You’ve made your share of financial mistakes in the past. From signing up for those prepaid credit cards to letting a payment or two slip through the cracks, you’ve been gamed by the card companies just one time too many. And now it’s time for you to play ball.
Credit card issuers have their own bag of tricks that they can use to get your money, but you can employ some tricks of your own to save you money. Here are five ways to work magic with your credit card.
- Chargeback : This one has more to do with merchants than credit card companies. If you find yourself squaring off with a dodgy merchant who rightfully owes you your money back, this is the only weapon you’ll need. At the mere threat of a chargeback, most stores will comply and give you a refund because if they receive a chargeback, it only makes doing business more expensive for them. And if the store doesn’t comply, you can actually go through with the chargeback by contacting your bank. It’s a win-win situation for the consumer.
- Stretch your billing cycle to the max. This trick requires a little strategic planning on your part, but it’s well worth the effort. Every credit card consumer knows that the best way to use your card is by paying off your balance before interest charges are tacked on. But what if you could extend the amount of time before the interest rate kicks in? The good news is that you can. If you make a charge on your card the day immediately after your billing cycle ends, you can increase the amount of time you have to pay it off from 25 days to a full 55 days. So if you have a big purchase in mind, remember that timing is everything.
- Ask for a new promotional offer on your old card. If you’ve had your card for years, you may start to get a little jealous when your company begins to woo newer customers with bonus offers or promotional deals. What you probably didn’t know, however, is that you can actually get the same special treatment simply by asking. Call your card company and let them know that you found out about a new promotional offer. For most representatives, letting you in on that offer can be done with a few clicks, and – voila! – you’ve got extra miles or a better interest rate.
- Keep your oldest card in play. No matter how many credit cards you’ve come to accumulate, remember that the one that you’ve held the longest is a critical part of your credit history. At a time where financial uncertainty is encouraging most consumers to scale back and get rid of some of their credit cards, remember not to shoot yourself in the foot by closing your oldest account. This can actually hurt your credit score by erasing one of your most favorable financial characteristics from your financial record–the account that you’ve maintained successfully for the longest period of time.
- Keep a record – even if you’re done paying off your card. This is a word to the already wise consumers who have decided to reel in their expenses by closing a credit card or two. You may get a feeling of accomplishment by cutting up the plastic, but you should beware of “residual interest”, or a tiny charge that can appear even after you’ve paid your balance in full and closed the account. Once you start to rack up penalty fees for not paying this charge (that you’re probably not even aware of), you can see yourself back in financial hell. So do yourself a favor by keeping a copy of your final credit card statement as confirmation that you’ve paid everything you owe; this will allow you some recourse in a worst case scenario.
Now that you know how to strike back, you can start to save money, or even earn, money from your credit cards, which is the best trick of all.