3 credit cards that will help you manage your finances better

May 30, 2021

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The pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on our finances, changing our everyday spending habits significantly. Here at The Points Guy, we believe that it’s crucial to regularly take stock of what’s in your wallet by evaluating what cards to add, keep, downgrade or cancel.

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According to a recent survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), young adults ages 18 to 34 have experienced pandemic-related financial strain three times more than Americans ages 65 and older. Even more worrisome, young adults have attributed poor mental health to their finances.

As a recent graduate myself, I wanted to go over three credit cards to help whip your finances into better shape. Credit cards can be excellent budgeting tools that break down your monthly spending and earn rewards that fit your lifestyle needs. While credit cards can be a dangerous game if misused, you’ll avoid any trouble by following TPG’s 10 commandments to help you establish good or excellent credit.

Related: Which budgeting technique is right for you?

In This Post

Best credit card for student loans: Laurel Road Student Loan Cashback® Card

(Photo courtesy of Laurel Road)

Higher Education is pricey, and if you’re looking at thousands of dollars of student loans, you may want to consider applying for the new Laurel Road Student Loan Cashback Card — the first and only card to offer cash-back rewards to pay down student loan payments. The issuer works with 95% of U.S. student loan service providers, so you’ll be able to use this card to redeem 2% cash-back rewards toward eligible student loans and 1% toward anything else.

This card has no annual or foreign transaction fees and a 0% introductory balance transfer offer for the first 12 months for balance transfers made within the first 60 days (then a variable APR of 13.99 to 22.99% applies). Plus, it’s unique that this card has a sign-up bonus of $500 in cash-back rewards (redeemable for any eligible student loan) after you spend $5,000 in the first 90 days of account opening.

Related: Pay your student loans with a credit card and earn rewards along the way

This could be a great rewards card option for college students, but you’ll want to confirm with Laurel Road to ensure that the issuer works with your student loan provider for maximum rewards opportunity. You can call a specialist at (833) 427-2265 or email help@laurelroad.com for more information.

The information for the Laurel Road Student Loan card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Best introductory APR card for large purchases: Citi Simplicity® Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Suppose you’re making a large purchase soon — such as a major home renovation and you need to buy furniture and appliances — or you already have a sizable amount of debt on your credit cards. In either case, you have a couple of financing options available.

Related: Cards I’m recommending for a $30,000 home renovation project

For example, you could open a card such as the Citi Simplicity® Card, which offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 18 months. Balance transfers must be completed within the first four months of account opening. You’ll want to pay off your debt within this period, as your APR will be 14.74% to 24.74% variable once this introductory period is over.

While this card doesn’t come with any rewards or a sign-up bonus, sometimes your priority may be to reduce the amount of debt first. The Citi Simplicity can help you get grounded and back on your feet, establishing good credit habits before you’re able to move onto more advanced rewards credit cards.

The information for the Citi Simplicity card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Best no-annual-fee cash-back card: Citi® Double Cash Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

For some, your priority may be to maximize your daily purchases and earn rewards that are useful to reduce your expenses. The Citi® Double Cash Card is an excellent cash-back credit card that earns up to 2% cash back on purchases — 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay.

At TPG, we often recommend this card to beginners as it helps you establish healthy credit habits so that you can only earn the other half of your cash-back rewards when you pay off your monthly statement.

Related: Why a credit card is a smarter choice than a debit card

Once your rewards reach a balance of $25, you can redeem for cash back as a check or a statement credit — which means you can apply your earnings to existing or new charges. Many people will enjoy the flexibility of this card, as it’s always nice to have extra cash on hand rather than points and miles that can only be usable for travel.

Bottom line

Life comes at you with tons of unpredictable expenses. Even if they are predictable, any amount of debt can cause an immense amount of stress. Thankfully, these three credit cards offer financial flexibility whether you’re paying student loans, refinancing your debt or making a large purchase that you may not be able to afford currently.

Featured photo by krisanapong detraphiphat for Getty Images

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 100,000 Points


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*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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