Monday, April 25, 2011
Nobody gets rich on rewards points. Truth is, most of the time, they're more trouble than they're worth. Having said that, this Easter I got a free ham with my Shoprite card. I almost never make it up to the spending threshold for these things and we were a little short until we bought some toilet paper on sale. But when we got the free ham, it felt good and we were happy. A few years ago while we were saving up for a house and driving around looking for a good town, we racked quite a few hotel rewards points. Our next vacation will be free except for airfare and meals. We have a free weeks' stay at any hotel in the world, courtesy of Marriott. That's going to feel pretty good too. When we fixed the house, we bought everything with the credit card and got plenty of points there. We ate out for months on it even though we paid little interest because we paid it off quickly. The lesson here is: if your are going to use a service anyway, then get the most bang for you buck. But don't use a credit card just to build up reward points. Nobody gets ahead like that, except the credit card companies. Get what you can but stay out of trouble. Never carry a balance on a credit card. But if you do have to put more on your card than can be paid off by the end of the month, then at least try to get a good interest rate. I put an expensive leather couch on my card this winter and got a phenomenal 1.99% rate which meant that I could pay it off in three months and pay only an extra $10 in interest. And get points for a free dinner to boot. Pay cash as much as possible. And keep track of where it goes. Steer clear of credit cards.