Todd Baldwin has enough credit card companies to travel free of charge from Seattle to Europe. The 28-year-old millionaire millionaire loves opening new credit cards, especially those with sign-up bonuses, airline environments and cash back.
But Baldwin, who today estimates he opens about two new cards a year, did not start as a credit card optimizer. Growing up, Baldwin was raised by a single mother who worked multiple jobs to feed three children. When he saw this, he felt motivated to make sure he never had to worry about money.
In his younger years, Baldwin associated credit cards with debt. But he quickly learned how useful they can be after getting his first credit card (a secured card) during his sophomore year at Western Washington University.
His best advice for young adults is to start building a credit history as early as possible. This will be useful when you want to apply for a loan or take out a mortgage in the future.
“I did not know there was a good side to credit cards until I started researching more,” Baldwin says. When you charge your credit card, you must pay it off in full before the due date. That way, you avoid interest costs while also working to improve your credit score.
He promised himself that he would never charge more than he could pay, and Baldwin created a set of guidelines to follow when using his credit cards for daily shopping, travel, and more. This is how he manages his 15 credit cards.
He only holds 1 credit card at a time
Baldwin may have 15 credit cards in his name, but he only keeps one in his wallet and the rest in a safe at home.
He notes that the card in his wallet is typically a fixed cash-back card that pays 1.5% to 2% on each purchase. He recommends this type of reward credit card or one that comes with an interest-free period, such as a 0% credit card.
For those who want to have both, Citi® Double Cash Card offers zero interest for the first 18 months on balance transfers (13.99% to 23.99% after; N / A on purchase) and 2% cash back: 1 % on all eligible purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill.
Citi® double prepaid card
On Citi’s safe side
2% cash back: 1% on all purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill
0% for the first 18 months for balance transfers Not applicable for purchases
13.99% – 23.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers
Balance transfer fee
Fee for foreign transaction
Credit is required
He does not close credit cards
Although Baldwin keeps most of his credit cards in a safe, he never closes any of them – especially his oldest.
Closing a credit card may result in a temporary decrease in your credit score because you lose the credit line available on that account and your overall credit utilization rate increases. Since a good or low utilization rate means having low credit card balances and high credit limits, a closed credit card causes your use to increase and your score is affected.
Instead, keep your credit cards open and active. Letting them go to sleep can signal to the issuer that you are no longer using the card and they may close the account for you. To ensure that you use your credit cards regularly, even if they are kept away in a safe, charge a less recurring price for them, such as a monthly subscription or streaming service, which you automate payment for each month.
He automates his credit card bill payments
Baldwin knows that paying invoices on time is the most important factor in achieving a good credit score, so he makes sure that he always pays his credit card bills before the due date.
To ensure this, Baldwin automates his monthly payments so that the money goes out of his bank account at the same time each month and he does not have to think twice about remembering to do it himself.
In fact, when it comes to paying bills, such as utilities on the six rental homes he has, Baldwin puts as many bills as possible on a credit card and then automates the credit card payment each month to help his credit score. For those interested in the Citi® Double Cash Card mentioned above, Baldwin’s guideline will also mean that you put money in your pocket as you earn cash back when you pay your credit card bill.
He never has a balance on his credit card
Keeping a balance on your credit card to increase your credit score is a common myth. When you have a revolving balance each month on your credit card, you pick up the daily interest charges and eat up your available credit.
To prevent ever paying interest, Baldwin pays one of his credit card balances in full each month.
He avoids credit cards with annual fees
Although some of the best credit cards come with annual fees, Baldwin only has one for which he pays an annual fee.
His advice is to avoid cards with annual fees unless the benefits of the card outweigh what you have to pay to get the card. For example. Baldwin uses his only annual fee card, an airline credit card, to book travel because it comes with an accompanying fare that offsets the cost of the annual fee.
To help decide if a new card is worth the price, calculate the amount you need to spend annually on the card to break out with the annual fee.
Learn more: The best credit cards with no annual fee in September 2020
He does not go out of his way to earn a welcome bonus
“It’s important to never go out of your way to spend $ 1,000 to make $ 300, because then you lose $ 700,” Baldwin says.
While Baldwin likes to take advantage of credit card generous sign-up bonus offers, he does not spend money that he otherwise would not just get points, miles or cash back. Instead, he waits until he still has a big purchase to make before signing up for a credit card to receive the welcome bonus. Knowing that he has expenses, whether it’s delivering one of his rental homes to be listed on Airbnb or repairing his car, he’s more likely to reap new card bonuses in a way that that works with his budget.
He checks his credit score every few months
Because Baldwin pays his bills on time and never spends more than he can pay on his credit cards, he does not worry about where his credit score stands. However, he checks his score for free every few months, especially before applying for a mortgage on a new real estate investment.
When Baldwin is about to be approved to buy real estate, he actually avoids applying for a new credit card altogether. He knows that the hard inquiries that occur when the card issuer withdraws his credit report instantly drops his score and he wants to have the best possible score to show for when lenders check his credit.
To check his credit score, Baldwin uses the Credit Karma app, but there are plenty of resources available for consumers to access their credit score.
You do not have to be a Capital One cardholder to use CreditWise® from Capital One, which provides your VantageScore for free from TransUnion, one of the top three credit bureaus.
CreditWise® from Capital One
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