How to Get More Out of Your Card’s Rewards Program

For someone who’s savvy and knows how to work the system, rewards cards can be a stellar way to get free stuff. BUT there are many pitfalls. Ya, those pesky credit card companies are working against you, trying to get you to spend more than they give you in rewards.

How do you get the most out of your rewards programs?

==> Pay It Off Every Month

Rewards are given to you based on how much you spend, not how much you carry. You should try to pay off your rewards card every month rather than carrying a balance.

Rewards cards usually charge a higher interest rate than cards that don’t offer rewards. If you’re carrying a balance, the interest rate you have to pay on your credit card will often cancel out any rewards you’ll earn from the card.

==> Choose the Right Kind of Rewards Card

There are several different kinds of rewards cards you can choose from. You can get straight cash back, you can get frequent flyer miles or you can get some sort of product or merchandise. Read the information about each card carefully! What you think you see might not be what you will actually get.

Most people find that cash reward cards offer the greatest flexibility. That said, if you travel often, frequent flyer cards often pay the highest when it comes to rewards per dollar spent.

==> Be Careful of “Up To”

One common phrase you’ll find in credit card advertisements is “up to.”

What does it mean when a credit card company says you’ll get cash back “up to” 1%? That probably means you’re not going to get 1%.

Make sure that when you’re looking at credit cards, you know exactly what the conditions are to win rewards. If there’s a tiered system, figure out what tier you’d realistically fall under.

==> Put Your Rent and Other Large Payments on Card

How do you pay your rent right now? If you’re paying by check, see if you can put it on your credit card instead. Do the same with your car payments and any other large payments you have on your life.

Again, make sure you pay it off at the end of the month. Charging large payments to your credit card makes it easy to rack up a lot of points without having to add extra expense to your life.

==> Be Careful of Fees

Many rewards cards carry annual fees. Know exactly what these fees are when you sign up. If you’re not careful, the amount you’re actually saving through rewards can be eaten up by fees.

Navigating the world of rewards cards can take a bit of effort in the beginning. But once you have a system up and running for accumulating points without spending anything out of pocket, you’ll essentially be getting free stuff for the rest of your life.

About Karen

Karen Karsten, CPCC, CAC, has had several business careers, in government, finance, retail and publishing. Each career was a building block that helped her create the life she has now as a coach, writer and executive director of Rich Chicks and Creative Principle of Think You Can LLC.

Her companies, Think You Can ( and Rich Chicks ( both explore the magic of prosperity and creating clarity about life values. Karen has total faith in the magic of belief. Notice how that works either way: belief of magic, magic of belief. Magic is there—in you, too. Take a moment right now and honor the magic in you.

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