Credit cards have gotten a very bad rap in the personal finance world for quite some time now. This is for good reason considering the amount of debt many people are carrying around on their credit card accounts and how much interest most of them are paying to service that debt. We have been there and it wasn’t pretty!
As we began to dig ourselves out of debt we naturally had to stop using our credit cards (with some small exceptions). It was very important to do this at the time as we needed to make changes to our relationship with money and the way we viewed it. We needed to be more aware of our spending and feel the pinch of a lower bank balance at the same time as the high of a new purchase.
As time went on and we began spending money responsibly I decided it was time to start using our credit cards again- and this time for everything!! This time, however, we would be paying off our balance each month. Before we began using our cards again, though, I lowered our limits to an amount inline with our monthly budgeted spending. Over the years, our credit card provider had slowly increased our limits until they were much more than we had ever needed. This had made it much easier to rack up more debt than we were able to pay off. This time, we would only be able to make purchases that totalled our monthly spending budget and if we needed more room we would have to make a payment.
We are President’s Choice Financial customers and as such, have PC MasterCards. These MasterCards pay 1% back in points on all of your purchases and since we’ve received ‘special’ black cards, we get double points on whatever we spend at a PC brand store. I don’t believe you can apply for one of these ‘special cards’; the offer was mailed to us ‘for being long time customers’. The regular cards though still pay 1% in points on all your purchases plus some bonus points when you shop at PC brand stores. Once we have accrued 20000 points we can put that towards $20 of free groceries or whatever else we’d like from a PC brand store (Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore, NoFrills, Zehrs etc.)
This doesn’t sound like a lot but it really adds up quickly! At the beginning of January, I redeemed $50 towards free groceries and I already have another $40 worth of points to spend. I can only look back at the last 90 days worth of transactions but those amounts aren’t too shabby in my books! Since we’ve had our cards (about 6 years) we’ve redeemed $1000 worth of groceries and most of that time we were carrying debt on our card and because of that, unable to make many purchases.
We now use our PC MasterCards for every single purchase we possibly can. We accrue points very quickly. Further, I love being able to balance my budget by looking at my statement a couple times a week. We had a difficult time keeping track of all of our spending when we were using cash because it was easy to forget about a few dollars here or there. Now I just have to look at my statement and input all of our spending into my own ledgers from there.
Each month, when I receive my e-statement, I log on to my Manulife One account and arrange for the payment to come out a few days before it is due. This way, my MasterCard gives me an interest-free loan for up to 45 days (give or take..)! For instance, if I purchase my groceries on the 1st of the month for $200 and take the money straight from my M1 account, I would pay 3.5% interest for that $200 until it is replaced. However, if I pay for my groceries with my MasterCard, I can keep the $200 in my M1 account until I pay my bill on the 15th of the next month saving myself 3.5% interest for 45 days. Sure it’s pocket change but I like pocket change- and I love watching it add up!
Currently, President’s Choice is offering $40 worth of points to all new MasterCard clients. If you use our referral code: 90860535A5 we will also get $10 worth of points. Act now though as this offer is only available until Feb. 29th. Click here for more information!