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NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for March 2019

March 21, 2019
Cash Back Credit Cards, Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards
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  • Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

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Your odds of winning the March Madness office bracket pool may be low, but you can still end the month on a high note thanks to opportunities to earn extra credit card rewards and to spring-clean your credit.

Save hundreds on upcoming travel and reduce your grocery bill with these credit card tips for March.

Earn rewards now, redeem for travel later

Planning late-summer or holiday-season travel this year? Apply for a travel rewards card now so you can earn a bonus large enough to offset your next vacation by a few hundred dollars. A general travel card grants you maximum flexibility if you haven’t picked a specific destination yet:

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers this bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. The annual fee is $95.
  • The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® also has a sizable bonus for new cardholders: Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. The annual fee is $89 (waived first year).
  • Don’t want to pay an annual fee? The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card will still net you travel rewards: Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s a $300 cash redemption value.

Cards like these typically give you a few months to reach a specific spending minimum, putting you within shouting distance of a cost-saving bonus sometime in June — a great time to book a trip for Labor Day or begin mapping out your holiday travel budget.

Fill up your freezer

If you’ve never experienced the joy of already having everything you need to throw together an easy weeknight dinner, you’re in luck. March is National Frozen Food Month, a fitting chance to stock up on staple ingredients you won’t have to use within a few days.

Opt for a credit card that will earn extra rewards for supermarket purchases. With the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, you can earn 6% cash back on up to $6,000 per year in purchases at U.S. supermarkets. If the $95 annual fee makes you lose your appetite, its $0-annual-fee counterpart, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, earns 3% cash back on up to $6,000 in spending at U.S. supermarkets per year. With both cards, you’ll still earn 1% cash back once you reach the $6,000 threshold. Terms apply.

With select Discover cards like the Discover it® Cash Back and Discover it® Student Cash Back, you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in grocery store purchases through March 31, 2019. You must activate the offer. All other purchases will earn 1% back. Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best credit cards for grocery store spending

Keep your credit healthy year-round

Those money-related New Year’s resolutions might be getting pretty stale by now, but there’s a small task you can keep doing that won’t make you feel like you have to deprive yourself: Take 10 minutes to check your credit report.

“But I did that less than a year ago!” you cry. That’s a good thing! The information on your credit report can change frequently, so stay as up to date as possible. In any given month, you may have opened or closed a credit card account and made a few bill or debt payments, which can affect your credit score. And, of course, your identity always runs the risk of being compromised. One of the most important things you can do is periodically check your credit report for unusual activity and report any errors or fraud to the major credit bureaus.

You can access one free credit report per year from Equifax, TransUnion and Experian by going to annualcreditreport.com. But here’s the trick: Don’t get all of your credit reports at the same time. Instead, download one report every four months, so you can keep an eye on your credit history all year.

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