Last time someone “convinced” me to use my credit card, we got in a terrible fight. Terrible for me, that is (Pro-tip: Don’t head-butt people on their fist). But the bruise didn’t hurt as bad as my ego: As it turns out, some purchases really are better on credit. And in this article, I look at which ones. You can read it while I cut up and swallow this Amex. Extreme budgeting is a perfectly valid sport.
1. Stuff Your Friends Want
If your friends are going to buy something, and they have the cash, don’t let them. Pocket their money, then put the purchase on your card.
This way, you get reward points or a cash rebates without actually spending. If you have a discount, you might also have a sudden memory lapse and forget to mention it. Oh, what’s that? That’s despicable? You must have that weird medical condition (I think it’s called integrity). You’d never make it in banking. Well at least you’ll save your friends some money then.
A caveat: Never let friends use your credit card to buy something they can’t immediately repay. You don’t want to end up paying interest for nothing.
2. Travel Fare
Some cards, like the OCBC Titanium Mastercard, come with free travel insurance. This is the most underused feature on frequent flyer cards. I’ve seen card holders buy insurance from ATMs, just because they don’t realize they’re already covered.
On top of that, credit cards tend to give:
- Frequent flyer miles
- Hotel discounts
- Priority booking options
- Concierge services
Most of these are hard to negotiate for. Like in Mississippi, where the only way I can get a room discount is to be less Asian. I also find the card company’s concierge service more dependable: When it comes to budget motels, the local concierge tends to send you to whichever tourist trap bribes him.
3. Recurring Bills
Recurring bills are the fastest way to accumulate credit card rewards. So long as you always repay in full, your card is just a points mill.
Credit cards are also good for recurring bills because they buy time. If you need to pay your hand phone bill late, for example, put it on your card first. This prevents you from racking up late fees. Also, the process of paying every recurring bill on your card “compiles” the bills; at the end of the month, you just pay off one credit card bill, instead of sorting through invoices. No missed invoices means no chance of penalty payments.
Just don’t use this method to pay other credit card bills. Once you do that, you’re starting to be too liberal with your debts.
4. Buy Games Online
Credit cards let you buy games online, downloading them right to your hard drive. Because there’s no packaging and shipment cost, those games come with discounts. They won’t be cheaper at the very start, but their prices drop faster online than at actual stores.
Even better, it saves you the cost of going to the store yourself. I don’t just mean time and money; I’m referring to the store clerk’s demonstration of how to stay virgin (i.e. talk for 20 minutes about your level 80 Shaman). I’m fine without that, thanks.
Besides, buying games online means you can buy them any time. You don’t need to rush to the store after work; you can download Diablo III at four in the morning if you want. This takes the rush factor out of your purchase. You won’t be thinking: ”I should buy that game just because I’m here now.”
There’s just no reason to buy petrol with cash any more. Fact is, petrol stations expect buyers to come at them with credit cards. That’s why most of their promotions stack with said cards.
A whole range of specialized credit services, like the DBS Esso Platinum Card, cater specifically to drivers. Total petrol discounts reach 15%. Also, you get reward points on your credit card and petrol gift catalogues. The former earns you big savings, and the latter helps with your interior design (assuming your theme is “Sungei Road Sale”).
An added bonus is that credit cards track these purchases. For most drivers, the most overlooked budget entries come from petrol stations. We tend to forget buying car park coupons, cash card top-ups, and cancer sticks. If you’re currently on a tight budget, this’ll help your record keeping.
What do you prefer to buy on credit? Comment and let us know!
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