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If you’re relying on your credit card in times of record-high inflation, make sure you do this – News Opener

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There’s no doubt that consumers are feeling the financial squeeze of rising prices just about everywhere this year. The latest Consumer Price Index data reports that inflation rose 9.1% from a year ago in the month of June.

Given the higher cost of everyday goods and services, many have turned to credit cards as a crutch to help them get by. While credit cards can certainly help in a pinch since you don’t have to pay upfront like you would with cash or a debit card, depending on them all the time is not a great idea.

If you find yourself relying on them in today’s tumultuous economic climate, make sure you’re at least paying your monthly bill on time — even if it’s just the minimum amount required — so your account stays current, in good standing and you don’t incur any late fees or penalty APRs.

Your payment history, or whether you’ve paid past credit accounts on time, is the most important factor when it comes to achieving a good credit score, making up 35% of your credit score calculation. Set up autopay with each credit card you use to ensure a payment deadline never gets missed.

In addition to paying your bills on time, we’d also recommend always paying them in full so you don’t carry a balance each month. Since credit cards charge notoriously high interest rates, which are only expected to keep climbing, it’s easy to dig yourself into debt quickly with a revolving balance.

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What if I can’t afford to pay my balance in full?

Today’s record-high inflation rate may very well make it more difficult to pay off your credit card balance in full by the end of your billing cycle — after all, that’s probably why you’re using credit cards as payment in the first place, to delay having to fund your purchases right away.

In this case, it’s best to use a credit card that offers an interest-free period on new purchases, which allows you to buy the things you need while giving you more time to pay them off at no additional cost. For example, you can charge groceries and gas with a 0% APR card to get them now and still have a certain amount of time to collect the funds and fully pay them off.

The key to doing this, however, is only stretching out a purchase for as long as the introductory interest-free period lasts. Any remaining balance you have left after this period will incur interest at the regular rate, which could counteract any savings you received during the interest-free period.

The no-annual-fee U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers one of the longest zero-interest introductory periods on new purchases — with the deadline following your first 20 billing cycles (after, 15.99% to 25.99% variable APR), cardholders have almost two years to pay off any purchases they make today, interest-free.

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

On U.S. Bank’s secure site

  • Rewards

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 20 billing cycles on balance transfers and purchases

  • Regular APR

    15.99% – 25.99% (Variable)

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

On the American Express secure site

  • Rewards

    3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%), New! 3% cash back on U.S. online retail purchases, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months.

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, from the date of account opening

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

If you’re already carrying a credit card balance — hey, this year has been quite expensive — consider applying for a balance transfer credit card, which lets you transfer your outstanding balance and pay it off without accruing any additional interest during an introductory 0% APR period. As if credit card debt wasn’t already expensive, the reality is it’s getting more costly as the Federal Reserve continues raising rates which will likely increase your credit card’s APR.

Both the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card and the Citi Simplicity® Card — two no-annual-fee cards — offer no interest for the first 21 months on balance transfers (after, 15.24% to 25.24% and 16.24% to 26.24% variable APR, respectively). For both cards, the balance from your old credit card must be transferred within four months of account opening and there is a balance transfer fee of 5% of each balance transfer, with a $5 minimum.

If you happen to have a large amount of credit card debt, it usually makes sense to pay a balance transfer fee, however it’s smart to run the numbers before you initiate a balance transfer to make sure the fee you’re paying is less than what you would otherwise have to pay in interest.

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

  • Rewards

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% for 21 months on balance transfers; 0% for 12 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Balances can be transferred within 4 months from account opening
  • One of the longest intro periods for balance transfers

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee

Citi Simplicity® Card

  • Rewards

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% for 21 months on balance transfers; 0% for 12 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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