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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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James Clear

James Clear is the author of Atomic Habits. He shares self-improvement tips based on proven scientific research.

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Last Updated on June 26, 2020

25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

“How to save money fast?” This is the question asked by all of us not in the top 1% of rich people.

If you are looking for ways to drastically reduce your expenses immediately, first look at what you need to spend money on every week. And I mean really need.

You don’t really need to order in food. You don’t really need to buy expensive perfume.

Building from that, you can work out how your regular expenses can be reduced.

As for irregular expenses, they can also be deceptively costly in the long run. Once-off buys can also be tackled with some prudent planning and a little extra research.

And remember: a budgeted lifestyle does not mean a bad or boring one!

But first, understand what budget you can cut down on daily:

  • Regular expenses for the average adult (can be trimmed but not eliminated):
    • food
    • rent/mortgage
    • cell phone
    • insurance
    • socializing/entertainment
    • transportation
    • hygiene products
    • household bills
  • Irregular expenses for the average adult (can be eliminated or cut down a lot):
    • travel
    • clothing
    • medication (*depends)
    • grooming (hair, nails etc.)
    • gifts

Now, let’s dive right into the 25 ways to save money fast:

Save Money on Food

1. Bring a stock of food to the office/work

Instead of popping out for an overpriced salad and a smoothie, leave a set of basic utensils at the office as well as a stock of non-perishable goods such as tinned fruit, tuna, rice crackers and so on (try to avoid the junk food and this can turn into a pretty great diet!).

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Stocking up means you won’t forget or say “I didn’t have the time” when you rushed out to work in the morning.

2. Buy the store-brand version

Many basic foods, such as bread and milk, will taste exactly the same as their branded alternatives. Go for stuff with minimal additives and preservatives. Meat in a tube is probably insanely unhealthy!

3. Eat cheaper cuts of meat

Learn how to tenderize and flavour cheaper meat and fish, and save on the (typically) most expensive item on your grocery bill.

4. Have group dinners

If 10 friends put $5 each in the kitty, it’s pretty easy to make a giant lasagne and get refreshments, as well as hang out with your favourite people.

Save Money in Transport

5. Get a bicycle

Save on gas money and bus/metro fares with this underrated mode of transport.

6. Use public transport and/or don’t get taxis

Some places can only be reached by car. But as a good practise, check your public transport website and see if any routes pass nearby where you need to get to. Walk as much as you can.

7. Find the cheapest gas

Regularly check out where the cheapest gas can be bought.

Save Money in General Shopping

8. Shop online

Not only will you save on the gas or transport fares from going to the shopping mall but you will also find better deals

9. Sell your old stuff

Get your unwanted belongings up on eBay ASAP and earn a few dollars.

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Here’re more ideas for you: 25 Things to Sell to Make a Lot of Money

10. Bulk buying stores

For regular non-perishable/slow perishable purchases such as toilet paper, cat food, pasta, washing powder and so on, do an epic stocking-up trip to a co-op or equivalent (my mum used to go to a place that restaurants buy from).

Be wary of supermarket “deals”, as some have been found to be fraudulent after working out a simple calculation.

11. Become a flea market/car boot sale/street market guru

You can find original gifts and develop good negotiation skills at these places.

12. Generic brand medication

More often than not, the generic version of paracetamol and other basics work the same as the branded version.

13. Choose deodorant, not perfume

It blows my mind when someone drops $70 on a bottle of spray. Stick with a nice deodorant, and not only will you smell just fine but you’ll be sweat-free as well!

Cut Down on Household Expenses

14. Printing

Ink is one of the most expensive substances in the office and coloured ink is doubly so. B

e more efficient and choose black and white, and if your printer doesn’t have a print-both-sides options, just print odd pages first, re-insert the paper and print even pages.

Expand the margins of what you are printing as often as you can to save on paper.

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15. Minimize SMS and phone calls

A combination of a free chat service such as WhatsApp and a free call service such as Skype can reduce your bill to nothing (so long as you have a decent Wifi connection).

16. Shop around for insurance

Most people don’t spend enough time searching for the best insurance deal.

Keep a watchful eye out for deals and new competitors in the market.

17. Try re-negotiating your rent/mortgage

If you have built up a good credit history or a good rapport with your landlord, then chances are a frank chat about needing to tighten your spending could result in lowering your payments. You’ve nothing to lose from trying.

18. Don’t get a TV

Invest in a computer/laptop and an internet-only package. You can watch more (and often better) entertainment on the web, and skip the advertisements as well.

19. Pool your internet bill with a neighbour

My apartment building is basically a big old house split into three apartments. There are five of us in total. We pool the internet bill, making it crazy cheap.

Save Money in Socializing, Entertainment And Travel

20. Have house parties

Instead of paying for overpriced drinks, set up a series of in-house get-togethers with your friends. Everyone takes a turn, so it’s not always your house that needs cleaning.

For sound insulation, hang heavy drapes on the walls and windows. For music, invest in a good second-hand set of speakers which you can connect to your computer. Let Spotify or Grooveshark playlists do the rest.

21. Open festivals, meetups and events

It never fails to surprise me how much underground stuff goes on around me for free or for very cheap. Find out who runs the blogs and websites that list all the less well-known cultural activities.

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22. Volunteer

If you can’t pay for a ticket, volunteer and get to be there anyway.

23. Housesit

There are multiple housesitting websites offering you the possibility to avoid paying hotels and skip the discomfort of crummy hostels.

Save Money on Hygiene and Beauty

24. DIY beauty

French manicures, pedicures, waxing, eyebrows… pretty much all of these can be achieved at home (and done well) with some practise. There are plenty excellent blogs and YouTube tutorials to help.

25. Fewer haircuts/volunteer at a trainee hairdresser

If you can’t bear the risk of a trainee touching your locks, learn more ways to manipulate your hair as it grows and get haircuts sparingly. Women’s haircuts are outrageously priced in many cities.

Bonus: Effective Money-Saving Tips for Everything

Here’s a summary of what you can generally do to save more money:

  • Share/pool resources. Organize a neighbourhood sharing scheme, common resources for your apartment block or with your friends. Not everybody needs an individual lawnmower.
  • Buy energy-saving everything. The easiest way to lower your bills – replace those lightbulbs!
  • Buy in bulk. Be sensible about it (i.e. make sure you have space!), and drastically reduce weekly expenditure.
  • DIY. Skill up using YouTube tutorials on plumbing and many other essential services so you never have to pay for simple problems again.
  • Research a lot before making a decision. Most money-wasting is the result of poor preparation and planning. Don’t shirk this part just because you don’t like it!
  • Use your network. Your network is full of resources that can ease the pain of budgeting. Ask for help.
  • Stop and think. Do I really need it?

Unfortunately, there are some things that require plain ol’ giving up for the time being. This can include high-cost sports such as skiing, the latest versions of some technologies, the finest brands of food/drinks, premier seats at the opera and most other indulgences.

What is important to remember during lean times is that when you look back on your life, it will be the experiences that stand out, not the extra comforts.

Living on a budget can teach you a lot about how much you can really get out of your paycheck. We only live one life, so make the most of every penny you earn!

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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