Don’t you love getting things for free? A while ago I discovered the advantages of collecting flight miles with my credit card usage. If you spend money, you might as well get something in return. Once again, the US has a system like nowhere else. At least I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else.
Have you noticed that if you arrive at the airport credit cards are almost getting thrown at you upon arrival.
Once you stay a little bit longer in the US, you get the feeling that everyone seems to be in credit card debt in addition to student loans dept.
That system of going into debt in order to get a good borrower standing is absolutely alien to foreigners, wouldn’t you agree?
1) So why do I have a credit card?
When I started my first business, I learned pretty quickly that if I need a loan from the bank one day, a credit score would be required in order to get a great interest rate!
As a result I applied for a credit card from my house bank hoping that I will receive one. And I did.
2) What’s a credit score?
A credit score, simply put, shows lenders your ability on how well you handle a credit.
Personally, I absolutely disagreed with the system. Not having a credit at all shows how well I can manage my money.
3) Usefulness of credit scores in the US system
a) Mobile contracts (if you don’t have a credit history you might be asked for a deposit, which will be returned after a year).
b) Buying a car from a car dealership if you can’t pay it cash as the credit score determines your interest rate.
c) Buying a house, if you can’t pay it cash as the credit score determines your interest rate.
d) Signing up with utility companies. (Again, you might be asked for a security deposit if you don’t have a credit history.)
I got my first credit card during my first months of starting my first business in 2013!
My second and third credit card I got approximately 1 years later.
Why we needed two to three well chosen credit cards!
- To increase our credit score!
- Earn rewards.
- Emergency funds.
- Longevity of warranties.
- Additional insurances, i.e. travel insurances.
1) To increase our credit score!
As we planned to buy a house we needed to increase our credit score. In order to do this you need to have at least three sources of credit. As we didn’t have any student loans or car loans we wondered shortly if we should buy a car on credit.
As we could buy our car in cash meant that we didn’t need to bind up our money for repayments on a loan. That is why we opted for two more credit cards.
I applied for the credit cards and added my husband as an authorized user and made him use one of the credit cards.
That helped both of us increase our credit scores from a laughable 580 in 2013 to above 750 as of now.
2) Earn rewards!
Once you start researching credit cards, you will learn that they differ in there rewards system. The question is just what reward do you want to earn?
I want a free flight! Preferably to Germany to visit our parents.
Lufthansa and United work together through the Star Alliance. That means I can book a flight via United, but chose a flight with Lufthansa and hopefully pay it all with miles. The taxes and additional fees I would pay with my Barclays cards as I can use those miles for travel payments.
That is why I choose:
I have 100K in miles. In order to fly to Germany with the whole family we need…
… 79,776 miles for the 4 of us. So still some to go. We might use the miles to flight to a nice domestic destination.
3) Emergency funds
So far we never needed to put something on the credit cards, just because we needed to, but you never know, right?
4) Extended warranty
As I mentioned before, I love to have my eye on warranties. But some are better than others, that is why I ask my husband to put everything he buys on the credit card just as I do.
My Chase credit card has the following warranty extension:
Extended Warranty Protection extends the time period of the manufacturer’s written US repair warranty an additional year on items purchased with your card with eligible warranties of three years or less.
And Barclays says the following:
Warranty Manager Service provides coverage for the repair or replacement of an eligible item after the original manufacturers warranty expires. This benefit doubles the time period of the original manufacturer’s warranty timeframe up to a maximum of one year, on eligible warranties of three years or less. This coverage includes items such as cell phones, computers, TVs and tablet devices that were purchased entirely with your Visa card. This benefit also includes valuable features such as warranty registration. Additional terms and conditions apply.
Ps: The extended warranty sounds like, if you pay partially with a gift card, they might not fulfill any extended warranty. As this is just a speculation, I will follow up with both companies about gift card payment.
5) Travel Insurance
Chase says the following:
TRAVEL ACCIDENT INSURANCE:
You have Travel Accident Insurance coverage and can be eligible to receive accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $500,000 when riding on a train, plane, bus or cruise ship when you have charged passenger fare ticket(s) to your card. Plus, you have coverage of up to $100,000 when you charge scheduled airline passenger fare ticket(s) to your card for 24 hour accidental death or dismemberment during your trip. Only the cardholder and immediate family members are covered.
In regard to the travel insurance, make your trip even more relaxing when you purchase tickets with your eligible card. You and your eligible family members are covered by Travel Accident Insurance in the event of accidental injury or death when you are traveling as a passenger in an airplane, taxi, train, cruise ship or other common carrier. Additional terms and conditions apply. Receive up to $250,000.00 coverage for common carrier accidental death dismemberment, at no extra cost, when you charge the entire travel fare to your eligible card. For complete terms and conditions, you can view your Guide to Benefits on the website.
If you are planning on trying to collect miles as well, there are blogs just about that topic, such as the Points guy.
As I mentioned above, most Americans seem to suffer from credit card debt. So if you start using credit cards, use them wisely and pay them off in full!
Do you have a credit card? What are you using your rewards for?