Managing your credit cards isn’t a one-time thing; you’ll need to keep at it on a regular basis to get the most out of your plastic.
How to Earn & Maximize Credit Card Reward Points
Here are some tips to help you maximize your credit card rewards and minimize costs with every swipe:
1. Use Bonus Malls to Earn Extra Rewards
Chances are your credit card issuer operates a bonus mall that will help you earn extra points, miles, cashback, or other credit rewards for your online purchases. If you aren’t sure, log into your credit card account and search. If you don’t see “bonus mall,” it might be called a “shopping portal.” Follow the links from the shopping platform to the store of your choice. With a few simple clicks, you’ll be pumping up the rewards that you’re earning.
For people who don’t have a bonus mall, the shopping platform operated by a preferred frequent flyer program is a good alternative. Most major credit card companies offer this reward tool as a way to earn extra miles, so while you’re on your online portal, search for “[airline] shopping portal” to see if you have these options available to you.
2. Finalize Your Summer Travel Plans (If You Have Any)
This might not sound like a credit card tip, but by deciding on your summer travel plans now, you’ll have a chance to apply for a credit card with a signup bonus that could offset some of the cost of your trip.
Acting quickly is wise because you’ll likely have to meet a minimum spending requirement to get a bonus. But, we recommend exploring all of your options before you sign up for a card. The card that you pick should depend on not only your upcoming destination but also your ongoing needs.
3. Assess the Cards in Your Wallet to Make Sure They All Belong
Before the distractions of summer set in, take some time to assess your credit card collection. It might be time to explore other options if you’re unhappy with your everyday card or you could cancel an old card you’re no longer using. This may help simplify your finances and keep you from racking up credit card debt. However, be wary of canceling a credit card. Generally, it’s good for your FICO score to keep an unused card open, especially if it’s a card that you’ve had for a long time. The only exception is unused credit cards that charge an annual fee.
Paying an annual fee only makes sense if the rewards that you’re earning outweigh what you’re being charged each year. The only way this will happen is if you’re swiping the card regularly. So, it’s wasteful to hold onto a card that carries an annual fee if you only use it occasionally, or not at all.
4. Set a New Automatic Alert
Enrolling in automatic alerts is one of the easiest ways to get a reminder for when your bill is due. Credit card issuers can send text or e-mail alerts for many different types of account activity, such as:
- Your current balance
- A balance threshold that you’ve set
- Authorized user purchases
- Suspicious activity
- Weekly activity summaries
Make it a priority this month to check out which alerts your issuer is offering and sign up for any that you may find helpful or practical in helping you monitor your financial health moving forward. The more you know about your account, the easier it is to use your card wisely.