How To

2014: The Year for Mobile Wallets

This will be the year mobile wallets get traction, and this is positive for consumers. A couple of the bigger mobile wallets are already starting to make a splash (e.g., Google Wallet, Isis) While there have been technical and industry-specific obstacles to adoption over the past few years, most of those barriers are being mitigated.  As a result, consumers should see mobile wallets take off in 2014. Mobile wallet users can expect to save money and earn more rewards, not to mention the convenience of paying with your phone.

What Mobile Wallets Mean to You

Anyone who uses credit or debit cards has something to gain from mobile wallets. First, it means you can make purchases with your phone, even if you don’t have a wallet with you.  And you will be able to make those purchases more often – many stores already accept mobile payments,  and many more will be getting this capability this year. Second, you can conveniently carry all your payment cards with no fear of looking like George Castanza.  Your smartphone is the same size whether you have no payment cards on the phone or ten.  Third, the mobile wallet will make it easier to receive discounts from merchants and other offers / features without clipping / saving a bunch of coupons.

These benefits are particularly important for Reward Summit users.  You are already actively working to maximize your rewards.   But, if you’re like most people, carrying all those payment cards around can be a hassle. With mobile wallets all those cards can live conveniently in your smartphone without taking up extra space in your wallet or purse. And, if you’ve been reluctant to add cards to your reward optimization repertoire, you may have missed out on some earnings potential. Mobile wallets make this much easier!

What We Recommend for Reward Summit Users

Here are 4 things you can do right now to optimize the 2014 mobile wallet trend:

1. Pay attention.  When you are out shopping, see which stores already accept mobile payments. Often times you’ll see a logo for Google Wallet, MasterCard PayPass, or and Isis logo on the point-of-sale terminal where you normally swipe your credit card.

2. Check out the available mobile wallets.  If you have an Android phone with NFC (like the Nexus 5, the Moto X, or the Samsung Galaxy S3 or S4), you have a wide range of options, including Goggle Wallet and potentially Isis.  You can check out the Isis wallet or Google Wallet apps from the Google Play Store and try out paying by tapping on your phone.

If you have an Android phone without NFC, don’t despair.  The Google Wallet application is still worth checking out because you can get money-saving offers in the app. If you have an iPhone, you can check out the Square Wallet which is very nice if you shop at merchants who use Square for their credit card processing. More wallets may be on the way for iPhone.

3. Consider adjusting your credit card strategy. Would you add existing cards to your mobile wallet that you don’t normally carry with you? Should you consider applying for additional cards now that you wouldn’t have before because you were out of space in your purse or wallet? (If you haven’t looked recently, Reward Summit has recently reviewed several great new cards like the US Bank Cash+ Visa.)

4. Think about your next phone purchase.  Right now Android is the clear winner in having the widest array of options and most new Android phones coming on the market in the United States now support NFC. Technology changes quickly, so do a little research before signing another two-year agreement for your next phone.  If you love your iPhone, keep alert to apps that provide mobile wallet capabilities.

By : Chris Hart /January 02, 2014 /How To /Comments Off Read More

5 Tips for Getting the Most Rewards on Black Friday

blackfriday

1. Set a budget.
Spending more than you can afford might mean making a minimum payment.  Any time you don’t pay your credit card bill in full, you are depleting the value of the rewards you’ve earned by paying interest.

2. Shop at a credit card mall.
Besides the benefit of being able to shop without crowds in your pajamas, you can get major rewards by shopping at a credit card mall.  Not only will you get the Black Friday deals that are available online, but you’ll also get cash back from your purchases because you shopped through your card’s mall. One of the best credit card malls for getting cash back is ShopDiscover, at which you can get up to 20% cash back.  Also, Chase Freedom is offering 10% cash back when card users shop at select department stores through their Ultimate Rewards credit card mall.

3. Research your credit card to find out about time sensitive deals. 
Some credit card deals have special reward offers during this particular time of the year. Discover IT card has 5% cash back on online purchases October through December, so if you use this card it’s probably in your best interest to wait for Cyber Monday. The Chase Freedom card’s eligible 5% cash back categories for this quarter are Amazon and select department stores. Using this card to shop at Amazon on Cyber Monday is a great way to get the most from your rewards, as well as targeting the specific eligible department stores on Black Friday.

4. Wait until Cyber Monday for browsing
There may be deals on Black Friday that are just too good to pass up so by all means, fight the crowds to get the best deal.  However, after you purchase these items that you “must have”, wait for Cyber Monday to browse for other items. The online deals on Cyber Monday are often comparable to that of Black Friday.  And a lot of reward credit cards offer valuable reward deals for shopping online. Check with your credit card company to determine if  online shopping is rewarded at a higher rate.

5. Use Reward Summit with every Black Friday purchase.
To truly get the most rewards with every Black Friday purchase, make sure you log every purchase with your Reward Summit app, so we can tell you which of your reward credit cards will benefit you most. Our app makes getting the most rewards so easy!

By : Kelly Davis /November 22, 2013 /How To /Comments Off Read More

Get The Most From Your Travel Rewards Credit Card

Travel Reward Credit Card

Being a savvy travel rewards credit card user means more than just racking up tons of rewards to use towards travel.  It means knowing how to get the most from these rewards and how to get the most rewards that you actually want.  Read on for our six tips to get the most out of your travel rewards credit card.

1. Weigh credit card costs against your rewards and benefits.
To truly get the most out of your travel rewards, you need to benefit more from the rewards than annual fees and interest rates are costing you.  You can nullify the effect of interest rates by always paying your credit card bill in full every month, thus paying no interest rate.  Next, decide if the value of the rewards and benefits (elite status and other perks) you’re getting annually from your travel reward credit card is greater than the annual fee of the credit card. If not, it’s time to look for a new credit card.

2. Don’t let travel rewards expire.
Read the fine print of your travel rewards credit card to determine if and when travel rewards expire and use them before the deadline.  Some credit cards will keep your rewards active if you make a purchase from one of their partners.  

 

3. Apply rewards to the biggest expense.
If you could walk into a jewelry store and take anything for free, you’d pick out the biggest most expensive diamond, right?  The same should go when cashing in travel rewards.  Use those miles for longer, more expensive flights and that free hotel night at the nicest hotel possible. For example, if you have to travel to both Seattle and San Francisco next month and both flights require the same amount of points, but the Seattle flight is less expensive if paid out of pocket, use your points toward the San Francisco flight.

4. Choose a card that works for you.
If you always fly American Airlines, then you need a Citi AAdvantage World MasterCards, but if you fly on a variety of airlines, choose a card that allows you to apply points toward multiple airlines. Similarly with hotels, choose a card that allows you to earn free nights towards your favorite hotel or the hotel group that is present where you travel most. Reward Summit can help you choose the right card by analyzing your spending habits.

5. Consider flying a partner airline when cashing in rewards.
Being flexible is key when cashing in travel rewards, but sometimes you can find the flight you want with a partner airline.  For example Delta has 20 worldwide airline partners, toward which rewards can be applied. Know your options to get to the places you want to go.

Also, some airlines will charge you taxes and fees for redeeming your miles.  You can avoid this by transferring to a partner airline that has a lesser redemption cost.

6. Redeem miles during off-peak times.
Generally, your miles will get your further during off-peak times. Flights are both more expensive and require more points during high travel times like spring break and holidays.  Plan your trips in advance so you can avoid flying during these more expensive times, when possible.

7. Pay attention to benefits as well as rewards.
Often hotel credit cards will offer benefits such as one free night after you pass a certain threshold of dollars spent with the card which is for many people, just as important as the rewards themselves.  The Chase Marriott Rewards Premier will grant you a free night as soon as you’re approved for the card, as well as a free night every year on your anniversary date. If you spend $1,000 in the first three months, you earn 50,000 reward points which can be used for as many as six free additional nights at a hotel.  If elite status is important to you, check with your credit card company to find out if free nights count toward elite status.

8. Know what it takes to get elite status.
It is also important to know the threshold of spending required to reach elite status at your hotel of choice. For example, the American Express HHilton Honors grants card users silver status upon credit card approval and requires a minimum of $20,000 spent annually to achieve gold status. However, the American Express HHilton Honors Surpass grants card members gold status in their first year of using the card with no minimum spending requirement.

 

By : Kelly Davis /November 21, 2013 /How To /Comments Off Read More

How to Be a Responsible Credit Card User

How to Be a Responsible Credit Card User

Being a responsible credit card user is good for your bottom line. Responsible credit card use improves your credit score, allows you to get the most from your reward credit cards, and can help provide a credit safety net for future purchases and unplanned emergency needs.  But what does being a “responsible credit card user” actually mean? And even more importantly, how can you be sure you’re practicing responsible credit card habits?

1. Make your payments on time
Set up auto-pay or set up an automatic reminder to make sure every single one of your payments are paid by your credit card’s due date.

2. Be mindful of credit purchases throughout the month
This allows you to be sure you haven’t had any unauthorized purchases and also ensures that you haven’t spent more than you can afford to pay each month.   Do not wait until your bill comes to examine your purchases for the month.

3. Use technology to make your life easier
Sign up for your credit card company’s online payment system and sign up for paperless billing to easily examine purchase history and be aware of any problems in your immediate credit history or usage. Also, sign up for reminders via text messages or email.  Some reminders that can typically be set are reminders for payment due date approaching, approaching credit limit,  and purchases over a predetermined amount (which you determine).  By setting these reminders, you won’t be caught off guard by an approaching payment and you’ll be more mindful of large purchases.

4. Pay your entire balance each month
Paying your balance in full allows you to reap the most benefits from your credit card.  Paying the minimum or anything less than the full amount means interest charges, which will reduce any benefits you’ve realized with a reward credit card.  Think of reward points as a monetary equivalent.  If the reward points you have accumulated would allow you to put $X toward your credit card bill but you are paying $Y in interest each month, subtract Y from X to find out the actual monetary value of your rewards each month.  Overtime, paying less than entire balance may leave you with an actual benefit of $0.

5. Read the fine print
Read your user agreement and any updates that occur while your credit card is active.  Be aware of your interest rate.  Know your credit card perks and how to cash-in on these perks.  Be aware and mindful of your credit limit.  Most importantly, find out exactly what actions may result in negative responses from your credit card company, like default interest rates, closing your account, etc. and never step over any lines that would result in these negative actions.

6. Use a reward card
If you purchase items with a credit card, why would you choose to not get rewarded for those purchases?  We’ll skip the 20 different points to consider to determine which reward credit card is right for you and suggest that you should be using Reward Summit to figure this out (see #3 – Use technology to make your life easier).

7. Use your card regularly
Credit card companies may cancel your card if it isn’t used regularly.  Find out what the rules are for your credit card and set up an automatic payment, like a reoccurring bill to make sure you are in compliance with your credit card company’s rules.

8. Don’t cancel your credit card
In some cases canceling your credit card may actually hurt your credit.  Unless the credit card has a fee, keep the credit card and schedule an automatic payment to make sure it is used on a regular basis.

By : Kelly Davis /October 17, 2013 /How To /Comments Off Read More