Credit Card Companies Reward Consumers Who Shop AroundWith Ronald Reagan came mass deregulation in many industries. One of the industries that benefited from deregulation was the financial industry. As a result, hundreds of new financial companies were introduced to the American consumer during the 1980's.
With the sudden explosion of new competitors in this industry, credit card companies began to struggle with how to retain existing customers and to recruit new customers.
So, financial companies took their cue from the airline industry. The airline industry had preceded the financial industry in deregulation, and they had met the new increase in competition with Airline Miles programs to encourage brand loyalty and repeat customers.
Noting the successes in the airline industry, credit card companies soon began to offer their own clients Airline Miles for repeat business. But, Airline Miles were not attractive to the whole of the consumer credit card market.
Credit Card Providers Upped The Ante
Once the credit companies realized that Airline Miles could only offer them limited success, they began to spread their wings and to offer additional credit card reward programs to their potential customer base.
Banks eventually changed the name of their rewards from credit card miles to credit card points to address the fact that consumers could earn far more from their company than just free travel. Consumers began to sit up and really take notice of these new kinds of credit card offers.
Through the 1990's and into the new millennium, consumers began to find that most of the primary players in the credit card market were offering various mixes of credit card rewards. The most common credit rewards offered are still airline, travel, gas, and cash-back rewards.
Other types of credit card rewards offered to consumers include low-interest or 0-interest credit card balance transfers. Another type of reward is 0-interest or low-interest borrowing for the first six-months or one-year.
Credit Tip #1: Credit card balance transfers and early-bird credit card offers such as the no interest for six months will remain in effect for the full amount of time stated, so long as all credit card payments are made on-time. A single late payment on one's credit card payment will likely be viewed as a breach of contract, leading to a higher interest rate from the date of the late payment or even from the credit card sign-up date. Whatever you do, make all of your credit card payments on time for the entire amount due according to your monthly statement.
Expanded Travel Rewards Brought Real Value to Consumers
Credit card travel points were a real blessing for ordinary consumers. Family vacations are generally taken within 200 miles of home, so most consumers would never use the free airline travel offered with credit card miles programs.
Credit card points or travel rewards offered more options to consumers as to how the consumer rewarded themselves for their loyalty to the credit card company. In many cases, travel rewards can be extended to include fuel, hotel rooms, attraction entrance fees, and food at restaurants. As a result, consumers can expect to utilize their travel rewards, even if they jump in the car and drive down to the next major city.
Cash-Back Rewards Added A New Dimension To The Financial Game
Credit cards can be your best financial friend if you know how to work the system.
Cash back rewards range from one- to ten-percent of the amount spent on the credit card. Clever consumers make those cash-back rewards really count by using them for all of their purchases.
One can start the month by putting their paycheck into the bank and then use their cash-back credit card to pay for everything that can be paid with a credit card through the month. This might include groceries, food, fuel, utilities, car payments, house payments, etc. As each credit card purchase is transacted, the consumer should write down the amount of the expenditure in their checkbook. Then at the end of the month, when their credit card bill arrives, the consumer can write a check for the entire balance of their card for that particular month.
This way, the consumer can maximize their cash-back rewards and never carry a balance on their credit card. If one pays $3000 per month in bills, and all of those bills can be paid with their credit card, the consumer could very well receive an extra $30-300 back from their credit card company.
Credit Tip #2: The added benefit of using this method of bill paying is that you are building your credit rating as you pay off the entire balance of the credit card each month.
Selecting the Right Credit Card Offer
Don't be afraid to shop around to find the best credit card offers. Before you begin your search, sit down and sketch out some goals that you would like to reach using your credit card.
Perhaps you would like to transfer your credit card balance from one high-percentage credit card to one with a lower interest rate. Maybe you are more interested in the percentage value of cash-back reward. You might want to get a credit card that offers extra points or a credit card offer that will let you earn credit card points towards the purchase of a Sony big screen television. Whatever your financial goals might be, make sure you know what they are before you begin your search.
On your first pass, eliminate the credit card offers that do not provide the kinds of rewards that you are looking to achieve. Your first selection round will generally narrow your field by two-thirds.
Once you have knocked down the list of offers, then get out a pencil and paper and develop a checklist that will allow you to compare each offer side-by-side. This phase will let you determine which credit card will best serve all of your desires. Of course, you may have to make compromises with yourself, but when you are done, you will have found the best credit card offer for your situation.
If you have the bank's brochure in front of you, it will likely have a credit card application inside of it that you can fill out and send in to the company. If you are relying upon credit card applications by mail, make sure you keep your list handy until you have gotten a card you are happy with using.
If you have an Internet connection, you will be able to shop a huge variety of credit card offers. By following the method shown above, you can make a good decision about the cards you want to try to acquire, and you can file an online credit card application with the expectation of getting an answer on that card within just a few minutes. If you are turned down on your top pick, then move on to your second top pick. By using the Internet, you can actually reduce your credit card shopping time by as much as weeks.