Using credit cards with rewards programs can help you get free cash and free flights, among other perks.
But dont start filling out credit card applications just yet, because reward cards arent for everyone.
Here are some facts about credit you should consider:
■ Applying for multiple rewards cards in a short period of time will hurt your credit score.
■ While rewards points do add up when you use your card for everything, you need to be sure to pay off all charges each cycle to avoid interest fees.
■ Sign-up bonuses might be appealing, but make sure you will receive rewards for purchases you make every week like groceries and gas.
■ Dont sign up for a card with an annual fee. If you really want to use the card, at least call the credit card company to see if the fee can be waived.
■ Points arent the only value you can get from a card. Check out those that offer cash rewards. That way, you can use the money to hunt for the best deals yourself. If your card doesnt give cash back, the next best option is gift certificates or credits to your existing balance on the card.
■ If you decide you are abusing your cards, pay them off and put them away. An inactive card wont hurt your credit and might actually help it since part of your score is based on the ratio of your total existing debt to your available credit.
■ Be wary of the new credit card law that went into effect recently. Merchants are now legally allowed to charge customers up to an extra 4 percent for using credit cards. This will offset the impact of fees that businesses are charged by credit card companies. I havent found any local stores charging an additional fee but keep an eye out because cash would be better in that situation.
■ May 4 is Free Comic Book Day. A number of area stores are participating. Visit Freecomicbookday.com to learn more.
■ Barber Foods, which makes stuffed chicken breasts and other products, is interested in having people serve on a consumer panel. Members will be invited periodically to participate in evaluating new product ideas.
Dont forget to redeem your rewards. Visit Points.com to learn how to manage all of your rewards in one place, plus get alerts about bonuses and deadlines.
Deborah Morris weekly column, The Fru-Gal, can help you save money. Feel free to share tips on The Fru-Gal blog at Kentucky.com/living and visit her website, Fru-gal-friends.com.