7 Things To Do With Your Credit Card Before 2021
It’s hard to believe that there are just six weeks left in 2020. With so much that happened — not to mention the pandemic and the presidential election — it’s understandable that your credit cards likely slipped your mind.
If they did, now is the time to get in touch with your finances. These tips from CreditCards.com will help you better prepare to enter 2021 on the right foot.
Make A Debt Repayment Strategy
Are you behind on credit card payments? If so, review your interest rates and create a plan to eliminate your debt.
Considering most credit cards have an average APR of 16%, paying off your balance is easier said than done. Credit card interest tops home, student, and auto loans, so focus on that first.
Begin assessing how much you owe and the interest on each balance. Depending on your preferences, you may decide to pay off the card with the highest interest rate and work your way down to the lowest (the avalanche method). This strategy may take a little longer, but you will save so much money on interest.
If your credit is in good standing, consider getting a 0% balance transfer card. Moving your balance onto this kind of credit card will make it easier to get rid of your credit card debt. But if your credit could use some work, you still have options. Look for nonprofit credit counseling groups or see if your card issuer offers payment plans.
Check Your Credit
Besides knowing your credit cards’ interest rates, you also need to know what shape your credit report is. You can check it for free every week until April 2021 on AnnualCreditReport.com, though you probably don’t need to check it that frequently.
While you review your credit report, make sure you also get your credit score. Contact your lender to request your score for free.
Use Your Credit Before You Lose Them
Some credit cards offer monthly or yearly credits as part of their rewards program. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card, for instance, comes with a $300 annual travel credit, which you can use to make up for the $550 annual fee.
Since the pandemic has limited travel this year, some card companies have expanded their credit program to include gas and groceries. Think about it this way: you already paid for these when you paid the annual fee, so you may as well make the most of it. Make sure you redeem them before they expire.
Take Advantage Of Your Holiday Shopping
You can earn more bang for your buck when you use your credit card’s shopping portal, making it easier to save when you take care of your seasonal shopping. As you create your lists, make sure you check which cards you can use to earn rewards on individual purchases.
Redeem Your Rewards
Unless you’re saving up for your dream vacation, there’s no real benefit to hoarding your cash back and other rewards. Unlike your money in the bank, these points don’t accumulate interest, so you may as well use them.
Redeeming your rewards, miles, or cash back during the holidays can help you save more this season. For example, if you redeem your points for gift cards, you can use them on your holiday shopping or give them as a gift. Or, if you plan on visiting loved ones, you can use your miles to book the most affordable trip possible.
Request A Higher Credit Limit
A 2018 survey from CreditCards.com found that 85% of cardholders who requested a higher credit lender were approved for one. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, lenders are likely less willing to approve these requests right now. Still, it never hurts to ask — as long as the lender doesn’t make a hard inquiry. However, most will only perform a soft credit pull, which doesn’t affect your score.
Apply For A New Credit Card
Are you ready to see the world once the pandemic ends? Do you dream of making your holiday shopping into a much-needed vacation? Perhaps you would instead get some easy cash back welcome promotion. Whatever the reason, you may want to consider looking for a newer, better credit card.
Not only that, you probably adjusted your spending habits this year. Wouldn’t you want your credit card to reflect that, too? If you pay an annual fee but rarely use your card, see if your provider will give you a product change. This lets you switch to a more appropriate card without hurting your credit.
- Rossman, Ted. “7 Credit Card Moves to Make by Year’s End.” CreditCards.com, 20 Nov. 2020, www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/credit-card-moves-year-end-2020/.