15 Insider Tips for Maximizing Your Credit Card Rewards

Credit card providers work hard to stand out in a crowded marketplace. With so much choice, each operator must offer value to potential customers to attract their business.

Reward cards are among the most popular options for consumers because we all like to get something in return. Cashback, air miles, and vouchers are worth pursuing, but how do you maximize those benefits?

Industry insiders are happy to share their knowledge, and these suggestions will help ensure you’re not wasting money and points.

1. Set Some Goals

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Work out what you want in return before you apply for a new reward card. Are you aiming to earn enough travel points for a major vacation, or do you want to earn monthly cashback and vouchers?

Having established your end goals, you can scour the market for the best card to suit your purpose.

2. Match Your Card to Your Spending

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Having established those targets, you now need to find the right account. If you shop at a specific retailer, see if they have their own branded credit card. Many of the largest stores do this, and their rewards points hold greater in-store value.

Similarly, some travel operators and hotel chains issue cards, so keep this in mind if you aim to earn points for a vacation.

3. Maximizing Sign-up Offers

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There’s a delicate balance between making the most of sign-up deals and not affecting your credit score. The more cards you have in place, the lower your score will be, which could be an issue for significant borrowing such as car loans and mortgages.

It’s a good idea to close credit card accounts that you no longer use. You can also monitor your credit score monthly via your bank’s online app.

4. Ask for a Retention Deal

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Speak to your existing provider as an alternative to switching cards for new offers. Tell them you are considering canceling your account due to deals you’ve seen elsewhere.

The issuer will likely want to keep you as a customer, and they may work out a retention deal. This option could provide value without affecting your credit score.

5. Juggling Multiple Cards

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While you should limit the number of accounts you hold, you will need more than one credit card to maximize the value of rewards. You also need to be aware of the points, vouchers, or cashback offered by each retailer.

If a major store offers 4% cashback through one credit card and 1% through another, it’s obvious which one to use.

6. Understand the Value of Your Card

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Reward cards often issue points, but what are they worth in real currency? If 100 points equals $1, you’ll know what you need to earn to exchange those points for the benefits you want to achieve.

Understanding that value also helps when shopping around for a new credit card and comparing the value of each account.

7. Pay in Full and on Time

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If you don’t pay your bills in full and on time, any advantages you may earn via your reward card will be eliminated. The provider’s interest rates will outweigh any cashback, vouchers, or other benefits.

Set up a direct debit to avoid missing payments. Reward cards only work if you avoid interest, late payment charges, and annual fees.

8. Use Your Card for All Regular Purchases

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The more you use your card, the more points you earn, so it makes sense to use it for all regular household purchases, including groceries and auto fuel.

Remember the previous point about paying in full to avoid charges? Work out a monthly budget and charge all spending to your credit card to maximize rewards, but be sure you pay the bill in full every month.

9. Aim to Double Up

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Earn extra rewards by making online credit card purchases via a cashback site. Some retailers will only allow one promotion per customer, but there are occasions when it’s possible to double up.

Search for cashback websites and compare rates to see who provides the best deals. Even if you can’t use an offer twice, it’s worth registering for deals from other retailers that are not working with your credit card provider.

10. Consider Paying Utility Bills By Card

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It’s easy to set up regular payments via credit card, so why not look at paying your utility bills this way? Extra payments equal more rewards and may also help boost your credit score.

Remember to establish whether your utility provider adds a charge for credit card payments. If they do, skip the offer, but if there are no fees, it’s another option to earn rewards.

11. Charge Subscriptions to Your Credit Card

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Many popular subscription services offer rewards and cashback when you sign up. Even if the cashback deal is only for the first month, it’s worth taking advantage of.

Remember to pay in full and cancel subscriptions you no longer need in order to retain value without making unnecessary purchases.

12. Earn Referral Points

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Some of the biggest rewards can be earned by referring friends and family members. If someone you know needs a credit card and signs up via your special referral link, you’ll receive big bonuses.

You can also share the referral reward and sign-up bonuses with your friends so everyone stands to benefit.

13. Add an Authorized User

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Many providers also issue reward points when you add an authorized second user to the account. It should be a trusted person, usually your partner.

By getting others involved, you can enjoy even more benefits, so aim for the second user to get more points and bonuses.

14. Always Opt In

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Some rewards are issued automatically, but others require the card user to opt in to the deal. Download your provider’s app and check their latest deals. Many cashback offers must be activated before you can take advantage of them.

Similarly, with a card provider such as Chase, some accounts require you to activate bonuses every quarter. Keep a diary to make sure you don’t miss out.

15. Check Your Statements

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Mistakes can happen, so check your statement to see if all your rewards are there. Sometimes, you may have missed a deadline for a cashback offer, but occasionally, the retailer is to blame.

Keep receipts, scrutinize your monthly statements, and check for errors, as this is a common way consumers miss out on rewards.

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