1. Combine bonuses to get a windfall of points
TD, CIBC and Amex all issue Aeroplan rewards cards with huge bonuses. Get a card from each and you’re flying just about anywhere.
2.Use your credit card for everything – as a payment card
If you pay down your balance every month, use your rewards credit card for everything from schools, camps, taxes, business, parking tickets to a stick of gum.
3. Make your payments on time
Even if you just have to pay the minimum. Don’t give the bank an excuse to increase your rate.
4. Don’t bump up against your credit limit
Rule of thumb is don’t have a balance greater than 30% of your credit limit, otherwise your credit score will drop.
5. Ask for a bump in your signing-bonus
When you get a new card, call-in and ask for a bump in your sign-up bonus. Issuers have multiple promo’s going on at once, and sometimes it’s as easy as 1,2,3 for the rep to give you the best offer available.
6. Always pay more than the minimum
If you only pay the minimum monthly payment, you’re going to be suckling from the bank for 10 years or more.
7. If you intend to carry a balance, get a low interest credit card
Don’t keep a balance on a high rate rewards credit card. You can cut your interest in half with no-fee low interest rate credit cards.
8. Its better to surf than to drown
If you have a balance, whether with a low rate or rewards credit card, there are plenty of 0% and 1.99% balance transfer cards out there. Use them and use them often. Hop from one to the next. Just pay attention to the up-front balance transfer cost as well.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for more from your credit card issuer
Call up and ask them to lower your rate, waive the annual fee, or remove your over-limit charge.
10. Don’t be loyal
Milk the system and take advantage of sign-up bonuses to help you get to your destination further. It’s really the only way for most folks.
11. Compare and hunt for offers
Compare credit card offers monthly to find the best credit card deals. Most cards have an annual calendar of when they up their offers. Find the cards with big sign-up bonuses, low spend required to get the bonus, and annual fee waivers – the risk free trifecta.
12. Avoid foreign exchange fees
2.5% is a hefty charge to pay for foreign transactions, and will wipe away any benefit you get from your rewards. If you spend abroad, do it with a no foreign transaction fee card.
13. Use automatic bill pay and never be late
Don’t trust yourself, the banks depend on human error to raise rates. Set-up your checking account to pay the monthly minimum or the entire balance of your credit card every month.
14. Combine cash back cards that have different rebate categories
Restaurants, gas, grocery, pharmacy, recurring bills – different cash back cards offer rebates in different categories. Combine them to save more in as many places as possible.
15. Use cash back cards with 5% back at groceries to buy gift cards from other retailers!
Buy an Apple Gift card at the grocery store with your credit card offering 5% cash back at the grocery, and you just got a 5% discount at Apple.
16. Need to return something to an uncooperative retailer? Threaten a charge-back
Retailer hate charge-backs, they cost a fortune and take an inordinate amount of time to resolve. Often, they’ll just relent.
17. Don’t go over your credit limit, you’ll get an over-limit fee for as much as $45
Credit limit’s aren’t really spending limits. Some issuers have no problems when you go over your limit, they’ll just conveniently charge $45. If you want there to be a hard limit on spend, call your credit card company.
18. Don’t take out balance insurance, it’s worthless
It costs a fortune, and is rarely used, that’s why credit card companies love selling it. It’s so worthless, some jurisdictions are trying to ban it.
19. Don’t take out credit card theft insurance, you’re not liable for fraudulent charges
If your credit card is used fraudulently online or elsewhere, your bank will cover you 100%. It’s their problem, not yours.
20. Avoid cash advances, they’re a whole lot costlier than debit or credit purchases
Never, ever, take out a cash advance if you can use your debit card instead. First, the bank will charge you a fee right away. Second, the bank will start charging you interest from the minute the money is advance – there is no grace period.