Credit card rewards are the best way to get a little more in your pocket simply by spending money on the things you buy every day. The credit card companies want to make it sound very easy. But what they will not tell you is that these programs often come with strings attached and limitations on benefits.
So, obtaining credit card rewards is not quite as simple as swiping the card and waiting for the goodies to come. Instead, it’s a process. Step one in this process is to look at each pre-qualified credit card offers you receive and see if the card limit, interest rate, and other credit terms are right for you. Step two is to maximize the available rewards. That’s what the rest of this post is about.
Find a Good Fit
The best rewards program in the history of rewards programs does you little good if it does not jive with your interests. If travel and working out are not your things, a card which offers airline miles and a gym membership is not for you. At best, you will waste these rewards. At worst, you may spend money you really do not have to obtain things that you really do not want.
Instead, think about what interests you, and then find an offer that matches those interests. This step may be easier than it looks. You can convert cash into anything. That may be why cash rewards programs are three times more popular than other offers. Some people apply the cash to their credit card balances, some redeem the cash points for merchandise, and some take the money and run.
Look Over the Details
As mentioned earlier, most credit card rewards programs have lots of fine print. Most banks hope that people will not read it all. They count on people to make these decisions impulsively. Much more often than not, that’s what happens. So, keep a sharp eye out for things like:
- Annual Fees: A few rewards cards have no fees, but they usually do not have the best programs. For those plans, you must pay. Be sure that the annual fee does not eat into the benefit. Sometimes, it’s just not worth it.
- Expiration Dates: Most cards only give cardholders a small window to redeem their rewards. Once the window closes, the rewards are gone forever. Put reminders on your cell phone and other calendars.
- Changes in Terms: Some credit card companies change terms and conditions frequently. They send notice, but the new terms of service may look like another credit card offer. Plus, the relevant portions are usually in the fine print. Don’t get burned.
If anything is unfavorable, or if the terms change materially, look for another card. There are plenty of other fish in the sea, if you have good credit.
Use One Card
Some people have several rewards cards. That encourages overspending and dilutes your points. Instead, choose the best rewards card available and run all your spending through that card. You’ll maximize your points and not run up big balances.
There are a lot of good credit card rewards plans out there, so be sure you select the one that’s right for you.
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!). Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!