Written by Barry Choi
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
Whether it's during the holiday season, back-to-school, or some other time of year when you may need to spend a little more than usual, here are 6 tips to help you make the most of your credit card use.
Always Set a Budget
When using credit cards, it's sometimes easy to overspend, especially during the holiday season since you're not seeing physical cash leave your wallet. To help keep your finances in control — during the holidays and all year round — it's a good idea to set a budget. For the holidays, start by writing down everyone you plan on giving a gift to and how much you'd like to spend on them. If the total is more than you thought, you may need to cross some names off your list or consider lower cost gifts or save a little more before you make a purchase for them.
Use Your Points or Cash Back if You Have a Rewards Card
If you're looking for ways to help save, you could redeem any points you've been hanging on to or use cash back that you receive. You'll have to check the terms and conditions of your credit card points or cash back rewards program to understand how your points can be redeemed, the value of that redemption and how your cash back works.
Check Your Statements on a Regular Basis
At times when you're making more purchases than usual, fraudulent charges could slip by undetected. You should always check your credit card statements at least each month — and online every week if you receive electronic statements — to see if there are any purchases you don't recognize. If you do see something suspicious, notify your credit card issuer right away. If you don't receive electronic statements, you can contact your credit card issuer about how to sign up for them.
Look at Your Credit Card Benefits
When making purchases with your credit cards, it pays to read the fine print. Some credit cards offer additional benefits, such as extended warranty, which will normally double the manufacturer's warranty up to an additional year on most items purchased using the credit card. There may also be price protection, where you can get the difference back if you find a lower price on your purchases made by a certain date (for example, 30-90 days after your purchase). You'll need to charge the full cost of the item on card in order to be eligible for the coverage.
Only Buy from Reputable Sellers
When ordering items online, stick with major retailers or reputable merchants able to guarantee the merchandise, including delivery. When purchasing items on larger, more reputable resale sites, local pickups can allow you to verify the items before paying for them. It's smart to avoid sites you've never heard of or online sellers claiming to have items that are sold out everywhere else. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Consider Adding a Supplementary Card
If you're looking for ways to earn more points or cash back, you could consider getting supplementary cards (also called authorized user cards) for family members. By doing this, all your points or cash back on purchases made by those supplementary cardholders will be pooled into your one credit card account.
Just remember that as the primary cardholder, you'd be responsible for any debt that the supplementary cardholders adds on your credit card account when they make their purchases (and they will have access to your entire credit limit).