UPDATED 2/2/2017 There’s a mandated push in the credit card industry to get people to understand the costs associated with carrying a balance. Now, one bank is voluntarily rewarding people for making good decisions offering $100 if you use a certain credit card.
Find a good credit card offer
If you’re in the market for a new credit card, compare your options. Bankrate compares offers from different banks, although proceed with caution. The company is compensated by banks for listings in their database, which the site points out may impact how, where, and in what order products appear. You can search for an airline card, balance transfer, rewards and much more.
NerdWallet also offers a database of cards. With over 1700 offers, you’re surely able to find one for you.
Benefits of credit cards
While credit cards are not for everyone, there are benefits to using one. If you’re diligent about paying off your balance, you can earn freebies with a credit card. Rewards cards offer statement credits, gift cards, and/or travel discounts.
Many cards also offer a built-in free extended warranty on products purchased with the credit card. There are exceptions, but it gives you peace of mind with product purchases. I used the extended warranty on my credit card, and saved hundreds of dollars. I got a replacement product when mine broke just outside the manufacturer warranty.
Earn up to $100 free each year for paying credit card balance
In 2013 when banks were under scrutiny and big changes came to credit card statements, Bank of America rolled out a $100 incentive. It’s still around today.
Bank of America’s Better Balance Rewards card pays you $25 per quarter or $100 a year. To qualify for the free money you have to make more than the minimum payment and pay on time each month.
It’s free money so I’m not going to argue with that, but is $100 really going to make a difference in someone’s debt? No, but perhaps it will encourage them to make the right budget choices to pay more than required each month.
There are other deals that offer up to 100,000 bonus points. Discover is offering a “Cashback Match” card. The Discover it Card will match the cash back you earn after using the card for a year.
Balance transfer cost
Anytime you sign up for a credit card to transfer a balance, consider the cost. Read the fine print carefully. Most credit cards offer an introductory rate. You can still find 0%. The Bank of America card offers 0% for a year on balance transfers. However, their rates skyrocket once that promotional period is over. The rates jump to 12.24% to 22.4%.
If you allow the interest to kick in, make sure check if it’s retroactive to the date you opened the account. This could make a difference in how much you pay.
Also, consider how much the transfer costs. It’s typically 3% of the balance. Is it worth it? Will you be able to pay off the balance before the promotional period ends? Do the math so you’re not costing yourself more money. Try to avoid the situation altogether if possible.
Credit card fees
If you’re a big spender, it may pay to sign up for a credit card with an annual fee. These cards often double your points, and offer big incentives. You have to do the math to see if it’s worth it each year. If you have restraint when you swipe, and pay off your bill each month these cards may be worth it.
Figure out how much you spend each year on your credit card, and do the math for rewards. Some rewards cost more than others. For example, a $100 gift card may cost 10,000 points. A $100 travel credit may cost 7500 points. Read the fine print of your credit card agreement so you know the fee breakout.