Credit Card Directory

Update: For a limited time the sign up bonus on this card is increased to 50,000 miles.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus card recently changed their bonus structure, so it’s time to revisit the details.

The sign up bonus is for 40,000 miles, which you can redeem for a $400 statement credit. You’ll get an extra bonus on the travel redemption, so it’s really a $420+ offer!

It’s our Free Money offer this week.

How to Get Your Sign Up Bonus

  1. Apply for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus* card.
  2. Earn 40,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in 90 days.
  3. Redeem your 40,000 points for a $400 travel credit.

*Find and compare all current credit card offers in our credit card directory.

Terms and Conditions

  • $89 annual fee, waived for the first year.
  • This offer is available to new cardmembers only.
  • A travel redemption is defined as: airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, trains, buses, taxis, limousines, and ferries as defined by the merchant category code.

More on Barclaycard

Earning Miles. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus will earn 2x miles per dollar on all purchases.

Redeeming Miles. To redeem your miles, log into your account and select “Pay yourself back for travel” to receive the full value of the offer. Here are step by step directions on How to Redeem Your Barclaycard Miles for Travel. If you do not redeem for travel, cash back statement credit redemptions start at 5,000 miles for $25.

5% Bonus. The bonus was recently updated; it’s now a 5% bonus on redemptions. The math on the bonus is very bizarre, but if you redeem for travel, you’ll get a 5% bonus. It’s really a way to increase your cash back with the card. For example, if you make a $400 travel purchase, you can redeem a $400 travel statement credit by redeeming your 40,000 miles and you’ll earn an additional 2000 miles to redeem later (worth another $20). You purchases will then stretch to your overall earnings to 2.1%. If you consider that you could earn another 5% bonus when you redeem the 2000 miles later, the cycle will continue to repeat and your earnings will grow. To see a breakdown of the math, see the Best Way to Maximize Barclaycard Arrival Points.

Intro Rate. 0% Introductory APR for 12 months for each Balance Transfer made within 45 days of account opening.






Many people see credit cards as a bad thing. They lead to overspending and debt, which leads to stress and never reaching your financial goals.

Using credit cards strategically can help you reach your financial goals. You just have to be smart and disciplined when using them.

When I got my first credit card in college, I was responsible with it. I used it once or twice a month for a small purchase and made sure to pay off the balance. But then I started overspending and got myself into a mountain of credit card debt.

Over $10,000 to be exact. But it wasn’t the credit cards fault. It was my fault. I didn’t realize that I was depressed and had low self-esteem. Buying things made me feel good. Once I addressed my issues, I was able to get out of credit card debt.

credit cards strategically

(Photo Credit: stevepb/Pixabay)

Use Credit Cards Strategically

After taking some time off from credit cards, they are now my primary form of payment. I use them on almost every purchase I make. And I pay the balance off in full each month.

Why do I use credit cards? I get rewards! Using credit cards strategically has allowed my wife and me to fly first class round trip for our honeymoon. Using credit cards strategically has allowed us to invest thousands more for our future.

How do you take advantage of credit cards so you can profit? Below is my 6 step plan to using credit cards strategically.

1. Assess Your Credit Cards

Your first step is to write down what credit cards you have. Make a list of each and write down what the rewards are. Do you get 1% cash back? Maybe you get 1 mile per dollar spent? Whatever the rewards are, write them down.

If you have a card that has a promotion tied to it, like double cash back for 6 months or rotating categories, be sure to note this as well.

2. Review Expenses

Now I want you to look over your spending. If you have a budget this will be simple. If you don’t budget, download some recent bank and credit card statements and see where you tend to spend your money.

For us, it is at grocery stores, gas, restaurants and Amazon.

If you have any new expenses coming up, like a new child or are going to remodel, be sure to note this as well.

3. Assess Goals

Your next step is to understand what your goal is. Do you want to travel for little to nothing? Do you just want cash back?

When I first started, the goal was to travel for free. But using credit cards strategically for this took too much time and energy. I had to figure out who partners with whom, what the transfer rates were, etc. I didn’t want this to become a job. I wanted it to be effortless.

So I switched goals to earning cash back. Just earn as much cash back as possible.

Sit down for a little and figure out what your goal is. Also be sure to take into account the time commitment it might take to see if your goal with credit cards is even worth the effort.

4. Compare Goals and Cards

Now that you have your goals, know where you shop, and what your rewards are, do they match up? Chances are you have gaps.

For example, I started out with an American Express Gold Card. I was getting points, which was great, but I wanted cash back. So I switched to the American Express Blue Cash Card. It offered me cash back and bonus cash back at grocery stores and gas stations.

I also had a Citibank card that gave me Thank You points. Again, not worth it since I wanted cash back. So I switched to the Double Cash card.

Note in both cases, I stuck with the same credit issuer and had my account transferred. This allowed me to keep my credit history and not lose it. After all, I was a Citibank card holder for close to 20 years! I didn’t want to lose that history.

5. Determine What Card to Use Where

Ideally, you should have your biggest spending categories covered. All that is left to do is remember which card is used when. This is simple to do after a month or so. For me, it looks like this:

  • American Express: use for groceries and gas only
  • Citibank: use for everything else
  • Discover: use for gas, dining out, home improvement and Amazon when the rotating 5% category is in play. See the Discover Rewards Calendar.

If you find a big spending category, like groceries isn’t covered, you will want to research new potential cards to open up. See list of cash rewards categories.

6. Review Everything

Now that you have everything set up, take a little bit of time to review everything. For example, when I did this process, I realized that Amazon was not covered. I found the Amazon Chase card that offered 3% cash back on Amazon purchases.

While I could have opened a new account, I decided against it. With my Citibank card, I get 2% cash back. That extra 1% isn’t worth it. Plus, my Discover card tends to offer 5% cash back at Amazon around the holidays which is when we spend the most at Amazon.

After reviewing everything, I was happy with our plan.

Additional Note

Once you have everything set up, you might think there is nothing left to do. But if you are looking at a cash back strategy there is. When you earn cash back, most credit cards allow you to cash in your cash back as a statement credit.

The way this works is say you have $100 in cash back. Your statement balance is $200. You can have your $100 cash back applied to your balance and pay only $100 from your checking account. Your bill will be paid in full.

This is great but it doesn’t help you get ahead financially because you didn’t do anything with the $100 you saved by using your cash back.

You have to transfer that money to a savings account or investment account. For us, I wait until the cash back gets to around $300. Then I use it as a statement credit and immediately set up a transfer from our checking account to our investment account. This ensures the money was earned through cash back actually benefits us and helps us to get ahead.

Final Thoughts

In the end, if you can use your credit cards strategically, you can come out ahead. I am most comfortable with just earning cash back as it is the simplest option for me. It doesn’t take any work on my end and it was easy to explain to my wife and incorporate her into the process.

If you want to use your credit cards for travel rewards, just know there is going to be a few more steps involved to make sure you are getting the most out of your credit cards.

Do you use your credit cards strategically for cash back or rewards?

More on Credit Cards





3rd quarter cash back is here! It’s time for summertime 3rd quarter cash back.

Organize, activate and put your credit cards into a regular rotation.

Quarterly Cash Rewards

It’s our quarterly check-in to reevaluate the cards we are carrying to take advantage of the best 3rd quarter 2017 cash rewards credit card bonuses. Every quarter we reevaluate the cash back cards to make sure we get the highest cash back on each purchase including the credit cards that offer cash back on a rotating quarterly schedule.

As you switch out your cards, don’t forget to follow up on all your rewards and make sure you are earning the right cash back and maximizing all of your purchases.

We do the same swap every quarter, so you know exactly how it works: take out the old 2nd Quarter 5% Rotating Cash Rewards Credit Cards and maximize your cash rewards for 3rd quarter 2017 to make sure you have the right cards, you are signed up for the 5% promotions and you know where to use them.

3rd Quarter 2017 5% Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Discover it. The Discover 5% cash back for 3rd quarter 2017 will move on from wholesale clubs this quarter. Before the quarter ends you might want to stock up on some wholesale club gift cards.

Don’t forget to look up the end date for your double cash back if you are a new cardholder or signed up last year! During the double your 5% cash back becomes 10% cash back. Here’s more information on the Discover it 10% Double Cashback.

The 3rd quarter 2017 Discover it 5% categories is:

  • Restaurants

Discover 5% cash back is on up to $1,500 in purchases. Here’s the place to activate your 3rd quarter Discover rewards. See the entire Discover Rewards Calendar for 2017.

Chase Freedom. The Chase Freedom card will also feature 5% cash back on restaurants. The 3rd quarter 2017 Chase Freedom 5% categories are:

  • Restaurants
  • Movie Theaters

Chase Freedom 5% cash back is on up to $1,500 in purchases. Here’s the place to activate your 3rd quarter Chase Freedom rewards. See the entire Chase Freedom Rewards Calendar. Also see the Best Way to Maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards Points.

Citi Dividend. Citi 5% cash back this quarter focuses on summer travel. The 3rd quarter 2017 Citi Dividend 5% categories are:

  • Hilton
  • Airlines

Citi 5% cash back is on up to $300 cash back per calendar year ($6,000 in purchases). Here’s the place to activate your 3rd quarter Citi Dividend rewards. See the entire 2017 Citi Dividend Rewards Calendar.

US Bank Cash +. Don’t forget you need to pick your 5% categories each quarter for the US Bank Cash + card. Here are some of the 5% cash back choices:

  • Gym & Fitness Centers
  • Cell Phone
  • Various Stores (Bookstores, Clothing, Department, Sporting Goods, Electronics, Furniture and More)

You need to select your categories five days before the end of the current quarter. US Bank 5% cash back is earned on your first $2,000 in combined net purchases (purchases minus returns or credits) in your chosen 5% categories. Here’s the place to activate your 3rd quarter Cash Plus rewards.

No Sign Up Needed

And as always, here are the easier cash back categories, since you don’t need to sign up:

 
Category Card Cash Back
Grocery Stores Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
American Express Old Blue Cash Card
6% cash back (up to $6,000 per year)
5%
Gas American Express Old Blue Cash Card
New Costco Anywhere Card
Amex Business Gold Rewards
5%
4%
3%
Restaurants* (New cards!) Chase AARP Visa
Capital One Premier Dining
3%
3%
Target Target credit card 5% discount
Amazon Amazon Visa 5% cash back
Wireless SimplyCash Business Card from American Express 5% cash back
Office Supplies SimplyCash Business Card from American Express 5% cash back
Internet and Cable Chase Ink Plus 5x rewards points
Costco Fidelity Credit Card
New Costco Anywhere Visa
BankAmericard Cash Rewards
Capital One Venture
2% cash back
2% cash back
2% cash back
2% cash back
Travel Citi Prestige
Barclaycard Arrival
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Various
Charitable Donations US Bank FlexPerks Card 3x points
Choose Your Own Categories SimplyCash American Express 3%
Everything Else New USAA Limitless Cash Back Card
Fidelity Credit Card
Citi Double Cash
Barclaycard Arrival
2.5%
2%
2%
2.1%

*I left the categories on the grid for those currently in rotation. Readers requested that I leave them on as a backup for which card to use once they’ve exhausted their rotating rewards.

How to Get Your 5% Cash Back

Here’s my checklist for rotating cash back programs:

  1. Sign up for all of the new quarterly cash back programs, even if you don’t know if you’ll use that card. To sign up, just log in to your account online and select the 3rd quarter 2017 5% cash back information. In order to earn the 5%, you have to enroll in each program quarterly.
  2. Write which categories to use each card for using a marker on the front of the card. It works really well to keep the cards straight!
  3. To keep the list of cards straight, I also began printing out a quick cheat sheet to slip in each of our wallets.

Sign Up Bonuses

All of the links for current sign up bonuses are now listed in our credit card directory.

Are you using different cards for any of these categories?





How long do you need to keep records? What about bank statements and tax records? A helpful guide on how long to keep all important papers.

How long do you need to keep records? When we don’t know how long to keep something, we end up keeping it forever… or not at all.

Being organized is not the same thing as keeping all papers and financial records forever!

How long do you need to keep bank statements? How long do you need to keep tax records? What about all the copies of paper checks after they were deposited?

How Long Do You Need to Keep Records?

It’s time to take the paper trail and purge all the extra records you don’t need anymore! Here’s how long we should be keeping those important papers:

How long do you need to keep records?

Forever

  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Divorce Certificates
  • Death Certificates
  • Military Documents
  • Immunization Record
  • Employment Records (Why)
  • IRA Contributions (Why)
  • Social Security Card
  • Tax Returns: The IRS can audit your returns from 3 years ago; 6 years if you grossly under reported; indefinitely if you filed a fraudulent return or did not file. So you could pitch your returns after 7 years… however, if they claim you didn’t file, and you pitched it… well, now you know why I put tax returns on the indefinite list! You can also request copies or transcripts of past tax returns. For more details on how long to keep tax records, see the specifics on how long to keep tax returns below.

Keep During Ownership

  • Car Titles and Service Records
  • Receipts, Manuals, and Warranty Information for Appliances
  • Receipts for Major Purchases like Jewelry, Furniture, and Computers

Ownership Plus 7 Years

Even after you sell investments or real estate, you’ll still need to keep the gain or loss documentation for tax purposes.

  • Stocks, Bonds, and Investment Records
  • Savings Certificates
  • Home Improvement Documentation
  • Real Estate Records

7 Years

Many of the following will contain information that supports tax returns. Therefore it’s best to keep the following for seven years:

  • Canceled Checks
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Old Bank Statements
  • Retirement Plan Contributions
  • Supporting Documentation for Tax Returns

Until Specified Date

  • Annual Retirement Statements: Until retirement and funds are exhausted.
  • Insurance Policies – Until property is sold, policy expires, and all claims are settled.
  • Wills: Until replaced by a new one.

Throw Away

  • Receipts not used for Warranties, Taxes, or Insurance
  • Paycheck Stubs: Once you get your W-2, you can toss them
  • Phone Bills not needed for taxes
  • ATM Receipts
  • Grocery Receipts

How Long Do You Need to Keep Tax Records?

Special rules exist when it comes to your tax records. According to the IRS, here are the guidelines on how long to keep tax records:

Keep Tax Returns Forever

  • If you filed a fraudulent return, keep your tax returns forever.
  • If you did not file a return, keep your tax records forever.

Keep Tax Returns for 7 Years

  • If you claimed a worthless security loss or deducted a bad debt, keep your tax records for 7 years.

Keep Tax Returns for 6 Years

  • If you grossly underreported your taxable income (more than 25% of the gross income on your return), keep your tax return for 6 years.

Keep Tax Returns for 3 Years

  • If the above don’t apply, keep your tax returns for 3 years.
  • If you filed an amended tax return, keep your tax return for 3 years or 2 years from when you paid the tax if it’s later.

Other Tax Records to Keep
In addition to keeping your tax return, you’ll also need to keep information that supports those tax returns including:

  • Canceled Checks
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Old Bank Statements
  • Retirement Plan Contributions

More Ways to Get Organized





Every quarter the 5% cash back credit cards rotate cash back categories. You can see the current quarter 5% Rotating Cash Rewards Credit Cards.

This is the historical record of the cash back we cover each quarter.

Historical Quarterly 5% Rotating Cash Rewards Credit Cards

It’s our quarterly check-in to reevaluate the cards we are carrying to take advantage of the best quarterly cash rewards credit card bonuses. Every quarter we reevaluate the cash back cards to make sure we get the highest cash back on each purchase including the credit cards that offer cash back on a rotating quarterly schedule.

As you switch out your cards, don’t forget to follow up on all your rewards and make sure you are earning the right cash back and maximizing all of your purchases.

Maximize your cash rewards for 2nd quarter 2017 to make sure you have the right cards, you are signed up for the 5% promotions and you know where to use them.

Quarterly 5% Cash Rewards Credit Cards

Discover it. The quarterly 5% cash back for Discover categories are:

2017 Discover Rewards Calendar

 
1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter
Gas Stations
Ground Transportation
Wholesale Clubs
Home Improvement
Wholesale Clubs
Restaurants Amazon.com & More

Discover 5% cash back is on up to $1,500 in purchases. Here’s the place to activate your Discover rewards. See the entire Discover Rewards Calendar.

Don’t forget to look up the end date for your double cash back if you are a new cardholder or signed up last year! During the double your 5% cash back becomes 10% cash back. Here’s more information on the Discover it 10% Double Cashback.

Chase Freedom. The quarterly 5% cash back for Chase Freedom categories are:

2017 Chase Freedom Rewards Calendar

 
1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter
Gas Stations
Local Commuter Transportation
Grocery Stores
(Excluding Target and Walmart)
Drugstores
Restaurants
Movie Theaters
Holiday Shopping

Chase Freedom 5% cash back is on up to $1,500 in purchases. Here’s the place to activate your quarterly Chase Freedom rewards. See the entire Chase Freedom Rewards Calendar. Also see the Best Way to Maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards Points.

Citi Dividend. The quarterly Citi Dividend 5% categories are:

2017 Citi Rewards Calendar

 
1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter
Home Depot
Home Furnishing Stores
Drug Stores
Fitness Clubs
Hilton
Airlines
Best Buy
Department Stores

Citi 5% cash back is on up to $300 cash back per calendar year ($6,000 in purchases). Here’s the place to activate your 2nd quarter Citi Dividend rewards. See the entire 2017 Citi Dividend Rewards Calendar.

US Bank Cash +. Don’t forget you need to pick your 5% categories each quarter for the US Bank Cash + card. Here are some of the 5% cash back choices:

  • Gym & Fitness Centers
  • Cell Phone
  • Various Stores (Bookstores, Clothing, Department, Sporting Goods, Electronics, Furniture and More)

You need to select your categories five days before the end of the current quarter. US Bank 5% cash back is earned on your first $2,000 in combined net purchases (purchases minus returns or credits) in your chosen 5% categories. Here’s the place to activate your 2nd quarter Cash Plus rewards.

No Sign Up Needed

And as always, here are the easier cash back categories, since you don’t need to sign up:

 
Category Card Cash Back
Grocery Stores* Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
American Express Old Blue Cash Card
6% cash back (up to $6,000 per year)
5%
Gas American Express Old Blue Cash Card
New Costco Anywhere Card
Amex Business Gold Rewards
5%
4%
3%
Restaurants Citi Thank You Premier Card
Citi Prestige
2 points per $1
2 points per $1
Target Target credit card 5% discount
Amazon Amazon Visa 5% cash back
Wireless SimplyCash Business Card from American Express 5% cash back
Office Supplies SimplyCash Business Card from American Express 5% cash back
Internet and Cable Chase Ink Plus 5x rewards points
Costco Fidelity Credit Card
New Costco Anywhere Visa
BankAmericard Cash Rewards
Capital One Venture
2% cash back
2% cash back
2% cash back
2% cash back
Travel Citi Prestige
Barclaycard Arrival
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Various
Charitable Donations US Bank FlexPerks Card 3x points
Choose Your Own Categories SimplyCash American Express 3%
Everything Else New USAA Limitless Cash Back Card
Fidelity Credit Card
Citi Double Cash
Barclaycard Arrival
2.5%
2%
2%
2.1%

*I left the categories on the grid for those currently in rotation. Readers requested that I leave them on as a backup for which card to use once they’ve exhausted their rotating rewards.

How to Get Your 5% Cash Back

Here’s my checklist for rotating cash back programs:

  1. Sign up for all of the new quarterly cash back programs, even if you don’t know if you’ll use that card. To sign up, just log in to your account online and select the 2nd quarter 2017 5% cash back information. In order to earn the 5%, you have to enroll in each program quarterly.
  2. Write which categories to use each card for using a marker on the front of the card. It works really well to keep the cards straight!
  3. To keep the list of cards straight, I also began printing out a quick cheat sheet to slip in each of our wallets.

Sign Up Bonuses

All of the links for current sign up bonuses are now listed in our credit card directory.

Are you using different cards for any of these categories?





Fidelity is switching their Fidelity Investment credit card from American Express to Elan. The Fidelity Investment Rewards Card earns 2% cash back on all purchases.

I rotate our credit cards quarterly to earn the highest reward on all of our purchases, but I do have a favorite everyday spending card.

I’ve used our Fidelity card exclusively for everyday spending as the best cash rewards credit card for years (ever since the old Schwab card disappeared seven years ago).

As I mentioned in the Best Credit Cards to Maximize Cash Back at Costco the new card will also be a Visa card so you can still use it at Costco.

Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card

New Visa cards will be sent to current Fidelity American Express cardholders between mid-June and mid-July; we received our new cards earlier this week.

If you do not have a Fidelity card you can open one at: Fidelity Investment Rewards Card.

Eligible Fidelity Accounts

You can choose to link your cash back credit card to a variety of Fidelity accounts, including the following:

  • Most non-retirement accounts
  • Traditional and Rollover IRAs
  • Roth IRAs
  • SEP IRAs
  • Fidelity–managed 529 Plans

Terms and Conditions

  • No annual fee.
  • Earn 2 points per dollar, up to 150,000 points per year.
  • Account must be open and in good standing to earn and redeem rewards and benefits.

More on Fidelity

IRS Rules. Be aware that if you select a retirement or college savings account, the cash back will count against your yearly contribution limits, so you’ll have to keep careful track.

Earning Points. The 2% cashback is tracked in points. You earn 2 points for each $1 you spend. The redemption value is different if you do not deposit your points into a Fidelity account.

Redeeming Points. You can automatically redeem your cashback as a $50 deposit into your Fidelity account after you reach 5,000 points.

Link Your Account. You need to link your card to your Fidelity account online. Once you link your account redemptions will happen automatically.





American Express is offering a sign up bonus on the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card for 25,000 points and it’s this week’s Featured Deal! The 25,000 points are worth up to $250 in gift cards.

The Premier card was one that I had long forgotten about, but resurfaced when I made my list earlier this week of target American Express bonus offers.

How to Get Your $250 Sign Up Bonus

  1. Sign up for the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card.
  2. Spend $2,000 within 3 months.
  3. Receive 25,000 Membership Rewards bonus points.
  4. Redeem points for up to $250 worth of gift cards.

American Express Terms and Conditions

  • No annual fee for the first year, then $175/year.
  • Points will be credited to your Membership Rewards account 6-8 weeks after you meet the spend requirement.
  • Limit one offer per card account.

More on American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card

Earning Points. You will earn 3X points for flights booked with airlines, 2X points at US gas stations and US supermarkets, 1X points on other purchases.

Additional Points. As an added bonus, you can get 15,000 points after you spend $30,000 in purchases on the card in one year.

Redeeming Points. You can transfer points to over 20 frequent traveler programs or use points for gift cards at popular stores.

Sign Up for American Express




Citi is offering two free weekend nights at a Hilton property with the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card. It’s a Hilton card but it actually benefits frequent fliers and car renters too.

It’s one of the cards highlighted in the recent $1,720 + 267k Point Credit Card Application Spree.

The Citi offer is our Featured Deal this week!

How to Get Your Two Free Weekend Nights

  1. Open a Citi Hilton HHonors card.
  2. Spend $2500 within the first four months.
  3. Earn two weekend night certificates, each good for one weekend night! This could easily be a $500 value!

Citi Terms and Conditions

  • $95 annual fee. Not waived.
  • Weekend night certificate is valid for one (1) weekend night standard accommodation, double occupancy, subject to availability, at properties in the Hilton HHonors portfolio, excluding those listed at HHonors.com/weekendcertificate.
  • Certificates are valid 12 months after date of issue.

More on Hilton HHonors Visa

Earning Points. Earn 10 points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels, 5 points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases and 3 points per $1 spent anywhere else.

Renewal Certificate. If you spend $10,000 on the card, you’ll earn another weekend certificate on your anniversary.

HHonors Status. Enjoy complimentary HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember.

No Foreign Transaction Fees. If you are planning a trip abroad, this is a must-have on any credit card you’re bringing with you. It will save you tons.

Sign Up for Citi




Perhaps you’ve read through Madison’s articles on her Credit Card Application Sprees or Extreme Credit Carding and thought “wow – that sounds great but I could never pull that off”. I’m here to tell you that you can and you can make it easy too.

There are some people who are so bad with credit cards that they should never try this but if you’re organized enough to pay your bills on time and you don’t carry a balance then I believe you can do it. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering a Beginner Credit Card Application Spree.

CreditCardMoney

Photo Credit: 401(k) 2013

Start with Just One

Starting with just one credit card gives you much less to manage. There are many different offers out there with spending requirements both big and small. It doesn’t really matter which you choose (since this is really just practice to get used to doing it). Pick something that feels easy for you. For example, the Citi Dividend card currently offers a $100 bonus after $500 in purchases. In addition, the Citi card earns 5% Cash Rewards on holiday shopping at department stores, toy stores, and Best Buy this quarter.

Decide How You Will Meet Spending Requirements

How will you reach your spending requirements? Do you plan on using the card for gas purchases only? Will you make your regular grocery purchases or will you hit the spending requirement with one big purchase? There is no wrong way here. The idea is to have a plan and stick to it.

Keep Track of Your Spending and Time

Now here’s the most important part of the process. You need to track your spending against the target you need to hit and keep track of the time it’s taking you to do it. This can be as simple as piece of paper you write on or as complicated as a spreadsheet.

Here I actually recommend the more complicated system. The reason is that this is just one card and it’s pretty easy to keep track of. If you want to be able to track multiple cards it’s good to come up with a system that works for that too. So while you’re practicing with one card you can see how it works for you and make any changes before you’re juggling a bunch of cards.

Cash in Your Rewards

Once you’ve hit your spending target cash in your rewards. You’ll probably have to wait until your statement closes for the bonus points to hit your account. Once they do follow the credit card’s process to cash out your points (for statement credit, gifts cards, etc.). If you have any problems with this step call the 800 number for assistance.

I once had trouble at this step because the credit card’s system wouldn’t let me redeem more than 3 gift cards. I made a quick call to customer service and a very helpful person was able to override this and get me what I wanted.

Cancel the Card (If You Want To)

Now you don’t have to cancel the card but I like to do so because it frees me up to take advantage of the sign up bonus again in the future. You might decide to keep it in addition to (or instead of) another card you have. Just keep track of what accounts you have open. Again this isn’t hard for one credit card but you want a system for when you have many. If you don’t want to cancel the card, you can also convert credit cards instead of paying annual fees.

Repeat

So now that you’ve done one card you’re ready to move onto multiple offers. Or you might decide that one at a time is right for you. Whatever you decide – congratulations. You’re on your way to earning free money for relatively little work.

More on Credit Card Application Sprees





I had another pleasant surprise in my $1,800+ Fall Credit Card Application Spree last week, US Bank has increased the sign up bonus on their FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature card to 20,000 points.

It’s our Free Money Friday offer this week.

How to Get Your Sign Up Bonus

  1. Sign up for the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa.
  2. Spend $3,500 within four months from account opening.
  3. Get 20,000 bonus FlexPoints.

US Bank Terms and Conditions

  • Annual Fee: $49 (waived for the first year)
  • FlexPoints will post to your FlexPerks account in 6-8 weeks.
  • Existing & previous FlexPerks Travel Rewards & Select Rewards accounts don’t qualify for bonus for a similar account type.
  • Applicants for the FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card who only qualify for a FlexPerks Select Rewards Visa Card earn 10,000 bonus FlexPoints.

More on FlexPoints

Earning FlexPoints. Earn 1 point per $1 on all purchases and double on most cell phone purchases (monthly bills, accessories & Internet charges) and triple points on charitable donations. You can also earn double points on the category you spend the most on (out of groceries, airline travel or gas) each billing cycle.

Redeeming FlexPoints. You can redeem FlexPoints for award travel on more than 150 airlines. Search for your flights in FlexPerks’ Travelocity search window and then you’ll see how many FlexPoints you need for the ticket. In general 20,000 FlexPoints gets you a $400 airline ticket value.

Redeeming for Cash. You can also redeem your Flexpoints for gift cards or statement credits. I was able to redeem my all my points for a statement credit. 20,000 points was converted to a $200 statement credit.

0% APR. The FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa offers an intro 0% APR for 12 months (purchases & balance transfers). The balance transfer does have a 3% fee within the first 30 days.

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