Managing your credit cards isn’t a one-and-done task — you’ll need to keep at it to get the most out of your plastic. Every month, the Nerds round up a new set of tips to help you maximize rewards and minimize costs with every swipe.
For June 2015:
1. Cash in on a cash-back credit card deal
This June, two of the Nerds’ favorite cash-back credit cards are offering ways for new card members to earn extra rewards. Check out the details of each one, available here and here, to make the choice that’s right for you. Just be sure to apply right away to get the limited-time deals.
2. Get the right card for summer travel overseas
Summer 2015 is a terrific time to travel to Europe, because the euro has weakened in value compared with the dollar. If you’re planning to take advantage of the reduced costs, be sure to bring along a credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees. Otherwise, you’ll likely end up shelling out an extra 3% every time you swipe.
Not sure whether your usual card charges a foreign transaction fee? Take a look at the disclosures that came with it when it arrived — they should list this fee clearly. You can also call your issuer to find out.
Check out NerdWallet’s favorite no foreign transaction fee credit cards here if you need to apply for one before you pack your bags.
3. Read your card’s rental car coverage options
The price of renting a car goes up during the summer months, according to data collected by The New York Times. To save up to $20 per day, consider bypassing the supplemental insurance offered by the rental car company and pay with a credit card that offers similar coverage at no additional cost.
All of the major credit card networks provide some type of secondary rental car insurance, but benefits, exclusions and coverage limits vary by card. Here's an overview of what some of the major networks cover, but you should read over your card’s benefits paperwork carefully before relying on it to help you cover the cost of an accident. Again, if the documents are unclear, call your credit card issuer to firm up the details.
4. Look at your card’s extended warranty policy
Summer is a popular time to move, and if you’re planning to upgrade your digs, you might be making some big purchases. This presents another opportunity to save money by using the right credit card: Instead of shelling out for an extended warranty from a big-box store, see what your credit card is willing to offer.
In most cases, credit cards provide a warranty for an additional year beyond what the manufacturer offers. Some items aren’t eligible for extended coverage, though, so it’s crucial to find out what your card provides.
For more information about the extended warranty protection provided by credit cards, see this NerdWallet resource.
5. Max out 5% rewards before it’s too late
June 30 marks the end of the second quarter of 2015. If you have a credit card that earns 5% cash back in rotating quarterly bonus categories, you only have a few weeks left to max out your spending at the current bonus merchants.
For most cards, $1,500 is the quarterly maximum you can spend and still get the full 5% cash back. If you haven’t met this mark yet, now’s the time to develop a plan to eke out as many rewards as possible. But of course, don’t overspend just for the sake of getting extra cash back — a few extra dollars racked up in rewards won’t do you much good if you end up in debt.