able to take care of it before the actual due date.

However, if you cannot or if your credit card company does not give you the opportunity to fix it, you just might be paying of a fee. Fortunately, there are laws governing credit card fees that prevent the credit card companies from getting too crazy.

Like the late fees, returned payment fees will most likely be $28 or $39. If you have had no returned payments in the last six months, you cannot be charged more than $28. If there have been any other returned payments in the last six months, they can legally charge you up to $39 but no more.

Over the Limit Fees

Depending on your credit history, you may not get the chance to go over your limit. However, many companies allow some- or all- of their cardholders to go over their limit. For those that do go over their limit, you may or may not find yourself paying an over the limit fee.

According to legislation, this fee cannot top $28 if you have not gone over your limit in the last six months and no more than $39 if you have. The good news, though, is that you can completely refuse the ability to go over your limit by opting out of it. If you do this, any charge over your limit will be declined. Also, you can only get charged over the limit fees if you opted in to it in the first place, so your credit card company cannot just charge you without you knowing that it could happen.

Paper Statement Fees

This fee probably gets on my nerves more than the rest. Why do I have to pay for you to send me a bill? That is insane. Many companies I know will reward you for signing up for paperless billing- that is awesome. But, I am still trying my best to figure out exactly why it is okay for a company to charge a customer for sending out a bill. I understand that it *may* encourage customers to sign up for paperless billing, though I am quite unsure if that is the real reason.

As crazy as it may be, some companies are charging as much as $10 per month for a paper statement- way more than it costs to send it. If you have access to the internet and a printer, you are much better off printing the thing out yourself, if you need a paper copy. You could even print it out at your local library for way less than $1.

Reward Redemption Fees

Another irritating fee is this one- “Let’s charge you for using the rewards that you are already paying for through your annual fee.” These fees may be as low as $20 and can go up as high as you will agree to.  Not every company charges a reward redemption fee. Others may charge them if you redeem a certain way- like it is free to do online yourself but if you call and have someone else do it they charge.

Other companies charge you for redeeming them regardless of how you redeem them. This is definitely a fee you should find out about and add in to your calculations when deciding if the perks are worth it.

Activity Fees

Credit card companies do not want your credit cards to sit in your wallet unused- they do not make any money that way. These fees were once called inactivity fees and you would be charged for not using your card. Financial laws now make it to where this can only happen if you do not use your card for more than a year.

Now, they charge what they call activity fees. This means that if you do not spend the amount of money that they set- which may be over $2,000- you owe a fee. Some companies charge this fee up front, then refund it to your card after you spend the specified amount. These fees are pretty common, but you can find cards that do not charge them.

Payment Protection Fees

These fees are intended to cover the charges you make in case of job loss or some other issue covered by the program. These can get expensive as they may charge as much as $1 per $100 on your bill. That can add up big time. It would be so much better to just put some money up yourself to cover hard times.

Please do be aware that although these are the common fees, financial laws change quite often. When they do, some credit card companies get creative and come up with ways to present new fees. So if you notice something that we did not mention here, it is not surprising.

Are Any of the Fees Worth It?

Like many other financial topics, there is no one-size approach to answering this question. It really, REALLY depends on your finances, your lifestyle, and, well, you. Let me try to break this down. Let’s say that I find a credit card that charges a $99 annual fee with one of the perks being that I can earn 1% back on groceries. 1% may not sound like a lot to some, but we are a family of six- three of which are tweens and teens. We spend a lot on groceries, so that 1% cash back would more than pay for the annual fee- it would leave a nice little bit in my pocket, too.

On the other hand, we never travel by plane. Even if we did, it would take entirely too long to earn enough airline miles to justify any type of annual fee. For someone who travels enough, it might be worth paying for the airline miles perk. A single person who always eats out, though, may not earn enough back on groceries to justify that card.

In my personal opinion, annual fees for perks you can actually benefit from might be worth it. Others, though, not so much. I mean, no, paying to get a paper statement or having to pay late fees are never worth it. If you just absolutely have to pay something with cash, a cash withdrawal fee might be worth it. Also, if you desperately need to go over your limit for some reason and the over the limit fee is cheaper than loan interest rates, you might find yourself willing to pay for it.

Again, though, this all comes down to you. Before signing up for a card, look at all of the perks and fees attached to it. Really do some calculations and ask yourself if those fees are worth it. Will you actually use the perks? When I ask this, I do not mean that you suddenly think, “Oh, yeah! I am going to start collecting airline miles so when I want to go on a trip, I can.” More often than not, you will either never take that trip or not take it before your rewards expire. If you already travel every month or two, though, the fees might be well worth it.

Avoid These 7 Common Credit Card Mistakes to Save Money

Avoiding Credit Card Fees

With some of these fees, they can only be avoided by not getting a card that charges those fees. Others just require a watchful eye and some discipline. Here are some tips to avoid fees:

Compare Credit Cards

The biggest way to avoid fees is to really compare the credit cards you are looking into. It is not likely that they will charge all of the same fees and offer the same perks. You have to pay a good deal of attention to these so that you have no surprises and so you can make the best decision.

Know the Fees

Going along with the previous tip, you have to know the fees your card charges if you expect to avoid them. If you are unaware that your card charges a paper statement fee, you will not be so quick to sign up for paperless billing. Know your fees well and the terms that go with them.

Keep an Eye on Your Bill

Always, always pay attention to your credit card bill- for more than one reason. First, you want to be sure that you are not being charged for something you did not purchase. This can help detect identity theft early. If you notice it, shut the card down immediately and call your credit card company.

The other reason is that you want to be sure you know what you are being charged for. Do not let yourself be surprised by fees you did not even know existed, or increases that you were not expecting. Keep a close eye on your bill and if you notice anything wrong or different, contact your credit card company immediately.

Shop Credit Cards Consistently

The best credit card shopping trick of all time is to actually shop credit cards. I mentioned comparing credit cards a moment ago. This should not stop after you choose your credit card the first time. On a pretty regular basis, shop around for credit cards. You can often find better interest rates and perks if you look around enough. At the very least, you need to do this prior to any special interest rate periods ending. Also, if you use your cards wisely, you will find yourself eligible for better things as your credit improves.

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Use a Credit Card to Build Credit

If you are looking for a way to build your credit, credit cards are definitely a way to do it. You do, however, have to be incredibly responsible with it. Here are some tips to use your cards to build credit which can lead to better credit cards and help you achieve other financial goals:

Watch Your Charges

Do not charge items that you are not certain you can pay for. While you may have to break this rule in case of emergency, do not break it simply to splurge. Going out to buy a $1,000 smart TV that you do not see yourself having the money for any time soon is just not a good idea. Credit should not be used as a crutch to splurge.

Pay Your Charges Immediately

You do not have to wait until your bill is due to pay it. Some very smart people I know will go to the grocery store on their designated day. They have been budgeting for groceries, so they have money put away for it. They use their credit card at the store, but immediately pay it off when they get home.

For example, let’s say my friend Sally has budgeted and put away $100 for groceries. She waits to go to the grocery store until that $100 is in her bank account. At the grocery store, she pays $100 with her credit card. As soon as she gets home, she pays that charge off with the $100 she has put away.

How does this help? First, it shows her actually using her credit. Creditors want to see this, so Sally is showing good things on her credit but she is paying off the charge before interest is accrued. This, of course, saves her some money.

Pay Your Credit Card Bill on Time

If you cannot pay your bill early, at least pay it on time. Find a card that sends out the bill at a time you can actually pay it. The good thing with many credit card companies now is that they will let you choose your bill date. This means that if you get paid on the 17th, you can have your bill due on the 20th. Then, pay the bill on the 17th- you might be able to save some of that interest. Look for a credit card that gives you control over your bill date.

Protect Your Card

Identity theft is a big problem. Guard your credit card information at all costs. If you shop online, only do so on sites that have protection. You can tell these sites because they have a little lock in the address bar. You do not want to find yourself owing money for things you do not even get to enjoy because someone else is.

Conclusion

Remember that while credit cards can be handy, they can also be hazardous to your credit, which can be hazardous to your future. Be diligent and watchful, and know exactly what you are paying for. If you are in credit card debt with high interest rates, you might consider consolidating that debt with a personal installment loan. Just be sure that whatever steps you choose to take are well thought out and helpful to your financial situation.