Remember summers when you were a kid? The melting popsicles, the fireflies, the seemingly endless stretch of delightful nothingness between today and the first day of school.
But now you’re an adult, so you spend June in a cubicle. If you’re lucky, there may be half a box of popsicles up for grabs in the communal office freezer, but all that’s left are the orange ones. Gross.
Adulthood isn’t all bad, though. Decidedly grown-up rewards credit cards can turn your summer spending into cash back or discounted travel. Here are our best credit card tips for June.
Choose cards that reward your summer vacation spending
Even if you used credit cards rewards points to book your summer vacation, you’re still going to spend money while there. Bring credit cards along that will earn rewards while you relax on the beach, navigate the New York City subway system or country-hop in Europe. You can use cash-back rewards to pay yourself back after you get home, or earn travel rewards to apply toward your next trip.
Use a brand-new rewards credit card exclusively so you can get closer to earning a sign-up bonus. Between dining out, booking tours and buying souvenirs, you’ll likely spend more each day while traveling than you would at home, so put that higher spending rate to work for you.
Choose a card that earns a higher rate of rewards where you’ll spend the most, like the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, which earns 4% cash back on dining out and entertainment, including aquariums, zoos, sporting events and tourist attractions. Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. The annual fee is $95. Or snag elevated rates when you buy gas or use Uber or Lyft with select Discover cards like the $0-annual-fee Discover it® Cash Back, which earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined spending on those bonus categories until June 30, 2019. (You must "activate" bonus categories; all other spending earns 1% back.) INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
Bring the right cards along when you travel abroad. Select a card with no foreign transaction fee that’s widely accepted worldwide. In general, Visas and Mastercards have higher acceptance rates. It’s also a good idea to bring at least two cards — your main card and a backup — in case one card isn’t accepted, or gets lost or stolen.
Do a DIY project with Dad
If Father’s Day cards are to be believed, dads fall into three categories: sports buffs, fishermen and Mr. Fix-Its. If your dad knows every employee at his local Lowe’s by name, give him the gift of time this Father’s Day — time spent helping you complete a major home improvement project, that is. Through June 30, 2019, you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 at home improvement stores with the Chase Freedom®. (You have until June 14 to activate the bonus if you haven’t already.) When your dad is done helping you build your new patio, have him over for a backyard barbecue because grocery stores are also a bonus category for the Chase Freedom® in Q2 2019.
Nerd tip: The Chase Freedom® still exists but is closed to new applicants. It can be product-changed to a Chase Freedom Flex℠ if you call Chase and make the request.
Keep in mind that $1,500 limit is for combined spending at both grocery and home improvement stores, and once you reach that point you’ll earn 1% on those purchases. The Chase Freedom® has a $0 annual fee. Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Make it easier to use the right card in the right place
Maximizing a wallet full of rewards cards can get pretty confusing. If you’ve made the mistake of using the card that gets only 1% cash back on gas instead of the one that gets 2% because you were in a rush, take a moment to create a system that helps you remember which card to use when. There are all sorts of easy tricks you can employ, from putting a different sticker on each card to actually writing on the front of your cards in permanent marker. You can leave notes in your car so you’ll know which card to use before you even get into the store.
Or you can go the easy route and stick to one card that earns the same rate everywhere you use it, like the $0-annual-fee Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, which earns 1% cash back as you make purchases and 1% as you pay off your bill, for a total of 2% cash back. Another option is the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® also has a $0 annual fee.