New Super-Couponing Tips column: Using credit cards responsibly

My syndicated Super-Couponing Tips column for the week is entitled “Using Credit Cards Responsibly.”
 Here’s an excerpt:

“I would like to know your thoughts on using credit responsibly. I know there are some financial experts out there who say you should never use a credit card – ever. Now, I think there are good and logical reasons to use credit cards: Rewards, cash bonuses, special perks or incentives, extra insurance for travel. Would you talk about your credit card usage?”

Read this entire column at

My Super-Couponing Tips column appears in newspapers around the country to a weekly readership of over 20 million people! Learn more about my column’s syndication at this link.

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  1. J.R. says

    I follow the same advice you gave. Our recent college graduate daughter has been similarly indoctrinated.

    I only carry 2 cards. My primary card has been Discover since they first started. They have gone above and beyond to earn my business. 1% rebate on everything, with special quarterly promotions. And as you know the cash can be applied to your bill, or used to buy gift cards at a discount. The discount used to be better, but I get cards for various businesses I use usually paying $20 for $25 or $45 for $50 giving a slight discount.

    I’m sure you remember the deal from Shell a number of years ago where I got TWENTY $40 gas cards for $20 each! That was when gas was a lot more expensive.

    My only other credit card is a VISA, from the credit union of a former employer. After being jerked around by multiple local banks, I dumped them all and switched to the credit union 3 decades ago and never looked back. They are 1000 miles away, but reimburse me for ATM fees, and I can use any local CU office shared service facility for those rare occasions when I need to do something beyond the ATM.

    On both cards, I pay the balance in full (set up to do so automatically – I don’t mail any bills any more), and never pay any interest or fees or anything else.

    I’m not sure if I laugh or cry every time I hear stories about how the big banks keep ripping off customers. I just don’t deal with any of them.

  2. J.R. says

    If you want to see an interesting response, go to a car dealer and try to buy a new car with your credit card. I tried this twice. I had the cash to pay for both cards, but wanted the rebate / points. Both refused, but let me put a $1000 deposit on the card, and wanted a check for the rest. They claimed various excuses, but the real reason was what they would have to pay to the credit card company on a $25K transaction!

  3. SSMark1 says

    As most of you know, I could write books on credit cards & loyalty rewards. But I will try to keep it short. This is what I do for a living. I send millions of offers out to millions of card holders.

    First & foremost, DO NOT OPEN A CREDIT CARD if you are not a responsible person in general or you are financially irresponsible.
    I say it to EVERYONE.

    As soon as someone is old enough, apply for a credit card that has no fees.
    Buy anything as soon as you get it, even if it’s $1, and pay it off by the due date on the statement.
    Just use it 1 time every year, & do the same.
    Some card close automatically after as little at 12 months dormancy.
    One of the things we look at is the age of your oldest account.
    Bankruptcies roll off your history, but if you have an account older than it takes for a bankruptcy to roll off your account, that is a good indicator of you probably haven’t had a bankruptcy in the years your oldest account has been opened.

    Don’t be late. If you think you may be late,
    It pays to call customer service & ask for things: lower interest, waive a late fee (most cards & mortgage companies will waive at least ONE late fee every 12 months!)
    If you are late, do not go past 29 days late. That will show up on your credit history.

    Read those annual change in terms (CITs), sometimes there are BIG changes in those!
    Credit companies are required to contact account holders 1 time per year or any updates.

    The FED is about to raise rates, so keep that in mind if you hold variable rate accounts.

    Apply for cards that MATCH your: Spending habits, retailers where you shop, rewards, etc.
    If you shop say at Macys or Best Buy or Sears or Home Depot or Costco, chances are you will get much more in discounts, rewards, & offers to shop at those places from the retailer & the company that issued the card vs. a regular MasterCard or Visa.
    Private Label cards have higher interest, but greater rewards & usually no annual fees.

    Other perks, many tire retailers offer cards with no interest with minimal payments for 6 & 12 months. Just pay it off by that last month, or else you get nailed with deferred interest. In addition to that, some rebates will be doubled if using that retailers card! Which really is a great deal.

    If you fly one or more airlines, I’d a card for American, United, Southwest, Delta or whatever airline you fly most.
    Most offer 1 free bag per person (although not needed for 2 free bags Southwest). United gives you a pair of 1 time passes for the United Club, Southwest gives you free Drink coupons.

    If your card DOES charge a fee, ask to get it waived, if that say no, at least you tried. But many times they WILL to keep you.

    Also, if you do keep a balance, keep your available credit less that 90% of your balance or if you can keep below 50%.
    Say I’m doing a marketing campaign of $25 off a $100 purchase if you use your Visa and use Visa Checkout.
    If you don’t have at least $110 of available credit, you will be excluded from the offer.
    Reason being, you need the minimum of $110 due to tax. $100 + 10% tax (as in Crook County)
    If you are close to being maxed out on your account, you will not get an offer.

    If you don’t want a CREDIT card, but like rewards, I recommend a card like PayPal Debit linked to your bank account vs. using a bank debit card you get ZERO rewards for.
    1% cash back on everything credited back to your paypal account every month. (It used to be 1.5% in the old days)

    Anyway, that’s just a few things on credit.
    I can go into lots of other things.

    Pay off those cards if you have balances, rate are going to start creeping going up…


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