Smart Ways To Use Credit Cards During a Government Shutdown

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated November 22, 2019

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January 23, 2019

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

The recent government shutdown has been one of the longest in American history, and it comes with its own financial impact. From federal employees with unpaid furloughs to government contractors with delayed deals, the 2019 government shutdown is impacting several people financially. If you’ve been affected by the government shutdown or are experiencing an unexpected event, then your credit card may help save you when you’re in a bind. But it’s still important to be smart about using your credit card during unexpected events like a government shutdown. Here are four smart ways to get it done:

When you carry a balance on your card, you’re essentially paying more than what the products or services you’re getting are worth. Avoid this by taking advantage of balance transfers with a zero-percent annual percentage rate (APR) to get interest relief. Transferring your balances to another credit card that offers a zero-percent APR moves what you owe on one card to another without accruing interest so you can save. Just make sure you pay the balance before the zero-percent APR promotion ends. (Not sure if you qualify? Check out the best credit cards for your credit score to find out your options.)

When it comes to getting extra assistance during an unexpected event, communication is key. If you believe you cannot pay your credit card debt, consider calling your credit card company to negotiate the terms of your card. Your credit card company may have a relief program or provide you with different options if you contact them to negotiate the terms.

An unexpected event like a government shutdown calls for spending wisely and that includes your credit card. Instead of buying items on a whim, control your spending and buy what you need. Focus on paying for essentials, such as food, electricity, water and rent. Limiting your credit card spending to the necessities now helps you avoid having to pay a big bill you can’t afford later.

Some credit cards offer rewards you can leverage to get by or even pay down your balance. Use any rewards you’ve accumulated to buy gift cards for the grocery store, such as Whole Foods or Costco. Some credit card companies increase the gift card amount when you opt for select gift cards, too. If your credit card company offers a statement credit, consider also using as a statement credit. The best credit card perks really will help you.

A government shutdown doesn’t mean your life has to shut down. Instead, leverage your credit card wisely to get you through the tough times. Just put these effective tips into action, and you can take advantage of your credit card the smart way when the unexpected happens.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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