Loyalty and reward programs are fantastic, here are 5 things to beware of

We certainly love our reward points here at Help Me Bank. They can be a great points boost to whichever loyalty program you are a part of.

5 things to beware of when signing up for a loan or card reward program

  1. annual fee. Beware because some banks waive the first annual fee and then charge an inflated one in the coming years to make up for it. If you close your card, some banks will also charge you a pro-rated fee. What’s more, they’re totally allowed to do this.
  2. the points can take a long time to hit your account. I mean a long time, up to 6 months depending on your bank, type of card and the bank’s policy. In other words, don’t sign up for a card if you need the points to book a trip in a couple of weeks, you’ll be waiting a while.
  3. the requirements to get the points can be unreasonable, difficult or unsuitable to you. For example, there have been cards that require for you to spend $2500 in a month for you to be eligible for the points. That’s just too much for many people’s budgets, so don’t bother signing up for that card.
  4. make sure you focus on the type of card or loan you need, not the reward points, because the points will disappear but the card or loan will remain. Try to look at the points as a bonus. You don’t want to be stuck with a card without an interest-free period if you need one. You don’t want to be stuck with a high-interest rate card with an interest-free period if you want a low rate or low fee card.
  5. don’t go crazy applying for cards, or there will be too many credit enquiries on your credit file. Every time you apply for a credit card or loan with any financial institution, it is counted as a credit enquiry. This is seen as risky by banks and other financial institutions unless there’s a good explanation for it. Banks don’t typically recognise rewards programs as a good enough reason, which is unfortunate but is just the case.

I hope that helped – just beware of all of the terms and conditions and read everything you can before signing up.

How to start a simple budget using Google Sheets

There are so many free budgeting tools out there, you can probably Google for a list of fifty if you wanted to. If you’re an advanced budgeter with amazing software, this article will unlikely help you; but keep reading if you’re curious and want to have a look at the free Google Drive & Google Sheets software, we can direct you there.

How to access Google Sheets Budgeting tools

  1. Log into your Google account (this is the same as Gmail, YouTube & GooglePlus) or create one if you don’t have one yet
  2. Go to http://www.sheets.google.com
  3. Click which budget you are after – there is an Annual Budget and a Monthly Budget. You just need to put your numbers into the chosen spreadsheet.

Budget tips

  • Be honest with your numbers. Completing a budget is an important exercise and can help you plan for the future.
  • Update your budget if you’ve accidentally forgotten an expense or your circumstances change.

    Note: If you are drowning in debt, one of the first steps you should take is having a look at your budget and then speaking to a free debt counselling service. Good luck and I hope that the Google budgeting tool helps you, it is certainly handy for us here at Help Me Bank.