What does it take to be successful in the credit card hobby? After years of observing some of the most effective point-earners, here is a list of highly effective everyday habits they all share.
1. Don’t Talk About Credit Cards to Financially Irresponsible People
When you’re excited about a hobby or topic, you might naturally want to share it with friends and spread the word. However, before you talk to friends about credit cards, be sure that they’re 100% financially responsible first. The last thing you want to do is help someone get into more debt.
For people who aren’t financially responsible (carry high balances on credit cards, only pay the minimum each month, high utilization, etc.), tempting them to open a new credit card is like offering an alcoholic more alcohol.
2. Don’t Argue with People Who Don’t Like Credit Cards
People who’ve been burnt by credit cards from irresponsible behavior will probably have a strong disdain for cards. It’s not worth wasting your energy by arguing with people who don’t like credit cards, especially family members.
They might think you’re insane for opening cards, and that you must be in debt from all the travel. The best approach is to reassure them that you’re not in debt and that you’re financially responsible (you better be!!).
3. Basic Understanding of Math
If you can’t do basic math, you probably shouldn’t be using credit cards. Ideally, you should be getting positive expected value with the cards you have and the services you use.
One example is people who use Plastiq (2.5% fee) with a cash back credit card like the Citi Double Cash (2%). There’s not a reason to use a service unless you’re getting positive expected value like hitting a minimum spend requirement or using a card that earns more than 2.5% on the specific category.
I recommend using Plastiq for hitting minimum spend requirements on new credit cards by paying bills like rent, tuition, or car payments.
4. Be Organized
To be successful in the credit card hobby, it’s essential to be organized. It doesn’t mean that you need a spreadsheet for everything, but at a minimum, you should have calendar reminders of due dates or minimum spend deadlines.
A few other items worth tracking:
Card application dates - for tracking the minimum spend time frame and card application rules
Card anniversary dates
Free night certificates
Statement due dates
5. Willingness to Research
There have been a few times where readers reach out with simple questions that could easily be answered with a Google search. Questions like,“is United Airlines a Chase transfer partner?” or “what is Chase 5/24?” can be Googled.
A lot of people seem to ask questions first before trying to solve or research the problem themselves. Spend at least 5 minutes trying to find the answer yourself, and then reach out for help.
6. Have Basic Financial Sense
Having a basic grasp of financial literacy is essential for credit card success. Understanding the difference between statement close dates and payment due dates, how to set up auto pay, or how to add a bank account to pay your credit card are basic functions you should know.
If you don’t understand the basics of how to use a credit card and how to avoid fees, you are set up for failure.
7. Have a Goal in Mind
The most highly effective credit card users have a financial goal in mind to work towards. The goals are usually geared towards travel or cash back. The two goals have different optimal credit card setups, so you should pick one path to focus on.
If you’re switching between cash back and travel, it’s hard to get maximum value since most travel cards have lower points value when you redeem for statement credits. The value of travel cards is when you use transfer partners, and not cashing the points out.
I recommend taking the time to reflect on the path you want to take and focusing on cards that help you achieve that goal.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, vendors or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
UGC disclosure: These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.