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If your credit needs rehabilitation due to late payments, accounts in collections or other negative items, it might be time to rebuild. Rebuilding your credit requires an understanding of your current situation, identifying past mistakes and implementing the right strategies going forward.
Wise use of a credit card is one way to start. Surprising, right? But if you use that plastic correctly, it really can help you. Good credit card strategies include keeping a low balance, making payments on time and paying your balance in full each month. To do that, it’s best to start small and only charge things that wonât kill your credit building project before it takes off. (You can check on your progress with a free credit report snapshot on Credit.com.)
Here are a few things you can charge on your credit cardÂ to help you boost that score.
The cost of gas can add up, but if you already have room for gas in your monthly budget, you can charge your gas expenses and pay them off in full using the funds in your bank account. Some credit cards offer special cash back rates on gas purchases so you can earn a little money back in your wallet (although getting a new unsecured credit card might not be the best move for you at this stage as the inquiry will cause your score to take even more of a hit).
Groceries are another staple you likely already have built into your budget. Instead of handing over cash or a check when you pick up the necessities for the week, charge your groceries to your credit card and pay those purchases off in full each month. There are several credit cards on the market that offer special cash-back rates on groceries, as well.
Monthly streaming services usually cost less than $20 a month. You could conceivably set up your credit card to pay for a streaming service, pay it off in full each month and never use it for anything else.
If you have a large balance on a high-interest credit card, it could be damaging your credit score and affecting your ability to make your payment. If you have a lower interest credit card, you can transfer the balance and reduce the interest. If you can qualify, a card with a long 0% intro APR period can help you pay your balance off interest-free.
(Cheap) Dining &Â Recreation
It’sÂ probably not a good idea to use your credit cards at the club or restaurants, as itâs easy for costs to spiral out of control. But if youâre on a date at the movies or taking the kids out for mini golf and milkshakes, low-cost dining and recreation purchases might be a safe bet.
Small Everyday Expenses
Sometimes you have to run into a local store for a roll of duct tape or some socks. Small everyday purchases can be fairly easy to pay off in full.
Using Your Credit Card Wisely to Build Credit
For the most part, small purchases you can afford to pay off each time the statement arrivesÂ are the best things to put on your credit card, as payment history is the biggest influencer of your credit scores. Plus, carrying a balance means you’ll be hit with interest and it will take you longer to pay down your balance.
But even relatively small purchases can threaten your credit if they pileÂ up too quickly. (Credit experts recommend keeping your credit utilization ratio â that is, your amount of debt in relation to your credit limit â at 30%, ideally 10%.) So, a good practice is to treat your credit card like cash and only purchase things you can cover with available funds.
Have any questions about improving your credit? Ask us in the comments below and one of our credit experts will do their best to help.
The post The Best Things to Charge on Your Credit Card When Youâre Rebuilding Credit appeared first on Credit.com.
Gasoline can get expensive, but most of us have to drive at some point or another. Driving around to find the cheapest gas in town is one way to cut a big chunk out of your monthly gas bill. But there are many tips and tricks that can reduce what you pay at the pump. Here are seven strategies that can help you save money on gas and reduce your environmental footprint.
See what the average budget looks like for someone in your neighborhood.
1. Service Your Vehicle Regularly
Properly maintaining your vehicle can improve its fuel economy. Youâll need to replace dirty filters as often as possible and use the right motor oil whenever you top up. Using the wrong oil could waste gas by making your engine work harder. If you arenât sure which grade of motor oil your car needs, you can check your ownerâs manual.
Itâs also important to keep your tires properly inflated. Tire pressure should always remain at the level recommended by your carâs manufacturer. And youâll need to make sure your tires are aligned. When it comes to gas mileage, a simple tune-up can go a long way.
2. Use A/C Wisely
In some cases, you can waste gas by cranking up the A/C. But it all depends on where youâre driving. If youâre driving fast because youâre on the highway, for example, having the windows open can increase drag and reduce fuel economy. So using A/C when youâre speeding down the freeway wonât prevent you from trying to save money on gas.
In most cars, the A/C turns on when you try to defrost the windshield. Using a less powerful setting is one way to avoid wasting energy.
3. Find Cheap Places to Fuel Up
Generally to find cheap gas, youâll need to stay away from wealthier neighborhoods and check out stations in the suburbs if youâre driving through a major city. Apps like GasBuddy, AAA TripTik Mobile and Waze can help you find low gas prices in your area.
If youâre trying to spend less money on gas, waiting until your gas tank is empty and filling up a little at a time throughout the week isnât a good idea. In fact, doing that could damage your car. Itâs best to wait until you have a quarter tank of gas and fill it up all the way.
Related Article: States With the Worst Drivers
4. Earn Rewards for Buying Gas
If you drive a lot, it may make sense for you to get a credit card that rewards you with cash back or points for buying gas. Depending on the kind of credit card you qualify for, you could earn gas rewards of up to 5%.
5. Travel Lightly
Carrying around a heavy load can add unnecessary drag. Thatâs why itâs a good idea to clean out your trunk and remove anything from your roof that you donât need. By removing excess weight, youâll be able to maximize your vehicleâs fuel economy.
6. Drive Slower
Cars often use more gas when drivers speed up. Exceeding your carâs optimal speed can reduce your gas mileage. In many cars, itâs best to drive at around 50 mph if you want to save fuel.
When you need to accelerate, itâs best to tap the gas pedal lightly. Speeding up too quickly or hitting the brakes too hard can reduce your miles per gallon.
Related Article: How to Trade in a Car
7. Drive More Efficiently
In addition to monitoring your speed, you can drive more efficiently by paying attention to details. For example, itâs a good idea to turn off the engine if your car has been idle for a while. Avoiding potholes and sudden stops can also make a difference when youâre trying to save money.
Using cruise control while youâre driving long distances may also help you use less gas. If you want to go the extra mile, consider buying a more fuel-efficient car. Spending a bit more on a new ride might make sense if you want better gas mileage.
Sometimes you have to get creative when you want to cut costs. By making some adjustments to the way you drive and maintain your car, you can save big bucks on gasoline.
And if you can capitalize on the best times to buy gas, you probably should. Usually, itâs best to get gas either early in the morning or late at night.
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The post 7 Small Ways to Save Big on Gas appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.