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Quarantine may be ending, but Americans’ troubles are just beginning.

In a time when more than 36 million Americans[1] have filed for unemployment and experts see economic improvement as years in the making, it’s easy to panic.[2] And it’s also easy to get yourself in even more debt by making rash decisions with your credit cards.

So as the world starts to open back up, here are three tips to keep your credit card accounts in check – and your debt low.

1. Reassess your rewards

When you first registered for your cards, your needs were probably much different – so if you’re earning cash back rewards from your credit cards, then you might want to tweak your strategy to focus on the kind of spending that you’re doing now.

For example, if you have a card that earns cash back on expenses like travel, entertainment and gas, these are purchases that you probably aren’t making many of these days.

Instead, you could consider switching to a card that offers bonuses for things like groceries and dining, including takeout and delivery services. Thankfully, many credit card issuers are quickly upgrading their rewards and benefits for stay-at-home friendly purchases.

As was true before the current crisis, rewards cards are best used by those who always avoid interest charges by paying their balance in full. If you aren’t able to do that, then you should avoid rewards and find a card with the lowest possible interest rate.

2. Consider 0% APR financing offers

If you’re concerned about making ends meet, or you’ve already accumulated some credit card debt, then you might want to open a new card with interest-free financing on new purchases, balance transfers, or both.

The best offers will give you 15 to 21 months of 0% APR, or annual percentage rate, financing on new purchases, balance transfers or both. This will allow you to save money on interest charges during the recovery.

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re still working and using credit cards, the coronavirus crisis shouldn’t immediately affect your credit card strategy.

But if your income has been affected, then now is the time to switch to either a cash back card, or one with a low ongoing interest rate, so you can save money until you’re back on your feet.

3. Minimize credit card spending

One of the easiest ways to approach your credit cards right now is to actually pay them less attention.

In these uncertain times, reducing your credit card spending will allow you to conserve cash and avoid incurring expensive credit card debt. Whether you’re out of work, have had your hours reduced, or you’re still holding on to your job, now is not the time to incur more debt.

Sadly, it’s become even harder to avoid credit cards as we are doing more of our shopping from home, and many of the retailers that we do visit aren’t even accepting cash. Nevertheless, there are alternatives to cash and credit cards such as debit cards, prepaid cards, and electronic payments from your bank account.

Simply put, credit cards are a great method of payment, but they’re among the most expensive ways to finance a purchase – which is why it may be best to cut back entirely.

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About the Author

Jason Steele

Jason Steele

I'm one of the country's leading experts on credit cards and have been regularly syndicated by mainstream outlets such as MSN Money and Yahoo! Finance. I live in Denver, Colorado with my wife and two daughters, and we love to travel. We often fly first-class, not because I'm rich, but because I know how to acquire credit card miles in the most efficient way. Keep reading, and I'll teach you, too.

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