So, how do you feel about getting free money? I’m sure you love it just as much as I do, but we all know that you should never hold your breath waiting for some to fall out of the sky. Unless you’re a smart credit card user, then you can get free money… for real.
There are a lot of different credit card options out there, from basic ones with low APR for rebuilding credit to those with 3 and 5% cash back on purchases. AOL’s DailyFinance lists a good choice in some of the different categories of cards.
- Citi Simplicity – 0% APR for 18 months, then 12.99%–21.99% variable APR.
- Chase Slate – 0% APR for 15 months and waives fees for balance transfers in the first 60 days. This is a card for climbing out of already-existing credit card debt.
- Discover More – 0% APR for 14 months, then 10.99%–19.99%, and 1% cash back on all purchases, along with bonus categories offering extra cash back. For the rest of this year, you can get 5% cash back on all online buys.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – great purchase protection and points, including double points on restaurants and travel. It does have a $95 yearly fee, although it’s waived for the first year.
I used a few different credit cards in the past few years to get the maximum rewards. When I’m looking at getting a credit card, my basic rules are that I never pay an annual fee for using the card, and I try to only get cards that give me 0% APR for a while. Depending on the state of your finances, paying interest may be unavoidable, but keep these tips in mind.
Most rewards programs give you points for what you spend, and then you can redeem those points for a variety of things like restaurant gift cards, travel miles, a balance credit or cash. I always choose cash because I like to have the money in my pocket so I can spend it on whatever I need (or want). Here are some of the ones I like:
- Chase Freedom – This is a great card. No annual fee, 0% APR for 15 months, 1% cash back on all purchases and, every quarter, there are two categories of purchases that earn 5% cash back. For two of those four quarters, gas and groceries are the 5% categories, which is awesome.
- Amazon.com Rewards from Chase – This is a good card to have if you buy a lot of stuff on Amazon, like I do. While it doesn’t have an initial 0% interest rate, it still doesn’t have an annual fee, and you get 3% cash back on Amazon.com purchases, 2% cash back on gas and drug store purchases and 1% cash back on everything else.
- Capital One – This company offers about 12 different cards, and while they no longer offer the platinum card I had with them, they have some good starter cards. It’s generally easier to get approved, but you’ll probably have to pay a higher interest rate.
- Individual Store Credit Cards – These can be a good idea, but they’re tricky because they usually have high APRs. I’ve found that these cards offer you the biggest discount the day you open the account, usually around 20%. You can still save with these cards, though; my wife has a Kohl’s Charge Card, and she’s gotten extra savings with it. You just have to keep an eye on the store’s promos.
On a more general level, both MasterCard and Visa offer a lot of perks like rental car insurance – all you have to do is pay for the full cost of the car with that card and not purchase the insurance the rental agency offers.
When looking at getting a credit card with rewards, you do need to be careful because every time you apply for a card the company will pull your credit report, which hurts your credit score just a little bit. So, you don’t want to apply for too many cards in a short period of time. Quizzle.com is a great website that helps you manage and build your credit, helping you develop a long-term plan to improve your credit as well.
If you’ve got any other credit card tips or secrets, let us know!