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How to Track (Multiple) Credit Card Promotions

Contributed by mm | August 11, 2005 10:50 AM PST

Do you love the fancy perks from the credit cards? I do. In particular, I love to take advantage of fat cashback offers and 0% APR balance transfer deals. Last year, I explained how an average family can expect $1,000 from credit card rewards without spending like crazy. This year, thanks to the generous (but expired) 5%-reward-on-everything promotion of Citibank's Driver's Edge card, I already received $1,300 from various cards by August.

Now here comes a problem: you will probably have to sign up multiple offers to get four-figure income from the plastics, but if you don't track the promotion periods diligently, you will lose the opportunity to maximize potential rewards. Think about a promotional 5% cashback becomes 1% unnoticed, or a 0% APR promotion suddenly costs you double-figure APY to maintain.

Here comes the rescue. You don't have to create a spreadsheet to keep track of everything. You can leverage your personal finance software like Money or Quicken and here is how to do it easily:

The moment you receive your new card, read the fine prints and find out when the promotion will end (say 12/31/2005). Then, create the account in your Money file, and immediately add a transaction of $0.01 on the expiration date.

Furthermore, if you want to avoid looking around your dozens of accounts and find out the next date to switch your card, make this special transaction a TRANSFER to your daily checking account, and make it look like this:

3411_tip.GIF

This way you can always remind yourself when you reconcile your checking account.

With a little more effort, you can even create a customized report in your Money file so you can view all coming deadlines in one screen. How cool is that?

This Post Has Received 94 Comments. Share Your Opinions Too.


utkarsh Commented on August 14, 2005

on one hand you and other financial advisors advise that one should not have more than 2 credit cards and on the other hand you say you can apply for several credit cards with cash back offers. what is more advisable. having more cards with cashback offers and then cancelling them (which is against the experts advice becuase it can ruin your credit history)or having only two credit cards.
kindly explain


mm Commented on August 21, 2005

Utkarsh, take a look at this article. The key is credit scores are recoverable, so unless you need credit for real purposes in the near future, consider to take advantage of some truly good credit card deals.

http://www.pfblog.com/archives/2324_cash_out_your_credit_score.shtml


ASAP Credit Card Commented on January 31, 2006

Be aware that having too many open credit accounts can have a negative impact on your credit score. Depending on your current financial situation, this may / may not be a problem.

You should weigh the benefits of using multiple reward credit cards vs. the negative impact it could have on your credit score (in the short-term). If you don't plan on buying a house or making any BIG purchases in the near future, your reward earnings may outweigh the negative impact on your score. But if you are going to make any BIG purchases soon, you should limit the amount of accounts you have open.


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