Choosing a Credit Card

Gigging in the 21st Century: How to Choose a Credit Card That Works As Hard As You Do

The alarm goes off at 6 AM sharp. You roll out of bed, brew a quick cup of coffee, walk the dog, and sit down at your laptop just as the sun is rising over the rooftops. Your first freelance client meeting is in 30 minutes, followed by a 10 AM yoga class you’ll be teaching across town. At noon, you’ve got a dog walking gig with your favorite furry customer, then it’s back home to wrap up your client project before dinner.

Sounds familiar right? 

If you’re part of the growing gig economy, this “hustle hard” lifestyle is your normal. You relish the freedom and flexibility to be your own boss, choose your own schedule, and call the shots. But you also know that with great freedom comes great responsibility, especially when it comes to managing your finances.

I get it. 

I’ve been gigging for the past three years, piecing together writing gigs, fitness teaching side hustles, and anything else I can do on my own terms. And let me tell you, nothing will make or break your success as an independent worker more than having the right financial tools.

Of all the apps, systems, and strategies I’ve tested out, the one that’s become indispensable is finding a credit card that fits my lifestyle. That may sound counterintuitive when the guiding principles for us gig workers are to avoid debt, save aggressively, and live simply. 

But hear me out. There are credit cards designed specifically with the unique needs of gig workers in mind. When chosen carefully, credit cards can help you maximize rewards, track expenses like a pro, access quick funds when you need them, and even boost your credit along the way.

If you’re new to the gig economy, or you’ve been gigging for years without the right credit card perks, don’t worry. I’ve made all the mistakes and done the research so you don’t have to. In this article, we’ll explore:

  • How credit cards can work for (not against) gig workers
  • The most important credit card features for your unique needs
  • The top 5 credit cards to consider in 2023
  • Strategies for maximizing value and avoiding pitfalls

Let’s get to it! This is everything you need to know to choose a credit card that will become your gig economy sidekick.

Why Credit Cards Are Essential for Gig Workers (Contrary to Popular Belief!)

Credit Card is essential for Gig Workers
Credits: ChatGPT

First, we have to get one thing straight. Credit cards have gotten a bad reputation over the years, and often for good reason. Racking up debt on toys and treats you can’t afford is never wise, whether you’re gigging or working a 9 to 5.

However, when chosen carefully and used strategically, credit cards offer some seriously helpful benefits:

Cash Back = Free Money for Business Expenses

Let’s say you spend around $80 a week on gas driving to freelance clients or gigs. That’s $320 per month, or $3840 per year. Now imagine you have a credit card that gives you 2% cashback on all gas station purchases. That would earn you $76 per year just for buying the gas you need anyway! When you look at it that way, cashback rewards are like finding free money to help offset your business expenses.

Tracking Expenses and Taxes

Keeping receipts and tracking expenses can feel like a part-time job itself. But come tax time, having clean records makes all the difference. With a credit card, your itemized monthly statements do the hard work for you. You’ll have one centralized place to see each expense for easy categorization and tax preparation.

Building Credit History

Good credit opens doors to better loan rates, credit card offers, and financial products down the road. Using a credit card responsibly lets you build your credit from the ground up. Since you may not have had years at a 9 to 5 job to build robust credit, this is especially beneficial.

Access to Quick Funds

The unpredictable nature of gig work means your income can fluctuate. While credit cards should never be used recklessly, they offer access to ready funds in case of an unexpected home repair, medical expense, or a month with lower earnings. The key is choosing a card with a low interest rate for times when you may temporarily carry a balance.

Which Features Should Gig Workers Look for in a Credit Card?

Gig Worker
Credits: Canva

Now that we’ve covered the main benefits, let’s get into the nitty gritty of what makes a good credit card for gig workers. Here are the top features your card should offer:

  • Cashback rewards

The whole point of using a credit card is to get cash back on expenses, allowing you to recoup hard-earned money. Look for cards with the highest cashback rates in your most common spending categories.

  • No annual fee

Don’t let a high annual fee eat into your earnings, especially in months when money may be tighter. Look for a card with no fee or a very minimal one.

  • Low interest rate

Choose a card with the lowest interest rate possible, for those times when you may need to carry a temporary balance. High interest rates erase the value of any rewards.

  • Itemized statements

A detailed statement allows you to clearly see what you’re spending on for taxes. Bonus if it offers expense tracking features.

  • Good for building credit

Building strong credit now will pay off down the road. Opt for a card that helps boost your credit score through responsible use.

Top 5 Credit Cards for Gig Workers in 2024

Choosing Credit Card
Credits: Canva

Now let’s get to the good stuff: my top 5 picks for credit cards that work best for the gig economy lifestyle. I’ve road tested all of these myself!

  1. Chase Freedom Flex

With its rotating bonus categories and easy redemption, Chase Freedom Flex is a great “everyday” card. You’ll earn 5% cashback on quarterly categories like gas, groceries, dining, and more. On all other purchases, you get 1.5% back, so there are no “wasted” expenses. With no annual fee, it’s a winner all around.

  1. Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
Credits: honeykimery

This one is perfect if you just want simple, straightforward cash back at 2% on every single purchase. There are no categories, point systems, or caps. Just easy, passive 2% earnings on whatever you buy.

  1. Citi Double Cash

Similar to the Wells Fargo card, the Citi Double Cash card earns 2% on all purchases (1% when you buy, 1% when you pay). No annual fee. No fuss. Just a solid, dependable 2% back.

  1. Capital One SavorOne Rewards

If dining and entertainment are big expenses for you, the Capital One SavorOne Rewards card offers 3% cash back in those categories. That means your weekly business lunch meet-ups and the occasional night out can start paying you back.

  1. Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
Credits: money

You can choose your 3% cash back category with this card, from options like gas, online shopping, dining, travel, and more. Optimize it to match where you spend most.

Maximizing the Benefits and Avoiding Pitfalls

Payment Using Credit Card
Credits: Canva

Choosing the right card is step one, but you’ve got to use it strategically to maximize the benefits. Here are my top tips:

  • Put everyday business expenses on your card to earn the most rewards
  • Avoid high-interest cards if you’ll carry a balance
  • Pay off balances in full each month to avoid interest fees
  • Use autopay or email reminders so you never miss payments
  • Look at statements closely each month to check for errors
  • Build credit slowly by keeping your credit utilization low

The key is using your card like a responsible business tool, not an ATM for swiping on impulse purchases. With some discipline and smart spending habits, you can make your credit card work for you.

The Gig Economy Runs on the Right Tools

Gig Economy Runs
Credits: ChatGPT

When you’re working for yourself, you need every advantage possible to stay profitable and financially empowered. By understanding credit card benefits and optimizing your rewards, you can make freelancing or gig work even more lucrative.

The days of stuffing cash under your mattress are gone. To be successful in the 21st century gig economy, you need to use modern financial tools wisely. Choose a credit card tailored for your lifestyle, use it strategically, and you’ll be well on your way to mastering your finances, one gig at a time.

Now get out there, hustle hard, and get paid! You’ve got this.