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20 Ways to Earn More Credit Card Rewards

Author: Christy Bieber | March 09, 2021

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Credit card rewards can be very valuable -- especially if you maximize them

Most credit cards today offer rewards programs. Whether you sign up for a card offering cash back, miles, or points, the rewards you earn can be very valuable.

In fact, if you're strategic about how you spend with your cards, you may be able to get hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year from your credit card company just for spending you'd be doing anyway.

Not sure how to take full advantage of your card's rewards program? Check out these 20 tips for maximizing the credit card rewards you can earn.

Our credit card expert uses this card, and it could earn you $1,148 (seriously)
As long as you pay them off each month, credit cards are a no-brainer for savvy Americans. They protect against fraud far better than debit cards, help raise your credit score, and can put hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars in rewards back in your pocket each year.

But with so many cards out there, you need to choose wisely. This top-rated card offers the ability to pay 0% interest on purchases until late 2021, has some of the most generous cash back rewards we’ve ever seen (up to 5%!), and somehow still sports a $0 annual fee.

That’s why our expert – who has reviewed hundreds of cards – signed up for this one personally. Click here to get free access to our expert’s top pick.

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1. Take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses

It's common for credit card companies to offer special sign-up bonuses to attract new customers. These can be worth hundreds of points or miles or can mean getting a ton of cash back.

While you don't want to open too many credit cards at one time, there's nothing wrong with opening a new card or two every year or so in order to take advantage of the opportunity to earn a generous sign-up bonus.

Just be aware that most have minimum spending requirements, so make sure you can meet them and actually earn the rewards.

ALSO READ: 3 Tips for Maximizing Sign-Up Bonuses

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2. Choose cards well suited to your spending

Credit cards generally offer extra rewards for certain kinds of spending, such as purchasing gas or groceries. To earn the most possible rewards, look for a card that gives you an extra bonus for the spending you tend to do most frequently.

That means if you're a foodie who loves dining out and spending a fortune at the grocery store, a card that gives you extra cash back or miles for spending on restaurants and groceries would be an ideal choice.

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3. Consider using multiple cards with different rewards programs

Because different cards have different rewards programs, it can pay to have multiple cards that give you extra points, cash back, or miles for different kinds of spending.

For example, you might choose to have one card that provides 5% back on groceries, a different one offering extra bonus rewards for travel, and a third that gives you 2% back on all other purchases.

By choosing the optimal card for each kind of spending that you do, you can maximize the rewards that you earn for every purchase.

ALSO READ: How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?

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4. Don’t shy away from cards with an annual fee

Some of the credit cards with the most generous rewards programs charge annual fees. While you may be reluctant to pay for the privilege of having a card, it could be worth it if the extra rewards you earn more than cover the fee. That's especially true if you also get other perks with the card that you'll make use of, such as airline lounge access.

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5. See if a business card is right for you

Business cards often tend to have very generous rewards programs. And you don't necessarily need to own a traditional business to qualify for one. If you're self-employed or if you occasionally sell items online, you likely could qualify for a business card.

To make sure you're maximizing your rewards, include a few business cards in your search for a card that's the best fit.

Our credit card expert uses this card, and it could earn you $1,148 (seriously)
As long as you pay them off each month, credit cards are a no-brainer for savvy Americans. They protect against fraud far better than debit cards, help raise your credit score, and can put hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars in rewards back in your pocket each year.

But with so many cards out there, you need to choose wisely. This top-rated card offers the ability to pay 0% interest on purchases until late 2021, has some of the most generous cash back rewards we’ve ever seen (up to 5%!), and somehow still sports a $0 annual fee.

That’s why our expert – who has reviewed hundreds of cards – signed up for this one personally. Click here to get free access to our expert’s top pick.

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6. Keep track of your bonus categories

Some credit cards have rotating bonuses, switching the category that you get extra rewards for every quarter. It can be confusing to keep tabs on which category you're getting bonus points for if that's the case -- especially if you have multiple cards.

It can be helpful to carry a Post-it note in your wallet on top of your cards reminding you of which card to use for which purchases so you're always using the one that gives you the most rewards.

And make a note on your phone calendar for when the bonus categories change so you can update which card you're using accordingly.

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7. Activate bonus offers

Some credit cards with rotating bonus programs require you to sign into your account to activate the added rewards each quarter. If yours does, set a reminder for yourself. Otherwise, you could squander the chance to take advantage of the opportunity to supercharge the rewards you earn.

It's also common for card companies to provide special bonus offers, such as an extra $10 in cash back or rewards if you shop at a specific store during a certain time period. You usually have to sign into your account to activate these offers, so check for them periodically and do whatever's required to add them to your account.

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8. Charge every purchase possible

Whenever you make a purchase online or in store, no matter how big or how small, use your credit card to pay for it. Earning rewards points on even small transactions can really add up.

ALSO READ: Why You Should Use a Credit Card for Almost Every Payment

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9. Pay your bills with a credit card

When you do business with other companies, always find out if it's possible to pay your bills with a credit card. Many utility companies accept payment via card, as do streaming services. The more bills you can cover with credit instead of by writing checks or using a debit card, the more rewards you'll earn.

Just be aware there's sometimes an added processing fee if you use credit. For example, you can pay the IRS via a credit card if you owe income taxes but will pay a fee of close to 2% to do so. If your card's rewards exceed the fee, it may still make sense since even earning a small amount of added rewards (after the fee) can still add up over time.

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10. Offer to charge purchases you’ll be reimbursed for

If you go out to eat with a group of friends, volunteer to put the entire bill on your credit card and have everyone send you the money or give you cash. Or if you book a group trip or your boss asks you to buy something for the office, see if you can put the purchase on your card.

When you get rewards for items you're reimbursed for, you're literally getting free money since you're earning them on someone else's spending. Just be sure you only do this in situations where you're 100% confident you'll actually be reimbursed. And save the money you're given to pay off your credit card statement when it comes due.

Our credit card expert uses this card, and it could earn you $1,148 (seriously)
As long as you pay them off each month, credit cards are a no-brainer for savvy Americans. They protect against fraud far better than debit cards, help raise your credit score, and can put hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars in rewards back in your pocket each year.

But with so many cards out there, you need to choose wisely. This top-rated card offers the ability to pay 0% interest on purchases until late 2021, has some of the most generous cash back rewards we’ve ever seen (up to 5%!), and somehow still sports a $0 annual fee.

That’s why our expert – who has reviewed hundreds of cards – signed up for this one personally. Click here to get free access to our expert’s top pick.

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11. Add an authorized user

When you add an authorized user, you grant that person the authority to charge purchases on your credit card.

Some credit card companies provide bonus rewards if you add an authorized user. And you'll earn points whenever the authorized user charges on your card.

The downside of this is that the authorized user has the legal right to use your card, but no legal obligation to pay the bills. You are responsible to the credit card company for covering all their charges. Still, this can make sense in certain situations with someone you trust.

If you're helping your child out with expenses or allowing an employee of your company to make purchases on your behalf, these are good examples of situations where adding that person as an authorized user could be a smart way to earn more rewards points.

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12. Shop through your card issuer’s portal

Many credit card companies operate online websites with links to different merchants. If you shop through them, instead of going to the merchant's website directly, you can earn extra rewards.

Whenever you buy something online, start at your card issuer's portal first, if they offer one. It takes only a few extra seconds, and the extra rewards you earn can be significant.

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13. Take advantage of referral bonuses

Credit card companies sometimes provide bonus rewards if you refer a friend.

If you have a card you love that will reward you for getting others to sign up for it, why not tout its benefits to your network. You can potentially pick up some extra rewards while also helping the people you know to learn about a great credit card.

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14. Make full use of loyalty programs

Many credit card companies are also affiliated with banks or brokerage firms.

These cards may offer bonus rewards if you also use their other products or services. For example, with some cards you might be able to boost your rewards by 25%, 50%, or even 75% if you maintain a certain minimum balance at the bank and brokerage firm connected with the card issuer.

If you can find a great credit card with this type of loyalty program, consider using all of their services so you can get the maximum rewards boost.

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15. Ask for a retention offer

Credit card companies hate to lose customers, especially if you charge a lot. If you have a card you don't think is rewarding you generously enough, call the company and let them know you're thinking about canceling.

They may be willing to offer you additional cardholder perks -- perhaps including bonus rewards -- if you agree to keep your card open.

Our credit card expert uses this card, and it could earn you $1,148 (seriously)
As long as you pay them off each month, credit cards are a no-brainer for savvy Americans. They protect against fraud far better than debit cards, help raise your credit score, and can put hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars in rewards back in your pocket each year.

But with so many cards out there, you need to choose wisely. This top-rated card offers the ability to pay 0% interest on purchases until late 2021, has some of the most generous cash back rewards we’ve ever seen (up to 5%!), and somehow still sports a $0 annual fee.

That’s why our expert – who has reviewed hundreds of cards – signed up for this one personally. Click here to get free access to our expert’s top pick.

Previous

Next

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16. Be strategic about where you shop

When you have a choice about where to make a purchase, always aim to do so at a place where you can get bonus rewards.

For example, if you have a credit card that offers extra rewards for dining out and you're at a loss for a gift you need to give, opt for a restaurant gift card. That way, you can get the most cash back, rewards, or miles for buying the present.

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17. Take advantage of redemption bonuses

In some cases, you can maximize the value of credit card rewards not just by smart spending that allows you to earn more of them but also by being strategic about the way you redeem them.

For example, your points may be worth much more if you redeem them by booking travel through your card issuer than if you book directly through the airline. Always look into what redemption option gives you the most bang for your buck.

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18. Read the fine print to understand how rewards work

Different rewards programs have different rules. In some cases, your points may expire if you don't use them by a certain time period. Or there may be a limit on the amount of bonus rewards you could earn -- such as 5% back on groceries only up to the first $2,500 spent.

Be sure you know the details of how your program works so you don't let points expire or end up shopping with a card that's not earning you nearly as many points as expected.

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19. Find out if your points are transferable

Card companies sometimes allow you to pool your points with others in your family, or to transfer your points to partner loyalty programs.

Taking these steps could help you earn points for redemptions more quickly -- and you can sometimes make your points more valuable by transferring them to a different program. Know the rules so you can take advantage of these opportunities.

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20. Always pay your card off in full

Finally, it's imperative you always pay your card off in full and avoid carrying a balance.

While this may not seem like a way to maximize your rewards, the reality is that the interest cards charge is well above the value of even the most generous rewards program. If you carry a balance, you'll negate any benefit the rewards program offers you.

Our credit card expert uses this card, and it could earn you $1,148 (seriously)
As long as you pay them off each month, credit cards are a no-brainer for savvy Americans. They protect against fraud far better than debit cards, help raise your credit score, and can put hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars in rewards back in your pocket each year.

But with so many cards out there, you need to choose wisely. This top-rated card offers the ability to pay 0% interest on purchases until late 2021, has some of the most generous cash back rewards we’ve ever seen (up to 5%!), and somehow still sports a $0 annual fee.

That’s why our expert – who has reviewed hundreds of cards – signed up for this one personally. Click here to get free access to our expert’s top pick.

Previous

Next

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Get the most bang for your buck with your card's rewards program

By making smart choices to maximize card rewards, you can hopefully get generous cash back or earn enough points or miles to fund great trips or buy awesome merchandise. The more of these tips you follow, the faster you'll build up your rewards balance and the more your card use can pay off.

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