7 credit card tricks to help stretch your budget

As the prices of goods and services rise, every value squeezed out of a credit card helps.

Perhaps paying the annual fee just became less palatable. Maybe you’ve slashed your once-rewarded credit card expenses in certain categories, or you’re just looking for opportunities to save with your credit card.

If you’re debt-free and want to get the most out of your card, consider these seven tips for freeing up money for other goals.

request card replacement

Ask your issuer if you can upgrade or downgrade your credit card when it doesn’t align with your spending habits. It’s ideal to upgrade to a different credit card to avoid the annual fee, while upgrading can yield more valuable perks or rewards.

For rewards credit cards, ask if existing points, miles or cash back will be affected before switching.

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Re-allocate your credit limit

Some issuers allow you to reallocate credit limits from one credit card to another within their product portfolio. Reasons you might want to explore this option include:

Avoid maximizing the use of frequently used credit cards.

– Earning more rewards.

– Preserving credit before closing the account.

– Qualifying the issuer for a new credit card with less risk.

Cindy Greenstein, a points and miles consultant and creator of the blog The Points Mom, uses this option to increase the chances of approval for a new card with the same issuer, but she says it doesn’t work with every bank. does.

“Call a special reallocation line and tell them you only want cards and bonuses,” says a New York resident. “It usually makes them feel better knowing they don’t need to give you as much credit.”

Look for a Retention Bonus

When you’re on the fence about having a once-valued credit card, ask the issuer if it may offer any incentives to help you make that decision. As a loyal customer with a good track record, you may receive a retention bonus that rewards in return for meeting the minimum spend requirement. Offers can vary depending on the issuer, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get one, but it’s worth a try.

Greenstein and her husband recently accepted two retention offers of about 70,000 points on credit cards with high annual fees. She anticipates offers added up to a minimum price of $700.

“You have to figure out whether it’s worth it based on what they offer,” Greenstein said.

Meet bonus requirements with gift cards

When chasing a credit card bonus, don’t spend more to earn it. If your budget purchases aren’t enough to meet the bonus spending requirements within the specified time frame, consider using a credit card to purchase gift cards that you can use later.

You can buy a gift card to a grocery store, a restaurant delivery app, or an often-frequent retailer. Just don’t overdo it as some issuers have rules against misuse.

Low APR. chat on

If your account is in good standing, try negotiating a lower annual percentage rate with your credit card issuer. Your creditworthiness factor into the interest rate, but an issuer may be willing to go lower.

Delia Fernandez, a certified financial planner who owns the California-based firm Fernandez Financial Advisory LLC, suggests searching for competing offers at a different bank or credit union and presenting them to your credit card issuer to get a lower interest rate. gives.

“You always want to negotiate from a position of strength, if you can,” Fernandez said. “So if you’re paying your bills on time and you’re doing well, but every now and then you like to keep the balance on your credit card, call them and find out if they negotiate.” Huh.”

This option can also be ideal if you plan to finance a large purchase and don’t want to open a credit card with a 0% introductory APR.

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Take advantage of cardholder discounts

Repeatedly log in to your credit card account to view your benefits and merchant-specific offers. Some cards offer discounts on delivery service subscriptions, meal kits, streaming services or other options.

Depending on the issuer, you may have access to additional rewards or discounts by activating offers on your card and using it to shop at specific merchants. If the offers align with budget shopping, the savings can add up.

maximize rewards

Consider having more than one rewards credit card to maximize your rewards-earning potential. As long as you can keep track of spending on multiple cards to avoid debt, a dynamic pair of rewards credit cards can provide a healthy incentive.

For example, a cash-back credit card that earns 5% back in quarterly rotating bonus categories up to $1,500 could earn you 2% flat-rate cash back if you meet the conditions instead of $30. -Back cards are given the same spend and time period. But use them together—the 5% card for those bonus categories and the 2% card for everything else—and you’ll optimize your spending.

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