Credit card rewards can be a great way to leverage your card. Whether it’s trips, gift cards or even money on your card, they are essentially the definition of free money, but only when done right. Here are a few tried-and-true tips to help you get the most out of your credit card rewards program.
New is Better Than Old
In the world of the big banks and credit cards, keeping customers doesn’t seem to be as important as getting new ones. The takeaway: don’t hesitate to cancel your existing card and get a new one. What’s the point of building thousands of points or miles when you can just get them for switching?
Spend Your Points
Saving up for something big? It might not be worth it. Loyalty programs are constantly getting updated. When they do, the points value of things often go up as well. The result: you can end up spending more points for the same thing in a year than now.
Take Advantage of Any Bumps to Your Credit Score
If you have not-great credit and build up to a better rating, you can often get a better credit card with better rewards. So, if you recently saw an increase in your credit score, start looking for a new card with better rewards and, potentially, rates.
Get Multiple Cards, Then Cancel Them
Signing up for cards, getting the bonuses and then moving on to other cards, is sometimes called “points churning.” This strategy isn’t for the casual points accumulators. It requires reading the fine print, having multiple credit cards and keeping an eye on new opportunities. The rewards especially the sign-up bonuses, can be extra lucrative.
Threaten to Leave
Turns out the same strategy for your cable bill can work for your credit card company. Threatening to leave, or simply asking what your current company can do for you, can result in better rates, rewards and more. If you want a better deal with your current card, give them a call and see what they can do!
All of these strategies can help you get more from your credit card rewards program. Of course, it’s important to remember that credit card debt is expensive, so maximizing your points gains can come with some risk. But if you only use your cards for what you can afford, and play the game right, you can see a lot of rewards much more quickly than just sticking with your existing card.