In the United States, household debt has been on the rise. In total, about $870 billion is owed on credit cards alone. Among Americans with credit cards, 55 percent say they are carrying debt. As a result, finding ways to save money on credit cards is a priority for many. If you would like to learn how to save money on credit cards, here are some tips for saving money on credit cards.
Skip Cash Advances
On most cards, cash advances come with higher interest rates than those used for normal charges. Additionally, many cash advances don’t come with grace periods before interest starts accruing, meaning that withdrawal starts costing you immediately.
Don’t Pay for Credit Card Protection
Most credit card protection services are unnecessary. Under federal law, you are already pretty safe from fraudulent charges, as your maximum liability is only $50. Plus, these services can cost a ton, adding to your credit card balance each and every month for something that doesn’t tend to provide much, if any, benefit.
Look for No-Fee Credit Cards
Annual fees can get expensive, so it’s usually best to avoid cards that charge them. If you have a card with an annual fee and have been a customer in good standing for some time, call the issuer and see if the company will waive it. Most will if you have a strong history with the issuer.
When looking for new cards, skip any that charge annual fees. If you don’t, you get stuck paying that cost every year, even if you don’t carry a balance. Considering some annual fees are over $100, that’s a lot of money going out the door each year.
Ask for a Lower Interest Rate
If your credit score has gone up since you opened the card, your account is in good standing, and you aren’t getting the lowest available rate right now, consider contacting your issuer. Many will reduce your interest rate, but you have to call and request the reduction.
However, only do this if you are reasonably sure you qualify for a better rate. Your issuer might have to perform a hard pull on your credit report, which impacts your score, so you don’t want to go through the process if there isn’t a decent chance you are eligible for a reduction.
Watch Out for Balance Transfer Fees
Transferring your credit card balance to a lower rate card can be a smart move. However, many issuers charge a fee to transfer a balance, with a 3 percent fee being fairly common. Make sure that you’ll save more in interest than you’ll pay in the fee. If you won’t, don’t do the transfer.
Set Up Automatic Payments
Missing a credit card payment can hurt your credit score and may trigger a penalty interest rate, late fee, or both. By setting up an automatic payment, your payment will always be on time as long as you have a bank balance to support it.
Be Skeptical of All Unsolicited Offers
Any credit card or debt-related offer that arrives without you requesting it should make you skeptical. A “pre-approved” credit card offer that requires an upfront payment should always be avoided. Additionally, even if there is no payment required and the company is legitimate, there is no guarantee you’ll get the low rate they are offering or that you’ll be approved at all. If you move forward, you’ll likely end up with a hard pull on your credit, and that can damage your score even if you are rejected. Plus, even if you’re approved, you could get an interest rate or terms that are nowhere near as favorable as the offer initially suggested.
Many debt reduction companies aren’t entirely scrupulous, often preying on those who are in financial trouble to turn a profit. Some are outright scams, while others come with fee structures that can quickly make a debt problem worse. If you need help, make sure to look for a reputable credit counseling agency on your own instead of turning to an unsolicited offer on a whim.
Do you have any savings tips that can help people save money on credit cards? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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