STRATEGIES TO EARN MORE POINTS AND MILES WITH A CREDIT CARD

With little effort, you can maximize your earnings of whichever rewards you’re after

By Benjamin Szweda

AAA World Article

There are many rewarding credit cards available today with the big three card issuers, Citi Bank, Chase Bank, and American Express, recently stepping up the competition in the premium card market. With little effort, you can maximize your earnings of whichever currency you are after—points for a free hotel stay or miles for a premium class airline ticket. 

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SIGN-ON BONUS
You may want a specific credit card because of a particular benefit like one free hotel night each year or status with your favorite airline, but don’t miss out on the benefit from just opening the card. Recently several cards have been offering new members 100,000 points just for signing up and completing a minimum spend requirement. Whatever that requirement is, for example spending $5,000 within three months, make sure you have a plan to meet it, so you don’t miss out on free rewards.

PUT THE DEBIT CARD AWAYS
If the security concerns about using a debit card that grants access to your entire bank account have not stopped you from swiping it, allow the lure of credit card rewards to draw you away instead. While using a credit card will sometimes incur additional fees, like when paying your taxes or sending money to a friend on Venmo, most daily purchases do not. Therefore, use your credit card for every little purchase from the gas station to the coffee shop and everywhere in between. Even if you only earn one point per dollar that is better than none. Just make sure to pay your card balance in full each month, so interest doesn’t negate the benefits of rewards. 

MIND THE BONUS CATEGORIES
Does your credit card offer two, three, or five times the points or miles for spend in specific categories? Research the reward structure of your cards. Then take a permanent marker and write the category on the back of the card, so you remember where to use which card to maximize your earning potential. Gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores are all popular places where cards tend to offer bonus rewards. 

ADD AUTHORIZED USER
Adding authorized users to your card is a great way to increase your earning potential. Parents can provide their kids with cards and set spending limits if desired. Make sure you are aware of any extra annual fees for added users. And remember it will be you—not the authorized user—that is responsible for the bill each month. 

SHOP SMARTER ONLINE
Regardless of which credit card you have, you can earn additional airline miles with most online purchases you make. Search online for the name of your favorite airline followed by the phrase “shopping portal.” This should lead you to a website where you will find a listing of all your favorite stores. When you click through to your desired shopping site, you will then earn points or miles with your credit card and additional miles through the shopping portal. These rewards can be quite generous sometimes even hitting 20 extra miles per dollar spent.

DINE SMARTER
This concept is the same as with the online shopping portals. Many airlines offer a dining program where you register any credit card you have with the program and earn miles when you dine. This is on top of any points or miles you receive from the credit card used to pay the restaurant. For diners that have never used such a program before there are typically sign-up bonuses available. 

PAY YOUR TAXES OR MORTGAGE
Paying things like college tuition, your taxes or mortgage with a credit card is likely to incur a fee of around 2.5%. However, if you need to meet minimum spend on a credit card or have a specific reward redemption in mind where you know you will be redeeming your miles or points at a rate higher than 2.5% this may be an option for you. One site called Plastiq lets you pay any person or company with your credit card.

DON'T NEGATE BUSINESS EXPENSE
If you have a side gig or run your own business, you can sign up for a business credit card and personally benefit from all the rewards. You can even add employees as authorized users to the card and glean their rewards as well. Business credit cards tend to offer bonus categories that personal cards do not, such as for spend on office supplies, shipping or internet expenses.