About 70% of American adults have a credit card. Credit history has become increasingly important since the 1970 Fair Credit Reporting Act. But how many people are getting a good deal out of this? A CNBC survey found that 55% of credit card holders carry debt on those cards (an average of $4,293). This can cost thousands of dollars in interest. Collectively, Americans owe more than $1 trillion in credit card debt. FOR ANYONE WITH CREDIT CARD DEBT, PAY IT OFF ASAP. The interest rates are higher than everything except certain personal/payday loans (36-400% interest). Alternatively, a balance transfer to a 0% APR card may buy time.
For those without credit card debt, it’s the opposite: using rewards cards can add up to thousands of dollars in benefits. A survey from CreditCards.com found “57 percent of U.S. adults have at least one rewards credit card. Cash back cards are the most popular (43 percent), well ahead of other types of rewards cards… Nearly three out of every four rewards cardholders (72 percent) have at least one card with no annual fee.”
Some cards offer zero or sub-par benefits. My first credit card didn’t do anything except build a little credit history. No cash back or other perks. For maximum value, one has to juggle multiple credit cards. So what’s the best strategy? The problem is a lack of one-size-fits-all solutions. Everyone has their own needs and budget concerns, making certain cards more valuable than others due to circumstances. In general, the best place to start is rotating-category cashback cards, and fill in the blanks with cards that don’t have an annual fee. That’s what this post will focus on. Cards which charge an annual fee may have higher value, just evaluate the costs vs benefits and see if it works. I won’t detail all the options of signup bonuses or extras, just cash back for fee-free basic utility. That’s what most people like anyway, according to the above survey.