Credit Cards

Too Many Credit Cards? Here Are 3 Tips For Managing Your Cards

Singaporeans love their credit cards. In 2016, there were almost 2 credit cards per capita in Singapore, though true plastic people may tote many more than that. In order to fully utilise your cards, however, it requries a lot of energy and time keeping track of a fistful of data. If you have 3-4 cards or more, it's likely extremely difficult for you to remember which card rewards you the most in which categories, when each card renews and at what cost, and if you have to meet certain spending requirements each month. Here are three ways to manage your cards without losing your patience.

1. Use Stickers to Help Choose Cards By Transaction

Many credit cards today are specialized, offering great rewards in a few expenditure categories and luke-warm benefits on others. Therefore, many consumers like to keep a few different cards that they can use on different occasions so that they can reap maximum rewards for every dollar they spend. However, keeping track of those details requires either a prodigious memory or helpful tools.

One easy way of keeping track is to place small stickers onto your cards that can help you remember which card is best for particular purchases. For example, a blue sticker could stand for "cash rebate at restaurants and grocery stores," while a green one mean "petrol and travel bookings." You could also write down a few words like "food" or "shopping" on these stickers if you are worried about not remembering which color is which.

2. Use a Spreadsheet or Calendar App to Remember Important Card Dates

There are both traditional and new solutions for helping you keep track of various card details like annual fees, bonuses and spending requirements has both old-school and app solutions. For the former, you could create a spreadsheet where each row tracks these important details for each credit card. You could write various details like when you opened the card, when the annual fee (if any) is due and the dates by which you need to qualify for particular bonuses. If you’re not up to creating your own spreadsheet, a quick Google search for "credit card tracking spreadsheet" can help you find free download options created by credit card aficionados.

Using a spreadsheet can be particularly useful for remembering things over a long period of time. For example, many banks will refund your annual fee after you've fulfilled their minimum 12-month spending requirements. With a spreadsheet, you can track how long it has been since you had a particular account open, and when you could expect to receive the annual fee rebate.

For a more modern solution, we recommend using various apps like calendar or other personal finance apps to keep track of these different dates. For example, you could enter into the app all billing due dates and minimum spending requirements for different cards, and ask to be reminded about each a few weeks in advance. That allows you time, before that date arrives, to properly utilise your cards to get your bonuses. Also, while we haven’t verified how dependably they do so, apps like Seedly and Wally could help you keep a better track of all your different credit cards.

3. Be Realistic About The Number of Cards You Can Manage

While all of these tracking activities are great for the purpose of helping you get full value from each of your cards, you could also use this time to reflect on the financial return on your time. Make sure you build into your process periodic consideration of the limits on your time, your ability to manage multiple credit cards, and whether that effort is worthwhile. Lastly, you should take this opportunity to also compare your cards’ benefits and costs, and assess whether you need all of the 6-7 cards you may have accumulated. Given the effort, stress and the risk of picking the wrong card for certain transactions, you may conclude that using fewer cards that deliver decent returns trumps carrying, say, five that offer optimal rewards.

Duckju Kang

Duckju (DJ) is the founder and CEO of ValueChampion. He covers the financial services industry, consumer finance products, budgeting and investing. He previously worked at hedge funds such as Tiger Asia and Cadian Capital. He graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with honors, Magna Cum Laude. His work has been featured on major international media such as CNBC, Bloomberg, CNN, the Straits Times, Today and more.

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