I used to think that credit cards are sources of financial trouble and will drown you in debt if you are not financially literate. In fact, that was very true at the beginning when unknowingly I accepted and applied for every credit card the banks offered me.
What makes matters even worse, I only pay the minimum balance each month and paid interest of around 20% and above on average. Furthermore, the remaining balance and interest charged on my card that month has also incurred interest on top of it the following month, so on and so forth.
Until then, it’s becoming more difficult and unbearable to pay even the minimum as the total balance has now ballooned to a staggering amount.
In other words, this led to me becoming ill and stressed about keeping up with payments.
Immediate Action Needed
Thankfully, It didn’t take me long to figure out how to get out of this trap I’m in. The key is financial education. I went back to read and understood the credit card terms and conditions. In addition, I reviewed the fine print (which many of us do not do) myself. Armed with informed knowledge, the decision was to pay off all our credit card debts and start all over again.
Meanwhile, I have joined financial forums and learned from others on how to benefit using a credit card to my advantage.
Obviously, It didn’t happen overnight but eventually it became an obsession on learning how to make money from credit cards. Fast forward to this date I No longer pay interest on any of my credit cards. Instead, Its the exact opposite – I’m making money by using my credit card on a regular basis.
Of course, you may ask how?
These are my criteria of picking credit cards:
1) Credit cards with No annual fee. There are always a few cards on the market that offer No annual fee and with great benefits. I am a fan of anything that is free and why wouldn’t you?
2) Cashback credit card that pays cash or checks. I am not a fan of a cash back or rebate card that pays loyalty points back to your statement. My preference is a credit card that sends me checks or cash credited to my savings account. I redeem my checks once every few months once it reaches a certain amount.
To date, my top cashback card is Capital One Aspire Cash World MasterCard. Among its excellent benefits include – medical and travel insurance, trip cancellation and lost or delayed baggage. In fact, it’s one of the remaining credit cards that provides medical coverage anywhere in the world for up to 22 days which is automatic whether or not we purchase travel using our Cap One card. It also covers car rental insurance, so I don’t need to pay extra insurance every time we go on our travels.
Unfortunately, this card has now been grandfathered and no longer available to new applicants.
Alternatively, Tangerine World Mastercard is my back up credit card. Key benefits include: No annual fee, Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance, Mobile Device Insurance etc. This card pays 2% cashback to 3 chosen categories of your choice and the rest is 0.5% and no limit to cashback earned.
If you apply for the Tangerine World Mastercard through GCR using this link you will also receive $100 cashback upon approval (promo till March 31st). Please note GCR may asks for a referral email and if you are happy support this blog kindly use this email: email@example.com.
And what would I do with my cash back check? Personally, I will not just run to buy groceries or coffee with it. Instead, I prefer to add these checks to our emergency fund or to our investment account to buy more dividend paying stocks.
3) A loyalty card that offers free groceries. PC World Elite Mastercard is our main credit card of choice when we do our regular groceries at Real Canadian Superstore, Shoppers Drug mart, Esso and Mobil gas stations or at any Loblaws participating stores. Registering for PC Optimum and using this credit card earns you quicker points when used in any of their affiliated stores, shops, and gas stations.
Similarly, the key is to pay the balance in full each month to not incur any interests. Also, we are accumulating our reward points so that we will have free groceries come Christmas time.
4) No foreign transaction fee Credit Card for travels abroad. Home Trust Preferred Visa Card. This is my foreign travel card. It has excellent benefits: No annual fee, earn 1% cash back, NO foreign exchange fee, zero liability policy, purchase security, and guaranteed hotel reservations.
We love to travel and when we go on trips, we use this particular card abroad. For instance, many of us don’t know that there is an extra charge every time we use our card on top of the actual price that we pay using our home issued credit card.
Usually, It is called foreign transaction charge and typically around 2-3% per transaction. Normally, we won’t even notice it as it’s already built in every transaction in our statement. So, right off the bat you are paying more for the item you buy.
Furthermore, It also gets worse, as in addition to the conversion fee, you will also get a poor exchange rate. This is due to the service called Dynamic Currency Conversion. This is provided by a separate company that acts as the middleman between the merchant and your credit card provider. They charge around 2-3% of the purchase price to convert it to your home currency.
Uniquely, It is also common knowledge to pay for the item we purchased in our home currency as it’s easy to understand how much we spend. But it is incorrect and a big NO-NO! For instance, If you are a Canadian traveling to the US and bought something, you should choose the US currency instead of CAD to your purchase.
So, if you are not using the appropriate card traveling abroad you might end up paying foreign transaction charge of around 3% and DCC of also 3% so you’re now paying 6% more for the item you purchase as an example.
5) Applying credit cards that offer 0% Balance Transfer for a certain period
Essentially, we apply for a 0% balance transfer card and request the credit limit be transferred to our checking or savings account. Once credited to our account, we can use the funds for whatever purpose we want – either paying debts (most common) or investing. Check out how we use leverage to buy our home.
However, not too many of these credit cards are available these days. In fact, to my knowledge MBNA is the only credit card company that offers 0% balance transfer to your checking or savings account. The 0% BT period offer is around 10 -15 months. Obviously, the longer the 0% promo period the better and more advantageous. Approval with this card might be difficult, one should have a stellar credit score in order to obtain one.
For example, you can still find a few 0% BT transfer credit cards in the market and if you also apply through GCR you will also receive cashback upon approval which will be paid to your GCR account. Please note GCR may asks for a referral email and if you are happy to support this blog kindly use this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Important Note: I have to reiterate that this strategy involves a high degree of risks and is only suited for well-disciplined individuals. Everything we shared is our personal experience and nothing should be considered as advice. Exercise due diligence in every huge financial decision you make and consult a trained professional if you have too.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
Credit cards are excellent financial tools that you can use to your advantage. It is more secure than debit cards and comes with lots of benefits too.
Just choose the ideal card for different purposes whether it’s cashback card, free groceries, and travel card.
Ultimately, most important of all is to pay your credit card balance in full each month. If you do it right, you may even make money instead of you paying exorbitant interest.
DISCLAIMER: Everything I have shared in my blog is wholly related to my personal experience. It is for entertainment and educational purposes only and should not be construed as advice.
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