6 credit card tricks everyone should know before 40
Most Americans use credit cards (more than 160 million Americans have them), but it's the truly savvy card holders who know how to best maximize the potential of their plastic.
In fact, most credit card users focus primarily on key terms such as the interest rate and annual fees, and rewards in the form of points, miles and cash back. But beyond these important terms, there are a lot of valuable things you should know about how your credit cards work and what's possible for you as a cardholder.
Here are some credit card tricks you should absolutely know before you turn 40.
1. Take Advantage of Sign-Up Bonuses
If you want to earn rewards, points or miles quickly, look for cards offering sign-up bonuses and then be sure to take the steps necessary to take advantage of them, even if it means spending a few minutes filling out a questionnaire or survey. (Just be sure any spending thresholds you need to meet to get the bonus are within your normal budget; you don't want the offer to entice you to overspend.)
2. Change Your Statement Closing Date
This trick comes in handy if your credit card bill comes due right before you get paid, particularly if you want to pay off your card balance in full each month. You can call your issuer directly to inquire about changing your statement's closing date.
3. Make Sure That Annual Fee Is Worth It
Figuring out your card's value is not so easy since the amount of the rewards you receive will depend on how often you use it, and whether you frequent merchants or vendors where you can earn extra rewards. Here are some tips on determining whether your annual fee credit card is worth the cost.
4. Never Pay a Fee Without Asking to Have it Waived
Your business is valuable to credit card issuers, so if you're ever hit with a fee you'd rather not pay, be prepared to ask that it be waived. For example, card issuers will gladly waive an occasional late payment fee, and even annual fees can be somewhat negotiable.
The key to having an annual fee waived is to speak with a representative in the "retentions" department that can waive the fee to keep you from closing your account, or at least offer the equivalent value in the form of rewards.
5. Ask for Reconsideration When Rejected for a New Card
If a card issuer ever declines giving you a new card, know that you can call and ask that your application be reconsidered. Perhaps you can cite additional income that was not included in the application, or maybe you can offer to re-allocate some of your credit line from an existing card.
It's also a good idea to keep an eye on your credit scores (you can get two free credit scores on Credit.com, updated monthly), so you'll know exactly what cards you'll qualify for.
6. Maximize Your Statement Cycle
About half of all American credit card users avoid interest charges by paying each month's statement balance in full. When they do so, they essentially receive a free loan from their credit card issuer, payable on their next statement.
You can go one better by contacting your card issuer and finding out when your statement closes so that you can time your major purchases to receive the longest possible grace period. Just note that your statement closing date may vary slightly each month. By postponing a major purchase until just after your statement cycle ends, you will have an extra month to pay your statement balance, while still avoiding interest charges — just make sure you understand how your card's grace period works.
Related: The worst cities for saving money
There's more! If you want to check out some of the other credit card tricks you should learn before 40, see the full article on Credit.com.
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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.