Credit card reward programs are not only convenient, but also allow you to earn some major bonuses like travel, merchandise, and even free cash. If you learn to be smart with your cards and take advantage of the many reward programs available, you can be looking at a big payoff.
Figuring out how to use credit card reward programs can be confusing, so it’s worth your while to check out the different types of reward programs and how you can benefit from them. Look through these tips on how you can profit from your credit card rewards.
Match Your Credit Card to Your Spending Style
There are all sorts of rewards programs out there that allow you to accrue points towards merchandise, gift cards, travel miles, points, and even cold hard cash. By aligning your your reward program with your interests and goals, you will get the most out of your credit card.
If you like to travel, you need to be using an airline miles reward card. If you regularly charge things like gas and groceries, look for a credit card that offers cash back for everyday purchases. Be careful and don’t pick a rewards program that you aren’t likely to use. You spend money everyday, so why not get a little something back every time you make a purchase.
Use Multiple Cards
If you want to get really fancy and optimize all sorts of rewards programs, you should use multiple credit cards for different purchases. Some cards are better suited for certain expenditures, such as the Chase Sapphire card for home insurance payments or the Express Blue Cash card for groceries. The end goal is to maximize the potential rewards with every purchase made.
Many money experts will tell you that having lots of credit cards can be problematic. The real problem isn’t the credit cards; it’s the spender who can’t pay off their balances in full each month resulting in fees and interest charges. I recommend this multiple credit card strategy only if you are a responsible money manager and consistently pay off your balances.
When in Doubt, Choose Cash Back
Cash back rewards give you money to use for whatever you want. Obviously, this is a great option for everyone—who doesn’t like cash back? In fact, cash back rewards are nearly three times more popular  than airline rewards or hotel rewards programs, according to CreditCards.com.
The beauty of this option is that you can apply your rewarded cash to anything, including your outstanding balance. So if you can’t decide what credit card reward program to sign up for, start out with a cash back reward card. You really can’t go wrong with getting cash for spending cash.
Read the Fine Print
Make sure you read the fine print when signing up for a rewards card, otherwise you may end up costing yourself money. You’ll want to look for fees, annual percentage rate, and promotional rate terms. If you don’t understand the terms to which you are agreeing, you could be in for a nasty surprise when the promotional period ends.
Also, credit card companies are notorious for changing these terms. They will notify you, but chances are you won’t see the tiny notification they provide in the dense snail mail notice. Keep your eyes open for any notices from your issuer to make sure your reward program does not make any detrimental changes to your rewards program.
Reward points can expire, so make sure you read through the fine print to know that expiration date. Typically, expiration is 12 to 18 months, but it’s always a good idea to know for sure in order to fully profit from the program.
If you learn to manage responsibly and match your credit card to your spending style, you will benefit greatly from the rewards program.
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