If you find yourself in a situation where you need a little financial help, take time to think about your options. Automatically reaching for a credit card — or applying for a personal loan — might not be the best money move.

According to the Federal Reserve, consumer debt increased $12.3 billion month over month in July 2020. Interestingly, revolving debt, which includes credit card debt, decreased about $300 million. But nonrevolving debt, which includes personal loans, grew by $12.6 billion.

Bottom line: If you have debt or are facing an expensive but necessary purchase, you can choose how you want to attack the debt. Your goal is to minimize the risk of making your debt worse than it already is. Make the right choice, and before you know it, you’ll be on your way to fiscal sanity again.

So let’s take a look at how to decide whether you need a credit card or a personal loan for your debt situation. Keep reading , and here’s what you’ll learn:

When to use a credit card.

Pros and cons of credit cards.

When to use a personal loan.

Pros and cons of personal loans.

What if you need to consolidate debt?

When to Use a Credit Card

Several years ago, I had a giant hole in my kitchen ceiling. It was the unfortunate result of a leaking roof and a monsoonlike storm that lasted for five days.

The bill for this fiasco? A cool $16,000. I was fortunate to have an emergency fund and a credit card with a ridiculously low annual percentage rate (the perks of having a long, currently drama-free credit history). It was going to take my insurer some time to approve the coverage, and I needed to fix the roof before

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Nearly 170 million Americans have at least one credit card.

But how many cards should you have?

Most experts say a small number of credit cards can help you  build credit and earn financial rewards—if managed properly. But others are more cautious. One person we talked to said she would never recommend getting a credit card. 

One thing they all seem to agree on: How you use a credit card is more important than how many you have.

First of all, using credit cards to make purchases you can’t afford will hurt you in the long run, no matter how many you have. The average credit card has an annual percentage rate (APR) of about 16%. That means a $1,000 purchase could end up costing you over $2,000 if you only paid the minimum amount due each month.

Responsible credit card use, however, can be an excellent way to establish your credit history. When you pay your credit card bill on time each month, that’s a positive mark on your credit report, which pushes your credit score higher. Plus, if you’re paying your card off in full you won’t ever pay interest. Many cards also offer rewards that can make credit cards even more helpful, so long as you aren’t carrying over balances from month to month.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, how many credit cards should you really have? How many cards is too many? For that, we turned to the experts:

Marc Russell: 1-2

“It’s hard for me to understand how someone would

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and Barclays just launched a brand new credit card program for their 10-year co-brand partnership. This refresh includes three new cards that can help you maximize rewards and earn free nights at Wyndham properties faster.

The three new cards include: Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Card, Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card and Wyndham Rewards Earner Business Card. The new suite of cards replace the old Wyndham Rewards® Visa® Card, which is now closed to new applicants. Old Wyndham Rewards card holders can continue to use their card or migrate to one of the new cards. 

CNBC Select shares what you need to know about the new cards.

Wyndham Rewards Earner Card

The Wyndham Rewards Earner Card is the entry-level card with no annual fee. This card is similar to the old Wyndham card and continues the same welcome bonus offer: Earn 30,000 bonus points, enough for up to four free nights at participating Hotels By Wyndham, after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening.

However, the new card is better thanks to increased rewards rates:

  • 5X points on Hotels By Wyndham and gas purchases
  • 2X points on restaurants, at grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) and on eligible purchases made at Wyndham Timeshare properties (including maintenance fee and loan payments)
  • 1X point on all other purchases
  • Plus earn 7,500 bonus points each anniversary year after spending $15,000 on purchases

Beyond rewards, you’ll receive Wyndham Rewards Gold membership, which includes free wifi, late checkout, preferred room selection and more. This perk also remains the same as the old card.

Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card

The Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus Card is the more premium offer with elevated rewards and benefits. This card has a $75 annual fee, though that’s much lower than luxury credit

a person standing next to a sink

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

Business owners have a unique advantage when it comes to accumulating points, as they can put a wide range of company expenses on their business credit cards and use those points for company travel or personal vacations.

TPG reader Frank wants to know if it’s possible to separate points earned on business and personal credit cards.

Is there a way to keep my Amex points separate between my personal and business credit cards?


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Frank’s problem is certainly not unique, as plenty of business owners want to use points accumulated from business expenses to help the business out and then use their personal points for vacations. The exact policies vary by issuer, so let’s take a look at how the most popular transferable points programs (Amex, Chase, Capital One and Citi) handle this.

American Express

We’ll start with Amex, since that’s what Frank asked about.

No matter which card you earn your Membership Rewards points on, they’ll all be pooled into a single account under your name. This is true if you have personal cards, business cards or a mix of both. Unfortunately, there’s no way to change this with the small business cards.

However, if Frank’s business is large enough, he might consider getting an Amex corporate card. While this won’t let him separate rewards between his personal and business cards, it will give him the