Save Money and Earn More Rewards By Upgrading Your Credit Cards

By: Kriscalusa
If you're like me, you have several different credit cards and you're pretty fond of the ones you have. You don't overuse them, you pay the bill regularly, and you keep the balance at a manageable level, if not always at zero. But, as the housing market continues its decline, and as the availability of credit gets more expensive or vanishes completely even for those of us who are good credit risks, it's time to go shopping. There has never been a better time to check your purse or wallet and make sure that you're getting the best deals you possibly can with the credit cards that you are carrying.

What I described in the last paragraph is the responsible use of credit cards, and millions of individuals do just that - they enjoy the advantages and convenience of credit cards year in and year out, using their flexibility responsibly to ease financial transactions every day. There's a problem with this behavior though: this is just what the credit card issuing companies hope for, because as you become lulled by the ease and convenience of these financial tools you are less likely to shop and compare the deals that different credit card vendors offer, and you are less likely to discover that the credit card deal they offer stinks!

Award points. Cash back. Low interest. Zero interest introductory offers. Low interest on balance transfer. Travel services. Roadside assistance services. The list or features available goes on and on. The credit card business is a competitive one - there are thousands of credit card companies all competing for your business. The net result is that just about as many different incentives are offered to lure you to using any particular bank. You might be familiar with this array of services, but don't forget the fact that they are offered only because the business is so competitive. For most of us, it's been a good long time since we've shopped those services to ensure that we're getting the best deal that we can.

Shopping for credit cards can really save you a ton of money in fees and interest. You need to make sure that you find credit cards that match your spending and payment habits, and it's good to have more than one. Here are a few tips that you can use:

1) Understand the features of your credit cards. If you routinely pay your bill in full monthly, you can afford to be less concerned about the interest rate offered and can instead focus on other desirable features such as cash back or frequent flier miles. If none of these other features interest you, perhaps you should shop for a credit card that has a longer grace period - that period of time before interest begins to acru on a transaction.

2) Compare credit card features and costs frequently. Interest rates and features associated with credit cards fluctuate, and what you thought was a great deal when you signed up for your card several years ago might not be such a great deal now. It's fairly routine to find that, upon examination, other credit card offers abound that better suited to your individual needs than the solution you have in your purse or wallet. Check frequently, and if you find a better deal, jump on it. (You can usuall find zero interest balance transfer offers. These are excellent offers if you manage the transferred balance faithfully.)

3) Know your rights when using credit cards. If your credit card is ever lost or stolen you will never have to pay more than fifty dollars of any charges made on the card. The Federal Truth in Lending Act guarantees this protection. One of the most important benefits of credit cards is this added security they offer over cash. If you're ever offered the chance to purchase "credit card insurance" don't do it. You don't need it to cover anything over the initial $50 of unauthorized use.

4) If you have a problem with your credit card, file a complaint. If you ever believe that there is an error on your credit card bill, make sure you write the credit card company within sixty days of the date on the billing statement. Provide them with your name and account number, tell them that you believe that the bill contains an error, explain why and give them the amount and date of the error. When paying your bill, you can pay all other parts of the bill but you do not have to pay the disputed amount, any minimum payments associated with it, or finance charges that apply to it. This protection is guaranteed through the federal Fair Credit Billing Act in the United States, and by similar legislation in other countries.

Understanding your rights and the features available to you are easy steps and the information is pretty stable. Shopping for credit cards is an ongoing task that you should do consistently over time. Set a schedule in your mind of once every six or twelve months, and spend some time reviewing the offers available online. Credit cards are easy to shop this way, and you just might that you save yourself a lot of money by doing so.
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