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Everything is expensive. Make sure your credit cards are working for you

Now that everything is more expensive, it is a great time to re-examine your cards' rewards.

INDIANAPOLIS — Credit cards can be a good tool when they're used responsibly.

Now that everything is more expensive, it is a great time to re-examine your cards' rewards.

To start, sit down at the table and pull out all your credit cards.

Then, make a list writing out each card's name and its benefits. Those can include cash back or travel rewards and extras like cell phone insurance.

When you’re done listing the pros, NerdWallet credit card expert Sara Rathner said to move to the cons, like existing debt, interest rates, and annual fees.

"The moment you start feeling as if you're spending more for the card and you're not really getting much in return, then it could be a sign that you need to shop around," Rathner said.

If you're debt-free, look at how you're spending your money monthly. Your credit card company usually offers a breakdown online or on your monthly statement.

Then comes the math.

What rewards make the most sense for your wallet? 

Five percent back at a store you're loyal to, or two percent cash back on all purchases? NerdWallet also offers a tool to help you compare cards.

"A lot of times we're drawn to cards that people we know, like friends and family, already have because there's that brand recognition," Rathner said, "but there are great offers out there from banks and also from credit unions."

If you're between staying put or signing up for a new card, play the card companies against one another.

"Consumers have some negotiating power with their credit card companies, especially if they've been careful and responsible users of those cards," Rathner said. "It never hurts to call the number on the back of your card and ask for what you want, whether that's waiving the annual fee, a lower interest rate."

Should you have expensive credit card debt, consider a 0% balance transfer card. That way you can pay off existing debt for less money.

If you don't want your old card anymore, Rathner said to let it sit, because credit length is a factor on your credit report.

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