I Don’t Care How Much Interest Credit Cards Charge

These are all things I don’t have the slightest care about:

  • What the royal couple named their baby.
  • Who the bachelorette picked, or what new drama surfaced this week.
  • How much the interest credit cards I’m applying for charge.

The first two aren’t controversial. I’m guessing that most of you join me in being under-impressed by the sheer lack of creativity in royal naming customs and that you, too, lost interest in “reality” TV somewhere around a decade ago. But I’m willing to bet that you’re more diligent than me when it comes to knowing what you’re on the hook for if you leave a balance on your credit accounts.

But I’ll say it once more: I could care less how much interest my credit cards charge. In the past 3 years, Nicole and I have applied for, received, and met the spending requirement to obtain bonuses on 28 different credit cards.  I could not tell you what the interest rate on any of those cards is.  In fact, I couldn’t even give you an estimate. I literally have not thought about it in the slightest.

Perhaps this is irresponsible of me… or perhaps it is responsible of me.  How could it be both? The reason I’ve chosen to direct 0% of my attention at how much interest these cards charge is because I have no intention whatsoever of paying any interest.  I will not carry a balance and I won’t be late on a payment. Of course, there’s always the chance that I happen to make a mistake.

I Made a Mistake

I used to be able to tell people that I had accumulated all these points and “never paid a penny in interest.”  Well, a couple of months ago, I broke that string. I had broken my own rule by accumulating a balance on more than one card at once because I was too greedy to pass up the 5:1 points accumulation on my Chase Ink Bold for office expenses. I monitor everything on my www.Mint.com account, but I had merged some personal accounts with my business account and it required a change to my login.  I went a couple of weeks without Mint.com pulling in my balances and I ended up leaving a balance on a card through the end of the cycle.  I had made an auto-payment, but it wasn’t paid in full. The result? A $5.10 interest charge.

I’m a cheap bugger, as is evident in the subject of this blog, and as I’ve detailed… and I don’t like to spend money… but it really, really hurt me to fork over the $5.10.  You see, I have paid a price for some of the points I’ve accumulated.  A couple of the cards have annual fees that aren’t waved up front, but I weighted out the bonuses and they’ve made sense.  But this was a fiver and a dime that I shouldn’t have had to pay.

I’m Not Too Worried About It

I suppose it was a cheap lesson for me.  Now I’m infinitely more attentive to my accounts on mint.com and I won’t be as lax using only one card at a time.

The good news is that I’ve accumulated more than 2 million miles and points and still have 1.3 million and counting.  I figure that the value of the points I have accumulated through my efforts on these 28 cards, and other promotions we’ve shared on this site, is over $22,000. The points I’ve redeemed so far have gotten me well over $8,000 in value.  If I have had to pay 3 or 4 annual fees at $80-95 each, and I add in the interest, I’m at about $400 into the points I have.  That’s a pretty dang good ROI – much better than anything I’ve ever seen or heard of – further highlighting my case that this is the one instance in which the “too good to be true” adage doesn’t apply.

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Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard — $89 Annual Fee Card


Why It Doesn’t Matter to Me

I have shared the WorldWanderlusting travel tips with countless numbers of people -helping them travel to places they had only ever dreamed of going.  In every conversation I remind them – Never carry a balance.  Never pay interest.  The moment you start to pay interest is the moment you lose.

The reality is that if you are carrying a balance on a credit card and paying interest, it doesn’t matter whether you’re paying 10% or 20%, eventually you lose.  That’s why the only way to do this is to use cards to make purchases you would only otherwise make without the credit instrument.

I don’t ever apply for cards that require me to spend more than what I intend to spend already.  To do so would be a danger, and despite the enormous value of my free travel hoard, I’m not willing to risk it.

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t care, either. In fact, I’d feel more comfortable if you did care.  But I’d also say that you’re best off not to care so much that it prevents you from seizing opportunities for free travel.

Many people believe that they’re participating in the miles and points accumulation game when they have a frequent flyer mile card or two.  They’re probably just barely scratching the surface.

Follow our blog and you’ll learn not only about how to accumulate miles and points on a level you’d never believe was possible, but you’ll also learn how to maximize them when it comes to using them for travel.

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