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In the blink of an eye it's already July, and soon we'll be trading fireworks and barbecues for snowflakes and holiday parties.
As we cross the midyear mark, this is an excellent time to take the pulse of your credit cards and come up with a goal-oriented strategy. Having a plan can keep finances on track for the remainder of the year.
Here’s how to crush your midyear check-in and make the most of your credit cards in July.
Earn rewards on planned purchases
Spend strategically this month by collecting rewards and stacking them with discounts when possible.
4th of July
Whether you’re planning on loading up the cart with groceries for an Independence Day barbecue or you're dining out, a credit card that rewards these spending categories can stretch the budget. Eventually, you can redeem those rewards to cover planned purchases and save money.
A card like the $0-annual-fee Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card can earn a solid 3% cash back rate on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases.
Amazon Prime Day
Prime Day this year runs on July 12 and 13. The two-day event features discounts and new deals for Amazon Prime members across different product categories, from fashion to electronics.
On those days, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card snags even more value: 6% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market (usually 5%), plus its standard 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and 1% back on on all other purchases. It has a $0 annual fee, but the Prime membership costs $139 annually. If you frequently order from Amazon, it may be worth the cost. Through July 29, 2022, new Prime members who apply for the card can get a $200 Amazon Gift Card instantly upon approval for the card.
Combine that elevated rewards rate with Prime Day discounts and you could save even more. Plus, Prime members will have opportunities to earn credits on eligible purchases. For instance, you can get a $20 credit upon spending $75 on P&G essentials. Through July 13, 2022, Prime members can also earn a $10 credit when completing four actions: making an eligible purchase, streaming a show on Prime Video, listening to a song with Prime Music, and borrowing an eBook from Prime Reading.
Check the pulse on your credit cards
Check in on those New Year resolutions and find out where your credit card balances stand. If you’re far from reaching goals, consider that when you planned them you likely didn't know the degree to which prices would skyrocket. What’s important is to tailor goals to your circumstances so they're easier to reach. That way, it's possible to make some progress by year’s end.
Review your credit card statements
Review your credit card statement for purchases made in previous months and determine if any of them are making it harder to stay within budget. If necessary, shift your strategy to align with the rising costs of goods and services.
Start by canceling any unwanted or unused subscriptions or expired free trials. And if the cost of groceries is becoming burdensome at your regular market, shop around for better prices at other stores, or try new recipes. It may also save money to sign up for a store's loyalty app or a cash-back shopping app.
Question your credit card’s value
If you’re debt-free, consider whether your credit cards are still offering value in frequent spending categories. If the bulk of the bill goes to groceries or gas, for example, you might benefit from a credit card that offers higher rewards in those categories.
A card like the $0-annual-fee Citi Custom Cash℠ Card can earn 5% cash back on up to $500 each billing cycle in your top spending category among a list of 10 options, including essentials like groceries or gas. That’s up to $25 per cycle earned if you spend $500 or less. It also earns 1% back on all other purchases.
If you have debt, coming up with a payoff strategy sooner than later can make a difference.
Map out a debt-payoff strategy
It’s worth starting a plan for how to handle your debt now, before the spending pressures of the holiday season. That way, you can keep debt top-of-mind as you’re spending and stay within budget.
With good credit (a FICO score of 690 or higher), you might be able to qualify for a balance transfer credit card like the $0-annual-fee Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card. You could transfer high-interest debt from another issuer onto this card, which has a lower rate. It offers a 0% intro APR on Purchases for up to 21 months and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 14.49%-26.49% Variable APR. It charges an introductory balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater, for 120 days from account opening. That’s a long time to make progress on debt.
Strategize for future spending
Budget for the future months that may spike your spending with things like special occasions, travel, holidays or home improvement projects. This may include making a plan for redeeming your rewards. For instance, you could decide to use them toward gifts or holiday travel to save on costs.
If your glimpse into the future reveals that you may need some breathing room on purchases, consider mapping out the ideal date to apply for a credit card that offers a 0% introductory APR and possibly a sign-up bonus.
The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, for instance, earns a 2% cash back rate on all purchases. It also offers a 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 16.49%, 21.49%, or 26.49% Variable APR. There's also a sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. That sign-up bonus alone could go a long way toward a future expense.
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