If you’re like most Americans, debt is a way of life, says Jason Rich. So what separates the rich from the poor? He claims that the wealthy use debt to improve their financial situation -- something he calls “Smart Debt” -- and the poor use debt for instant gratification by which they just keep getting deeper in the hole.Rich is a bestselling author with some 30 books to his credit, including the Wall Street Journal bestseller, "The Unofficial Guide to Starting a Business Online," and, "Job Hunting for the Utterly Confused."  He has a new book on the market called "Smart Debt" (Entrepreneur Press), that offers strategies to avoid wasting money on fees and interests as a result of credit cards.

To him, Smart Debt means getting the best interest rate, budgeting the right amount of your income to pay off the debt, and borrowing only what you can afford. In other words, it is putting your money to work … but for you.

There is no question that many people are in credit card debt but Rich believes that if you have to be in it, you might as well be smart about it. He says that with a few savvy strategies, even debt-riddled consumers can minimize many of the extra costs associated with such debt. He offers these tips:

1. Apply for credit cards with the lowest interest rates and fees. He says it is important to understand all associated fees such as annual fees, account maintenance charges, over-the-limit charges, late fees, cash advance fees, and ATM fees, to name few.2. Don’t use credit cards for everyday purchases unless you have a specific plan and the available funds with which to pay off the balance at the end of each month. That’s the only way to avoid interest charges.

3. Pay the minimum monthly amount on time and if possible, always try to pay even more than the minimum.

4. Stay away from using such cards for cash advances because the interest rates and fees can be rather high.

5. Instead of maintaining high balances on several high-interest cards, apply for lower-interest ones with attractive balance transfer offers and obviously look to take advantage of no-interest or low-interest offers.

Rich says that, for the most part, store-issued credit cards usually have higher fees and interest rates than the traditional ones. He cautions that even if the initial offer for a house card may seem quite attractive, you must read the fine print closely. It may just be more cost-effective to use a regular, low-interest card for any big-ticket items. And, he points out that you should never apply for an additional card simply to make a purchase that is not absolutely needed, no matter how much money the sales people claim it will save.In his book, Rich provides money-saving strategies for most types of debts including mortgages, education loans, auto loans, business loans, and of course, credit cards.

He feels that by following certain strategies he’s outlined, consumers can certainly minimize unnecessary payments and fees.

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