When was the last time you evaluated whether or not the credit card you use fits your spending habits and financial profile?
If you're like the average consumer, then chances are it's been a while.
A study done by J.D. Power found that over 20% of cardholders are using credit cards that don't align with their spending habits. Another 30%-50% have the right card but could still find a card that's even better for them.
Most often, this means you're paying high fees or not getting the most out of your rewards program. If you identify with any of the situations outlined below, then it might be time to open a new credit card.
You're paying an annual fee
You should have either a card that has no annual fee or a card that offers benefits that outweigh the fees it charges. If you don't use your credit card often or don't spend very much, it's not worth holding onto a card with an annual fee. You also want to make sure the benefits offered are relevant to your lifestyle.
Calculate the value of the rewards your card offers that you actually use. If the rewards don't offset the annual fee, cancel the card. Even if they do, you could probably do better: Many rewards credit cards offer perks that offset the annual fee by hundreds of dollars.
You're carrying a balance
If you're currently paying off a balance or planning to carry a balance, then your priority should be paying the least amount of interest possible. Credit cards with introductory financing offers, credit cards from credit unions, and balance transfer credit cards can all be good options for minimizing your interest fees.
You spend a lot
If you're putting big purchases on your credit cards, such as frequent travel or business expenses, or if you're simply a big spender, then you have the potential to reap big rewards. Make sure the credit card you're using offers a rewards program that's aligned with your spending habits and offers benefits you prefer. For example, some credit cards offer rewards for spending on travel, while others reward spending on gas, and some even reward office expenses. You can also look for credit cards with high limits.
You travel frequently
Frequent travelers should have a credit card that fits both their spending profile and their travel preferences. Many travel credit cards offer perks like seat upgrades, TSA PreCheck, and airport lounge access. Premium travel credit cards are geared toward travelers who prefer luxury. Others have sign-up bonuses that can net you lots of airline miles or hotel points. Some offer flexible points that can be redeemed for a range of benefits.
Most credit cards will give you greater rewards for making purchases within certain categories, so if you spend a lot of money on travel, make sure your credit card offers extra points for spending in that category.
You don't use your rewards program
Perhaps you've been using a rewards credit card for a while, but you rarely redeem your rewards. Whether the rewards accumulate slowly or they don't offer anything of interest to you, consider switching to cash-back credit card. Cash-back credit cards make reward redemption easy and offer something that everyone wants: more money. For example, let's say you're often put in charge of purchasing food for the office, so your monthly spending on groceries is $500. Put that on a cash-back card that offers 6% cash back for the first $6,000 spent on groceries, and you save $360 a year.
Your credit score or income has increased
If you've seen a jump in your credit score or been offered a big raise since you opened up your credit card, there's a good chance that you qualify for a better offer now. If you're looking for a higher credit limit or a lower interest rate, try calling your current credit card issuer and negotiating with them based on the change in your financial situation. Otherwise, look into credit cards for people with excellent credit.
Remember that you typically should not close your old credit cards even if you've replaced them. Unless they have an annual fee, leaving them open costs you nothing, and it can boost your credit score by increasing your average account age.
Also remember that having multiple credit cards can be good for your credit score so long as you can keep track of them and stay financially responsible. Don't shy away from using more than one credit card to meet more than one need.
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