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6 Ways To Hack Your Way To More Credit Card Rewards

6 Ways To Hack Your Way To More Credit Card Rewards

Consumers are obsessed with rewards. We crave them, want them, love them. We obsess over how to burn, churn, trade, convert, and optimize them. We get a rush of adrenaline when we collect them, satisfaction when we redeem them.

Banks are competing hard for your wallet, and we have a few tips on how to exploit their appetite for growth so you can fly free, sleep free, float free, drive free, and more.

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1. Get A New Card

Loyalty doesn’t pay in credit cards. Just like wireless and cable, you’ll get the most value from your credit card when you switch providers and get a new card.

Want proof? With your current card, it might take you 2 years and $25,000 of spending to earn 25,000 miles. Get a new credit card and you could get a 25,000- to 60,000-mile sign-up bonus in as little as 3 months, requiring only $500 to meet the minimum spending requirement.

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2. Try Before You Buy

Before you buy a new car, you take it for a test drive, right? Same with a pair of shoes? Of course. That’s why you should only get a new rewards credit card with an issuer that doesn’t charge an annual fee in the first year. This will give you the chance to try out their product and make sure you’re happy with things like their customer service, ease of rewards redemption, online billing and payments, credit line, etc. It makes trying risk-free, and puts the onus of performance on the issuer, not you.

3. Wait For The Big Promotion

Issuers have special welcome bonus promotions all the time. Quite often, they don’t make them available on their website or to the general public. Search through credit card comparison sites, travel reward blogs, and Google search to see if they’re advertising any limited-time offer welcome bonuses, the wait will be worth it.

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4. Know Your Categories

Many rewards credit cards offer bonus points when you use your card at the gas pump or grocery store. There’s a way for you to hack bonus points in even more merchant categories. Simply use your credit card at the grocery store to buy a gift card to your favourite merchant (Wal-Mart, Amazon, Apple, Home Depot, etc.). You’ll get your bonus rewards or cash back because you made your purchase at the grocery store, and then you’ll be able to use your gift card at your favorite store.

5. Stack Your Credit Cards

Maximize your rewards by using multiple credit cards with different bonus categories, so that you get a bonus on all your spending.

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For example, you can use one card to get 5% cash back on gas and groceries, another to get 3% back at restaurants, another to get 3% at the pharmacy, and yet another card to get 2% cash back everywhere else.

6. Know The Rules Of The Game

Credit card companies are a little like casinos. They offer you all the promise in the world, but they lay a few land mines in the way to stack the deck in their favour. Here are a few things to watch out for:

  • Rotating Categories: Some cards change their categories month to month or quarter to quarter. To get any real value from the card, you have to be willing to stay on top of the rotations and re-select your categories frequently.
  • Earning Caps: Make sure you know if there are any caps on rewards earnings. If there are, it makes no sense to spend beyond the cap, because you’ll either earn less or no rewards from the additional spending.
  • Rule Changes: Credit card terms and conditions change all the time — most cards have an obligation to notify you of any changes. Read your mail, or you might miss the memo.
  • Penalties: Know where the land mines are laid. Do you you lose your points if you cancel your card or miss any payments?
  • Expiration: This can be a killer. Know if your points have an expiry date or if they expire upon cancellation of your card.
  • Carrying a Balance: If you carry a balance, your interest payments will wipe out any value you get from your rewards.
  • You’re late: Being late wipes out any value created from your rewards. You’ll be charged a late fee, your interest rate will skyrocket, and you’ll lose the privilege of your grace period.

Featured photo credit: money-256314_960_720 / jarmoluk 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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Published on November 20, 2018

The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

The truth is, there are many “money saving guides” online, but most don’t cover the root issue for not saving.

Once I’d discovered a few key factors that allowed me to save 10k in one year, I realized why most articles couldn’t help me. The problem is that even with the right strategies you can still fail to save money. You need to have the right systems in place and the right mindset.

In this guide, I’ll cover the best ways to save money — practical yet powerful steps you can take to start saving more. It won’t be easy but with hard work, I’m confident you’ll be able to save more money–even if you’re an impulsive spender.

Why Your Past Prevents You from Saving Money

Are you constantly thinking about your financial mistakes?

If so, these thoughts are holding you back from saving.

I get it, you wish you could go back in time to avoid your financial downfalls. But dwelling over your past will only rob you from your future. Instead, reflect on your mistakes and ask yourself what lessons you can learn from them.

It wasn’t easy for me to accept that I had accumulated thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Once I did, I started heading in the right direction. Embrace your past failures and use them as an opportunity to set new financial goals.

For example, after accepting that you’re thousands of dollars in debt create a plan to be debt free in a year or two. This way when you’ll be at peace even when you get negative thoughts about your finances. Now you can focus more time on saving and less on your past financial mistakes.

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How to Effortlessly Track Your Spending

Stop manually tracking your spending.

Leverage powerful analytic tools such as Personal Capital and these money management apps to do the work for you. This tool has worked for me and has kept me motivated to why I’m saving in the first place. Once you login to your Personal Capital dashboard, you’re able to view your net worth.

When I’d first signed up with Personal Capital, I had a negative net worth, but this motivated me to save more. With this tool, you can also view your spending patterns, expenses, and how much money you’re saving.

Use your net worth as your north star to saving more. Whenever you experience financial setbacks, view how far you’ve come along. Saving money is only half the battle, being consistent is the other half.

The Truth on Why You Keep Failing

Saving money isn’t sexy. If it was, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

Some people are natural savers, but most are impulsive spenders. Instead of denying that you’re an impulsive spender, embrace it.

Don’t try to save 60 to 70% of your income if this means you’ll live a miserable life. Saving money isn’t a race but a marathon. You’re saving for retirement and for large purchases.

If you’re currently having a hard time saving, start spending more money on nice things. This may sound counterintuitive but hear me out. Wouldn’t it be better to save $200 each month for 12 months instead of $500 for 3 months?

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Most people run into trouble because they create budgets that set them up for failure. This system won’t work for those who are frugal, but chances are they don’t need help saving. This system is for those who can’t save money and need to be rewarded for their hard work.

Only because you’re buying nice things doesn’t mean that you’ll save less. Here are some rules you should have in place:

  1. Save more than 50% of your available money (after expenses)
  2. Only buy nice things after saving
  3. Automate your savings with automatic bank transfers

These are the same rules that helped me save thousands each year while buying the latest iPhone. Focus only on items that are important to you. Remember, you can afford anything but not everything.

How to Foolproof Yourself out of Debt

Personal finance is a game. On one end, you’re earning money; and on the to other, you’re saving. But what ends up counting in the end isn’t how much you earn but how much you save. Research shows that about 60% of Americans spend more than they save.[1]

So how can you separate yourself from the 60%?

By not accumulating more debt. This way you’ll have more money to save and avoid having more financial obligations. A great way to stop accumulating debt is using cash to pay for all your transactions.

This will be challenging, depending on how reliant you are with your credit card, but it’s worth the effort. Not only will you stop accruing debt, but you’ll also be more conscious with what you buy.

For example, you’ll think twice about purchasing a new $200 headphone despite having the cash to buy them. According to a poll conducted by The CreditCards.com, 5 out of 6 Americans are impulsive spenders.[2]

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Telling yourself that you’ll have the discipline to not buy things won’t cut it. This is equal to having junk food in your fridge while trying to eat healthy–it’s only a matter of time before you slip. By using cash to make your purchases, you’ll spend less and save more.

A Proven Formula to Skyrocket Your Savings

Having proven systems in place to help you save more is important, but they’re not the best way to save money.

You can search for dozens of ways to save money, but there’ll always be a limit. Instead of spending the majority of your effort saving, look for ways to increase your income. The truth is that once you have the right systems in place, saving is easy.

What’s challenging is earning more money. There are many routes you can take to achieve this. For example, you can work long and hard at your current job to earn a raise. But there’s one problem–you’re depending on someone else to give you a raise.

Your company will have to have the budget, and you’ll have to know how to toot your own horn to get this raise. This isn’t to say that earning a raise is impossible, but things are better when you’re in control right? That’s why building a side-hustle is the best way to increase your income.

Think of your side-hustle as a part-time job doing something you enjoy. You can sell items on eBay for a profit, or design websites for small businesses. Building a side-hustle will be on the hardest things you’ll do, be too stubborn to quit.

During the early stages, you won’t be making money and that’s okay. Since you already have a source of income, you won’t be dependent on your side-hustle to pay for your expenses. Depending on how much time you invest in your side-hustle, it can one day replace your current income.

Whatever route you take, focus more on earning and save as much as possible. You have more control than you give yourself credit for.

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Transform Yourself into a Saving Money Machine

Saving money isn’t complicated but it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do.

By learning from your mistakes and rewarding yourself after saving you’ll save more. What would you do with an extra $200 or $500 each month? To some, this is life-changing money that can improve the quality of their lives.

The truth is saving money is an art. Save too much and you’ll quit, but save too little and you’ll pay for the consequences in the future. Saving money takes effort and having the right systems in place.

Imagine if you’d started saving an extra $100 this next month? Or, saved $20K in one year? Although it’s hard to imagine, this can be your reality if you follow the principles covered in this guide.

Take a moment to brainstorm which goals you’d be able to reach if you had extra money each month. Use these goals as motivation to help you stay on track on your journey to saving more. If I was able to save thousands of dollars with little guidance, imagine what you’ll be able to do.

What are you waiting for? Go and start saving money, the sky is your limit.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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