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The Dime: Got Credit Cards? Keep a Low Balance—and Get the Most When You Spend

The Dime: Got Credit Cards? Keep a Low Balance—and Get the Most When You Spend

As National Credit Education Month comes to an end I want to focus on how to earn money off of credit cards. Paying off your debt is cool and all (it’s also necessary to keep a great score) but I like to get paid for spending my money. You should too. Here’s this week’s Dime.

Whether its travel points or simply cash back, it’s always a good feeling knowing you’ve earned enough points to get something for free.

Recently, I read a story about a physicist who finessed the credit-card rewards game so crazy that he got $300k out of it. True legend. To sum up his trick, he would take his Amex card and buy gift cards with it. This earned him credit card points. Then he took the gift cards (that gave him reward dollars for using them) and bought money orders from MoneyGram or Western Union. Then he took the money order and deposited it in his bank account and paid off his bills. Essentially he got rewards for paying off his credit card bill on top of the rewards he got for using the credit card. He finessed this so well that the IRS had to come after him. Following his strategy is just one of the many tricks to getting points, earning cash back, and other rewards.

Here are a few other ways you can earn some rewards for transactions you perform in your everyday life.

Childcare & School Fees

If you’re paying those extremely high childcare fees, you probably should be throwing those on a credit card to earn you some points. Childcare can cost parents up to $16000 a year (or more), which can help you rack up points relatively quickly. It’s beautiful to help your child get a great education, it’s even better when you can get a free vacation back from doing that.

Paying Rent With Your Credit Card

This usually isn’t the default setting when it comes to paying your rent, but many landlords are willing to accept this form of payment if tenants ask. It’s also helpful to be able to use your credit card to pay your rent because it buys you an extra month if you’re currently strapped for cash. There is a slight downside though, some landlords charge a fee for using a credit card (usually around 3% per transaction). Before you make this decision make sure the fee you’re paying compared to the rewards you’re getting are worth it. If they’re not, consider getting a card with better rewards.

Look for Cards With a Sign Up Bonus

Yes, credit cards can literally give you rewards points just for signing up. Don’t sleep on these. If you currently hold a credit card that doesn’t offer points, or you simply missed your chance it doesn’t hurt to get a new credit card and simply transfer your current balance to your new card. The balance transfer can also help you rack up points along the way.

Business Cards Gets Points Too

We spoke on the value of business credit here a while back. It’s really a new lease on life. You can level up the rewards game if you put a significant portion of your business purchases on your business credit card. It’s also really good to have all of your transactions in one place because it makes things easier for your accountant come tax time. Most important, it makes it easier to get business expense deductions and tax credits. Getting all this and points toward a freebie? You can’t beat that (chef’s kiss).

See Also

Put All Of Those Subscriptions On Your Credit Card

One of the worst feelings is waking up to your balance completely different because a bunch of subscription services just knocked your account all at once. It’s even worse when a subscription hits your account and gives you a negative balance in your bank account, putting you at risk of an overdraft fee. I swear, that will make you want to fight somebody. You can prevent that by simply throwing your subscription fee on your credit card. My philosophy is… If you’re going to pay for it anyway, you might as well earn points toward a free flight.

When it comes to adding bills to my credit cards, I’m all-in. What’s also great about this is your credit card company tends to increase your balance when they see you have high usage, and you pay your card down—back to 30 percent usage or less— monthly. You’ll rarely catch me swiping my card because I tend to keep it locked away. When it comes to paying my bills though? The limits are endless, and I always make sure I pay it off before the interest kicks in.

Paying off your credit card and getting your debt under control is always step one. Once you’re able to tackle that, the next step is learning how to strategize so you can earn free stuff for doing what you’ll already be doing… spending money. That’s it for today’s Dime y’all. Don’t be stingy with this, pass it to a friend. Talk to y’all next week.

Carl H. Joseph-Black, J.D. is the founder of The Dime and runs The Blacklist Social Club. You can contact him anywhere on social media @CJoeBlack

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