15 things you can do with a credit card besides buy stuff

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Smart Uses for Credit Cards


Almost everyone has a credit or debit card. They're just small pieces of plastic that help us pay for things. Or are they? Aside from their obvious use — paying for stuff — credit cards can be incredibly handy in other ways, too. Here are 15 different uses for plastic that may have never even crossed your mind.

1. Open a Door


Okay, we've all seen it in movies and TV shows, but does it work? If you lock yourself out of the house, can you actually open the door with a credit card? Well, yes and no. If the door is on a deadbolt, you're out of luck. But if it's a simple spring latch, you simply push the card between the door and the doorjamb, and wiggle a little. It's a good hack if you ever lock yourself out and only have your wallet on you.


2. Make a Tongue Scraper


They say that bad breath is often caused by the bacteria on your tongue. You can do your best to get rid of it with a toothbrush, or buy an expensive tongue cleaning tool. But why not just grab an old credit card? Wash it thoroughly, then cut it into a shape that will fit nicely on the tongue, making sure not to leave any sharp edges. The flexible plastic is perfect for removing bacteria.


3. Apply Wall Filler and Putty


A good putty knife can set you back $10–$15. You can buy cheap plastic ones for a few bucks, or you can take out an old credit card and use that. It's a good size to handle, the plastic is flexible, and you don't even need to bother cleaning it when you're done.


4. Make Strong Collar Stays


Collar stays go missing quickly. They often fall out in the wash or at the dry cleaners. Or, you remove them yourself before washing, only to misplace them. Well, credit cards are the perfect thickness and size to make several collar stays, and they'll be stronger than the originals. Simply use an existing collar stay as a template to cut around, or buy yourself a collar stay punch.


5. Scrape Your Icy Windshield


If you live in the kind of climate that is constantly changing (Colorado, for example...sunny one day, snowing the next), you may not always have an ice scraper close at hand. But, you'll almost certainly have a credit card. Grab one, and use it to scrape the ice from your windshield, windows, and even mirrors. It's small and flexible, and won't scratch the paint.


6. A Simple Bookmark


Don't dog-ear the pages of your book. Instead, take out an old credit card and use that. The straight edge is also handy for helping you keep your place. Of course, don't use anything other than an expired card, especially if it's a library book and you return it with your card tucked between the pages. You can also cut a V-shape in the card, and it will slip over a page and protrude from the book.


7. Create Luggage Tags


If you travel a lot, you know the importance of a sturdy luggage tag. But they can be expensive, and often go missing. Instead of forking out for replacements, create your own. You'll need an expired credit card, and a couple of business cards. Firmly glue the business cards to the front and back of the credit card, trim the excess, then wrap in some clear packing tape. Now, punch a hole in the top, and attach it to your case. It will last years.


8. Create a Smartphone Stand


In need of a quick phone stand? Take out a pair of scissors and an old credit card, and with a few sly cuts, you can get the job done. Needless to say, they're quick and easy to make, and cost nothing more than an old credit card.


9. Grate Hard Cheese


Yeah, right. Actually, that was my reaction, until a friend of mine did it. It won't work on soft or even medium density cheeses, but the hard Italian cheeses like Parmesan and Romano are perfect for this life hack. Using the side of the credit card with the raised numbers and letters, rub quickly against the cheese. It will come away in small pieces, just as if you were using a cheese grater.


10. Make Guitar Picks


If you play guitar, you will go through guitar picks like a new parent goes through baby wipes. They always seem to get lost, no matter how many you buy. Well, use old credit cards to make your own. You can use a guitar pick to trace the shape, or if you want, splash out on a pick punch. They're cheap, and make life very easy.


11. Label Your Stuff


Your credit cards all have one thing in common — your name. So, instead of throwing out old cards, first cut out the section containing your name. Now, you can affix that to whatever you want, be it a tool, a pen, a phone, or anything else, using some double-sided tape. It will stay put until you peel it off. You could also use glue if you want a more permanent solution.


12. Apply a Screen Protector


If you've ever bought one of those clear plastic screen protectors (and please do if you haven't, they can save you a fortune), you'll notice that they often come with a small plastic applicator. In fact, it's very small, and often inconveniently fiddly. Don't bother using it. Instead, grab your credit card. The strong, flexible plastic removes all the bubbles way more quickly and easily than the standard applicator that comes with the kit.


13. Keep Your Earbuds Organized


How often does it happen to you? It's time to workout and you go to grab the ear buds from the drawer. You spend the next 10 minutes trying to detangle them. Well, a credit card can make this little problem disappear. All it requires is a little skillful cutting and about seven minutes of your time.


14. Open Boxes


No need for a box cutter or sharp knife. Take an expired credit card and sharpen one edge slightly using sandpaper or a nail file. You can keep it handy in a wallet or purse and will always have a slim, handy box opener available. It slices easily through box tape, and isn't as dangerous as a knife.


15. Make a Battery Cover for a Remote


Anyone with kids will be familiar with missing remote control battery covers. Somehow, they pick at it, it falls off, and gets lost. Now, your batteries are held in by rubber bands or pieces of tape, and it does not look pretty. Instead, use an old credit card and fashion a perfect fit.


What clever uses have you devised for your credit cards?


Related: The best cities for saving money


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15 things you can do with a credit card besides buy stuff

15. Garland, Texas

  • Population: 235,501
  • Median income: $51,997
  • Unemployment rate: 3.7%
  • Median home listing price: $160,000
  • Median monthly rent: $1,350
  • Average gas price: $1.678
  • Average cost of groceries: $36.77
  • Sales tax: 8.25%

This suburb of Dallas is more affordable than its much larger neighbor, which is in the No. 49 spot in this ranking. Although the median income in Garland is slightly below the national median income of $53,482, housing costs are relatively low. Plus, Texas is one of seven states that doesn’t have an income tax, so residents can keep more of their paycheck and stash it in a savings account.

Photo credit: Andrei Tudoran/Shutterstock.com

14. Colorado Springs, Colo.

  • Population: 445,830
  • Median income: $54,228
  • Unemployment rate: 4%
  • Median home listing price: $269,900
  • Median monthly rent: $1,325
  • Average gas price: $1.704
  • Average cost of groceries: $29.41
  • Sales tax: 7.63%

Colorado Springs ranks as one of the best places for outdoor lovers, but it’s also a great place for savers. Just 60 miles south of Denver, Colorado Springs offers a more affordable alternative to Colorado’s capital, which is 69th on GOBankingRates' list of the best places for saving money. The median home list price and median rent in Denver are more than 35 percent higher than in Colorado Springs. That means residents of Colorado Springs have more room in their budgets to save.

Photo credit: photo.ua/Shutterstock.com

13. Oklahoma Cita, Okla.

  • Population: 620,602
  • Median income: $47,004
  • Unemployment rate: 3.3%
  • Median home listing price: $195,000
  • Median monthly rent: $1,195
  • Average gas price: $1.687
  • Average cost of groceries: $33.99
  • Sales tax: 8.38%

Even though Oklahoma City is the largest city in Oklahoma — and the capital — it doesn’t have a big-city price tag. Relatively low housing, gas and grocery costs leave residents more room in their budgets to save.

Photo credit: Henryk Sadura/Shutterstock.com

12. Austin, Texas

  • Population: 912,791
  • Median income: $55,216
  • Unemployment rate: 3.1%
  • Median home listing price: $359,000
  • Median monthly rent: $1,480
  • Average gas price: $1.557
  • Average cost of groceries: $30.91
  • Sales tax: 8.25%

The capital of Texas is known for its live music scene, trendsetting restaurants and South by Southwest festival. But Austin isn’t just a place for music lovers, foodies and techies — it’s a great place for savers. Gas and grocery costs are low, and housing costs are manageable in a city with a median income that tops the national median income.

Photo credit: iStock.com/David Sucsy

11. Arlington, Texas

  • Population: 383,204
  • Median income: $53,055
  • Unemployment rate: 3.7%
  • Median home listing price: $186,560
  • Median monthly rent: $1,395
  • Average gas price: $1.655
  • Average cost of groceries: $33.35
  • Sales tax: 8%

This city makes GOBankingRates' list of best places for savers for the second year in a row. Arlington is another Dallas suburb that’s more affordable than its bigger neighbor. Its relatively low housing costs and daily expenses along with a median income that’s on par with the national median income give the city’s residents a better ability to save.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Aneese

10. Tulsa, Okla.

  • Population: 399,682
  • Median income: $41,957
  • Unemployment rate: 3.9%
  • Median home listing price: $136,900
  • Median monthly rent: $975
  • Average gas price: $1.627
  • Average cost of groceries: $32.31
  • Sales tax: 8.52%

Like Oklahoma City, the state’s second-largest city is a great place for savers. Although the median income in Oklahoma City is higher, lower housing costs in Tulsa offset the difference and land it higher in this ranking.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Davel5957

9. Omaha, Neb.

  • Population: 446,599
  • Median income: $48,751
  • Unemployment rate: 3%
  • Median home listing price: $169,700
  • Median monthly rent: $1,100
  • Average gas price: $1.841
  • Average cost of groceries: $33
  • Sales tax: 7%

Notoriously frugal billionaire Warren Buffett lives in this Midwestern city that ranks as one of the most affordable places to live. It has the lowest unemployment rate on this list. Despite low housing costs, the median income is relatively low, which is why Omaha doesn’t rank higher on this list of best places for savers.

Photo credit: iStock.com/DenisTangneyJr

8. Fort Wayne, Ind.

  • Population: 258,522
  • Median income: $43,994
  • Unemployment rate: 4.4%
  • Median home listing price: $97,900
  • Median monthly rent: $650
  • Average gas price: $1.827
  • Average cost of groceries: $31.64
  • Sales tax: 7%

Fort Wayne returns to the No. 8 spot in GOBankingRates' ranking, the same spot it earned in 2015. It has the cheapest median rent and cheapest median home list price among the best cities for savers. However, a relatively low median income leaves residents with less to save and prevents this city in northeastern Indiana from ranking higher.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Davel5957

7. San Antonio, Texas

  • Population: 1,436,697
  • Median income: $46,317
  • Unemployment rate: 3.5%
  • Median home listing price: $229,000
  • Median monthly rent: $1,136
  • Average gas price: $1.527
  • Average cost of groceries: $31.02
  • Sales tax: 8.25%

Although bigger than Austin and Dallas, San Antonio boasts a lower cost of living, which means residents can afford to stash more in savings. You can even soak up the culture of this city for free by strolling along the top tourist destination in Texas — the San Antonio River Walk.

Read: 35 Secrets to Saving Money in 2016

Photo credit: iStock.com/H 1photo

6. Virginia Beach, Va.

  • Population: 450,980
  • Median income: $67,001
  • Unemployment rate: 4.5%
  • Median home listing price: $264,900
  • Median monthly rent: $1,600
  • Average gas price: $1.552
  • Average cost of groceries: $32.24
  • Sales tax: 6%

Virginia Beach has the lowest sales tax among the top 15 best cities for savers. Housing, grocery and gas costs also are relatively low in this city on the Atlantic Coast. Plus, a median income that’s well above the national median income helps make it easier to save in Virginia Beach than in many other cities.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Imagesbybarbara

5. Chandler, Ariz.

  • Population: 254,276
  • Median income: $72,072
  • Unemployment rate: 4.7%
  • Median home listing price: $310,990
  • Median monthly rent: $1,495
  • Average gas price: $1.497
  • Average cost of groceries: $34.67
  • Sales tax: 7.8%

Housing costs in this suburb of Phoenix are actually higher than its much larger neighbor. But the median income is more than $25,000 higher in Chandler than in Phoenix, which ranks 31st on GOBankingRates' list. Higher wages help offset slightly higher housing costs, giving residents more ability to save in this city that has a strong high-tech employment base.

Photo credit: iStock.com/ubu-ibmee

4. Kansas City, Mo.

  • Population: 470,800
  • Median income: $45,376
  • Unemployment rate: 3.8%
  • Median home listing price: $134,900
  • Median monthly rent: $825
  • Average gas price: $1.689
  • Average cost of groceries: $31.98
  • Sales tax: 8.35%

Kansas City is known for its barbecue and jazz, but it also offers affordable living. Fort Wayne, Ind., is the only place among the top 15 best cities for savers that boasts lower median rent and home list prices than Kansas City. But Kansas City’s median income is higher, giving its residents a better ability to stash more in savings.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Davel5957

3. Lubbock, Texas

  • Population: 243,839
  • Median income: $44,139
  • Unemployment rate: 3.1%
  • Median home listing price: $179,500
  • Median monthly rent: $1,050
  • Average gas price: $1.603
  • Average cost of groceries: $28.34
  • Sales tax: 8.25%

Home to Texas Tech University, Lubbock is called the Hub of the Plains. Although the median income level is lower than the national median income, the unemployment rate is low, as are housing costs. An affordable cost of living makes it easier to save in Lubbock.

Photo credit: iStock.com/DenisTangneyJr

2. Plano, Texas

  • Population: 278,480
  • Median income: $82,944
  • Unemployment rate: 3.7%
  • Median home listing price: $320,000
  • Median monthly rent: $1,895
  • Average gas price: $1.678
  • Average cost of groceries: $32.28
  • Sales tax: 8.25%

Plano is a better city for savers than some of the better-known Texas cities on this list. Although Plano has the second-highest median home list price and highest median rent among the top 15 best cities for savers, it also has the highest median income, which means its residents have more to set aside in savings. With several major corporations headquartered in Plano, it’s been named America’s No. 1 city to find a job and the third hardest working city in America by Money Magazine.

Photo credit: iStock.com/olddays

1. Gilbert, Ariz.

  • Population: 239,277
  • Median income: $81,485
  • Unemployment rate: 4.7% (phoenix metro area)
  • Median home listing price: $300,000
  • Median monthly rent: $1,400
  • Average gas price: $1.497
  • Average cost of groceries: $34.67
  • Sales tax: 7.8%

Once known as the Hay Capital of the World, Gilbert is now a booming suburb of Phoenix with one of the highest median incomes in the state of Arizona. In fact, nearly 34 percent of the city’s population is characterized as “boomburbs” with a median household income of $105,000, according Gilbert economic development data.

Although housing costs are higher in Gilbert than in many of the other best cities for savers, they’re not the highest. And the high income there helps propel Gilbert to the top of this list.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Bob Balestri

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