7 On Your Side: The Way To Pay - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

7/23/07

7 On Your Side: The Way To Pay

Best friends Lauren Schulz and Sarah Anderson have traveled to Hong Kong, Thailand and the rainforests of Brazil.

"In brazil we went piranha fishing in the amazon river- that was pretty crazy," says Laura.

Sarah adds, "[We] caught a piranha, ended up eating it that night, had piranha soup."

But incredible trips can get expensive fast. Financial guru Scott Bilker with debtsmart.com says you can save money by using the right credit card.

First, leave your debit card at home.

"If you lose your debit card you risk losing more money. Your credit cards give you more protection under the law," says Bilker.

Next, he says, ask about benefits.  Some cards issue automatic insurance, for example, when you book a rental car.  Others will pay your medical bills if you're hurt on a flight.

"Or even baggage insurance- so if you lose your bags- you might get some money there," Bilker says.

And then there are discounts. Most creditors have retail partners, meaning use their card at a certain restaurant and get 20% off the bill.

Or stay at a certain hotel and get a $200 voucher for the spa.

Bilker says, "Just give them a shout and say, 'Listen, I'm going on vacation- what do you have for me that's special? I've got other credit cards I could use.'"

Bilker decided to call his creditors and got one company to lower his interest rate from around 20% to around 2%.  And, he's getting 5% cash back if he uses his card at any gas station.

"Five percent back on gas is definitely helpful- especially with gas being as expensive as it is," says Bilker.

Sarah and Lauren are planning their next trip- and looking forward to the savings.

"The fact that these discounts do exist...makes you want to use your credit cards more," says one of the girls.

Bilker says if you stay on top of the companies- you should get a good deal. He says the key is to have several cards- so you have some leverage.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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