1. USE YOUR BILLING CYCLE TO SHOP

Time your shopping to buy yourself extra time to pay off your credit card bills. Find out the closing date of your card’s billing cycle and make your purchase right after it closes. 

This “floats” your next buy – it will show up in the next bill, and not the one on the way. But you cannot do this if you have an outstanding balance on your credit cards – you’ll be earning compounded interest on your new purchase too.

2. DO A SIX-MONTH REVIEW

If you haven’t used a particular credit card for at least six months, review your lifestyle and spending patterns. Melissa Heng, corporate affairs manager at Citibank, says that when you know what you’re spending most on, you can stick to a card that will give you the most mileage in that area. 

She explains: “If you shop a lot, you’d want a credit card that earns you the most reward points to redeem for shopping vouchers. If you spend the most on petrol, you may need a card that offers attractive cash rebates on petrol top-ups.”

However, it’s easy to get enticed by what credit cards can offer to new subscribers – welcome vouchers, promotional travel packages, extensive discounts. Don’t rush into signing up for one just so you can claim the perks. If it doesn’t give benefits that are relevant to you, you’re likely not to use it much anyway.

3. HAVE JUST ONE OR TWO CARDS

Limiting the number of cards helps you to make the most out of your rewards programme. “If you charge your purchases to only one or two cards, you will earn points faster – this gives you a greater chance of redeeming bigger rewards, like air tickets or electronic items,” says Yoshimi Nakajima, country manager of American Express Singapore. 

4. TRAVEL SMART

Some banks, like Maybank and American Express, offeer credit cards that give you free travel accident insurance when you charge your travel package to the card. “This is a good strategy for frequent travellers because it not only gives them air miles for future travel, they’ll also have peace of mind at the same time,” says Yoshimi. 

5. SET YOUR PAYMENT DUE DATE

Some credit cards allow you to review your payment due date and set a new one. Use this to align your credit cards so that they’re all due on the same day. You’ll be more comfortable with the timing of the payment – for example, right after pay day, instead of just before – and you’re more likely to not miss it too. 

6. NEVER CARRY FORWARD A BALANCE

Everyone knows this, but it’s not always easy to do. While credit cards allow you to defer payment, you shouldn’t take advantage of this flexibility. 

“If you cannot afford to pay the whole sum, you should at least pay more than the minimum monthly repayment of $50. This helps you to save on the interest and pay off the sum faster,” says Yoshimi. Also consider switching to a card that charges a lower interest rate. 

This article was originally published in Simply Her August 2013.