Maximize your credit card rewards

Earning rewards on your credit card is a great benefit for consumers who pay their balance in full on time each month. These rewards allow you to receive cash, points or miles simply by making transactions with a credit card.

But sometimes credit card companies make it a bit difficult to redeem your rewards. Emitters make it easy to spend money, but you might have to jump through a hoop or two to get the rewards. So that you can get the most out of your credit card reward program, know the rules and take advantage of the opportunities offered to you. Choose the credit card that’s right for you by choosing a card with a rewards program that matches your spending habits.

Know the rules

Credit card companies have a plethora of different rewards programs. These rewards programs can be simple or complex with rotating categories that require you to register each quarter. There may be limits to the number of rewards you can earn, especially cash rewards. It is your responsibility as a consumer to know the rules of your rewards program. Familiarize yourself with these limits or guidelines before you start using the card so you know any spending thresholds you must meet or blackout dates for your travel rewards. Doing some extra research might take a bit of time, but it will save you money in the long run.

How much do you plan to use your card?

If your card only gives an early spending bonus after you spend $5,000, but you only plan to spend $1,500 on the credit card this year, it makes no sense to apply for that credit card. If you’re looking to maximize your rewards, there are better options to choose from that will maximize your ability to use your rewards. Remember, you shouldn’t spend on your credit card just to get rewards. You need to consider your budget and how much you plan to spend. For example, if you spend a lot of money on travel every year, it might be worth getting a credit card with strong travel rewards to maximize your credit card rewards.

What types of purchases will you make?

A number of cards have rotating categories. This means that people using these cards can earn enhanced rewards on purchases made in a certain category, but the categories change after a set period of time. Usually it’s every quarter of a year, which means after three months you’ll need to make a different type of purchase to earn these enhanced rewards. Categories can vary from restaurants and travel to streaming services or gasoline. Check if you will be making purchases in the various revolving categories, otherwise the credit card application might not be worth it. For example, if you don’t eat out and one of the renewable categories is for restaurant purchases, it might not make sense to apply for this card. Make sure your credit card offers enhanced rewards in categories that match your buying habits.

Don’t let your rewards expire

It may seem obvious, but don’t let your rewards expire. Know if and when your points or miles expire, and if there are any specific restrictions on their use. After all, what good are your rewards if you can’t use them? Your rewards may expire before you know it, so contact your credit card company if you have questions about the program. Understand the terms and conditions of the rewards program before you start shopping.

Watch out for late fees

You might think that missing a payment on your credit card has nothing to do with your bonus points. For some cards, this is not the case. Be sure to check your card terms as some programs may take back all the bonus points you’ve earned in a given month if you don’t make your payment on time. Late fees can affect your rewards, bank account, and credit score, so be vigilant and pay all your credit card bills on time. Making a large purchase and losing bonus points can be a pain, so always pay your credit card bill on time. Remember that many credit card companies may increase your interest rate if you miss payments.

There are many ways to maximize your credit card rewards. Perhaps the most important choice you can make is the type of card you get. Get a credit card that fits your lifestyle and a card where your rewards program fits into your current spending habits. Spending money just to get rewards is a recipe for getting into debt, which no one wants to do.