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Would you like to earn more points, miles and cash back from your credit cards? Of course you would, but not at the expense of higher credit card payments. Nevertheless, there are ways that you can maximize your credit card reward earnings and control your spending at the same time.
1. Use your credit card for payment
The easiest way to maximize your credit card rewards is to utilize your card whenever and wherever you can. For example, many people continue to use cash for smaller purchases, but these expenses can add up to significant rewards when you use your credit card instead. In addition, your credit cards may be used to pay for big expenses that you might not expect such as utilities, insurance and health care bills.
2. Use Multiple Reward Cards
A handyman walks around with a belt full of tools, even though a pocket knife or another multi-purpose tool could conceivably be used, because having the right tool for the job is much more efficient. Likewise, some consumers people only use a one credit card for all purchases, when they could get better results with more specialized credit cards.
For example, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers 6% cash back on up to $6,000 spent each year at US grocery stores, 3% cash back at US gas stations and at select US department stores, and only 1% cash back on all other purchases. This is a good card, but if you also used the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, you could earn even more rewards on purchases that don’t earn 3% and 2% cash back, as Citi Double offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% cash back on payments.
3. Earn a good sign up bonus
The credit card industry is so competitive that card issuers will frequently offer valuable bonus points, miles, or cash back to new applicants just for giving their products a try. In recent years, an arms race has escalated the size of these sign-up bonuses.
For example, it was once common for airline credit cards to offer just 25,000 miles as a sign-up bonus, enough for one domestic, round-trip award in economy class. Now 50,000 is the new 25,000, and it's not unusual to see sign-up bonuses of 75,000 or even 100,000 points or miles. So if you were to sign up for just a few of the top bonuses offered each year, you would probably end up with more rewards that way than you would from all of your spending.
4. Get a retention offer
The worst thing about earning credit card rewards is that you have to pay an annual fee for using the best cards. But if you take a few minutes to contact your credit card issuer and express your dissatisfaction with these fees, you might be surprised at the results. In many cases, banks will waive the annual fee upon request, or alternatively, they may offer you additional rewards in order to keep you as a customer.
The biggest take-away here is understanding that what you have doesn’t necessarily mean that’s all you get. When speaking with a customer service rep, always be kind and patient. Most phone calls (if not all of them) are recorded, so there’s only so much they can say, and grant to an unsatisfied customer.