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Credit Cards: How to Get Some $$ Back When You Spend

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Credit cards are a great way to make money. I've always been a financially conscious (and even a little frugal) person at heart. No, not the type who skimps on everything, but always interested in ways to spend less on the same stuff… clipping coupons, spending way too much time online to find the lowest price for that special something, even searching high and low for online coupons and deals.

One of the best deals I've ever found is right under your nose – a credit card. Well, with one caveat: "as long as it it used correctly".

Most of us use credit cards. If you don't, you should (read on). Some people use debit cards, which are different. A credit card allows you to spend someone else's money, then pay them back later. If you pay it back within a certain time-frame – usually 15-20 days – you don't have to pay any interest and end up getting a FREE loan. If you pay the money back after that date then you have to pay interest (BAD). Debit cards are a ripoff. They are like plastic cash. They automatically take money out of your bank when you use them, and you don't get a FREE loan. So what's better? A credit card, as long as you pay it off every month.

If you choose not to pay off a credit card every month, then you may be living beyond your means. No lecture here.

Which credit cards are the best? The ones that are 1) fee-free (no annual fee); 2) give you free stuff; and 3) charge low interest if you carry a balance. Always avoid carrying a balance, though, as that means you're spending too much. I use a credit card for EVERYTHING in order to get the most points.

The best cards give you lots of free stuff. So which credit cards should you consider? Here are a few:

1) The best is the CitiBank Platinum American Express card. Perks: you get "thank you" points for using the card. These points can be used to purchase gift cards, typically 1 point = 1 cent; this card gives you between 3 and 5 points per dollar spent. That's like 3-5 percent back! PLUS, you get 15,000 free points, which you can use for $150 in gift cards after your first purchase. Plus free companion flight, airport lounge access, etc. The only downside is that there is a $99 annual fee, but you can easily make that back with the credits you receive after your initial purchases.

2) My second favorite is the Citi Diamond Preferred Rewards Card. It also gives "thank you" points that you can use to purchase gift cards and other stuff. This card has no annual fee, gives you 5 percent on groceries, gas, and other stuff you purchase often, and 1 percent on other stuff.

3) Starwoods Rewards Card: This card focuses on earning free hotel stays. You get enough points when you sign up to get a one- or two-night stay for free. You earn points pretty quickly and can even transfer them to get other stuff such as airline miles. This card has no annual fee.

Bottom line:
1) Don't use a debit card, use a credit card (free money).
2) Pay it off monthly.
3) Maximize points by paying for everything on your credit card.
4) Choose one of the cards I recommend above and you'll be happy.

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About imkerry

  • http://www.joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    Good tips, all.

    Credit card rewards through uPromise helped a ton with two kids in college. In the boom days, we were getting a $300 rebate for each GM car we bought (three total per each person per year). I like this better than the rewards miles.

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