Advertising
Advertising

How to Maximize Credit Card Miles Without Ruining Your Credit Score

How to Maximize Credit Card Miles Without Ruining Your Credit Score

Credit card perks can be very lucrative. Apply for one or two good cards and you could be enjoying free flights, free hotels stays, and more.

In fact, the perks can be so good that some people apply for a handful of new cards at one time, just to maximize the points and rack up hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles.

If you’re like me, your first response is probably, “Uhh, that’s great, but won’t that ruin my credit score?”

As it turns out, there are two simple things that, if you do them, will allow you to maximize your credit card perks without ruining your credit score.

What are those two things? Keep reading and I’ll tell you…

Advertising

Step One: The Secret of Credit Card “Churners”

There is a small group of travelers that call themselves, “credit card churners” because they apply for card after card and churn through as many applications as possible.

Then, they spend the minimum amount needed on the credit card to get the frequent flyer mile bonus (for example, $1,000 in 3 months) and move on to the next card. Some people are routinely cycling through 10 cards at once!

This strategy allows them to rack up over 1 million frequent flyer miles per year, but here’s the most surprising part: most of these people have excellent credit scores of 760 or higher.

How do they keep their credit score high?

It’s pretty simple actually: they pay their balance in full each month. It sounds simple, but if you’re a responsible spender and don’t carry debt on your credit cards, then it’s unlikely that a new card (or even 5) will hurt your credit score in the long run.

Advertising

Let’s talk about why this is true…

How Your Credit Score Actually Works

Here’s why your credit score is rarely hurt if you get a new card and pay your balance in full each month.

Let’s say you want to try this strategy out and you apply for a new credit card to get some frequent flyer miles. When you apply for a new credit card there is an inquiry on your account. New credit inquiries usually drop your score by a few points, but new inquiries only make up about 10% of your overall credit score, which means the drop is small. This dip is also short term.

As a general rule, if your credit score is above 720, then you’re in good position and have nothing to worry about when it comes to this initial drop.

At the same time, however, your new card will probably help your credit utilization ratio, which is also part of your credit score.

Advertising

Here’s an example of how credit utilization ratio works. Let’s say that right now you are spending $3,000 and your total credit limit is $10,000. In this case, your credit utilization ratio is 30% ($3,000/$10,000).

When you apply for a new card, let’s say your overall credit limit increases to $15,000. Your credit utilization ratio drops to 20% ($3,000/$15,000). A lower credit utilization ratio helps your credit score because it shows that you are responsible and that you are more likely to stay within your spending limits.

Remember, your spending habits should stay about the same because you’re only getting the new card so that you can reach the minimum spending limit to get the frequent flyer miles and then you’re filing it away or cancelling it a few months later.

For this reason, many credit card churners actually see their score increase over time. Some of them have more than a dozen cards and still maintain credit scores above 780.

Step Two: Where to Find the Best Deals

If you want to maximize your credit card perks, then staying up to date on the latest deals is critical. Credit card companies change their bonuses, launch new cards, and remove old ones on a continual basis.

Advertising

If you’re looking for a simple way to keep track of the best deals going on right now, then The Credit Card Fly is a great place to start. It’s a free email newsletter that sends you a short weekly update of the best credit card deals for earning frequent flyer miles, free hotel stays, and rewards points.

You can also find deals and information on frequent flyer mile credit cards online at a wide range of personal blogs, forums, and websites.

Get Started Now

Now it’s just a matter of applying for a few good cards and watching the points roll in.

Remember, make sure to pay your balance in full each month and stay up to date on the best deals, and you’ll be well positioned to maximize your credit card perks.

You’ll be flying for free in no time.

(Photo credit: Business Figure and Credit Card via Shutterstock)

More by this author

7 Reasons You Haven’t Found Your Passion Yet 7 Ways To Get Over Fear and Make Big Life Changes Fast Growth Is Overrated — Here’s Why Famous Biologist Louis Agassiz On The Usefulness Of Learning Through Observation How to Fall in Love With Boredom and Unlock Your Mental Toughness

Trending in Money

1 How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money 2 The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind 3 How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements? 4 The Definitive Guide to Get Out of Debt Fast (And Forever) 5 35 Real Ways to Actually Make Money Online

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

Read Next