A significant reason why people decide to obtain three, four or five credit cards is because of the rewards on offer. Credit cards are a lot more useful when used for everyday spending, as a means to earn perks such as cashback, hotel discounts, airline savings, and more.
With so many rewards credit cards on the market and an abundance of information on the advantages and disadvantages of each card, it is hard to pick the best options. We have created a short guide that should help newcomers maximize the value of their credit cards in the United States.
If you have recently arrived in the U.S. and have a credit history from your home country, you can use a service like Nova Credit to relay that information to an American credit card issuer. It will help you obtain a better credit card with higher rewards.
Understand Your Spending Habits
A lot of people look at the rewards on offer from different credit cards with the understanding that they would redeem all of them. Reality is a little different, as most people would have a hard time meeting all the requirements to max out every credit card reward perk.
It is much better to think about your spending habits before searching for a rewards card. Do you spend most of your money at supermarkets, grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants? Or are you a frequent traveler who is often buying airline, train or bus tickets, along with using rideshare services? Do you stay at a specific hotel company’s locations on most of your travels?
The answers to those questions should help you understand the category of which card you should seek. Those who spend most of their money on everyday items would be very happy with a generic cash back card, or a card that offers added cashback on spending at grocery stores and supermarkets.
Frequent travelers should seek a card that is providing airline discounts, airport lounge perks, travel insurance, rental car advantages, and hotel rewards. Some cards are tied to specific airlines and/or hotels, while others are more general travel rewards credit cards.
Invest in More Than One Credit Card
If you have varied spending habits, having two or three credit cards is the best way to maximize the value of the available rewards. Say you go with a general cash back credit card that also offers added incentives for spending at grocery stores and supermarkets. That is the card you would use for everyday spending.
Since that card may not offer much in the way of airline or hotel rewards, you should also invest in another card that targets those categories. Now you can choose the card to use depending on the discounts or cashback perks being offered.
Use Introductory Offers For Big Spending
Many credit cards come with introductory APR offers, which are almost always 0% APR. It means that for anywhere from 3 to 18 months, you would not have to pay interest on your credit card balance for that account.
These cards are an excellent tool for making significant purchases. Say you are planning to buy some furniture or electronics for your home – sign up for an intro APR card and pay off the balance before the introductory period ends.
We would go as far as to say that you should only ever keep a balance on your card if there is a 0% APR offer. It is never helpful to pay interest on credit card debt, as the money spent on interest payments would negate any rewards the card offers.
Those who are arriving in the country as students, or about to start their first job, may not have much of a credit history from their home country. Some of the above points may not apply to the cards you can obtain, but do not fret. There are plenty of great options for people with no credit, as outlined in this list.
After five or six months of making timely payments on such a card, you may have a high enough credit score to obtain a better rewards credit card. So long as you remain current with your payments, and pay off your balance in full, you will soon have a credit score high enough to obtain the best rewards cards on the market.