The MightyTravels guide to credit cards

On MightyTravels, we post the best credit card deals for you when we see them, particularly with respect to travel benefits. If you're used to the credit card game of miles and points, then you may understand why we seem to post so many offers, and you may have benefited many times. We also understand that you may be new to using credit cards to help you travel the world or even simply new to credit cards themselves, so this post would be a good place for you to start.

Thanks to the savvy use of various credit cards, I have traveled the world, and often in style. I have collected countless miles and points and been able to use some of them to purchase first class and business class flights as well as luxury hotels. Here's how you can, too!

Credit cards can be seen as a bad idea, but this is likely only if they're used irresponsibly. Negative behavior such as making late card payments or exceeding the card limit can seriously affect your credit score and thus your future finances and can prevent you from qualifying for a mortgage, renting an apartment or even obtaining a job.

As we've posted before, credit cards are great tools for improving your credit score, whether you have a poor score or no score.

As a new user, through responsible use of a credit card you can establish and obtain new credit, and you're then on your way to the real advantages of being a credit cardholder.

There are benefits that credit cards give you that cash and debit cards don't, and it's not just the valuable miles and points that you can earn to help you travel. Car rental insurance, trip insurance, warranty extension, fraud protection and dispute resolution are some of the real advantages for the credit cardholder today. Plus a credit card is often vital in the travel world, for holding a hotel or car rental reservation or in an emergency.

If you're starting out in the world of credit cards, there are several ways to build your credit history. You can apply for a student credit card, become an additional user on someone else's card or use store cards. You can also apply for a secured card, such as the Wells Fargo, which uses your own cash as collateral to establish credit.

As a new user, you may see instant approvals when applying for credit cards, but this usually starts to dwindle later down the line. Reconsideration numbers are a valuable resource, as you are often approved over the phone after being initially denied.

Some cards that you apply for don't charge an annual fee or waive the fee in the first year. Other cards may charge a annual fee every year, but this doesn't necessarily mean you should avoid them, as the card's benefits may outweigh the charge. I recently wrote about credit cards that I happily pay an annual fee for.

There are some simple ways that you can raise your credit score, such as paying off your credit card bill in full before the statement prints, using different kinds of credit such as auto loans and by using business credit cards. FICO recommend keeping your debt-to-credit ratio at 30% or lower and CreditSesame recommend getting rid of small balances on several cards and just using one or two main cards instead.

Using business credit cards is a great idea if you qualify; business spending isn't reported on your credit report and even when you close a business credit card it won't affect your personal credit. If you don't have your own business but, say, sell things online, or you're thinking of starting a business soon, you can still apply for a business credit card, as we outlined here.

When you apply for a credit card, the issuing bank pulls your credit to find out your creditworthiness and your credit score drops. We wrote about a way to get around this – the 'two-browser-trick' – in the past, where you use multiple web browsers to apply for multiple credit cards with one issuing bank at the same time, using only one credit inquiry. It still works with some issuing banks and people have even had successes using three or more browsers to get three or more cards in one pull.

There are many cards around with a decent sign-up bonus right now, as well as ones with an excellent sign-up bonus such as the Marriott Reward Premier Visa Signature card with 70,000 bonus points, but they are often limited-time offers where you need to apply as soon as possible.

To stay on top of the game, keep reading MightyTravels and subscribe to our newsletters, so that you have a better chance of seeing the offers as they appear.

Pictures courtesy of VersusBattle, Kaydem Credit Help, Arcomidia and CRN.

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