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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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Last Updated on April 3, 2019

How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

Debt is never a fun thing to be in. But, there are many actions that you can take that will help you rid yourself of the burden of debt once and for all.

By coming up with a set plan, eliminating your debt can feel much easier than constantly thinking about it.

This post will provide some tips on how you can do this to help you nix your credit card debt in less than 3 years.

Hint: there are ways that are easier than you think.

1. Consider Consolidating Multiple Credit Cards If Possible

This may not be applicable to you, but if you have multiple cards – it is something to consider. Keeping up with multiple bills is time consuming.

It will depend on the balance you have on each. Consolidate ones you can but do not do it to the point that you get too close to the maximum limit. Also, it is ideal to pick the card with the lower interest rate.

Consider if there are any fees or alternatively, rewards, with transferring a balance to another card. Watch out for fees. Note that some cards offer rewards for transferring a balance to them. This is extra cash that can help go towards paying off your debt.

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Having one or two cards can make nixing your debt much simpler than keeping up with the balance of a bunch of cards. Keeping track of paying the minimum towards a bunch of cards is time consuming. Spend the time to consolidate instead to make the overall process simpler going forward.

My tip: Have one main credit card. Have a second one that you use for necessities – such as groceries or gas – that offers rewards for those purchases (a lot of cards do) and set the second one on auto-pay. You should be able to pay off a smaller amount on auto-pay if it is a necessity. If you think you cannot, then you may need to cut down a lot on expenses.

Why do I suggest doing this? Having one thing set to auto-pay is one less thing to think about. One less thing to waste time on. Same idea with consolidating to one main card. Tracking down too many is a hassle.

2. Try to Pay the Full Balance You Spent Each Month at the Very Least

You need to pay off the amount you are spending each month when that bill comes in. This is the amount you spent THAT month.

Do not let the debt keep accruing while you work on paying any unpaid debt that has accrued. It will become a never-ending battle. Try as best as you can to be current on paying for each month’s expenses when that month’s bill comes out.

If this is a strain, consider why. You may need to cut expenses. Or you may need to consider other cards. Or look at where this money is going.

3. Pay Extra When You Can – Every Small Amount Counts

This cannot be emphasized enough. If you are looking at a lot of credit card debt, it can look daunting, but each extra amount that you can put towards the debt will really add up – no matter how small it is.

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It does not just reduce the principal amount that you have left to pay off, but it reduces the amount that is collecting interest. You will always save money with that reduced interest.

4. Create a Plan on How to Pay Extra

Back to the main point, having this plan is giving you one less thing to think about.

This plan should be a plan that works for you. If it does not work for you, your spending habits, and your views on debt, then it will not be an effective plan.

For instance, if a set plan of an extra $50 (or another amount that you know you can afford) works for you, then do that. Set that aside every month and pay that extra amount. Treat it like a bill. Choose an amount that works for you and pay it like clockwork as though it was a bill you had to pay each month.

Little amounts will not nix it entirely, but they will help tackle it and having a set plan can make it less of a chore. Creating a new plan of how much to put towards it each month is an unnecessary added stress.

5. Cut out Costs for Services You Do Not Use

If you are signed up for subscriptions that you do not use because of some free trial or for some other reason, cut it out. Your overall financial position will look better.

In turn, that will make cutting your credit card debt easier. Look at your statements to find these expenses. If you do not use them, you may forget you are paying some unnecessary amount each month. Cutting it out can really add up in savings that you can put towards other needed expenses.

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6. Get Aggressive About It

Consider these points:

Depending on the interest and the level of debt, you may need to give up a few indulgences. For example, instead of ordering delivery or going out to eat, cook at home. Everything adds up.

Other things may be more of a sacrifice. It may be a trip you wanted to go on, or a daily latte habit you’ve picked up. In these instances, consider how important it is to you and if it’s worth the sacrifice. And if it is a costly expense, think whether you can wait to indulge.

Cutting an extravagant expense can really help make a dent in your overall debt. Try not to add to debt when you are trying to pay it off. It will be a never-ending battle. Make it less of a battle with these tips and it will feel easier.

Bottom line: Do what you can to make this process easier for you. Implement steps that do this. It takes time now, but will help overall. Also, keep track of your spending and paying down of your debts. Which is the next point.

7. Reevaluate Your Progress at Set Intervals

Doing a regular check-in can help you see your efforts pay off or maybe indicate that you need to give this a bit more effort. If you check every 3-6 months, it will not feel so much like a chore or feel so daunting.

By doing this, you will be able to better understand your progress and perhaps readjust your plan. Bonus: if you see it pay off, it will feel great to do this check-in. You will get there.

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Finally (and most importantly)…

8. Keep Trying

Do not get discouraged. Pushing it off will make it worse. Just keep trying.

Once your debt becomes lower, each monthly payment will reduce the balance more. Why? You are paying less towards interest. It will be a snowball effect eventually and it will become much easier to manage. Just get to that point. And know once you do, it will feel easier and motivating.

Start Knocking out Your Debt Today

The best way to eliminate debt is to get started right away. Begin by implementing the above steps and watch your debt just melt away. Try out some of the above strategies and see what works best for you. Soon you’ll be on your way to a debt free life.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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