What once was a privilege that had to be paid for, many credit card companies are now issuing rewards cards with no annual fees. However, points are becoming harder to use and the rewards are getting smaller.
Here are 5 tips for maximizing your rewards points.
Put Everything On Your Credit Card
I know, I know, using your credit card for everyday expenses is a risky proposition. But if you only buy what you truly need (and is within your budget) and you pay the entire balance off each month, then you can really rack up the points.
While you can’t pay your mortgage on your credit card, cable companies, utility companies and even cell phone providers all allow customers to use credit cards to pay their bills. Using your card to pay a bill that you’d otherwise pay from your bank account is a great way to earn points on a regular purchase.
Take Advantage Of Bonus Point Offers
Periodically credit card companies will offer bonus points from select stores or on specific types of purchases such as gas or groceries. Taking advantage of these double or even triple point offers will help you rack up points much faster.
The Chase Freedom card, for example, offers 5 points per dollar on different categories every summer. Some months it’s Starbucks and gas, others it’s restaurants and Amazon.com.
Note that some companies require you to opt-in for these double or triple point offers, so check your email for these alerts.
Pay Your Bills On Time
Some credit card companies are now voiding points for late payments. In order to keep your points and your credit score in the green, you need to make sure you pay your bill on time – every time.
Set up automatic billing so your balance is paid off each month from your bank account. If you can’t afford to pay off the balance each month, set up a recurring payment each month so you will never have a late or missed payment.
Know When To Travel
Whether you are booking your hotel or getting your airline tickets with your points or with a credit card, it’s important to get a good deal.
If you plan to travel during the summer or the holidays, it’s going to cost you. This translates into a greater number of points required to redeem the reward. To get the most miles from your points, plan to travel during the least popular times.
Don’t Use Your Points For Merchandise
Many credit card companies offer customers the opportunity to trade their points for tablets, video game consoles, digital cameras and other products. You can also cash in those points for a check in the mail or a PayPal payment.
In nearly every instance, it’s a better deal to swap points for gift cards instead. You can then use an Amazon gift card, for example, to buy these products yourself.
Many people use credit card rewards each year to get gift cards for the holidays to either help stretch their budget or to give as gifts.
But not all gift cards cost the same. You might get a $50 gift card from one store for less points than another, so browse through the different cards to find the best offer.