by Elizabeth Aldrich | Updated Aug. 13, 2021 - First published on Dec. 2, 2018
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Whether you’re a rewards junkie or a credit card newbie, these easy tricks will have you sitting on a pile of points in no time
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You can apply for all the best rewards credit cards on the market, but if you don’t know how to accumulate points efficiently, they won’t do you much good.
Even if you’ve been earning points for a while, there are always new ways to maximize your rewards. Here’s a guide to the most effective methods for stockpiling credit card points, miles, and cash back.
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Each rewards credit card has a different reward structure that preferences different kinds of spending. If you travel frequently, you’ll want a travel credit card, whereas if you drive a lot and feed a family of five, you’ll want a credit card that rewards spending on gas and groceries.
Many rewards credit cards offer sign-up bonuses if you spend a certain amount in the first few months. These bonuses can add an extra zero or two to your points balance as they range from 20,000 all the way up to 100,000 points. Look for credit cards with sign-up bonuses and jump on them before it’s too late.
Many of the credit cards will run limited time promotions and targeted offers in which they offer even more bonus points -- say, 80,000 bonus points for meeting the minimum spend requirement instead of 50,000, for a limited time. If you’re targeted, you may receive these offers through postal delivery or email. If you don’t, do a search for targeted offers before applying for a new rewards card. You might find a link that leads you to the targeted offer, or if you see that someone else received a higher offer, you can call up the issuer after being approved and ask them to match that offer.
Every time you’re dining out with a group of friends or family, offer to pick up the check with your favorite rewards credit card. Cash transfer apps make the process of having each person pay you back painless. The only trouble you might run into is dining with a fellow points junkie -- we tend to fight over who gets to pick up the check, and not out of generosity.
Whether you’re traveling in a group, shopping with a friend, or getting groceries with your partner, you can offer to pay for all of it. Apps like Splitwise make it easy to track who owes you for what and how much, so at the end of your trip (or shopping spree), everyone can see how much they owe and easily and instantly settle up by connecting to a cash app.
Most rewards credit cards offer extra bonus points for referrals. If your card issuer offers this, they’ll give you a unique referral link that you can send to as many people as you’d like. Each time someone signs up for the credit card, you get bonus points (anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 points). Usually, there is a cap on the maximum amount of points you can earn through referrals.
Your credit card rewards program may have partners through which you can earn even more points. These can be hotel chains, airlines, rental car agencies, or even Uber. If you have an airline credit card and the rewards program has partnered up with a rental car agency, you can pledge your loyalty to that rental car agency, link the two accounts, and accumulate extra points every time you rent a car.
Does your rewards program have a shopping portal? If so, you’ll usually earn additional points from shopping there instead of in-store or on another website. Cross check prices first to make sure your shopping portal isn’t more expensive, then go ahead and earn those extra bonus points.
Many cash-back credit cards have rotating bonus categories, which means that each quarter you earn extra cash back -- sometimes as much as 5% -- on a certain spending category, up to a certain spending amount. However, you usually have to activate these rotating categories each quarter to take advantage of them. Don’t forget to do this.
People who make frequent purchases for your office or travel a lot for work should be putting those expenses on your personal credit card to accumulate extra points and miles. If your company already gave you a corporate credit card to use, just ask them if it’s okay to use your personal credit card instead.
Getting two credit cards that are part of the same rewards program is a great way to double up on your points, especially if they both offer sign-up bonuses. For example, if you already got the sign-up bonus for the regular version of a credit card, consider applying for or upgrading to the premium version of that credit card to get another sign-up bonus.
If you don’t want to upgrade your credit card, or you already have, many rewards credit cards also offer a business version with a similar (or even higher) sign-up bonus. You can hold both at the same time, and you don’t necessarily have to be a business owner to qualify for a business credit card.
As always, your financial health and stability come first. No amount of credit card rewards is worth ruining your credit score or going into credit card debt, so reward yourself responsibly!
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