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  • TravelPointsSimplified

Medium Effort

Welcome! I'm impressed that you are jumping straight to medium effort, great job! Before getting started, we need to make sure that you meet these 3 requirements:

1. In order to get approved for these credit cards, you have to have a pretty high credit score. I'm talking like 700 or above. There are a bunch of different ways to check your credit score, maybe your bank does it (like BOA) or if you already have a credit card, sometimes you can get it there. The easiest way that I know of is through one of the credit bureaus, Experian. You can sign up for free and get your credit report and credit score. So go check your score really quick!

If your score is above 700, click here.

If your score is below 700, click here.

Awesome news! You can move on to requirement 2:

2. Some of these credit cards have annual fees, meaning that you pay a small amount (usually $49-$99) each year. The perks from the card and your ability to use points instead of $$ on flights and hotels will way exceed any of the fees but you will need to pay most of them up front. After you have a card for 1 year, you can downgrade it to a $0 annual fee card so you will only have to pay the fee that first year. Are you able to spend ~$200 getting these credit cards, knowing that you will be receiving thousands of dollars in travel?

If so, click here to move onto the last requirement.

Yay! Last requirement:

3. You need to spend ~$1000-2000/month on stuff that can be charged to a credit card and paid off on time. Why? Because the easiest way to get credit card points is to earn the Credit Card Bonus Sign-Up Points! [Also called SUB which stands for sign-up bonus].

What does this mean? A lot of credit card companies want you to sign up for their particular card, like a Chase card or an American Express card. So they offer these bonuses to entice people. These offers are usually around 50,000 to 100,000 "points" (or miles, depending on the card - more on this later). To get these points, you have to spend a certain amount of money on that credit card in a certain amount of time, which for most credit cards is about $3000-$4000 in 3-4 months. Is that doable for you? Take a look at your current spending and see. Make sure you can pay off everything on time at the end of each billing cycle - just put it on auto-pay so you never forget.

If this is totally doable for you, click here.

If you might not spend this much per month, click here.

And if you are starting to freak out about how this may affect your credit (hint: it won't!), click here.

Okay so your score is below 700? Not to worry - we can fix that!

There are a few things to know about credit scores.

The single most important piece of information is this: Pay off your entire credit card balance before the due date. Every month. For every card.

You don't need to concern yourself with minimum payments and interest, etc. If you charged $2679 to your credit card in that billing cycle, you will want to pay $2679 on or before its due date. I strongly recommend setting up automatic payments so you don't even have to think about it. You don't want to miss a payment because that can decrease your credit score. Don't spend more $$ on your card then you can pay off every single month.

The second most important piece of information is this: You will want to keep your oldest account open. Did you open a credit card when you were in yours 20s at Gap or Macy's and you barely use the card but you still have it in a drawer somewhere? Great! Don't close it. Your credit score is affected by how long you have been using credit, so keep your longest one open to keep your score up. [And you only need 1 open so if you have a bunch of credit cards from a long time ago you can close the other ones if you want, just keep the very oldest one open].

So -- what does affect credit scores?

1) Payment history (So yeah, again - just pay the whole thing off on time. Always.)

2) Credit utilization (This is a fancy way of saying that you want to have more credit than you use, meaning that you want to spend a little bit on a bunch of cards rather than spending a lot on just a single card - this shows the credit card companies that you are responsible with money and can pay it back, so you actually want to be using like ~3 credit cards on rotation at any given time, not just 0 or 1)

3) Credit history (Reminder: keep your oldest card open)

4) Account inquiries -- Each time you apply for a credit card (or a loan or whatever), that company will check your credit score to make sure it is good enough for them to give you the credit card or loan. If this happens over and over, it can drop your score a tiny bit so this will only matter if you are teetering around the 700 mark. If so, you will want to try to raise your score a bit. But if you are in the solid 700s or in the 800s, it literally doesn't matter. It will only be on your credit report for 2 years and only impacts the score (slightly) for 1 year. So having 3-5 credit inquiries in a given year is not an issue.

So in fact, applying for credit cards and building that credit will actually increase your credit score!! Mine has gone up from the 700s to the 800s after doing this for a while!

If you are below 700, you will want to keep doing steps 1-3 until your score has improved a bit and then you can start applying for these cards. Note: If your score is low because you accidentally forgot to pay your card / thought you had turned automatic payments on but turns out you didn't, etc then you can always contact the credit card company and ask forgiveness - this sometimes works.

Alright so not a big spender? We can deal with that.

The easiest thing to do here is just to wait to apply to a card when you know you might have to make a big purchase. Buying a new couch soon? Re-doing your landscaping? You can wait for those purchases that you might have to make anyway.

Otherwise, there are a few options:

1) Buy gift cards.

Even if you don't need to spend $400 on Starbucks now, you might realize that you will eventually spend that much since you go there like every other day so picking up a Starbucks gift card can help you meet that minimum spending amount and you will eventually use the money. Or maybe you commute to work and you always get gas at that one Shell station so you can buy $600 of gas cards to use over the next 6 months. Or you can go to Staples or Office Max which on any given week there is like a 50% chance that they are having a sale on a Visa or Mastercard gift card where the activation fee is waived and you can buy a few $100s worth of these and then use them for whatever (groceries, clothes, gas, etc)

2) Switch all of your regular, monthly bills to your new card.

This can be a little annoying because you probably set up automatic payments with some other credit card, but if you need to meet the minimum spend, you can switch it to your new card and spend that money you are paying for your internet, cable, netflix, etc to meet that minimum spending requirement.

3) Reimbursement

Maybe you are going out to dinner with like 10 friends - why not offer to pay the whole bill and then they can pay you back? (Note: make sure your friends are reliable haha!) Maybe your job lets you charge business-related expense on your own credit card and will reimburse you for it.

4) Plastiq

There is a website called Plastiq that you can use to pay bills that normally don't let you use a credit card, like your mortgage or utility bill, childcare bill, student loan payment, etc. [Note: it does charge a 2.5% fee after the first $1000 but if you absolutely need to meet that minimum spending requirement to get the bonus points, you may want to do this]

Hopefully using these techniques, you will be able to get to that minimum spending requirement so you can start to earn all of your credit card point bonuses!

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