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Redwood City Branch now open! Visit our COVID-19 web page for information about contacting us remotely, branch hours, and help accessing funds from your unemployment (EDD) or Economic Impact Payment (EIP) debit cards. Learn more.

Financial Tips

How to profit from your credit card

Most people think of a credit card as an expense, or at best, a tool that’s simply used to buy things. But did you know that you can actually make money from your credit card? Yep, but only if you choose the right card and use it wisely.

Here are three easy steps to profit from your credit card. Do not attempt this if you carry credit card balances. If you carry balances, you’re already paying interest and losing money. In this case, stop using your credit card, develop a budget, and start paying down those balances! After that, you can start earning back all that interest you paid.

Step 1 – Research to find a credit card that has cash-back rewards and no annual fees. If you’re going to follow this plan, you don’t need to worry about the interest rate, but you do need to look out for hidden fees like transaction fees when you make purchases in other countries (most lenders charge 3% of the purchase amount). All lenders are required by law to show you their “Schumer Box”, which is named after Senator Chuck Schumer and required to provide consumers with a summary of the costs of a credit card before you apply. You can view Stanford FCU’s “Schumer Box” online.

Cash-back rewards are paid based on your purchases. For example, 1% cash-back will earn you $1.00 for every $100 that you spend. 3% cash-back will earn you $3.00 for every $100 you spend. Be sure to read the details of the cash back offer. A credit card may advertise 5% cash-back, but it might only be for a limited introductory period, only apply to certain types of purchases, or have a maximum dollar amount or cap. Your goal is to earn as much cash as possible!

Note that the cash-back will only be for purchases. If you return an item, the points you earned will be deducted. Balance transfers and cash advances don’t earn cash—so don’t try to cheat the system.

Step 2 – Now that you have your ideal cash-back credit card, start spending! Set up your subscriptions like Netflix, DoorDash and Uber. Use your cash-back card for Amazon, groceries, gas, and as many of your usual purchases as possible. If you normally spend $1,000 a month out of your checking account, you’ll earn $10.00 every month by putting it on your credit card instead—that’s $120 per year! If you spend more on something extra like a vacation or appliances, you’ll earn even more. Don’t go crazy and start buying everything in sight, but do use your cash-back card whenever possible.

Step 3 – Make sure that you don’t pay anything for your cash-back card. That means you must always pay your balance in full and on time to avoid late payment fees and interest. You can set up automatic transfers to pay the balance in full, or set an alert to remind yourself when the payment is due. Also, don’t go over your credit limit, as some lenders may charge for that.

If you already struggle to control your spending, it’s better to avoid using your credit card because you may not be able to pay it in full each month. But if you can manage a cash-back card, stick to your budget, and pay off the balance in full, you’ll discover that you can actually profit from your credit card!