MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - First Alert Meteorologist Robert Whitehurst says he was able to save almost $18,000 on a vacation to Europe, and in Deal Diva he shares some tips on how you can get most out of your credit card cash rewards.
In May, Robert and his wife traveled from Myrtle Beach to Europe, visiting places like London, Budapest, Barcelona, and even Paris. A first class trip paid for with cash back points.
There are thousands of cards to choose from, but Whitehurst says he had to choose the card that suites his need. He also says it is important to evaluate what you're spending your money on and where you're spending.
"So if you eat out a lot there are certain cards that will give you 2% back, if you cook at home a lot, and you buy from the grocery store, your main spending is going to be grocery. There are cards that give you four to even 5 % cash back on those purchases," Whitehurst said.
He says keep in mind that is money you are already spending, so the idea is to earn a certain percentage back on your current budget without spending more for rewards, but in order to do that, consumers must know the rules of the card game.
"Now here's where it gets kind of complicated," Whitehurst explained. "So let's say you have 60,000 points, if you were to put that back into a cash back card that would give you $600, normally, because they are rated at one cent a piece. Now that same 60,000 points could get you a round trip flight to Europe, however, keep in mind that flight could cost you $2,000 to $3,000. So that's the same amount of points if you were to do a cash back card, which would give you $600 but if you are using it towards travel it's giving you $2,000 to the $3,000 travel value, and that's where you start to see the big difference."
Whitehurst and his wife spent nearly two weeks in Europe flying first class, but a trip like that doesn't pay for itself overnight.
"Flights alone were upwards of 18,000 dollars and they were all paid with points, now keep in mind it took a while to accrue those points, and the flights that we used were expensive," Whitehurst explained.
Financial experts from the website Bankrate.com also recommend consumers to use their credit cards wisely, and Whitehurst agrees.
Whitehurst adds, "These cards are not to keep balances on, they typically have high interest rates, but there are other credit cards that have lower interest rates that are made for that kind of thing, but these are not the cards that you want to do that with."
So consumers can really take advantage of the rewards, it is also very important to pay off your balance every month.
"If you keep a balance on there that totally neglects the points you're going to get because that 2% percent cash back doesn't matter when you're paying a 25% interest rate per month," Whitehurst said.
It is important to remember Robert Whitehurst is not a certified financial advisor, and it's always a good idea to speak with your own certified financial advisor about your own financial goals.