Friday, April 4, 2008

Tips for Getting the Most from Your Rewards Credit Card

Are you thinking about getting a reward credit card? If so, you are not alone. A growing number of people are deciding to take advantage of the perks that rewards cards provide. When used properly, rewards credit cards can put some extra money in your pocket. Unfortunately, many people don’t know how to take full advantage of their rewards credit cards and are actually losing more money in the process. By following these few simple tips, however, you can manage to get the credit card companies to pay you for using their card.

Tip #1: Pay the Balance in Full Each Month

This first tip is probably the most difficult one for many people to follow. A number of people have grown to depend upon their credit cards and are accustomed to carrying a balance from month to month. If your current financial situation has you in a crunch and you have to carry a balance, don’t carry one on your reward credit card.

Reward credit cards generally have a higher interest rate than credit cards without any frills. Although you may be getting a 1% cash back rebate with the purchases you make with your credit card, you may be paying 5-10% more in interest. As a result, you will actually be losing more than you gain when you use your reward credit card. If you can’t pay off all of your expenditures each month, you should only charge what you can afford to pay on your rewards credit card and place the remaining charges on a credit card with a lower interest rate.

Tip #2: Know How to Make the Most Money with Your Card

If you have more than one reward credit card, make certain you know how you can earn the most money with each one. For example, some reward credit cards pay a higher percentage of return on gasoline purchases while others pay more when you purchase groceries or travel-related items. Know the specialty area of your credit card so you use the one that will pay you the most when you make your purchases.

Tip #3: Take Advantage of Special Program Offers

Some reward credit cards specialize in offering “no hassles,” but most of these types of cards do require paying special attention to specific guidelines. For example, you might have to sign up in order to participate in some cash back programs. With some cards, you might have to sign up every three months in order to be eligible for a higher percentage rebate. If you don’t sign up, you may still receive a smaller cash back award but you won’t get as much from your credit card as you could be getting.

Tip #4: Spend Your Points Wisely

Depending upon the reward credit card, you may have the option to spend your points in a variety of different ways. For example, you might be able to get cash back with your credit card points or you might be able to trade in your points for gift certificates or other types of rewards. When you trade in the points for something other than cash, you often get a greater value for your points. For example, 1000 points may be enough to help you earn $10 but those same points may be traded in for a $20 gift certificate to a restaurant. If you enjoy eating at one of the available restaurants, trading in your points for a gift certificate will help you stretch your points further.

Tip #5: Pay Your Monthly Bills with Your Credit Card

Look over your monthly bills and see if you have the option to pay them with your credit card. By paying your regular monthly bills, such as your utilities, cable or satellite and telephone, you can make some extra cash with your reward credit card. Since you already have planned a budget that will allow you to pay these bills, you should have no problem paying off the balance at the end of each month. Paying off your utilities with your reward credit card is almost like getting free cash!

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