It's cool to be a geek these days. It's even cooler when your geekdom saves you money and lets you live a more lavish lifestyle. (Even if that just means you can bump up to three Netflix DVDs out at a time instead of two.) Comparing rates and fees online doesn't make you a credit card geek, but any of these ten symptoms could.
1. You know what "optimal credit utilization" means
A credit card geek knows that a FICO score doesn't really measure whether you can take on a huge new mortgage or auto loan. Credit scores just reveal how good you are at managing the accounts you already have. If you can get each of your accounts to report that you're using just 1 percent of available credit, most credit scoring algorithms will pony up some bonus points.
2. Your calendar's full of financial reminders
Maximizing your credit card savings means running as many purchases as you can through your account, then paying down as much of your balance as possible at the last possible moment before your statement cycle closes. Even though your bank may send you text alerts when a payment's due, keeping track of your own deadlines can prevent a big bill from showing up in your credit profile.
3. You carry credit cards like a caddy carries clubs
After you buy gas at the pump with one card, you pay for a pack of Twinkies with another. Maximizing your rewards by carrying speciality credit cards may annoy your fellow shoppers, but it's a strategy that can put extra money into your wallet every month.
4. You crane your neck to see what kind of card the cashier's swiping
Real credit card geeks can guess a credit card's issuer and status from a few feet away. Even those customized credit cards with your cat's picture on them tell a story. You're big-game hunting at the checkout aisle, always looking for the next big offer in the wild.
5. You decide where to eat based on whether you'll earn points there
When rewards credit cards offer up to 20 percent rebates on restaurant dining credits, your significant other will put up with your weird obsession. (Just remember to tip on the full price of the meal, or your credibility goes out with the doggie bag.)
6. You understand why that black credit card weighs so much
Even if you don't personally aspire to carry an American Express Centurion Card (American Express is a CardRatings.com advertiser) in your wallet, you've got to respect someone who's figured out how to run a few hundred thousand dollars a year through a single account. You won't cross them, either, since that titanium can really mess you up in a fight.
Bonus: 6a. You also heap pity on the shopper you see carrying another company's "black card," knowing that they paid ten times as much for the same feature set as most popular Visa Signature accounts.
7. Your checking account only shows debits from rewards credit card issuers
After you started paying all your monthly bills with your rewards card, your bank statement became really boring. Utility companies, service providers and even landlords accept credit cards these days, letting you earn extra cash back or rewards points.
8. You plan big purchases around rewards cards promotions
The most popular rewards credit cards offer seasonal bonus rebates of up to 5 percent that last few a few months at a time. If buying a television, a computer or even a car can wait until you're in the right bonus period, you can bank your card's maximum reward.
9. You get restaurant recommendations from your credit card company
Many credit cards now offer concierge services that can help you land hard-to-get reservations at restaurants and clubs all over the United States and Europe. Whether you're trying to impress a client or just searching for someplace good, you know which card can help.
10. Your social media stream is full of other credit card geeks
Geeks thrive in communities, and the Internet brings us all together. Whether you're streaming Clark Howard's radio show or following @CurtisArnold on Twitter, you've probably already put together a list of people and resources to help you find great deals. We hope you'll add our site to your rotation.