NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for May 2018

May 1, 2018
NerdWallet's Best Credit Card Tips for May 2018

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The month of May prepares us for the transition from spring to summer, but it’s also a time to celebrate accomplishments with — and to show appreciation for — friends and family. Your credit cards can help.

Here are some tips to try out this month:

Optimize your Mother’s Day shopping

Mother's Day is May 13, so circle it on your calendar. And keep in mind that credit card bonus malls tend to offer significant bonus points for Mother's Day-related shopping. Floral delivery services, chocolatiers, department stores, restaurants, electronics retailers and more are often available in these shopping portals and can help you celebrate mom without going over budget. So it could be smart to check online first before you drive to a brick-and-mortar store to do your shopping for mom.

Honor the graduates in your life

Maybe you’re traveling to a graduation ceremony this month, or sending flowers and a gift in your stead. Your credit card's bonus mall could help out there, too — as could its travel portal, if it has one. Use your banked reward points to book a flight or hotel room, or see whether your portal offers bonus points for sending floral arrangements, gift cards or other tokens of celebration to your grad.

Grab groceries, and bonus points, for your gatherings

For the second quarter of 2018, grocery stores are a 5% bonus cash-back category for the Chase Freedom® and for certain Discover credit cards like the Discover it® Cash Back. (With these cards, you can earn 5% cash back per dollar spent in bonus categories that rotate each quarter, up to a $1,500 quarterly cap, and 1% back on all other spending. You must opt in to the bonus categories each quarter.)

Since Cinco de Mayo and Memorial Day both fall within the month of May, head to the supermarket to stock up on food, drink and entertaining essentials, and score some bonus cash back while you're at it.

Keep in mind, though, that grocery purchases at big-box retailers such as Target and Walmart won't count toward the bonus.

Review your card's travel benefits

You’ve probably already arranged most of your summer trips, but use the month of May to review the perks and benefits of your credit card to make sure you’re optimizing your travel protections. You might, for example, qualify for delayed or canceled flight insurance, lost baggage insurance, auto rental coverage or price protection. Spend some time going over the benefits of your card and look for opportunities to recoup any potential future losses.

While you’re at it, consider reaching out to your bank or issuer to let it know about your summer travel plans, especially if you’re going out of the country. This could help prevent delays in service or potential freezes on your account as a fraud-prevention method.

Negotiate your credit card interest

If you’ve been paying your cards diligently but can’t seem to make headway on your debt, call your issuer and see whether it would be willing to lower your interest rate. Keep in mind that you’ll typically have to have a history of responsible credit behavior and/or longevity as a customer. If you can’t negotiate a lower rate, it might be time to consider a balance transfer to a lower-interest card.

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