In the past, I’m sure you’ve heard your fair share of credit card bashing. The complaints only amplified when the economy crashed a few years back and many suddenly lost their jobs and were unable to meet their monthly credit card obligations.
Like everything else, credit cards can only do as much damage as you allow them to. And contrary to popular belief, they can actually save you money when used wisely.
Here are a few ways to start raking in the cash simply by swiping the magic plastic:
1. Sign-up bonuses
The first thing that catches the eye of many consumers is the sign-up bonus. For instance, with the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card, you can receive a $100 cash rewards bonus if you spend at least $500 within the first three months of opening the account.
To avoid running the balance up with senseless purchases just to receive the fast cash, use the card to pay recurring monthly bills, and pay the balance off immediately after the charges post or before the grace period lapses. Another alternative is to head to the drugstore to pick up a few gift cards that you will actually use.
This credit card is just one of my favorites, but there are plenty more where it comes from. And if you like to travel, check out those cards that allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for travel expenses for signing up.
Just make sure the benefits outweigh the costs and you don’t end up paying more in interest or an annual fee than the introductory offer is worth.
2. Rewards programs
Occasionally, credit card issuers will run promotions that enable cardholders to double up on their rewards by making purchases in certain categories or shopping at a select retailer.
If the category is groceries, it will probably be simple to rake in the rewards. However, shopping at a retailer that you have no interest in may not be as appealing, so the gift card approach may work again in this scenario. And always be sure to liquidate the balance each month to avoid the high APRs that often come with the territory.
3. Price matching
I discussed the significance of this perk in another article, but price matching is a huge money-saver for consumers. The feature allows you to request a refund up to a certain amount for the difference between the original purchase price of an item and the lower price. Time limitations typically apply, so check with your card issuer to learn more.
Tired of being hounded by salespeople to buy extended warranties on your goods? Well, your credit card may offer a feature that allows you to double the standard manufacturer’s warranty for up to one year. This can result in a substantial amount of savings, as retailers, especially those that sell electronics, generate a ton of revenue from warranties.
5. Car rental insurance
According to Bankrate, the average cost of car rental insurance purchased directly from the rental company varies from $9.99 to $29.99 per day.
I remember renting several cars in the past and spending more on the insurance coverage — often called the collision damage waiver — than the actual rental. (It didn’t help that I was under 25 at the time.) That all changed when I discovered my credit card offered this feature free of charge. And yours may do the same, but be sure to check with your card issuer to learn more about how the coverage works and if any exclusions apply.
6. Roadside assistance
Unless you are a AAA member, the fees for roadside assistance can add up rather quickly. The local tow truck company in my town charges a minimum of $100 for a tow just to pick up and drop the car, excluding mileage. If your credit card has this feature, you can get assistance with a tow, flat tire, jump-start and gas delivery at a much lower rate.
Even if you have AAA, it’s still a smart idea to exercise this option offered by your card issuer once your AAA allotment is used up because the services are provided at a negotiated rate.
7. Balance transfers
Do you currently carry a balance on your credit card? Take a look at credit cards that come with a 0 percent balance transfer offer. As long as the time frame in which the offer is valid is lengthy enough for you to pay off the balance, you will save hundreds and maybe even thousands in what would have been payments going directly toward interest.
Do you know of any other ways credit cards can save you money? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.