If you are among the 83% of U.S. households who participate in at least one rewards program, you’re likely looking for ways to get the most rewards. And if you’re not, you should be. Rewards programs can save you a bundle. Here are a few ways you can maximize your savings by getting more credit card rewards.
1. Take advantage of bonus promotions
Many rewards cards will give you an opportunity to double or even triple your rewards points. Make sure to take advantage of as many of these opportunities as you can. For example, last year, Hilton Hotels advertised its “Triple Your Trip” HHonors promotion, during which customers received triple points for the average nightly stay during qualifying nights during the promo period.
2. Register your rewards card at idine
You can register up to five credit or debit cards when you sign up for idine. Once you sign up, you’ll be eligible to earn bonus miles or cash back when you use your card at a participating bar, club, or restaurant. Both takeout and eat-in orders are eligible for rewards. You can earn up to 15% cash back depending on how much you spend each year.
You can negotiate just about anything. Consumers haggle for everything from the cost of wedding attire to a car, so why not negotiate when it comes to rewards points, frequent-flier miles, and sign-up bonuses? All you have to do is pick up the phone and ask. My Bank Tracker interviewed a Chase banker who revealed customers can get a better sign-up bonus just by asking. For example, if you receive a sign-up bonus but then see the issuer is offering a different card with a better bonus, you can ask for an upgrade. In addition, Omni Traveller suggests asking your rewards card representative if the required number of points needed to earn a flight reward can be lowered. Both My Bank Tracker and Omni Traveller say if you want more or better rewards, make a request. Some representatives will try to honor your request, especially if you’ve been a long-time customer.
4. Identify bonus rewards for rotating categories
For example, credit card issuers generally offer bonus rewards for rotating categories throughout the year. There is usually a calendar displayed on the issuer’s website listing certain times of the year when certain purchases will earn you increased rewards. For example, Discover It features a rotating 5% cash back during the year.
5. Get the right rewards card
The way to build rewards points quickly is to make sure you are using a rewards card that fits your purchasing habits. For example, if you don’t travel frequently, you are not going to get the maximum benefit from a travel rewards card. So make sure to research all of your options before settling on the rewards card you will use.
“Find a card that fits the way you already spend. If you travel often and are loyal to an airline or hotel chain, check out their credit card offerings. If you spend most of your money on gas and groceries, find a card that will reward you for those purchases. There are so many credit cards on the market, it’s just a matter of finding the right one to fit the way you already spend,” Credit.com Editorial Director Kali Geldis told The Cheat Sheet.
6. Use rewards cards for your usual purchases
Pay for purchases with your rewards card whenever it makes sense. If there are items you would have bought anyway, you don’t have much to lose. Just make sure to pay off the balance at the end of the month, since rewards cards tend to have higher interest rates. Earning additional points won’t make much of a difference if they’re being eaten up by interest charges.
“[It’s a mistake to] carry a balance on a reward card. You’ll almost always pay a higher interest rate that way,” Gerri Detweiler, head of market education for Nav, told The Cheat Sheet.