Credit Cards

How to get extra rewards from your credit cards

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Here’s how to get the most rewards and get the most rebates and savings.

Key points

  • The advantage of using credit cards is receiving rewards for the purchases you make.
  • By tracking renewable rewards, scheduling your purchases with sign-up bonuses, and booking travel strategically, you can get more out of your credit cards.

Credit cards can be a useful tool to help you build credit and manage your spending efficiently. They may also reward you for purchases you make through cash back or points you redeem for gift cards or merchandise. If your goal is to get the most out of your credit cards, here are some essential moves worth making.

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1. Pay attention to rotating reward categories

Some credit cards give you the same rewards all year long. For example, you might have a card that gives you 2% cash back on groceries no matter what time of year you use it.

But some credit cards offer rotating rewards categories that give you the opportunity to earn bonus points or cash back on your purchases. It is important to keep track of what they are.

You may have a credit card that normally offers 1% cash back on all purchases, but offers 3% cash back on select purchase categories on a quarterly basis. That card can, for example, offer 3% cash back on department store purchases during the first quarter of the year, 3% back on gas refills during the second quarter, and so on. Taking note of those categories on your different cards could help you determine which ones are worth using at different times of the year.

2. Claim signup bonuses strategically

Your expenses may increase at different times during the year. For example, if you attend a wedding in May, that month, you could spend money on a flight, hotel, and clothing. And if you’re planning a family vacation in August, that could be a month where you charge a lot to a credit card.

It’s a great idea to match your anticipated spending with credit card sign-up bonuses. Many cards offer additional cash back or reward points for opening a new card and making a certain number of purchases soon afterward.

Now, let’s say you have that wedding in May that you think will cost $1,000 on top of what you’d normally spend that month. In that case, she may want to apply for a credit card with a sign-up bonus at the end of April. If that bonus requires you to spend $3,000 within three months of opening your card to earn a $250 cash back reward, and you normally spend $750 a month on your credit cards, the extra $1,000 for that wedding should help. You reach that threshold and snag your cash.

3. Use the right credit cards when you travel

If you tend to take a lot of travel, it’s worth booking with a travel rewards credit card. One of these cards can not only earn you extra bonus points or miles, but you can also take advantage of money-saving benefits.

Many travel cards, for example, give you the option of taking a checked bag on board a flight without having to pay for it. If you’d normally be charged $30 for that privilege, that’s a huge savings over the course of multiple flights.

The right moves on your part could help you earn extra rewards on your credit cards throughout the year. That’s a great way to make your purchases and plans more affordable.

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