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Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

A credit card can serve as a fantastic financial tool and offer a number of perks, from the opportunity to build your credit to the chance to rake in lucrative rewards. However, using a credit card responsibly is key to reaping those benefits. Otherwise, a credit card is more likely to harm your financial well-being than help it.

Using a credit card responsibly involves sticking to basic rules like making on-time payments and avoiding practices such as spending more with your card than you can afford to pay off. By learning some tips for how to use a credit card responsibly, you’ll be well on your way toward making the most out of this financial tool.

How Do Credit Cards Work?

A credit card is a payment card that offers access to a revolving line of credit. You can tap into this credit line for a variety of purposes, including making purchases, completing balance transfers, and taking out a cash advance. Cardholders can borrow up to their credit limit, which is largely determined based on their creditworthiness and represents the maximum amount they can borrow.

It’s necessary to make at least a minimum payment by the due date each month in order to avoid a late fee. However, to avoid paying interest entirely, cardholders must pay off their balance in full each month; interest accrues on any balance that rolls over from month to month.

Many credit card companies charge compounding interest, which means that not only will you owe interest on any outstanding balance, you’ll also end up paying interest on the interest. That’s because this interest is calculated continually, then added to your balance, and it may be compounded daily. You may be shocked to see how much credit card interest you’ll pay if you only make the minimum payment each month.

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Understanding Your Statement

A crucial component of knowing how credit cards work is understanding your monthly credit card statement. Your statement contains a number of important pieces of information about your credit card account, including:

•   Your account information

•   Your account summary, including your payment due date

•   All purchases made with the card

•   Your total credit card balance, and the minimum payment due

•   Your available credit

•   Interest charges

•   Rewards summary

Many of these details are key to know in order to ensure you’re using a credit card wisely. For instance, knowing your payment due date will ensure you make your payment on-time, avoiding any late fees and a ding to your credit score. Checking in your available credit can help you ensure you’re not using too much of your credit, which can drive up your credit utilization rate and subsequently drag down your score.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

10 Tips For Using a Credit Card Responsibly

To make the most of your credit card, here are several credit card rules to keep in mind — as well as some guidance on what credit card behavior to avoid.

1. Avoid Making Too Many Impulse Purchases

How many is “too many” depends upon how much your impulse purchases cost and how easily they fit into your budget. If you know you can pay off your credit card balances and otherwise meet your monthly expenses and savings goals, then that’s an entirely different situation from one in which your impulse purchases are too costly to promptly pay off and/or prevent you from meeting other financial responsibilities or goals.

If you enjoy making spontaneous buys, you may consider including this as a line item in your monthly budget and then sticking to it. This could add enjoyment to your life without causing financial problems down the road.

2. Use the Right Credit Card

There are a variety of different types of credit cards, and depending on how you plan to use your credit card, one option may make more sense than another. Some credit cards are there to help you build your credit, while others pay out generous rewards.

Selecting which card is right for you requires a look at your financial habits and current situation. For example, if you know that you often end up needing to carry a balance, then it may make sense to find a card that prioritizes low interest rates. Or, let’s say you’re a frequent vacationer — in that case, you might benefit from a travel rewards card.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

Cash in on up to $300–and 3% cash back for 365 days.¹

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3. Take Advantage of Benefits Offered

Signing up for eligible rewards programs can help cardholders make the most of their card. Each type of credit card may have slightly different reward programs. See what the full range perks offered by your card are — and if you’re not sure, check the card’s website or ask the credit card company for specifics.

Once you know what perks are available, you can use them strategically. You may discover that the card(s) you have don’t provide the best benefits for you. For example, maybe your card offers one of its highest rewards rates for gas purchases, but you don’t do much driving. In that case, you might be better served by a rewards card that offers a flat rewards rate, or that prioritizes a category in which you’re a frequent spender.

Finally, if you’re earning rewards points, it’s also important to consider the best way to use them. Sometimes it’s possible to get a bigger bang for your buck if, say, you use your rewards points at an approved store rather than opting for cash back.

4. Sign Up for Automatic Payments

To avoid missing payments or making them late, consider signing up for automatic payments. By enrolling in auto-pay, you’ll regularly have money transferred from a linked account each month in order to cover the amount due (or at least the minimum payment required).

Another option is to sign up for automatic reminders about payment due dates (by text, for example, or by email). You can do this through the credit card company or via a calendar app.

What’s most important is coming up with a plan that works best for you to ensure you make your payments on time. Otherwise, you could face late fees and adverse effects to your credit score.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

5. Regularly Check Your Statements

Mistakes do happen on credit card statements and, unfortunately, fraudulent activities could impact your account. Check your statement every month to ensure that you made all the charges that appear, and that any payments you’ve made are accurately reflected.

If something is missing, review the statement dates to see if the transaction may have happened right after the statement cut-off date, for instance. If something seems off, contact your credit card company for clarification. In the case of any potentially fraudulent activity, it’s important to report that to your credit card company immediately.

6. Pay More Than the Minimum

If you recall our earlier discussion about how credit card interest works, you’ll remember that only making the minimum payment doesn’t get you out of paying interest. To avoid incurring interest charges, you’ll need to pay off your monthly statement balance in full.

Understandably, this isn’t always possible, but even then, it still helps to pay as much above the minimum as you can afford to. This will at least cut down on the outstanding balance that accrues interest.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

7. Don’t Close Out Old Cards

While it might seem logical to close out an older credit card you’re no longer using, you’ll want to think twice before you cancel a credit card. That’s because doing so can have adverse implications for your credit.

For starters, canceling a credit card will lower your credit utilization rate, which compares your total outstanding balance to your overall available credit limit. Closing out a card will cause you to lose that card’s credit limit, thus lowering the amount of credit you have available.

Closing an old card could also have an impact if the card in question is one of your older accounts. Another factor that contributes to your credit score is the age of your credit. By closing out an old account, you’ll lose that boost in age.

That being said, there are scenarios where it might make sense to close a card, such as if it charges a high annual fee. Just be mindful of the potential effects it will have on your credit before moving forward.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

8. Maintain a Low Credit Utilization Rate

Another key tip for responsible credit card usage is to avoid maxing out your cards. Instead, aim to keep a lower credit utilization rate — ideally below 30%. The lower you can keep this utilization rate, the better it is for your credit score.

9. Avoid Unnecessary Fees

Another part of using a credit card responsibly is being aware of all of the fees you could face, and then taking steps to steer clear of those costs. Your credit card terms and conditions will spell out all of the fees associated with your card, as well as the card’s APR and the rules of its rewards program.

Many credit card fees are pretty easy to avoid. For instance, if you’ll incur a fee to send money with a credit card, simply avoid doing that and look for an alternative route. Similarly, you can avoid late payment fees by making on-time payments, and over-the-limit fees by not maxing out your credit card.

10. Avoid Applying for Too Many Cards

As you get into the swing of things with using your credit card, you may feel tempted to keep acquiring new cards, whether to keep on earning rewards or to capitalize on enticing welcome bonuses. But proceed with caution when it comes to applying for credit cards.

Applying for credit cards too frequently can raise a red flag for lenders, as it may suggest that you’re overextending yourself and desperate for funding. Plus, each time you submit an application for a credit card, this will trigger a hard inquiry, which can ding your credit score temporarily. Consider waiting at least six months between credit card applications.

The Takeaway

When used responsibly, credit cards can be helpful for a whole slew of things, from making online purchases to building your credit. The key phrase to keep in mind is “when used responsibly.” To stay on top of your credit cards, tips like signing up for automatic payments, making the most of the rewards programming, and using the right type of credit card for your needs are all important.

If you’re looking for a credit card that’s a better fit for you, consider whether to get a SoFi credit card. The SoFi credit card offers a number of perks, including cash-back rewards, no foreign transaction fees, and World Elite Mastercard benefits. Plus, if you make 12 monthly-on-time payments of at least the minimum due — in other words, if you use your credit card responsibly — you can get your APR reduced by 1%.

Discover today if the SoFi credit card is right for you!


New and existing Checking and Savings members who have not previously enrolled in direct deposit with SoFi are eligible to earn a cash bonus when they set up direct deposits of at least $1,000 over a consecutive 25-day period. Cash bonus will be based on the total amount of direct deposit. Entry into the Program will be available 10/1/22 to 12/31/22. Full terms at sofi.com/banking. SoFi Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. Member FDIC.

SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 3.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 2.50% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 11/3/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet

†SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS PROSPECTIVELY BASED ON MARKET CONDITIONS AND BORROWER ELIGIBILITY. Your eligibility for a SoFi Credit Card Account or a subsequently offered product or service is subject to the final determination by The Bank of Missouri (“TBOM”) (“Issuer”), as issuer, pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. Please allow up to 30 days from the date of submission to process your application. The card offer referenced in this communication is only available to individuals who are at least 18 years of age (or of legal age in your state of residence), and who reside in the United States.

*You will need to maintain a qualifying Direct Deposit every month with SoFi Checking and Savings in order to continue to receive this promotional cash back rate. Qualifying Direct Deposits are defined as deposits from enrolled member’s employer, payroll, or benefits provider via ACH deposit. Deposits that are not from an employer (such as check deposits; P2P transfers such as from PayPal or Venmo, etc.; merchant transactions such as from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.; and bank ACH transfers not from employers) do not qualify for this promotion. A maximum of 36,000 rewards points can be earned from this limited-time offer. After the promotional period ends or once you have earned the maximum points offered by this promotion, your cash back earning rate will revert back to 2%. 36,000 rewards points are worth $360 when redeemed into SoFi Checking and Savings, SoFi Money, SoFi Invest, Crypto, SoFi Personal Loan, SoFi Private Student Loan or Student Loan Refinance and are worth $180 when redeemed as a SoFi Credit Card statement credit.

Promotion Period: The Program will be available from 10/1/22 12:01 AM ET to 12/31/23 11:59PM ET

Eligible Participants: All new members who apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card, open a SoFi Checking and Savings account, and set up Direct Deposit transactions (“Direct Deposit”) into their SoFi Checking and Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi Credit Card members who set up Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi members who have already enrolled in Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account prior to the promotion period, and who apply and get approved for a SoFi Credit Card during the promotion period are eligible. Existing SoFi members who already have the SoFi Credit Card and previously set up Direct Deposit through SoFi Money or SoFi Checking & Savings are not eligible for this promotion.

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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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How Does a Balance Transfer Affect Your Credit Score?

How Does a Balance Transfer Affect Your Credit Score?

A credit card balance transfer can be a beautiful thing. By transferring existing high-interest debt to a credit card with no or low interest, you can save money and make it easier to pay off your debt. It can also have an impact on your credit score.

How, exactly, does balance transfer affect your credit score? A balance transfer can affect your credit score either positively or negatively — though the upsides are likely to outweigh any adverse effects in the long-term if you manage the balance transfer responsibly.

How Does a Balance Transfer Work?

A balance transfer is the process of consolidating existing high-interest debt to a different credit card. In other words, you’re effectively paying a credit card with another. Usually, you transfer the balance to a new credit card, but some cards allow you to do a balance transfer to an existing card.

Balance transfer credit cards often offer a low, or even 0%, annual percentage rate (APR) for a promotional period. This temporarily lowers the credit card interest rate, potentially allowing you to save on interest and more quickly pay off your debt. The length of the introductory APR offer varies by card, usually lasting anywhere from six to 21 months, after which the standard purchase APR will apply.

There is usually a fee required to make a balance transfer. This fee is either a flat rate or a percentage of the balance you’re transferring, such as 3% to 5% of your balance.

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Apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card. Then open a bank account with qualifying direct deposits. Some things are just better together.


Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

When to Transfer the Balance on Your Credit Card

There are two key things to look for in order to identify an opportune time for a balance transfer. First, you’re approved for a balance transfer card that offers a 0% APR introductory period. Second, you’re in a place where you can focus on paying off the balance you transfer to your new card before the promotional period ends.

It’s important to work aggressively on eliminating your balance during this period. Otherwise, once the promotional APR kicks over to the usual APR, the interest rate could potentially be as high — if not higher — than the APR of your old card.

How a Balance Transfer May Hurt Your Credit Score

If you’re contemplating a balance transfer, you might be wondering: Does a balance transfer affect my credit score? While a balance transfer itself won’t directly impact your credit score, opening a new balance transfer card could have a ripple effect on your credit. A balance transfer to an existing credit card may not affect your credit score as much as opening a new account.

Let’s take a look at a couple of the ways a balance transfer could cause your credit score to drop:

•   Applying for new credit results in a hard inquiry. Whenever you apply for a credit card, the credit card issuer will do a hard pull of your credit, which usually lowers your score by a few points. Hard inquiries stay on your credit report for two years. That being said, when compared to what affects your credit score on the whole, hard inquiries don’t impact your credit as much as, say, your payment history or credit utilization.

•   Getting a new card will lower the average age of your credit. Another way that opening a new balance transfer credit could hurt your credit score is by lowering the average age of your credit. The length of your credit history makes up 15% of your score. A longer credit history is an indicator that you’ve taken steps toward establishing credit.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

How a Balance Transfer May Impact Your Credit Score

Now, let’s take a look at how a balance transfer can impact your credit score:

•   It can lower your credit utilization rate. As credit usage makes up a significant chunk of your credit score — 30%, to be exact — a balance transfer could give your credit score a lift. When you open a new credit card account, it will add to your total credit limit, which, in turn, can lower your credit utilization. As a credit card rule, the lower your credit utilization, the better it is for your credit score.

   Here’s an example: Say you have two credit cards, and they each have a $10,000 credit limit, for a total credit limit of $20,000. You’re carrying a $10,000 balance. In turn, your credit usage is 50%.

   Now, let’s say you open a new balance transfer credit card that has a credit limit of $10,000. Combined with your other two cards, you’ll now have a total credit limit of $30,000. With a $10,000 balance, your total credit usage is lowered to about 33%.

•   You may be able to pay down debt faster. As you’re paying less interest — or perhaps no interest at all — during your card’s promotional period, you can more easily whittle away at your outstanding debt quicker. That’s because more of your payments will go toward paying down your principal. Plus, lowering that outstanding balance also feeds into lowering your credit utilization ratio — another positive when it comes to building credit.

•   A balance transfer can make it easier to stay on top of payments. A balance transfer allows you to consolidate multiple balances into one monthly payment. This can make it easier to stay on top of making on-time payments, as you won’t have numerous due dates to juggle. In turn, this can have a positive impact on your payment history, which makes up 35% of your credit score.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Steps to Take After a Balance Transfer

So you’ve decided to do a balance transfer. Congrats! Now, here are the steps to take to make the most of it.

Stop Using Your Other Credit Cards

If possible, put a halt on spending with your other credit cards. That way, you can focus solely on paying off the outstanding balance you’ve transferred.

Still, you’ll want to keep your other cards open. You might consider using a credit card to make a small purchase every so often to keep those accounts active.

Know When the Introductory Period Ends

Make sure you’re aware of when the introductory APR for your balance transfer card ends. Also take time to note what the balance transfer card’s standard APR is. When the promotional APR ends, that rate is what your new APR will be.

Devise a Payoff Plan

A balance transfer is really only worthwhile if you aim to pay off your outstanding debt — or as much of it as possible — during the promotional APR period.

Let’s say you have $6,000 in debt, and you’ve secured a 0% APR that will last for 12 months. Aim to pay off $500 every month, or $250 twice a month. That way, you’ll have your debt paid off before the higher APR kicks in.

Make Shifts in your Spending

To ensure that you’re paying off the outstanding amount on your balance transfer card at a steady clip, look at ways you can scale back on your spending. Doing so will free up money that you could throw at your debt payoff efforts instead.

Along the same lines, see if you can increase your cash flow. Perhaps you can take on more hours at work or get a side hustle.

Is a Balance Transfer a Good Idea?

A balance transfer can be a solid move to make if you’re prepared to knock off the debt before the introductory APR period ends. Otherwise, you’re left with a mountain of debt — potentially with a higher interest rate than you currently have.

When deciding whether a balance transfer is right for you, you’ll also want to take into account any balance transfer fees you’ll pay. Do the math to ensure the amount you’ll save on interest will more than offset the cost of these fees.

Also note that, before you worry about balance transfer effects on your credit score, you’ll need to consider whether your credit is even strong enough for you to qualify. The most competitive balance transfer offers generally require at least good credit (meaning a FICO score of 670 or above), further underscoring the importance of good credit.

If you’re not sure of where you stand credit-wise, don’t worry about taking a peek: here’s how checking your credit score affects your rating (spoiler: it doesn’t).

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Balance Transfers and Credit Scores: The Takeaway

A balance transfer can both hurt and help your credit score. Your credit score could temporarily suffer after applying for a new balance transfer card. However, a balance transfer has the potential to help your credit score, as it can lower your credit utilization rate and make it easier for you to stay on top of your payments.

If you’re on the hunt for a new credit card, consider the SoFi Credit Card. Aside from offering cash-back rewards for purchases, the SoFi Credit Card rewards cardholders for making on-time payments. After making 12 monthly on-time payments of at least the minimum payment due, SoFi will lower your APR by 1%. Learn more and apply for a credit card today with SoFi.

Find out if you qualify for a SoFi Credit Card today!

FAQ

Do balance transfers hurt your credit score?

Balance transfers can either hurt or help your credit score. Making a balance transfer can hurt your credit score if you apply for a new card to do so, which requires a hard pull of your credit. It can also ding your score because it may lower the average age of your credit lines.

Will I need a credit credit score for a balance transfer?

To qualify for a balance transfer card with a zero or low interest rate, you’ll need a strong credit score. A good credit score is generally considered in the range of 670+.

Will I lose points with a balance transfer?

You will not lose rewards points with a balance transfer. That’s because your old creditor will generally consider the balance transfer as payment.

What are the negatives of a balance transfer?

Getting a balance transfer credit card can bring down your credit score if it requires a hard inquiry on your credit report. Plus, it can lower your average credit age. Another downside of a balance transfer is that you’ll need to pay a balance transfer fee, which is either a flat rate or a percentage of the outstanding amount.


Photo credit: iStock/Roman Novitskii

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1
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How Many Lines of Credit Should I Have?

How Many Lines of Credit Should I Have?

There’s no one answer that fits all situations. The average American has 4 credit cards. But how many lines of credit you should have depends upon your needs, your skill at managing your finances, and your ability to make payments on time.

We’ll explore two types of credit lines, provide definitions of basic credit terms, and offer some broader context so that you can make the choice that’s best for you.

Line of Credit Definition

First, what is a line of credit? A personal line of credit (sometimes called a PLOC) allows consumers to borrow money as they need it, up to a set limit, and pay it off over time. A line of credit can be used to pay bills or make purchases directly or to withdraw cash with no cash-advance fee. As long as borrowers keep paying down the balance, they can keep borrowing. In other words, this is a type of revolving credit.

Lines of credit are usually granted only to people with good credit. Because they’re less risky for the lender, the interest rate can be lower than for credit cards.

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How Does a Line of Credit Work?

Many banks, credit unions, and online financial institutions offer lines of credit. A distinguishing feature is the “draw period.” During that time — typically seven to 15 years — funds can be borrowed and repaid in a revolving way. When the draw period ends, users can no longer make purchases or withdrawals, though they can reapply to keep the line open. The repayment period can continue for additional five to 13 years.

To utilize a line of credit, consumers may receive checks, a card, or a direct deposit into their bank account. Funds can be used however they like, but generally go toward large purchases. Personal lines of credit often have a variable interest rate, with interest-only payments during the draw period.

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Is It Possible To Have Too Many Lines of Credit?

In this case, a “line of credit” refers to both PLOCs and credit cards. All credit cards are a form of credit line, but not all lines of credit are associated with a credit card.

If a consumer has many credit lines, lenders may see them as high-risk — even if their balances are all zero. As noted above, the average American has four credit cards. New Jersey residents have the most credit cards in the country, with 4.5 on average. Older generations tend to carry more cards than Millennials and Gen Z. So while four lines of credit may be considered normal, it can be “too many” if a consumer has trouble juggling their bills and making payments on time.

Is It Possible To Have Too Few Lines of Credit?

To build a strong credit score, it helps to have a variety of credit types. Credit mix accounts for 10% of a FICO® Score, and the ideal mix includes both revolving credit and installment loans like personal loans, car loans, and so forth. Although each person’s situation is unique, just having credit accounts and managing them well is what builds a good credit score. Having one or two cards can be enough.

Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car

Credit Card Definition

You may be wondering, if a line of credit can come with a card, then what is a credit card? Both credit cards and lines of credit are forms of revolving credit offered by many financial institutions. A credit card holder can also make purchases up to the credit card spending limit. However, credit card users can avoid interest charges by paying off the balance in full each month. Essentially, credit cards provide consumers with unlimited short-term loans for free (assuming there’s no annual fee).

Credit cards don’t have a draw period — they remain open as long as the account is in good standing. The average credit card limit, according to the latest report from credit bureau Experian, is $30,365.

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Line of Credit vs Credit Card

A credit card — as the name implies — has a card connected to it, which allows the borrower to access funds. A line of credit doesn’t necessarily have a card connected to the account. Lines of credit tend to have lower interest rates and annual percentage rates (APRs) than credit cards and may have higher limits. So they may be better suited to large purchases, as noted above, that can be paid for over time.

Credit cards are easy to use for everyday purchases and often come with an interest-free grace period (from the purchase date until the payment date). Credit cards may provide rewards and perks that personal lines of credit do not. And applying for a credit card is usually a simpler process than the line of credit process.

Recommended: Choosing a Credit Card

Credit Score Risk Factors to Consider

How someone manages personal lines of credit and credit cards will have an affect on their credit score and, therefore, their ability to borrow at advantageous rates. Here are some ways your line of credit may negatively influence your credit score:

•   Credit utilization. After a large purchase, your credit utilization percentage will rise. Credit utilization accounts for 30% of your credit score.

•   Payment history. Late or missed payments can negatively impact your history. Payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO score.

•   Credit history length. A new line of credit will lower the average age of your credit history. Length of credit history accounts for 15% of your score.

Consumers who are concerned about their credit score may want to take advantage of a free credit monitoring service to see how their day to day actions impact their score.

Using Multiple Credit Cards

How many credit cards should you have? As long as you can responsibly manage your credit cards and haven’t applied for too many new ones in a short timeframe, then the number isn’t likely to have a negative impact on your credit.

However, the more cards you have, the more payments and due dates you’ll have to juggle. Ask yourself whether any of these issues apply to you:

•   Multiple annual fees are taking a bite out of your budget.

•   Monitoring your cards for fraudulent activity has become challenging.

•   Knowing you have cards with low or no balances makes it easier to overspend.

Recommended: How to Use a Credit Card Wisely

The Takeaway

The right number of credit lines varies by personal need and financial circumstances. Lines of credit include but aren’t limited to credit cards. What’s most important is to use them wisely to protect your credit score, avoid unnecessary debt, and manage your finances responsibly. It may help to know that the average American has about 4 lines of credit.

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FAQ

How many lines of credit is good for your credit rating?

Specifics will depend upon your financial situation. Elements that go into credit score calculations typically include the borrower’s payment history (making payments on time is the biggest factor), outstanding balance amounts in comparison to limits, credit history length, having a good credit mix, and strategically applying (or not applying) for new credit accounts.

How many lines of credit is too much?

What’s most important is to have the right number for your financial needs and overall situation. Being able to responsibly manage the number of accounts you have is important since making payments on time is the biggest factor in your credit scores. While most Americans have about four lines of credit, that may be “too much” for some consumers.

What are some consequences of having multiple lines of credit?

It can be more challenging to keep track of payment dates and amounts, which may make it easier to make a payment late or miss it entirely. This can have a negative impact on your credit score. Plus, if accounts have annual fees, then having several of them can add up. Multiple lines of credit may also make it more difficult to spot fraud. That said, if someone can responsibly manage multiple lines of credit, then that may be the right number of accounts for them.


Photo credit: iStock/demaerre

SoFi’s Insights tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
*Terms and conditions apply. (Must click on the link to be eligible.) This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the Rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed into SoFi accounts such as cash in SoFi Checking and Savings or loan balances, Stock Bits, fractional shares and cryptocurrency subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.
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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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Guide to Credit Card Food Delivery and Ride Sharing Discounts

Guide to Credit Card Food Delivery and Ride Sharing Discounts

The best credit cards for food delivery and ride sharing offer a host of benefits, including generous cash-back rewards, free annual memberships, and annual credits on these services. While food delivery and ride sharing credit cards can have some downsides — like high annual fees, in some cases — the positives might outweigh the negatives for those that often order delivery or use ridesharing.

Depending on which type of service you use, the process of claiming your earned rewards can be quick and easy. Often, it’s as simple as linking the eligible credit card to your account.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

What Are Rewards Credit Cards?

Rewards credit cards offer benefits in exchange for every dollar you spend on the card, typically as cash back, points, or airline miles. You can then redeem the credit card rewards you’ve earned in a variety of ways, such as in the form of a check, a statement credit, travel perks, or gift cards.

While not all rewards credit cards have annual fees, those with higher annual fees tend to offer more generous benefits. Further, rewards credit cards generally have higher annual percentage rates (APR) than more basic credit cards. This makes it all the more important to adhere to the credit card rule of avoiding carrying a balance when possible.

In general, you’ll need a good or excellent credit score (meaning 670+) to qualify for the top rewards credit cards.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Cash in on up to $300–and 3% cash back for 365 days.¹

Apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card. Then open a bank account with qualifying direct deposits. Some things are just better together.


Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

How Do Food Delivery Benefits Work?

The way food delivery benefits typically work is that a credit card provider partners with a popular food delivery service. Then, cardholders receive certain credit card benefits, such as free memberships, higher points accrual when using the service, or statement credits on food deliveries.

Which services are paired with your card and the benefits you receive will depend on the credit card provider. In some cases, rewards include a higher rate of cash-back rewards in more general categories, such as takeout or dining. Check your credit card’s website to see what — if any — food delivery benefits are available to you.

How Do Ride Sharing Benefits Work?

Ride sharing benefits are fairly similar to food delivery benefits. Credit card providers partner with ride sharing services to provide benefits for certain credit cards they offer. For instance, there are Lyft credit cards and Uber credit cards that offer perks with those ride sharing services.

Those benefits may come in the form of higher point accruals, statement credits, and free subscriptions. Some cards also offer these benefits in the form of more generic travel credits or cash-back rewards, which may apply to ride sharing services.

Pros and Cons of Using Credit Cards for Food Delivery

Using a credit card for food delivery can have its pros and cons, depending on the credit card you’re using and your own spending habits. Here are some of the advantages and drawbacks of food delivery credit cards to consider:

Pros

Cons

Higher rewards rates for food-related spending Could carry high annual fees, which might not be worthwhile for occasional users
Can cover membership fees for a period of time May have a higher purchase APR
May offer general dining credits Can tempt cardholders to spend more on takeout due to card’s benefits

Pros and Cons of Using Credit Cards for Rideshare Expenses

Are you thinking about a ride sharing credit card? Here are some pros and cons to consider for these cards:

Pros

Cons

Higher rewards rates on rideshare spending Can place limits or deadlines on offers or rewards redemptions
May offer travel credits that can apply to rideshare costs May have high annual fees
Often provide nice benefits across-the-board, such as travel insurance Could be limited to earning rewards or credits with a particular service

Activating Your Credit Card Offers

Each credit card is different, but activating your offers shouldn’t be too difficult. In some cases, it’s as simple as signing up for the relevant service and linking your credit card to it.

In other cases, you might have to manually activate offers on the service’s app or website. Usually, if your card includes a free membership, it must be manually activated.

Keep in mind that food delivery and ride sharing credit cards often run promotions, and these do expire. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve previously included a Lyft Pink membership, but that offer expired in early 2022. However, this card also includes one free year of DoorDash’s DashPass, which is good until the end of 2024.

Using a Credit Card for Food Delivery

Using a credit card for food delivery is a simple process. The first thing you’ll want to do is to create an account on the app, which should only take a couple of minutes. Likewise, add your credit card if you have not already done so.

If you already have an account, you may want to make your rewards credit card the default payment method to take advantage of discounts and rewards. Also make sure to activate any free memberships that might be available to you.

Then, you can search restaurants on the food delivery app, either using your address or your smartphone’s location. These apps often have food categories to make your search a little bit easier.

Once you find something that sounds good, you can add items to your cart and check out. Since you have already added your rewards credit card, use it as your payment method to take advantage of those rewards. And if you use your credit card frequently, it can help you earn your credit card welcome bonus.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Using a Credit Card for Ride Sharing

Using a credit card for ride sharing will follow all of the same principles as using one for food delivery. Make sure you add your rewards credit card and activate your membership if one is available.

The biggest difference when using a credit card for ride sharing is the process of booking the ride itself. Generally, you book a ride by specifying the pick-up and drop-off locations; ride sharing apps can usually use your smartphone’s location as the pickup.

The app will then find a driver for you and give you the chance to select or change your payment method. If you have a rewards credit card, make sure it appears as the payment method. If it doesn’t, select it before confirming your ride. Once you do that, you’re all set.

The Takeaway

Food delivery credit cards and ride sharing credit cards can offer a slew of perks, including cash-back rewards, statement credits, and free memberships for a few months or even a year. Credit card owners can take advantage of these rewards when hailing a ride or ordering food through a delivery app.

If you want these perks and more, the cash-back rewards credit card from SoFi is a strong contender. It offers perks for both ride sharing and food delivery through World Elite Mastercard® Benefits. This includes Lyft $5 monthly credits and a three-month free trial of DashPass.

Learn more and apply today for a credit card with SoFi!

FAQ

What is credit card dining?

Credit cards can offer a variety of perks when you spend on dining. That could include high cash-back rates when eating at restaurants or ordering delivery. Other credit cards come with free memberships for delivery apps for a set time period or a statement credit for orders.

Are the best cards for rideshare expenses also the best cards for food delivery?

Some credit cards that are the best for rideshare can also be the best for food delivery. However, some credit cards work well for ridesharing because they are travel credit cards, and this may not carry over to food delivery.

Do rideshares count as travel for credit cards?

It depends on the credit card. Some credit cards consider rideshares as travel and will let you earn a higher cash-back rate when booking a ride, for example. However, you should check the details of your card to be sure, as each card is different.


Photo credit: iStock/RgStudio

1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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What Does 2% Cash Back Mean? Is It Worth It?

What Does 2% Cash Back Mean? Is It Worth It?

Who doesn’t like a bit of extra cash in their pocket? And earning money from spending you’re already doing is arguably even better. If you prefer cash-back rewards with your credit cards, a card that features a 2% cash back flat rate — meaning 2% back on all purchases — can be a solid way to reap rewards.

Let’s go over the ins and outs of what 2% cash back actually means, as well as the pros and cons of a 2% cash-back credit card, to help you determine whether it’s worth your while.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

What Is Cash Back?

Cash back is a form of reward that cash-back credit cards offer that allows you to earn money back on purchases you make. Other examples of credit card rewards include points or travel miles.

With a flat-rate cash-back card, all of your purchases earn the same amount in cash back. Other credit card issuers might offer higher cash-back rates on certain spending categories, such as on gas or groceries.
Meanwhile, some may feature rotating bonus categories to give your rewards-earning abilities a boost. For example, you might earn 5% cash back in the fall months on purchases made at restaurants and on gas.

You can redeem the cash-back rewards you earn in the form of a check, bank transfer, or gift card, or as a statement credit. Other options might include making a charitable donation or making a purchase through the issuer’s online portal. Depending on the credit card, there might be a spending threshold you need to meet before you can redeem your cash-back rewards.

Cash in on up to $300–and 3% cash back for 365 days.¹

Apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card. Then open a bank account with qualifying direct deposits. Some things are just better together.


What Is 2% Cash Back?

If you’re wondering, ‘What does 2% cash back mean exactly?,’ here’s how it works. Earning 2% cash back simply means that for every $100 you spend on your credit card, you’ll get $2 back. So if you were to spend $1,000, that’s $20 back in your pocket — though you’ll then have to redeem that cash back in order to make the rewards usable.

How 2% Cash-Back Credit Cards Work

As mentioned previously, having a 2% cash-back credit card means you’ll earn 2 cents back for every $1 you spend using the card, or $2 for every $100, and so forth.

There might not be a limit to how much you can earn in cash back. However, in other cases, the card may cap the amount of cash-back rewards you can earn for either regular spending or spending in bonus categories.

Pros and Cons of 2% Cash Back

While a 2% cash back card does come with some advantages, there are some drawbacks as well. Let’s take a look at both:

Pros and Cons of a 2% Cash Back Card
Pros Cons
Easy to use Higher APRs compared to non-rewards credit cards
Can rack up rewards quickly Earning caps may apply
Often no annual fee Don’t often offer travel rewards or perks

Pros

•   Easy to use: A major benefit of a 2% cash-back credit card is that the rules are simple: You spend money, and get a certain amount back. Plus, redeeming rewards is usually pretty straightforward, and you have a choice of how to do so.

•   Can rack up rewards quickly: If you use your credit card for everyday purchases, you’ll accrue rewards fairly fast. Of course, only put everyday purchases on your card if you can afford to pay them off, and always use your card responsibly, considering what a credit card is and the implications overspending can have for your credit score.

•   Often no annual fee: Many cash-back cards don’t have an annual fee. That means you won’t need to worry about spending enough to offset the fee.

Cons

•   Higher APRs compared to non-rewards credit cards: While your annual percentage rate (APR) on a card partly depends on your credit and other financial factors, rewards credit cards like cash-back cards tend to carry higher interest rates. If you keep a balance on your account, you can expect to pay a pretty penny in interest, given how credit cards work.

•   Earning caps may apply: While some credit cards allow you to earn unlimited cash-back rewards, others place a limit on how much you can earn. If you’re looking to max out your rewards potential, a cap could make that harder to do.

•   Don’t often offer travel rewards or perks: If you’re hoping to earn rewards that apply to travel, such as airline trips or hotel stays, a cash-back credit card likely isn’t the form of rewards credit card for you. While some cards may offer travel redemption options, most don’t, and many also charge foreign transaction fees.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Is a 2% Cash Back-Credit Card Worth It?

Whether a 2% cash-back credit card is worth it really depends on how you’ll use the credit card. This includes what types of purchases you’d like to make, and if you plan on using your card for bills and everyday expenses, such as gas and groceries. If you use the credit card regularly, you’ll be able to earn a greater amount of cash-back rewards.

However, you’ll also want to balance that spending with sticking to important credit card rules, like not spending more than you can afford to pay off. Because rewards credit cards tend to have higher interest rates, it’s important to avoid carrying a balance so you don’t cancel out the cash back you earn.

A cash-back rewards card might not be worth it if you prefer to use your credit card rewards for travel. In that case, a travel rewards credit card typically will offer more lucrative ways to earn points or miles to use on trips.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Guide to Using a 2% Cash-Back Credit Card

If you get a 2% cash-back card, here are some tips to keep in mind to use it effectively:

•   Read the redemption rules. Familiarize yourself with credit card requirements, and see if there are any limits on how much cash back you can earn. Similarly, check if you need to hit a minimum amount in cash-back earnings before you can redeem those rewards.

•   Be intentional with your purchases. Devise a plan for how you intend to use your cash-back credit card. Perhaps you would prefer to use it on big-ticket items, or maybe on seasonal purchases, such as during the holidays or back-to-school season. This will help you make the most of your card.

•   Choose how you’ll receive your rewards. You’ll also want to decide whether you plan on receiving the cash-back in the form of an ACH transfer to your account, as statement credit, or as a check dropped in the mail. You also might be able to use your rewards by making online purchases through the credit card’s shopping portal, or by purchasing gift cards or donating to charity.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

Maximizing 2% Cash-Back Earnings

If you have a cash-back credit card, it’s worth your while to take the time to determine how to maximize your earnings. Here are several ways to do so.

Use Your Card For Everyday Purchases and Bills

Consider using your cash-back card on major spending categories to earn the most on rewards. For example, if you spend $4,500 a year on food for you and your family and put all of your groceries and dining expenses on your card, you’ll get $90 in cash-back on just that spending alone.

You might also consider putting your recurring bills and subscription services on your credit cards. This will allow you to scoop up points in areas you already spend.

Just make sure you aren’t spending beyond your means. Keep an eye on your expenditures, and commit to paying off your balance in full each month.

Put Big-Ticket Buys on Your Card

If you’ve been saving up for a sleek new laptop or coveted designer shoes, consider putting that cost on your 2% cash-back card. That way, you can get the item and earn a bit of cash back on the purchase.

Your card may even come with added perks, such as purchase protection or an extended manufacturer’s warranty.

Look for a Card With No Annual Fee

A card without an annual fee means you won’t need to spend as much to make the cash-back rewards worthwhile. Case in point: If you get a card with a $40 annual fee, you’ll need to put $2,000 in purchases to break even at a 2% cash-back rewards rate.

Pay Off Your Balance in Full Each Month

As cash-back credit cards tend to have higher APRs, make it a point to pay off your card in full. This will help you avoid racking up interest charges, which can cut into the cash-back rewards you earn.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

Strategize When You’d Like to Redeem Your Cash Back

To maximize your 2% cash-back rewards card, it helps to be intentional with how you choose to redeem your cash-back rewards as well as when you do so. For instance, if you tend to dig a debt hole during the holidays, use your rewards to pay for gifts and other related expenses. Or, you can put the rewards you’ve accumulated toward a statement credit, or redeem it for a gift card for your loved one.

Get Cash-Back Rewards With the SoFi Credit Card

In the market for a credit card? You can earn generous credit card rewards with SoFi. For a limited time, new credit card holders who also sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings with direct deposit can start earning 3% cash back rewards on all eligible credit card purchases for 365 days*. Offer ends 12/31/22.

Learn more and apply for a SoFi Credit Card today!

FAQ

Is 2% cash back good for credit cards?

A 2% flat-rate, cash-back credit card can be a strong choice as a go-to credit card if you intend to use your card for everyday spending. Earning rewards at a flat rate and in this manner is simple and straightforward, as you don’t have to worry about keeping track of rotating categories or figuring out point conversion values.

Is 2% cash back better than points?

A 2% cash back credit card is a no-hassle, straightforward way to earn rewards. While you might earn more points on a travel card, redemption values and ways to redeem points on a travel rewards card can be more complicated. A flat-rate cash-back card can be a good choice to use as a foundation. Then, you can also open a travel card if it makes sense for your needs.

Does the SoFi credit card give 2% cash back?

For a limited time, new credit card holders who also sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings with direct deposit can start earning 3% cash back rewards on all eligible credit card purchases for 365 days*. Offer ends 12/31/22. Otherwise, cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1


Photo credit: iStock/LaylaBird
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1
New and existing Checking and Savings members who have not previously enrolled in direct deposit with SoFi are eligible to earn a cash bonus when they set up direct deposits of at least $1,000 over a consecutive 25-day period. Cash bonus will be based on the total amount of direct deposit. Entry into the Program will be available 10/1/22 to 12/31/22. Full terms at sofi.com/banking. SoFi Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. Member FDIC.

SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 3.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 2.50% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 11/3/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet

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