Everyone wants to get more for their money, right? You want what you spend — and the way you spend — to reap as many rewards back as possible. Today, that’s easier to do than ever with a wide variety of perks and benefits available to every credit card holder — and the competition between issuers that produces bigger and bigger offers all the time.
So, how do you start getting more bang for your buck right away with your credit card? We have seven ways to maximize those points, miles, and credits to get you more of what you want — faster and with less hassle than ever before.
1. Introductory Offers
Without a doubt, one of the biggest one-time boosts to your points totals can be achieved without spending a single dime. Be on the lookout for big sign-up bonuses, particularly at the beginning of the year, offered for new credit cards or balance transfers, pending approval. Be careful, however, to weigh the big “pay-out” with the long term APR (annual percentage rate) or other annual fees.
2. Rewards Network Dining Programs
For most Americans, eating out is something they do whether they get extra benefits from it or not. Why not merge convenience with rewards and sign up for one of 18 different loyalty dining programs — hosted by everything from airlines and hotel chains to charities, casinos, and more. All you need to do is register your credit card with the program, use that card at a participating restaurant, and you’ll automatically earn the points, miles, or whatever else your chosen program provides. Learn more here. >>
3. Shopping Categories and Rewards Calendars
Many credit cards will offer additional points or credits depending on the category in which you’re shopping. Do you know if yours does? Check out if your credit card has a rotating category calendar that would give extra rewards for shopping at grocery stores, gas stations, department stores, vacation packages, and more. Often, rewards may even be doubled or tripled in one or all categories on a special day, i.e. the last Friday of the month or the first Sunday. If you plan your spending carefully, you could end up with hundreds (if not thousands) of extra credit card points just because you waited a day or two to shop.
4. Paying Utilities or Other Bills
What easier way to build up points than by doing something you were already going to do anyway? It works great with dining out and shopping, but why stop there? Most utility companies will accept credit card payments. And with the hefty cost of electricity, gas, wifi, cable, phone, and more these days, it only makes sense to get as much back on your regular expenses as you possibly can.
5. Rewards Malls
Many credit card sites also host Rewards Malls where they partner with other businesses to offer great deals: discounts on flower delivery, rental cars, travel accommodations — you name it — all brokered for you as a cardholder benefit. Alternatively, some Rewards Malls are able to break out overall earning store-by-store, letting you know how many points per dollar spent you’ll get if you purchase through their portal. Depending on your credit card and the Rewards Mall in question, this could mean triple earning or more on big purchases from brands like Apple, Nike, and Sephora or everyday shopping from Walmart, Target, Home Depot, or more.
6. Watch for Deal Alerts
You’re not on your own out there, trying to figure out the best deals. Follow guerrilla loyalty sites like MillionMileSecrets.com and ThePointsGuy.com that do the legwork for you in terms of identifying the latest and greatest deals in credit card rewards. The Points Guy even gives monthly (subjective) evaluations of what points, miles, and all sorts of other rewards are worth in dollars, so you can prioritize where you spend and with what credit card.
7. Achieve VIP Status
Most customer loyalty programs, particularly those designed for America’s biggest brands, have a VIP or platinum level for earning available for their biggest spenders. It usually needs to be maintained on an annual basis, but is determined by the amount of spending or activity in the previous year. The benefit could be an increase in amount earned per purchase (for instance, 5 miles per $1 spent versus 3 miles) or access to additional perks and special accommodations.
Most of Rewards Network’s airline and hospitality programs feature VIP-level benefits that can help build up that point total and get you where you want to go faster.
To explore our dining rewards programs, check out our choice hub at RewardsNetwork.com!