Using a credit card rewards app for 4 months made a huge difference in how I view my spending
I’m not great with money.
It’s not like I’m a big spender. I don’t really splurge and my payments are timely. But I’m pretty clueless and careless when it comes to personal finance — especially things like credit card rewards programs.
I recently tried out Birch, a free service based in Gainesville, Florida that’s meant to help people make sense of perplexing credit card reward programs.
“I had a really terrible experience finding a good resource when trying to make sense of credit cards and their reward programs. I felt that a lot of the blog and credit card sites were just sets of confusing tables and lacked any sort of personalisation,” Birch founder Alex Cohen told Business Insider. “I think I’m similar to most people in that I get overloaded with credit card offers in my email and see the ads constantly on TV. So a few years ago when I was in the market for a new credit card, I really had no idea where to even begin looking. The tools that were out there to help me find a new card felt really biased and just spammy. I even went as far as putting together Excel spreadsheets to compare my personal spending to the rewards on each card so I could figure out what the true value of those cards were.”
So, Cohen set about creating a service that would help people make sense of credit card programs. The first version — then called Swipe — went live in 2010.
Today, the service has slightly over 3,000 users and employs a full-time team of five people. Birch has raised a total of $150,000 through angel investors and an accelerator.
After using the app for over four months in the hopes of learning a little more about navigating the confusing, treacherous path to credit card rewards, I realised my favourite part of the app has nothing whatsoever to do with credit cards — and that I had no idea where my money goes.
But first, here’s how Birch works: You enter your bank account information and Birch analyses your spending habits. Then it recommends different credit cards that will allow you to rack up more points. Birch breaks down your rewards by month.
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