How To Get The Most From Your Credit Card Rewards

All about maximizing your rewards!
Members share tips and tricks for getting the most miles, & points.
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How To Get The Most From Your Credit Card Rewards

Postby CCG » Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:20 am

Are you currently maximizing your credit card rewards? With all of todays cash back credit cards it can be tough waters to navigate. One card may give you maximum rewards for one category of purchases such as gas, while another card may only give you a rebate on your cell phone bill. This has some consumers playing the credit card rewards like they’re a game; forcing them to use different cards for different purchases. This is one solution if you don’t mind the headache and hassle of it all, but there are a few simple rules you can also follow to be efficient.

Choose a card that gives your rewards for the purchases you make the most often. If you’re a chef, you will certainly benefit from a card which gives you points for your groceries purchases. However signing up for the credit card may not be a good solution unless you actually shop online often –and– the rewards percentage beat other cards you can use on everyday purchases. If you’re on the road often or find yourself traveling a lot the airline rewards card may be the way to go. However please compare airline credit card reviews carefully… with today’s high fuel prices they have really cut back on benefits. Then when you add in the annual fee most of them have… do you do enough spending every year for it to really pay off for you? Overall I find it’s best to avoid the “hot” cards which offer you some ludicrous reward such as a concert ticket or restaurant gift certificates. These cards tend to have a lower percentage reward, usually equaling out to around 0.5% to 0.75% of your purchases. You’re better off using any of the numerous 1% cash back cards and buying these things yourself.

The best way to maximize points is not additional spending but rather paying for your recurring charges using your card, such as cable and phone bills. Normally you may use a check, but why not use a card and earn points on these services if you can? Once you rack up your points I recommend redeeming them at least once per year. They won’t last forever so be sure to use them before they expire. Most of all be sure to always make your payments on time as a single late payment can result in your points being forfeited. However if you’re carrying a balance a rewards card I can almost guarantee doesn’t make sense for you since they tend to have higher interest rates than normal cards. Any finance charges you pay will most likely outweigh the rewards you may reap.

You may have a job where you make purchases which are then reimbursed by your employer. These can range from business dinners to traveling expenses. If possible try and put these on your personal rewards card and then getting reimbursed by your employer. For simplicity I would advise having a single card dedicated to this. After all you don’t want to turn over all your private credit card statements when it comes time to be reimbursed for a couple charges.

This may sound like a no-brainer but make sure you know how to redeem your reward points! Often, but not always, credit card companies deliberately make the process sometimes tedious and often confusing to discourage reward redemption. Don’t let a little legwork prevent you from getting what you earned. If you’re short on time (and who isn’t?) I would recommend handling this over the phone with your credit card company during a time which you have nothing else going on – such as your commute to work or waiting at an airport.

Most important of all – select your card carefully! There are so many out there today that appear to be similar but aren’t. Reward percentages vary greatly. Credit card marketing is a big industry – you’ll want to read personal card reviews instead of those which are merely advertisements. All cards credit cards have cons in addition to their pros… make sure to know them all before you make your choice!

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