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Credit Card Applications » Blog » Blogger Series » Andrew Schrage on Tips for Staying in Control of Credit Cards

Andrew Schrage on Tips for Staying in Control of Credit Cards

Updated: October 3, 2012
The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.
Personal finance blogger Andrew Schrage of

Andrew Schrage is one of the team members of Money Crashers, a website geared toward helping readers make good choices
when it comes to a whole host of money related topics, including education, spending habits, investing, real estate,
insurance and of course managing credit and debt. Recently he sat down and talked with us about staying in control of
credit cards, a very hot topic these days.

Can you talk a bit about how the Money Crashers got its start?

I become involved with Money Crashers in 2008 at the height of the recession. The goal of the site is to educate
its readers on ways to make better spending and saving decisions. Progress was slow and steady in the beginning,
but we’ve recently enjoyed a significant increase in traffic and subscribers due to our ever-increasing presence
on social media websites.

Money Crashers uses a community based model – why?

While I consider myself and the site’s contributors to be experts in the personal finance realm, we are not so bold
as to think that we have all the answers. We strive for a neighborly feel to the website, which invites readers to
participate in various discussions. Since our respondents can count on their opinions being heard and their questions
answered, we feel that they can rely on us for help with their everyday finances.

When it comes to credit cards what’s the hottest topic of conversation on the Money Crashers?

People are becoming more aware of the financial toll that carrying
credit card debt
can take on their lives. So much hard-earned money is wasted on unnecessary interest payments, and with the current economic
crisis, people are now more interested than ever in finding ways to get rid of this debt.

How did you all come up with “The 11 Indispensable Principles of Money Crashers” posted on your site?

At Money Crashers, we wanted to take an organized approach to the content we post. So we
created the Eleven Indispensable Principles so that our readers will have some basic understanding of what our core
values and beliefs are. We feel that if these principles are put into place, achieving financial success is possible
for anyone.

Can you discuss your top five keys to staying financially fit and using credit cards?

Credit cards can make you lots of money when used correctly, but
can cost you big time if they’re abused. Here are my top five tips:

  • If you can’t afford to pay for something by the end of the month, then you just can’t afford it.
  • Before you reach for your plastic to purchase an item, ask yourself one simple question: “Do I really need this?”
  • Limit the number of credit cards you carry with you at any one time (two at the most) for safety reasons.
  • Do not close unused credit card accounts, as this lowers your credit score. Keep them all open and use these
    cards every so often so the issuer doesn’t close them for you.
  • If you pay your balance off each month, put all your purchases on credit cards to boost your rewards card
    balance. You can even sign up utility bills to be paid with credit cards if your provider allows it.
What cards are in your wallet, and which ones do you like to use and why?

I currently use the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express. I get 6% cash back on
groceries and 3% on gas. I also use the Chase Freedom card, which provides a 5% discount on all purchases at checkout
across rotating categories throughout the year. I also use the Chase Ink card for business, which offers significant
cash back and no annual fee. My key credit card tip is that if you’re in good financial shape and have the discipline
not to get into credit card debt, the best option for you is cash back credit cards. These provide an unbelievable
return on your money and make it extremely unwise to pay cash for your purchases.

Are you using any of these cards for business?

The one card I use for business is the Ink card, which I mentioned above. While business credit
cards do have benefits, keep in mind that you can often take better advantage of cash back and other perks by sticking
with personal credit cards. Also, business credit cards aren’t protected under the recent credit card legislation.

Name five business expenses that you pay with credit cards and why?

I pay for office supplies, software subscriptions, professional memberships, marketing
initiatives, and Internet fees with credit cards. The more purchases I pay for with credit, the higher my cash
back rewards payouts.

Financial experts often talk about good debt vs bad debt – but it can be hard to understand can you give us a simple
explanation, as well as discuss how credit cards can play a role in obtaining “good” debt.

Good debt is any sort of borrowing that you do which is for something that will eventually (or hopefully)
give you a decent return on your investment. Taking out a mortgage to buy a house or using
student loans to
pay for college are two good examples. Your house will hopefully improve in value over time, and the benefits
of a college degree may include getting a higher-paying job. Taking out a loan to buy a car is another example.
The car won’t appreciate in value, but it’s a necessity for most people in order to hold down a job and earn a salary.
Bad debt is basically all other forms of debt, with credit card debt at the top of the list.

There are interest rates associated with each type of good debt. If you carry significant
credit card debt, pay your credit card bills late, or go over your spending limits, the bank will charge you a
higher rate of interest. This is just one more reason why heavy credit card debt takes such a financial toll.

In another prospective, can someone’s health get out of shape due to credit card debt? What are the top strategies
for getting back on the fitness wagon when you have credit card debt?

If your finances are a mess, this can lead to increased stress and poor physical fitness. However, instead of
signing up for an expensive gym membership, consider getting cheaper or free methods to get yourself back into shape.
You can walk or jog in your neighborhood, swim at local public pools, and exercise at home with an affordable set of
dumbbells and a jump rope.

Examine your diet as well. If you replace prepackaged and processed foods with more fresh fruits
and vegetables, you’ll save money and live healthier
at the same time.

Andrew certainly covered lots of ground in this interview! I had a great time at FINCON 2012 and we will be talking
with some of the other leading experts I met there in the coming weeks, to bring you the latest information on money,
credit and finance.

Disclaimer: This editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer(s). Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer(s), and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer(s). Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate information, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult a card's issuing bank for the terms & conditions.
All rates and fees, and other terms and conditions of the products mentioned in this article/post are actual as of the last update date but are subject to change. See the current products' Terms & Conditions on the issuing banks' websites.
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