Evil Credit Cards
We all know credit cards are evil. They entice us with their ability to buy us things when we don’t have the cash, then proceed to suck us dry with ever-rising interest rates. Jerk-faces. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Credit cards can be our friends if we use them right. We have to learn to play the game. We can leverage credit card rewards points to get great deals!
I went to Best Buy recently and bought a lovely Canon WIFI camera (priced at $279.99), a 64 GB memory card ($89.99), a gaming controller ($24.99), and a Bluetooth wireless speaker (39.99). That is nearly $400 worth of merchandise!! Do you want to know how much money I spent? $5.31. That’s right, I scored almost $400 worth of goodies from Best Buy, and I only paid five dollars and thirty-one cents!
But it’s not. You can leverage rewards points to trick the system and score big! There are two main rules for leveraging rewards points. The first is that you should never buy stuff you don’t need to gain points, and the second is always to pay off your credit card balance in full.
Rule 1 to Leverage Credit Card rewards
I followed the first rule to beat the BestBuy credit card at its own game. I needed a new laptop. My old laptop was running out of memory and didn’t have the power to process the pictures I needed for my blog. I budgeted for this. I had 3K put aside for computer shopping in my “next big purchase” account.
Pro tip: You should never make a huge purchase like this without budgeting for it!
I went into Best Buy armed with my cash and an excellent idea of what I wanted. As I was browsing laptops and comparing specs, I noticed a sign for the Best Buy Rewards credit card. They offered 10% back in Best Buy rewards when you purchased items with a new account. Usually, a deal like this wouldn’t entice me, but the laptops I was looking at were between one and two grand, so 10% back is a pretty nice chunk of change. And don’t forget, I needed a bunch of accessories! I also knew that I’d need a new camera at some point. The wheels in my head started turning. Could I get the card and use the reward points to buy my new camera?
I picked out the perfect laptop (because the keys light up like a rainbow!) and all the accessories. The total price for everything I needed came to about $2800. I applied for the Best Buy rewards card and chose the Best Buy rewards option. They also have a one-year no-interest option, but I knew I would be paying it all off right away since I had the cash.
Pro Tip: Pay off your credit cards right away!
Rule 2 to Leverage Credit Card Rewards
This brings us to rule number two: Pay off the credit card right away so that you don’t have to pay interest. That’s how they get you. They give you $250 in rewards, but they know that most people won’t pay the credit card off right away. If you don’t, you will be paying three times that in interest!
I did have to wait two weeks for my rewards to come in, but as it turns out, that was highly advantageous. My rewards came just in time for Black Friday! I had $280 of free Best Buy money to spend on the most significant sale weekend of the season! The camera was on sale for $230, so I had an extra $50 to spend on whatever else I might need. I chose a gaming controller for $14.99 and a wireless speaker for $9.99. Also, I bundled the memory card with the camera for even more savings. The $89.99 memory card was only $14.99 when bundled with a new camera. And, of course, I paid off the credit card, so I didn’t accrue any interest. Remember, that’s how they get you!
If you’re interested in leveraging a rewards card, check out the ten best cash-back cards you can get. You’ll definitely find a deal that’s right for you!
The moral of this story is that credit cards don’t have to be evil. When used correctly, they can be very advantageous. You can use the credit card rewards points to save a ton of money! Just don’t forget the two key rules:
1. Don’t buy things you don’t need just to get points.
2. Pay off the credit card right away so you don’t have to pay interest.
If you do this, you can beat the credit cards at their own game and come out a winner.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.