Financial Literacy is the Backbone of Points & Miles Game
Credit card rewards are great to save more money or unlock experiences you’d never thought you’d be able to do like flying first class, fly business class on a round-the-world itinerary, or staying a few nights at a Ritz-Carlton for less than $20!
However, to be able to play the credit card game effectively, some basic financial literacy is required. One of the biggest challenges to teach financial literacy is that money can be a sensitive subject to talk about. Hopefully, writing about it and sharing it out in the open would not put me in a position where I’m forcing a certain subject to any individuals where they could read at their own discretion.
For credit cards, I will explain the concepts of living below your means and debt.
Financial Literacy Lesson #1: Living Below Your Means
Living below your means is one of the fundamentals to have for excellent financial health, including playing the credit card game effectively. It’s very important to not spend more than what you make as credit card debt is one of the worst debts you could have that could really hold you back.You can track how you’re doing by setting up a budget or tracking every income coming in and every expenses coming in monthly.
The interest rates on credit cards are in the range of somewhere between 14-24% APY. That is more than double or triple the interest rate found on other debts like mortgages, auto loans, and student loans! That also means the rewards you’d get from credit cards are nullified. According to CNBC, credit card debt in US households has reached an all-time high of $930 billion as of 2019! With that said, you should avoid using credit cards if you have not learned how to live below your means.
Financial Literacy Lesson #2: Using Debt As A Tool
Obviously credit card is a tool of debt. Tools can be used properly or poorly. Just like fire, it can bring warmth and comfort when used properly, but it can also burn you when used poorly.
Debt certainly has a negative connotation to it, but there is a way to use debt for good. When you purchase with a credit card, none of your money is pulled out of your wallet or bank account. Technically, you’re in debt for doing this. But, if you pay off the balance in full every month, then you wouldn’t pay a single cent in interest and you’ll end up reaping the rewards from the all the spend you made using the credit card.
Who doesn’t like free money? The only catch is that you need to be on top of your bill payments by making sure you have the means to pay them off in full and in time.
Financial literacy is necessary in getting into the credit card and points and miles hobby to extract the lucrative rewards like luxury travel at low out-of-pocket costs. Next step is to learn how the credit score system works to unlock the most premium credit cards in the market.