Ah! The Spoils of Credit Card Usage

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earning credit card rewardsI like to consider my battle with debt as a little war.  I waged on for four years fighting back the enemy of credit card debt and learning so much along the way.  I know I gave so much to the credit card companies in the form of interest payments. They laughed all the way to the bank uh…front door?  Luckily for me, I lost a few battles, but ended up winning the war. I have been credit card debt free since 2012.  I have enjoyed not having to make monthly payments to the credit card company, which mostly consisted of interest.  Though my battle put a sour taste in my mouth, it didn’t throw me off from using credit cards again.  In fact, I picked up a new credit card a few months later to start using the methods I learned during battle.

To the victor go the spoils!

How many of you have heard that line before? Do you know what it means?  It basically means whomever wins a conflict wins extra benefits beyond the conflict. This is a perfect quote for me based on the way I use credit cards now.  I won the battle with credit card debt and now I enjoy the benefits of credit card rewards.  Yes, that is right my friends. I use credit cards to get sweet, sweet rewards.  I don’t stop at cash back. Oh no!  I love me some travel rewards as well.   There is nothing better than racking up points and then getting to use those points to pay for a nice little getaway.  Oh yes, the spoils!

Credit Card Rewards Are Rewarding!

I would never tell someone in debt to start trying to earn credit card rewards.  I learned a valuable lesson during my four year debt repayment journey.  The most valuable lesson of all was the real reason behind my uncontrollable spending.  Once I got that under control and behind me, I was able to use credit cards wisely.  There are some who read here and other blogs that say credit cards are evil!  Those little devilish b**tards!  How dare they force you into uncontrollable spending with no regard to your feelings.  If you couldn’t tell from that line, I was lining it with heavy sarcasm.  Credit cards are not evil.  They can be a very useful tool in your financial toolbox.  When used appropriately, you can realize some great benefits.

I got my first taste of credit card rewards when I got my first American Express card.  I used the card for gas and groceries and earned money back. I got to put that money toward the balance and it felt good.  Now, I haven’t spent more than I would on my debit card and that is a secret to using credit cards wisely.  If you spend like you normally would, why not earn some benefits?  I don’t see a problem with it.  I am not being hypocritical because I never blamed credit cards for my problem.  I was the problem, not the piece(s) of plastic.

An Almost Free Trip to New Orleans

My latest taste of credit card rewards came in the form of a trip to New Orleans.  There is a sweet blogging conference down there and I have been wanting to meet up with some of my favorite bloggers.  Well, my wife heard it was in New Orleans and wanted to come as well. She has no interest in the conference, but really wants to go to New Orleans.  Luckily for us, we have some credit card rewards ready to go.  I signed up for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite card and earned enough miles to cover the entire trip, less $50. So for a trip for two down to New Orleans, including flight and hotel, we only had to let go of $50!

As I look at it, I realized I can get that $50 covered with the dividend Barclaycard gave me. You get 10% back in miles when you redeem. Sweet candy pie ladies and gentlemen!  Just so you know, they still offer a 40,000 mile sign up bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days.  That is equal to $400!

This will be the first trip my wife and I take alone since we had our son almost two years ago.  We are really looking forward to enjoying New Orleans and meeting new people.  All of this was funded by credit card rewards.  I didn’t do anything special.  I didn’t even manufacture my spending (OK, I did a little..).  I just spent like I normally would and just put it all on my credit card. The key to earning rewards is to never let your balance go unpaid each month.  You have to pay your balance every month.  I have not paid a cent in interest to any credit card company since I paid off my outstanding debt.  It feels good. I just can’t wait until I can earn enough rewards to recoup all of the money I willingly gave the credit card companies.  That will feel really good!

 

Image via Tax Credits

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25 COMMENTS

  1. “Those little devilish b**tards! How dare they force you into uncontrollable spending with no regard to you feelings.” Lol! I hate it when those things jump out of my wallet and force me to spend. 😉 Anyway, very nice sir. I’m all about the rewards – I just got my wife two new cards last night actually. We used the SW card to get our flights for free for FinCon but paying for the hotel as I’d rather save the points for a personal trip and get the tax deduction.
    John recently posted…Discover it® Card Review: A Good Option to Have in Your WalletMy Profile

  2. Credit cards are a reality of life. You can either hide away from them or learn to control them just like you should with any spending in life. It’s about learning self control. I like the safety of credit cards in this digital world, much more than a debit card. Credit cards are pretty easy, just pay it off each month. Let’s not kid ourselves that the rewards and giveaways are just tempting people to join in and get you to spend, but we’re stronger than that. Just pay it off each month and then you are in control and not the credit cards.
    Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income recently posted…Is Debt Moving in With You or Heading Toward DivorceMy Profile

  3. It’s a little hard to do business without a credit card these days so it’s important to learn how to use them wisely and to our advantage. I’ve been churning some cards myself. I just pay my normal bills with them. I’ve kept it simple for now, no manufactured spending. I’m looking forward to enjoying my rewards.
    Practical Cents recently posted…How to Prepare for Home ImprovementsMy Profile

  4. Fellow credit card bonus lover here! We use credit cards for everything and just make sure to pay off the balance every month. It’s been a fabulous way for us to earn hotel points (via American Express Starwood Preferred Guest) and cash back (with the Amazon Cash Rewards card). Have a great time at FinCon and in New Orleans!
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted…Weekly Woot & Grumble: Birthday, Beer, BBQ!My Profile

    • Thanks for the comment Mrs. Frugalwoods! I have the Amazon Cash Rewards card as well. I actually just got it a month ago and it has saved me quite a bit on my first purchase with it.

  5. This is pretty cool! I’m even starting to notice standard bank accounts here in the UK offering rewards such as a one-off sum of money (£50-100) and/or cashback on your spending. It seems that the banks are struggling to attract new customers and as a result are throwing cash at anyone who signs up. I’m tempted to go out and open a load of new current accounts – the rewards are growing all the time but there’s less risk than with credit cards.
    Richard recently posted…How To Increase The Size Of Your Free Dropbox AccountMy Profile

  6. I used to hesitate whether I would get a credit card or not. But, I ended up having one for special purposes and I think as far as now I am in control in using my cc. I am just not afraid of using it when I know I am still in the limit and know that I can still pay it in full. I am surprised that I will be able to use my points for a travel soon.
    Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted…Monster Piggy Bank Turns 2!My Profile

    • Thanks Brian. I am looking forward to it as well and my first for both FinCon and New Orleans. My wife has her own credit cards, so we can go all out. She knows her budget!

  7. I had to call my discover card for an issue I was having, and I was prompted first to their five percent cash back promotion on gasoline. I thought it was interesting that they played that recording before connecting you to an actual representative.

    • That doesn’t really surprise me at all. Most companies are still there to make money. When they advertise their product, they want you to use it. You hear this with cable companies, mobile providers, and many others.

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