If you've spent months saving for a big-ticket item like a new refrigerator or a giant flat-screen TV, paying for it with cash might be a mistake. Credit cards offer numerous benefits frequently overlooked in the name of "saving money." But, not using plastic might wind up costing you big. In fact, your 16-digit account number could be the key to unlocking deep discounts, additional buyer protections, and other money-saving perks.
Here are five commonly overlooked credit card benefits that might make you rethink how credit cards fit into your money management toolkit.
1) Introductory Offers
Taking advantage of a credit card's perks can benefit your financial life, if you manage your purchases and payments wisely. For instance, many credit card issuers offer 0% APR on new purchases and balance transfers during a promotional period such as 18 months. With a bit of planning, you can make your purchase sooner, without having saved the full amount, and repay it along with any transferred debt without paying any interest before the promotional rates expire. The trick is to pay off that balance before the introductory period ends and the credit card goes back to its current rate.
Getting paid to spend money isn't just a perk reserved for professional shoppers. Consumers who make everyday purchases with their credit cards can also experience financial rewards from shopping. If you use a rewards credit card to make purchases, each transaction can earn you points per dollar spent. Redeem those points for travel discounts, cash back, gift cards, statement credit or other merchandise. Just make sure you pay off your bill each month, or the interest rate you incur will outweigh your rewards.
3) Shopping Portals
Savvy cardholders know that one of the best ways to maximize savings is through online shopping at the credit card issuer's shopping portal. This gateway to savings allows you to take advantage of retailer discounts, plus earn bonus reward points. Simply click on any merchant link inside the portal to secure exclusive deals reserved for cardholders.
4) Free Credit Scores and Monitoring
Keeping a healthy credit score is one way to boost your financial well-being. That's why some top credit card issuers provide complimentary credit scores and account monitoring. For instance, the SchoolsFirst FCU's Inspire Mastercard® offers not only a free credit score but customized reports from SavvyMoney to help you check the accuracy of your accounts and discover ways to improve your overall score.
5) Concierge Services
Are you ready for the royal treatment? Planning a dream vacation can be costly. And, ensuring a memorable experience can cost more time and money than you'd like. Some credit card companies offer personal concierge services that can do much of the heavy lifting for a small fee. This might include securing hard to find event tickets, helping you quickly navigate airport security lines, and arranging transportation to your hotel.
How to Find the Best Credit Card for Your Lifestyle
Make your dollars go even further by signing up for a credit card that matches your spending habits. Finding a good fit for your finances starts by deciding how you'll use the card. For example, do you plan on paying off the balance each month? Are you a frequent traveler? Is there a big-ticket expense in your near future?
Next, compare card options by reviewing introductory and balance transfer offers for length, fees, and post-introductory APR, or annual percentage rate. Dig beyond promotional offers to uncover potential fees that may make the card less than desirable despite a zero introductory APR. For example, the card might charge an:
- Annual fee.
- Balance transfer fee.
- Cash advance fee.
- Late payment fee.
- Over the limit fee.
Remember that fees are dependent on the credit card issuer and can vary greatly. Finally, have a realistic plan to manage credit card debt. Letting debt carry over each month might cancel out any points or cash back you might earn.
There's a Card With Your Name on It
Start taking advantage of the credit card perks available with a SchoolsFirst FCU's Mastercard®. Learn more when you visit our Credit Card page.1 We can match you with the best credit card for your spending habits and lifestyle.