Look to these ideas for cost cuts both big and small.
By Christine Benz | 04-14-11 | 06:00 AM | Email Article

Credit Cards
30. Switch to a credit card with no annual fee, especially if you're finding it difficult to actually take advantage of the so-called rewards that your rewards card offers.

Christine Benz is Morningstar's director of personal finance and author of 30-Minute Money Solutions: A Step-by-Step Guide to Managing Your Finances and the Morningstar Guide to Mutual Funds: 5-Star Strategies for Success. Follow Christine on Twitter: @christine_benz.

31. Investigate no-fee cards that pay you cash or rebates back on everyday purchases, such as those from  Costco  and  Target . Just be sure to read the fine print to ensure that your spending doesn't have to hit a specific level before the cash-back offer kicks in.

32. If you carry a balance, call your credit card provider to ask for a reduction in your current interest rate. If that doesn't work, transfer the balance to a card that offers a lower rate. (Just make sure to take stock of any balance-transfer, application, or processing fees; also make sure that your new rate isn't a teaser rate that will shoot higher before you've paid off your balance.)

33. Carry a balance on multiple cards? Consolidate those balances in the account that offers the most attractive rate. Again, be careful not to trigger new balance-transfer, application, or processing fees.

34. Pay on time to avoid late charges.

35. Travel overseas frequently? Avoid foreign transaction fees, which can run as high as 2% or 3%, by switching to a card that offers no foreign transaction fees, such as ones from Capital One and Schwab.

36. Cut up store-specific credit cards, which invariably carry higher interest rates than general credit cards.

37. Investigate credit unions, which may offer higher yields and better loan and credit card rates than banks with a big brick-and-mortar presence (and more overhead expenses). Check out this article for more on how credit unions work.

38. Don't keep more in a non- or minimal-interest-bearing checking account than you need to; shop around for an account that doesn't require a minimum balance and park the rest of your cash in a higher-yielding money market fund or certificate of deposit.

39. Ditto for paying fees on your checking account; at this point, it's not difficult to find no-fee, no minimum balance accounts at firm, such as Ally Bank.

40. Online savings accounts can also be a great deal, often offering much higher yields than are available via conventional banks.

41. If you'd like to stick with your current bank but avoid extra fees, ask if your bank will waive fees if you sign on for additional services, such as electronic deposits of your Social Security checks or a money market account.

42. Don't buy checks from your bank--use a service like Current or Checks in the Mail for low-cost checks instead.

43. Avoid overdraft fees by keeping close tabs on your monthly balance or linking your savings account to your checking.

44. Opt out of overdraft protection, which means that the bank will cover you--and charge you a hefty fee--if you overdraw your account.

45. Watch ATM fees, either by sticking with your bank's ATMs or opting for a bank that will offer rebates if you use an out-of-network ATM.

46. Pay bills online to save on stamps.

47. Don't pay for tax-preparation services, especially if you have a straightforward tax return. Many communities offer free tax-preparation assistance.

48. Beware of "rapid refund" offers from tax-preparation firms, which are little more than high-interest loans. If you file your taxes electronically, your refund will come more quickly than you might think.

49. Don't pay for a copy of your credit report from services you see advertised on TV. You get a free copy from every bureau at www.annualcreditreport.com.

50. Don't use prepaid credit cards as gifts for friends and family. Fees can be very high, and cash is much more flexible.

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