10 Top Tips to Keep Credit Card Costs Down

Love 'em or hate 'em you can't ignore the fact that credit cards are just about the handiest tool the bank gives you to handle your money - but how do you keep your spending in control and your costs down?

You can’t go through a day without seeing a new advert for credit card cashback, restaurant discounts or special offers on shopping. They’re everywhere. If you really want to get more for your money don’t waste your cash on unnecessary fees and charges.

Here are 10 Top Tips from the RinggitPlus team on how you can keep your credit card costs down.

1. Pay more than the minimum

Your credit card company will always give you the option of paying the minimum 5% of your credit card debt at the end of every month. We all know there will be times where you can’t make full payment but whenever possible try to pay as much as you can. For example, if you leave RM1000 unpaid on your card you could be charged as much as 1.5%, or RM15 per month until it is paid off.

2. Pay on time

Paying late can leave you with the full interest charge plus a late payment penalty. The penalty can be as much as RM10 or 1% of the outstanding balance up to a maximum penalty of RM75.

3. Stay within your credit limit

It is easier than you think to spend over your credit limit without knowing. In such situations, some credit cards will charge you a RM25 over-limit fee. If you know you are close to your limit it is best to give your credit card company a call to check how much extra balance you have outstanding. 

4. Cut up old and unused credit cards

Bank Negara rules require all credit cards to charge an annual service tax of RM50 for principal and RM25 for supplementary cards. Most cards will also charge an annual fee if you don’t use the card a certain number of times a year.

If you have an old or unused card then the best thing to do is cut it up and cancel it.

5. Choose zero annual fee cards

Many cards now offer no annual fees or offer a refund of your annual fee if you spend a certain amount or use the card a minimum number of times. Check out our list of credit cards with no annual fees.

6. Use reward points to pay your annual fee and service tax

If you have spare reward points on your credit card most companies will allow you pay your annual fee and service tax. If you don’t have anything more exciting to use your points for this is a great way to save money.

7. Transfer your balance

Once in a while life can get in the way and you end up with unexpected charges on your card. If you really can’t repay the balance then consider a balance transfer.

For example, if you are only making the minimum repayment on a RM3000 balance, the total interest charge could come to RM445 over 12 months. If you transfer the RM3000 to a 0% balance transfer deal you could save all that interest charge.

Why not compare all the balance transfers for credit cards in Malaysia?

8. Maximise the card benefits

If your credit card does not offer you several benefits you should really consider switching. If you find a card that matches your lifestyle you can save hundreds of ringgit a year from cashback, reward points and discounts. For example, you can easily save 5% to 15% on your petrol bills with a petrol credit card.

9. Call your bank

You will be surprised at how often your bank will give a refund for certain fees if you just call up and negotiate. You may have to be patient with the call center and it might take some time to find the right person but it is worth the hard work. There’s no harm trying and the worst that can happen is they say no.

10. Use a debit card

If you find that the credit” in “credit card is too tempting to ignore but you want the convenience of a card to minimize cash and to buy online then a debit card is a great alternative.

Debit cards have lower fees, no service tax and no ability to spend beyond your limit. Many debit cards also offer cashback and reward points. Check out our list of popular Debit Cards.

Last but not least, the most important tip when using a credit card is to only charge what you can afford to pay back. If you need help finding a credit card you can compare almost 300 credit cards to find a card that best matches your lifestyle.


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