To maximize credit card rewards, keep it simple. Stick with rewards you know you will use. Understand the terms your rewards program. Spread expenses across best rewards cards. And above all else, pay your balance in full every month.
The purpose of a rewards credit card is to get the most out of the benefits the card offers. Otherwise, it’s just a regular credit card; and not a cost-effective credit card, to boot. The best rewards cards on the market often come with an annual fee to help defray the cost of the rewards – rewards you may not be taking full advantage of. So rather than throwing away money on your rewards card, follow a few simple steps, and let your rewards card pay you for responsible usage.
Here’s how to maximize credit card rewards:
Stick with rewards you’ll use. There’s no point in investing in an airlines credit card with a hefty annual fee if you fly only once a year. If you’re a frequent commuter, dine out regularly, or spend a lot on groceries, find a rewards card that will pay you for those purchases. If you want something less complicated, get a card that pays a flat cash back rate on all of your purchases. You should have a card with a rate of least 1.5% per $1 spent.
Know the card’s rewards terms. Make sure any spending requirements for sign up bonuses are attainable. Familiarize yourself with the card’s redemption rates. Rewards points and miles are often worth less when redeemed for one category over another.
Use multiple cards to get the best rewards. This is known as the Island Approach. If you have a card that earns 5 points on gas purchases, make that your gas-only card. If your airline card has a minimum spending requirement for 50,000 bonus points, put all of your expenses on that card.
Pay your balance in full. When you keep a balance on a rewards card, interest charges may cancel out any rewards earned. And avoid any late or missed payments. Not only will a late fee further eat into your rewards, but you could end up forfeiting any rewards earned altogether.
Try redeeming reward miles or points periodically rather than stockpiling them. Rewards generally don’t expire, but in some cases, you could lose points if there’s no activity on your rewards account. And if you close your account, you will lose all of your earned rewards.
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