Make your spending work for you
(NC) With the holiday season in full swing, Canadians are preparing for the inevitable crowded malls, congested parking lots and a limited supply of the most coveted gifts. Amidst the chaos, have you ever asked if your spending is working for you?
According to a recent survey from American Express Canada, 68 per cent of credit card-holding consumers state rewards programs are important to them, but only 15 per cent admit to actually researching their options. In fact, over a quarter (27%), don't even fully understand what their rewards programs offer them, which means there are many of us who are making purchases without reaping the rewards.
To help you get back in the driver's seat of your points accumulation – and before facing the spending frenzy – here's a helpful list to make sure you are choosing the right program:
Do your research. There are a ton of credit card options out there and a variety of different features to suit diverse spending needs. Get to know the different product perks and benefits and try to find a program that allows you to not have to think twice about where you shop.
Identify your spending habits. Once you have all of the options in front of you, track the past six months of your spending to establish any key patterns. Do you spend a high percentage of your disposable income at the same handful of stores? Do you repeatedly use the same card? Do you spend more during certain peak times? These answers will help you get a better sense of what you need out of a card to help you make a compatible choice.
Read the fine print. Before committing to a card, make sure you read all the fine print and have a firm grasp on any restrictions or blackout periods so you don't have any surprises down the road. It's important to look for flexibility. The American Express Gold Rewards Card, for example, allows you to book a trip on your card through any travel provider and pay for it with points or transfer points to one of many frequent flyer programs. Understand the terms and where you have freedom around earning and redeeming points, along with the types of rewards offered.
Rewards programs can be daunting, and more choices often feel like more headaches, but if you take some time up front to pick a card the truly works for you, you'll barely have to think about it again—until, that is, you're sitting on a flight you paid for with points.
More information is available at www.amex.ca.
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