Five ways to get the most from your credit card

In an age of debit cards and easily accessible cash, credit cards should be obsolete. But they still exist, because too many consumers spend money they don't have. Credit card companies have also had to think hard about how to keep their other customers, those who don't overspend, using their plastic. Their answer: incentives. Here are five incentives you can use to get the most out of your credit card: 

1. Cash-back rewards

Mike Blake/Reuters/File
American Express offers a Blue Cash Preferred card that offers 6 percent cash back on groceries, 3 percent on gas, and 1 percent on all other purchases. If you buy $1,300 worth of groceries in a year, the annual rewards will pay for the $75 annual fee.

Cash-back rewards programs offer you a rebate in the form of a check or statement credit when you purchase with your credit card. The American Express Blue Cash Preferred card, for example, offers 6 percent cash back on groceries, 3 percent on gas, and 1 percent on all other purchases. The card comes with a $75 annual fee, so you should weigh that charge against what you expect to earn in rebates before you apply.

Use your card responsibly and pay your bill in full every month to ensure you're getting the better end of the bargain. Rewards can be a wonderful incentive to sign up for a credit card, just make sure you manage yours effectively.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

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