Credit cards took on a whole new purpose after our finances took a nose dive in the not-so-great depression of 2008. Using credit cards became a necessity. Over the years, mastering the system has allowed us to develop extreme credit card benefits.
By 2009, we went from being Middle Class to becoming part of The Former Middle Class as well as One Day From Homeless. The Introduction to my first eBook, The Poor Middle Class Crisis, details what happened to us. As a result we had to find new ways to survive, new ways to make ends meet. We created a financial survival toolkit. One of our most essential money making tools became credit cards,the cash rewards and travel points cards we already had in addition to the numerous new ones we have gotten since then.
Our Financial History Over The Last Decade
Mastering the system of extreme credit card benefits can go beyond achieving necessary income for survival. Mastery can provide extreme credit card benefits. Over almost the last decade, we have worked on fine tuning our use of credit cards to achieve mastery of this invaluable financial survival tool. It has allowed us to rise from survival to live a frugal way of life. It even includes what might be viewed as a bit of frivolity.
Mastery starts out as a science. It develops into an art. This became the situation when the need to visit family in Colorado arose. The art of creating extreme travel rewards credit cards benefits came into play. Before that, our focus had been primarily on cash rewards credit card. Needing to find a way to afford our trip, we had to learn to master travel rewards cards.
Earning Credit Card Benefits
The first step in mastering credit cards is learning about them. So that is exactly what I did. I did research locating the best sites and blogs about mastering credit cards. Then I practiced and learned how to do it myself. As part of the process, I created a ‘cheat sheet’ that I could easily refer to. It is called, ‘Tips for Mastering Credit Cards’.
Tips for Mastering Credit Cards
Even though I continue to gather more helpful tips, I think that the ones on this list give me and anyone who reads them a pretty good start. What I would like to do for the rest of this post is go over them and explain any that are not completely transparent already. The details will cover several blog posts because there is so much information to share.
1. Pay credit card bills in full by the due date and preferably before the report date
The companies that you have credit card and other ‘debt’ with report the amount of that debt to the credit report agencies on a monthly basis. To have them report a $0 debt, pay your balance in full before the reporting date. Your credit card companies are supposed to provide you with that date if you request it. Find out what that date is and keep track of that date as well as the due date and the closing date.
2. Learn to build and maintain excellent credit
There are many resources for learning to build your credit. They are listed at the end of this post. Notice the colored sections in the image below. They indicated credit levels. Excellent credit is the bright green bar.
3. Get credit cards that offer promotional sign up bonuses
Many credit card offers include a promotion of either cash or travel points in addition to the regular cash back % and points that they acru. Be sure to get one with both. In addition, compare offers for the best deal. There are several variables. This includes the promotion, the amount that must be spent to get it, and the regular benefits. The best ‘investment’ I have ever made was a $200 bonus on a $500 required expense. That’s a 40% return. Where else can one get that kind of a deal? This is where mastering skills come into play and why you want to learn mastery.
4. Get credit cards with exceptional cash or travel points rewards
This card also is one of the best cash back credit card. Note the cashback percentages on this card: 3% restaurants, 3% gas, 1% on the rest. (You can see it on the image about the AARP card info above). Other cards with similar cash back bonuses may offer 3% on some items, 2% on some items and 1% on the rest. I suggest using such a card for the items that only get 1%. What is an alternative? This brings up the tool of credit card pairing.
5. What Is Credit Card Pairing?
There are two formulas offered on cash rewards cards. There are 3%/2%/1% cards. There are straight 1.5% cards. Both have their place. The 3/2/1 cards give 3% cash back for either gas, groceries or restaurants. Then they give 2% for the alternative of restaurants, groceries or food. For example, if gas is the priority, you can use a card that offers 3% for gas and 2% for groceries, like the BankAmericard and the Amex Everyday Blue Cash Rewards cards. If you like to eat out, you can use the AARP card that offers 3% for restaurants as shown in the image below.
Therefore, if you pair cards, you can get 3% or at least 2% for groceries, restaurants and gas. You can avoids using the 1% feature altogether. That is because cards like the Capital One Quicksilver Card pays 1.5% across the board for other expenses. Since pairing requires carrying more than one card at a time, you will needs a tool to remember which card pays what percent of cash back.
6. Remembering What Cards to Pair
I had thought of this tool but did not start using it until I read about it in a blog post by Jim Wang of Wallet Hacks. He actually mentioned writing the cash reward percentages directly on the credit cards in something like waterproof magic markers. It works great.
As I think of them, I will write about more extreme cash rewards benefits. Be on the lookout for future posts on this topic. There is also an (upcoming) Amazon eBook entitled, Mastering the System of Extreme Credit card benefits. As mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, two other Amazon eBooks on this topic are currently available. They are:
The Poor Middle Class Crisis and Using Credit Cards for Survival & Profit.
The third will be available on Amazon shortly:
Mastering the System of Extreme Credit Card Benefits
The responsible and potentially profitable use of credit cards requires one fundamental rule. All credit card statements must be paid in full and on time. There are no shortcuts, no magic tricks or hidden agendas. All of the suggestions, tips and tools mentioned in these posts are totally above board and follow standard credit card use guidelines even when creative techniques or combinations are applied. Study these tools, practice these tips, learn these applications so that you can have the opportunity to experience extreme credit card benefits, too.
Sources and Resources
The Frugal CrediTnista
The Penny Hoarder
Helpful Facebook Pages and Groups
Survival Comes First
A Savvy Saving Survivalist
Savvy Saving Survivalism
Credit Card Swag
The Credit Card Maven
The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook
Using Credit Cards for Survival & Profit
Mastering The System of Extreme Credit Card Benefits
Please note that I have not received any compensation for mentioning or promoting specific credit cards.