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Best Ways to Pump Up Your Credit Card Rewards Balance

[Sunday, February 15th, 2015]

If you’d like to earn more frequent flyer miles, stay in hotels for free, get cash back, enjoy upgrades on rental cars, and trade points for gift cards to your favorite retailers, then earning more credit card rewards is the way to do it.

Credit card rewards are really like getting something for nothing, because you’re spending money on things you would have bought anyway. If you aren’t seeing your rewards balances climb as high as you’d like, here are some ways to boost your bottom line on rewards.

  • Pay household bills with your credit card. Your phone bill, electric bill, gas bill, cable TV bill: these are the expenses you have month after month and don’t necessarily think about putting on a credit card. However, if you are paying with a check or debit card each month, you’re missing out on a major opportunity to earn more credit card rewards. Set up automatic bill pay with your rewards credit card and not only will you never miss a payment, you’ll earn miles, points, or cash back with every dollar you spend. You have to pay these bills anyway, so you might as well make the most of it.
  • Put everyday purchases on your credit card. Basically, anytime you would pay cash, pay with your credit card if you can. There may be a minimum amount required for some purchases, but if you are able to put that pack of gum and soda on a credit card, along with the tank of gas you just pumped, you’ll be rewarded. Even small amounts help you earn more credit card rewards. If you are nervous about racking up credit card debt, simply go online and pay back the purchases once a week or once every two weeks. Remember that you can always make more than one payment to your credit card issuer each month. But putting these everyday purchases on your credit card really pays off in rewards.
  • Take advantage of promotions. Most credit card issuers offer promotions several times a year. Watch for these and take advantage of them. If you can earn 5% cash back in certain spending categories each quarter, be sure you sign up for the program and spend the maximum amount in that category. They are usually things like groceries, movie tickets, restaurants, gas, and other things you would have spent money on anyway, so make sure you get that extra cash back or those extra points. If you’ll earn a signup bonus by spending a certain amount of money when you get a new card, make sure you spend the required amount within the time period—usually three months.

When you get creative about using your credit cards to maximize your rewards, you’ll find it’s easy to find opportunities to earn more points. Having more than one credit card with rewards will also help. Make sure you have a few great credit cards in your wallet so you can always choose the one that give you the greatest rewards.

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