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6 Ways To Squeeze Free Money Out of Your Credit Card

6 Ways To Squeeze Free Money Out of Your Credit Card

It’s not every day your credit card company gives you money for free. But here are 6 bank beating strategies, and the landmines to avoid, that can help you milk your credit card for all it’s worth, on the bank’s dime.

1. 0% Balance Transfers

This strategy can save you thousands! A balance transfer is simply when you transfer high interest balances from one or more credit cards onto another credit card with a lower interest rate.

Banks are hungry for credit card balances, because they earn interest income from them. Many banks offer promotional interest rates of 0% for 12-36 months in the hopes that you’ll either miss a payment and your interest will get jacked to 19.99%, or you’ll keep your balance with them after the promotional period expires and they’ll jump your rates to 19.99% thereafter.

But if you follow the rules of the game, you really will pay 0% interest – a huge savings opportunity. For example, if you have $7,500 in credit card debt at 19.99% interest, a 0% balance transfer will save you more than $1,500 a year in interest costs alone!

Don’t be one of the fools their counting on, and you’ll be laughing your way to borrowing at 0% rates! Just make your payments on time, and find another balance transfer offer before the current one expires, and you’ll never pay interest on your credit cards again – a real bank beating strategy.

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2. 0% Interest Rates on New Purchases

If you know you’re going to make a purchase but you can’t afford to pay for it right away, let the banks front you the cash at 0%. Whether you’re buying a new sofa, dishwasher, floors or even a vacation there are tons of 0% financing offers in the marketplace. In some cases, you may even find offers where you’ll have no interest AND no payments for 12 months or more!

Just remember, the banks are betting on you missing a payment. In many cases if you do, you’ll not only have to pay interest for the payment period you missed, but for all previous payment periods in which you received 0% interest! Our recommendation is to always make your payments via pre-authorized debit, so you’ll never have to worry about missing a payment again.

Make your payments on time, and you’ll be laughing you’re way to free money.

3. Interest Free Grace Periods

Almost all credit cards offer some type of grace period, where you won’t have to pay any interest between the time you use your card and the time you have to pay back the credit card company. It can be a great tool to manage cash flow – especially for the self-employed and entrepreneurs.

In most cases credit card companies will give you a 21 day grace period from the time you receive your credit card statement. In some cases, you may get as long as 55 days (small business cards)!

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That means banks are giving you close to a month or more to pay your bills interest free!

But there’s a catch many people don’t know about. If you’re already carrying a balance, or if you’ve been late during the year, you’ll lose the privilege of your grace period, and you’ll start paying interest on new purchases the minute you make them.

4. Juicy Welcome Bonuses

Banks are competing hard for your business – especially if you have good credit and spend a fair bit on your credit card.

In fact they’re competing so hard, their willing to pay you to try their credit card, in some cases as much as a free round trip flight to Europe!

With credit card welcome bonuses as high as 100,000 miles, you can really milk the insatiable appetites and deep pockets of the banks. Think about it, just for signing-up for a credit card, you can fly from New York to L.A. absolutely free. Name another product that offers an incentive as big – you can’t.

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In fact, it’s such an effective strategy, you can apply, collect, and redeem on multiple different cards throughout the year. Just rinse, wash, repeat your way to free goodies and travel over, and over again on the bank’s dime.

5. Annual Fee Waivers

Despite offering hefty welcome bonuses, some banks will waive the first year annual fee as well – all in the hopes of removing every hurdle you may have to trying out their card. That’s a value of $120 to $150.

Think about it, you’ll get a free flight or hotel room for signing-up for the card, without having to make any commitment to the bank, at all. It’s house money.

Not only that, for an entire year you’ll get things like free lounge access, car rental and trip cancellation insurance, foreign exchange with no fees, and of course rewards on all of your credit card spend  absolutely free!

The bank is totally trying to buy your loyalty, so what of it? Be a free agent and take advantage of as many first year free credit card offers as you can – it will cost you nothing. Just make sure you have the credit to do it.

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6. Reward Stacking

Banks are willing to pay you to make purchases with their credit card. Whether, you’re getting cash back, air miles, or points, if you don’t carry a balance month to month, there is no excuse not to take advantage of free rewards.

On average, credit cards offer 1%-2% in rewards for each dollar you spend on your credit card. However, in some cases, you can hack your way to 5% cash back by combining different cash back categories from multiple cards in categories such as gas, grocery, restaurants, pharmacy and even with individual retailers such as Amazon. Why pay with cash or debit when the banks are willing to literally hand over money to you, just for your presumed loyalty?

Just make sure you don’t get in the habit of spending more, just to get rewards. Also, if you do carry a credit card balance from time to time, you’re far better off with a low interest rate credit card, than a rewards card – always.

So that’s it folks. The banks are beating at the door to get inside your wallet. They may have laid a few land mines in the fine print, but follow the right path and the prize is yours!

Featured photo credit: Credit-Cards / CC0 Public Domain via pixabay.com

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Marc Felgar

Marc Felgar is an aging, health & senior care expert focused on improving the lives of mature adults.

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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