If you find yourself suddenly unemployed in your 50's you will probably, at some point, get the urge to try and continue the same lifestyle you maintained when you were slaving for a faceless corporate enterprise
You must resist this urge. Relying on your credit cards for simple(and sometimes unnecessary) pleasures is a financially deadly game.
In order to help you along if you do need to use your available credit from time to time, I have compiled a list of what I think are the most effective credit cards that offer the best benefits and may even put some cash back in your pockets. Hey, why not use your credit cards to your advantage and have them make you some money or send you on a nice trip to the Caribbean.
As usual, I found that there is a copious amount of financial, news and lifestyle websites that have opinions on which credit cards are the best. Since there are so many players and so many variations on each style of credit card, it would be an exhausting task to determine a single issuer as the very best in the credit card market. Remember, it is a card’s overall interest terms, cash-back offer or slice of life proposition, not its branding or fun commercials that truly defines its worth to you. Make sure to do a deep dive in the internet because exceptional offers are available from small credit unions and huge international banks alike.
To come up with my list of the best credit cards for 2013, I sifted through hundreds of credit card offers on at least twenty (it got repetitive) different websites showing the latest updated offers directly from banks. I broke the offers down into 4 different categories depending on where you might find yourself financially in using a credit card as a business or personal success tool and narrowed my choices down to what I thought were the top 2 in each category.
Cash back credit cards give you back a percentage of what you spend in the form of cash rebates - cold, hard cash. It is like getting a discount on your bill every time you spend on your card. The cash back cards below have no annual fee.
Blue Cash Everyday® from American Express is the best cash back credit card to get if you have very good to excellent credit. You get 3% cash back on purchases in U.S. stand-alone supermarkets, up to $6,000 spent, 1% thereafter, 2% cash back on gas purchases in U.S. stand-alone gas stations and select major department store purchases, and 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases. The cash back you earn is in the form of statement credit, which you can redeem your Reward Dollars for. There are no rotating categories, no minimum spend and no enrollment required. American Express Blue Cash Everyday® Card also gives you a 0% intro APR on purchases for up to 12 months. Bonus: receive $100 cash back when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months.
Hotel and airline credit cards not only let you earn points when you stay at a particular brand of hotel or fly on a particular airline, they also give you points on your everyday spending, which you can later use to redeem for air tickets or hotel stays.
Gold Delta SkyMiles from American Express gives you 30,000 bonus miles, after spending $500 in the first 3 months that can be used to pay for your air ticket.
You will earn 2 miles per dollar spent on any Delta purchase.
On all other purchases, you earn 1 mile per dollar. Your miles never, ever expire even if you don’t have any mileage activity.
First checked bag is free for cardholder and up to 9 people in the same reservation. $0 annual fee the first year, a savings of $95!
Got an existing credit card or store card debt? Consolidate all your high-interest debt by moving it to another card that offers 0% interest on balance transfers for a specific period of time so that you can pay off your existing debt interest-free during that period. All the 0% balance transfer cards below don’t have any annual fee.
Citi Simplicity MasterCard offers an 18 month payoff which is one of the longest durations of 0% intro APR on outstanding balances.
After this introductory period your APR will be 12.99%-21.99% depending on your credit worthiness.
I recommend being aggressive any time you talk to a credit card company about your set APR%. Most of the time you can negotiate it down from what they offer and every percentage point helps you.
For each balance transfer, you pay just 3% of the amount you transfer as fees, or $5 minimum. Some credit cards charge up to 5% balance transfer fee. The Citi Simplicity MasterCard also has a 0% intro APR on purchases for 18 months. This card doesn’t have any rewards program.
Rewards credit cards let you earn points on your spending so that you can later redeem all those points for rewards ranging from free air tickets, hotel stays to merchandise, gift cards or even cash.
Citi ThankYou Preferred Rewards card is a great no-fee rewards card that not only rewards you on your spending, but also rewards you with an annual bonus and when enrolling in Account Online and when signing up for Paperless Statements. It gives you 1 point1 for every $1 you spend on all your purchases. You can redeem your points for cash, gift cards, flights, hotels, merchandise, or even towards your student loans or mortgage. You will receive an annual bonus of 1% of the ThankYou points you earn the first year, 2% the second year and 3% the thereafter. Promotion for new sign-ups: Receive 15,000 bonus points when spending $1,000 within the first 3 months.
We baby boomers will naturally gravitate toward the glittery rewards offers, but whether or not a rewards credit card actually represents the most functional financial option for you depends on a number of different factors:
- Credit Standing: Not only do you need excellent credit to qualify for most of the cards listed above, but you should prioritize low fees above attractive interest rates and rewards if you haven’t attained that status yet.
- Existing Debt: The average household owes more than $6,700 to credit card companies, and the interest on that type of balance will likely outweigh the rewards attainable via plastic. That’s why a 0% balance transfer credit card is probably a better choice for those with existing debt. A credit card calculator will show you that a card like the Slate from Chase can save the average indebted household up to $1,000.
- Spending & Payment Habits: Unless you pay your bill in full every month, some budgeting and a card that offers 0% on new purchases will be more beneficial than rewards.
Now that you know that credit cards can be used as effective credit tools you can use to your advantage, and that there are a multitude of offers out there that can help you make some additional money, and you are aware of the financial considerations needed to obtain these credit cards then all that’s left to do is apply for the card of your choice, manage your account responsibly, and bask in the glory of personal finance victory.
Please stay tuned and Thanks for joining me!!!