We are all thankful that 2020 will soon be now behind us, and it's time to look forward to how we can make 2021 a better year. And since many of us are staying home this winter and straitening up around the house, this time of year may also be an opportunity to put your finances in order for 2021. For credit card users, there are many ways that you can improve the way you manage your personal finances, enhance your portfolio of plastic and leverage the advantages of the cards you have.
1. Pay your balances in full. You may already be doing this, since about half of all American credit card users avoid interest charges this way. But if you're part of the other half that occasionally always carries a balance, then your 2021 resolution should be to eliminate your debts and stop incurring any more balances that you are unable to pay off every month. This is the best and easiest way to avoid costly interest charges.
2. Try autopay. Just about every credit card issuer offers a way to pay your credit card bills automatically, and electronically. This feature offers benefits for both cardholders and card issuers, as it assures that you'll never miss a payment so long as you have the money available in your checking or savings account. So in 2021, take a few minutes to login to all of your credit card accounts and configure autopay. It's remarkably easy to do, and it will save you time every month that you would have spent paying your bills. But it can also save you a tremendous amount of money by avoiding potential late fees and interest charges.
3. Examine your credit card statements. Even if you're successfully using autopay, or another system, to pay your bills on time every month, you still need to spend a few minutes beforehand reviewing your statements for any unauthorized or incorrect charges. The Fair Credit Billing Act of 1974 protects you from having to pay for fraudulent charges, but it only works if you take the time to identify them and report them to your card issuer.
4. Re-evaluate your plastic portfolio. Many Americans continue to hold the same credit cards year after year. But like smartphones, the credit card industry is constantly changing, and if you've been carrying the same card for many years, the chances are that it's now outdated and no longer competitive. Or, your needs may have changed and it may no longer be worth paying an annual fee for a card that has features and benefits that you rarely take advantage of.
A new card could offer you more rewards for spending, a lower interest rate, lower fees or more valuable travel and shopping benefits. And in the course of opening up a new credit card account, you could qualify for a welcome bonus worth hundreds of dollars in points, miles or cash back.
5. Explore your card's mobile app. Every company has a mobile app these days, so what's so important about downloading and logging into your credit card issuer's app? In addition to keeping track of your balance and payment information, you could be presented with offers for discounts or bonus rewards from featured merchants. In many cases, you could check your credit score, redeem rewards and be notified of recurring charges that you might not be aware of. Card issuers are going all out to provide additional value to their customers through their mobile app, and 2021 should be the year that you explore what features are available.
With the end of the pandemic in site, many Americans are entering the new year with a new sense of optimism. But while you're still staying at home and reorganizing, you might as well follow these credit card new year's resolutions to put your wallet in order as well .