[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here — PenFed Promise and Amex Express EveryDay. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
It can be hard being a mother — getting everyone to school on time, wrangling homework assignments and giving each kid some love and attention (often while juggling a career).
Adding personal finance management to a mom’s never-ending to-do list can make the daily list that much longer. This is especially true when it comes to managing credit cards.
Here are five tips to help busy moms manage their credit cards so that they can worry about more important things.
1. Keep Your Credit Cards Together
For moms on the go, it can be too easy to put some credit cards in their wallet, have others floating around in places such as their purse, their car or even the diaper bag. Unfortunately, having credit cards all over the place makes it difficult to find the card you need, and can even lead to a lost or misplaced card. Instead, pick a single place, such as your wallet, to keep all of the cards you carry with you.
2. Use Stickers
Many people have trouble remembering details about a particular card, such as which rewards credit card offers bonuses for which purchases or when a credit card’s introductory financing expires. While you could create a spreadsheet with of all this information, a busy mom isn’t likely to have time for this exercise. Instead, you can just write a note on a small sticker or piece of tape on your credit cards indicating which purchases qualify for a bonus, or when the promotional financing rate expires. Another useful piece of information can be when the statement period ends, so that you can hold off on some charges until the next statement cycle.
3. Utilize Automatic Payment Features
Because busy moms can’t always expect the unexpected, it can be easy to miss an occasional credit card payment. To avoid this, most credit card issuers offer automatic payment systems that allow you to schedule payments on your credit card’s due date, either for the minimum amount, the statement balance or some amount in between. Other tools can include email and text notifications as well as automatic payments initiated from your checking or savings account.
Missing a payment can be a headache, and more specifically, a costly headache. In the short run, you could face a penalty APR from your credit card issuer, and in the long run, you can do major credit damage and face increased interest rates on bigger purchases like a car or a home. You can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com to see if any late payments are damaging your credit.
4. Pay Attention to Chip Cards & Readers
Last year, the credit card industry in America began its long-anticipated migration away from magnetic stripe readers to the new embedded smart chips in credit cards. Nevertheless, there are many credit card terminals that have built in chip readers that haven’t yet been enabled. This creates problems for busy moms and other hurried shoppers. If they insert their chip equipped cards into the chip reader, it won’t work if it hasn’t been activated. Likewise, if customers try to swipe their card’s magnetic stripe when the chip reader is working, it won’t work either.
So busy moms need to pause for a moment and see if the terminal is asking them to insert their card or swipe it. Or, they can save time and just ask the cashier if the chip reader is working. Finally, many credit card users have opted out of the whole card-reading dilemma by using Apple Pay or another contactless payment system.
5. Consider a Simple Credit Card
One of the more recent trends in credit cards has been towards simple cards, which can be perfect for busy moms with more important priorities than their credit card. For example, PenFed, the Pentagon Federal Credit Union offers its Promise card with no fees for anything. Furthermore, American Express introduced its EveryDay and EveryDay Preferred cards with busy moms in mind. (You can read our full review of the EveryDay Preferred card here.) Instead of offering rotating bonus categories, cardholders receive bonus cash back for using their card for a specified number of purchases each month in addition to the usual cash-back rewards. (You can check out our ranking of the Best Simple Credit Cards in America if you want to compare credit cards to make sure you’re getting the best deal.)
At publishing time, the PenFed Promise and Amex EveryDay credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund