How Reward Points Became My Mini-Emergency Fund
Has something ever happened out of nowhere that made you think, "How am I supposed to pay for this?!" Savings accounts or lines of credit are potential options for a bailout if you happen to have ample funds, and in this case my credit card came in handy. But not the way you'd expect!
I use my credit card as if it were a revolving door.
Out go the funds, then in come the payments. Not only monthly payments, but usually on a weekly basis or sometimes daily. Better than cash, better than my debit card, my credit card wins because I know, with every expense, I earn more of that amazing cyber-currency known as Rewards!
Generally, whenever I thought of credit card rewards, I always used to think of travel. No question, I was saving points to fly somewhere fun with my wife. Then in March of 2020, came that pesky little coronavirus, and we found ourselves stuck at home, like most of the world. And what's worse, I discovered that my reward points were going to expire! If I'm not traveling, then why in the world (no pun intended) am I saving all of these points?
Then came the winter of 2020, right after we bought our first home. And like a lot of homeowners, we had a ton of expenses (a little advice for those buying a home: always set aside funds for unexpected expenses, and make it larger than you think is necessary). We burned through our funds quickly, and I found my credit card to be less of a revolving door, and more like the exit at the end of a concert: too much out the door all at once!
Thankfully, we can usually pay off our cards quickly – at least until we awoke one morning to the sound of our next big expense crashing down into thousands of tiny pieces.
Did you know:
Glass shower doors, although tempered, have a tendency to shatter spontaneously? (Google it! It happens!)
Around 6 am, without warning and while we were sleeping, a glass panel shattered in our shower. The crash startled us, thinking someone had broken into our home. No burglar, just an uninsured disaster in our bathroom. The shower unit's warranty had lapsed, and no replacement panels or doors were available for sale as a separate unit. The shower stall came as a complete kit, most of which was entirely unnecessary for our repair, and we were looking at $900 for the shower kit, plus at least another $200-$300 for installation.
Rewards to the rescue!
All things considered, our timing couldn't have been better. Our reward points had not yet expired, so I was able to redeem them for $350 in Lowe's gift cards. Plus, by some act of divine mercy, Lowe's was having a "shower door sale." Ultimately, when it looked like $1200 in a pinch, we managed to save half by using our points as a mini-emergency fund.
My advice: don't assume you know what expenses your rewards can cover and don't let those points expire. It's free money! Maybe use it to supplement your next repair project, or gift a grill for Father's Day!
Or maybe use it for a vacci-cation, and travel somewhere awesome, because that's cool too–¦
Man, I can't wait to use my rewards to travel again!