If you would have told me 3 years ago that I would not only be able to manage a credit card but to also use it wisely enough to get paid from it, I would have thought you were crazy. But, I would have totally dug the idea! Credit card hacking is on the rise and after getting a few travel hacking perks from a credit card, I decided to try out CapitalOne Quicksilver with cash-back rewards. Here’s how we wound up staying out of debt, making the cash-back bonus award and
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What is credit card hacking?
Since starting this blog, to document our minimalist and debt payoff, I have learned about so many new ways people can make money! More and more I heard that people were making money just through managing credit cards wisely and reaping the rewards. I was instantly intrigued.
If I were to break down credit card hacking it would look like this:
- Sign up for a credit card with rewards
- Use this card to pay as many of your bills as possible each month
- Pay off your credit card on the due date
- Get rewards
It’s really pretty simple and straightforward, but definitely raises a lot of questions. Don’t worry, I’ll cover them all!
How do you start credit card hacking?
What are the basic startup steps you need to follow to get started with credit card hacking?
Pick a card
To start credit card hacking you first need a card that offers rewards that you want. A lot of people take advantage of travel reward points, but we decided to go with CapitalOne Quicksilver’s cash-back rewards because, well, it’s cash. And we have been using CapitalOne360’s checking and savings and have really loved the quality they offer.
Be aware of bonus rewards
For our CapitalOne Quicksilver card, the sign-on bonus was $150 if you spend $500 in the first 3 months! Since I planned on paying all of our bills and groceries with the card, I knew we could cover that amount with no problem.
Knowing about this bonus rewards beforehand is a wise idea because then you can more consciously spend with the intention of hitting that goal.
Get a game plan
As a recovering debt-a-holic, I was super nervous to start credit card hacking. It’s the same way I feel going to a shopping mall. I become hyper aware of my thoughts, feelings and impulses and have to actively work to avoid falling into old habits.
Here’s a run down of my game plan so that I would succeed at credit card hacking instead of letting the card get the best of me.
- Start with a small number of bills (I started with just groceries)
- Track your spending (I used the EveryDollar budget app).
- Pay off the card at the beginning of every week. (Some people do this once a month, but I wanted to be sure we were staying on top of it and not leaving ourselves totally screwed at the end of the month).
**Expert advice** Another thing a lot of credit card hackers do is transfer their spending to a separate account. So, if you spend $200 on groceries, you’d transfer $200 from your checking to a designated savings account. You could easily do this through CapitalOne360 savings so that all of your accounts are in the same place and easily transferable.
How to avoid debt
The biggest question is…”Well, if you’re using credit cards, aren’t you getting charged interest, too?” The answer: not if you’re smart about it!
Some cards may have a yearly fee associated with them, but at the rate we’re at, most fees wouldn’t even make a dent in the amount of money we have already earned with credit card hacking.
The bottom line is: if you pay your card off in full every month, you will not have to pay any money back in interest.
Tracking your spending
Like I said, I was super nervous to get started with credit card hacking because I had struggled in the past with over-using credit cards.
The best way to avoid this is by tracking your spending with a budget tracking app like Mint or EveryDollar. By tracking your spending you’re making sure that you have enough funds to pay off your card in full every month.
The last thing you want to do is get to the end of the month and realize your credit card bill is too big for your account.
Our game plan
Because paying off every month makes me nervous, I chose to pay off our credit card every Monday.
- Put purchases (including bills) on credit card
- Keep receipts
- Enter purchases into budget apps
- Pay off
creditcard every week
Other potential options:
- Put purchases on credit card
- Track spending
- Transfer spent money to separate account
- Pay off credit card every week with money from account
Types of hacking
While I am mainly focused on our cash-back hacking strategy in this post, there are several forms of credit card bonuses you can take advantage of.
- Cash back credit cards
- Travel points
- General rewards
- Retail rewards
- Gas reward cards
The reason we chose cash-back rewards is because you can ultimately use the perks toward anything you want. Other credit card points can only be used toward their particular rewards like gas or retail purchases.
When not to credit card hack
If you struggle with over-using credit cards, you should not try credit card hacking. Chances are you will end up deeper in debt and end up paying more back than originally charged.
- Give credit card hacking a try if:
- You are good at living on a budget
- Track your spending every month
- Have a secure savings
- Are debt free