How to Use Credit Cards to Maximize Your Reward Miles

By Staff WriterLast Updated Jun 24, 2020 6:48:38 PM ET
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Credit cards that offer reward miles are a great way to earn discounts on travel and other perks. Sign-up bonuses and reward points for regular spending are more lucrative than ever, giving you an opportunity to really cash in if you spend wisely. Use this guide to come up with a plan for maximizing your reward miles to make your normal spending work in your favor..

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What to Look for in a Rewards Credit Card

In addition to the usual comparison of interest rates, annual fees and other terms, you should look for a few key things in a rewards credit card. For maximum flexibility on travel rewards, you want a card that doesn't limit your air miles or reward flights with blackout dates or limited airline acceptance. Beware of expiration dates for points. Ideally, your credit card should let you keep all your points indefinitely. Expiration dates make it harder to save points to maximize your rewards. Check to see if the card offers an air miles rewards catalog. You may have an opportunity to cash in your reward miles for other perks besides travel, giving you greater freedom and flexibility..

Take Advantage of Welcome Bonuses

The quickest way to earn a large number of air miles is through welcome bonuses. Many credit cards offer thousands of points or miles (some as high as 100,000 points) for signing up for the credit card and spending a minimum amount within a short period. The period usually ranges from one month to three months, and the minimum spending amount ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Larger air mile bonuses require a higher spending amount, but if you're already planning to spend that much money you can really cash in..

Choose a Card That Aligns with Your Spending Habits

Not all credit cards are the same, and not every dollar is weighted the same when it comes to credit card rewards. Some credit cards give you more points for spending at restaurants or in the entertainment category while others reward you for spending money in grocery stores or online shopping. If you're trying to maximize your reward miles, choose the card that aligns with the way you normally spend your money..

Spend in Bonus Categories

Many air miles reward cards offer a flat rate for points across all purchases and then offer bonus points for spending in different categories that rotate each quarter. Although some credit cards automatically credit your purchases in these categories, others require you to sign up for the bonuses each quarter. In either case, keep track of when the categories change and what the new categories are. Make sure you pay for purchases in those categories with your rewards credit card to maximize your points..

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Use Your Card for Monthly Expenses

Monthly expenses might take up a large part of your paycheck, leaving you with little wiggle room for spending in other categories. You don't have to max out the bonus points each month to rake in reward points. Pay your routine expenses, such as cell phone, cable, utility and grocery bills, with your credit card. As long as you pay the bill before the end of the billing cycle, you get reward miles without worrying about paying interest. This is a great way to earn rewards if you're on a budget with no room for extra spending..

Add Authorized Users to the Account

An authorized user is someone you give permission to make purchases on your line of credit. Some credit cards also offer welcome bonuses for each authorized user you add. Additionally, you get points for the purchases they make. This method isn't without risk, however. As the account holder, you're responsible for the purchases they make if they don't pay their portion of the bill. Only add users to your account if you can trust them to spend and pay back responsibly.

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