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Most credit card issuers give points to their customers as a way of appreciating them for using their credit card. This means that you can make some extra money by accumulating points during your credit card usage.

However, some of these credit card points might not amount to much cash when redeemed, so you might ask yourself whether they are really worth it. The answer is yes — if you’re maximizing your rewards. To get the biggest possible benefit from your spending, you’ll want to do some quick research.

We will let you in on some tips and tricks that will help you profit more from these credit card points.

  • How can I Earn Credit Card Points Fast?
  • Which Credit Card Gives the Most Reward Points?
  • How to get More Benefits From Credit Card Rewards
  • How can I Accumulate Credit Card Points?

How can I Earn Credit Card Points Fast?

1. Take advantage of the sign-up bonus

The first way to maximize your credit card reward points and miles is to take advantage of a sign-up bonus. A sign-up bonus occurs when the credit card issuer gives you points simply for filling out an application and opening a line of credit with them.

Read Also: Credit Cards With Rewards Systems

While you’ll ultimately only get the sign-up bonus if you’re approved for the new line of credit, you won’t have to do anything other than open up the card to receive this benefit. If you’re interested in this bonus category, you should search Credible’s free tools to compare multiple reward cards at once so you can enjoy more points on travel, cash rewards, and more.

2. Meet any spending requirements

Sometimes, when you open up a new credit card, lenders will offer you a certain amount of reward points or points on travel in exchange for spending a certain amount of money on the card within a specified time frame. For example, you might be given 50,000 miles in exchange for charging at least $3,000 within the first three months of owning the card.

Of course, you’ll only want to use this tip if you know that you can afford to pay off what you spend. However, if you know you need to make a big purchase, it might be a good time to open up a new card so that you can get added benefit from your spending.

Again, Credible can help you find reward cards that make the most financial sense for you (don’t rule out cards with annual fees — sometimes the best loyalty programs will outweigh the cost).

3. Add authorized users

Adding an authorized user, or someone else who’s allowed to use your credit card account is another way to earn points or miles. However, keep in mind that as the primary cardholder you’ll still be responsible for paying off any charges that your authorized user makes to your card, so make sure it is someone who you trust.

4. Research where you’ll earn extra rewards

Some rewards programs offer extra perks for shopping at certain stores or buying from certain partner brands, like a particular hotel chain or airline. You’ll want to be sure to research where you have the potential to earn extra rewards before you open up a new card so that you can find one that matches your regular spending habits.

5. Utilize the bonus category

Other cards offer the potential to earn extra rewards by naming certain bonus reward categories each quarter. For example, one quarter you may be able to earn extra rewards when making purchases at gas stations. Another quarter, it might be from spending on travel and dining.

In this case, you’ll want to do regular research into the bonus category structure that your card is currently offering, so that you’re aware of where your money will have the greatest impact.

6. Use your card to cover most expenses

In general, when your goal is to earn points or miles, you should use your card to cover most of your expenses. However, the caveat here is that you should also make sure that you have enough money to pay off your balance in full.

Otherwise, the debt, interest charges, and impact on your credit score from getting too close to your spending limit may outweigh the benefit of earning reward points.

7. Check your rewards often

Lastly, you’ll want to check your billing statement often to keep an eye on any rewards that you’ve earned. Some rewards programs, especially frequent flyer programs and hotel programs, have a tendency to let rewards expire and you’ll want to make sure to use them before they do.

Which Credit Card Gives the Most Reward Points?

There are dozens of rewards credit cards to choose from, but we have narrowed them down to this list of the best rewards credit cards available right now. Some of these are travel rewards cards that earn transferable points currencies, some are cash-back cards and a couple is cards that earn rewards for a specific loyalty program.

Of course, travel rewards may not be high on everyone’s priority list right now. Social distancing and preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus has kept many of us from being able or willing to travel, which means you may be considering options outside of our best travel credit cards. 

Some of these rewards cards can help you save money now with cashback or non-travel redemption options — and others can help you build up a future travel fund that can be used on an incredible travel redemption once coronavirus concerns subside.

American Express Gold Card: Best for groceries and takeout

Welcome offer: 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months, Although you may be targeted for up to 75,000 bonus points through the CardMatch tool (offers subject to change at any time).

Rewards rate: Earn 4x at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 spent each calendar year, then 1x); 3x on flights booked directly through airlines or on amextravel.com; 1x on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $250

Who should apply: With the Amex Gold, you’re getting a great 8% return on restaurant and U.S. supermarket spending and a solid 6% return on airfare. The Amex Gold is a nice middle ground between the top-tier The Platinum Card® from American Express and a lower-value beginner card, such as The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express.

You’re getting perks, such as a dining credit of up to $120 each year and an airline-fee credit of up to $100, plus a rewards structure that focuses on common spending categories besides just travel — all without the massive $550 annual fee that comes with the Amex Platinum card.

If you want an Amex card that makes it easy to earn Membership Rewards on everyday expenses such as dining and groceries at U.S. supermarkets, this is definitely a card to consider.

Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for everyday spending

Sign-up bonus: N/A

Rewards rate: 2% on every purchase — 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay your bill

Annual fee: $0

Who should apply: Two percent cash back on every purchase is a great offer for non-bonus spending. Although Citi did strip important purchase protections from this card in 2019, the issuer also added the ability to convert your Double Cash rewards to ThankYou points via a linked ThankYou account.

ThankYou points are valued at 1.7 cents each at TPG, in part because of Citi’s solid list of transfer partners. The ability to convert points means you’re getting a 3.4% return on every purchase for no annual fee. If you’re in the market for a simple card that earns flexible rewards, it doesn’t get much better than the Citi Double Cash.

Chase Freedom: Best for rotating rewards

Sign-up bonus: $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months, plus earn 5% back on groceries (excluding Target and Walmart) on the first $12,000 spent in your first year.

Rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back on the first $1,500 in purchases spent on quarterly rotating categories (activation required); 1% on everything else.

Annual fee: $0

Who should apply: If you’re willing to keep up with spending categories that change every three months, you can get a lot out of a rewards card like the Chase Freedom. The categories are often easy to maximize.

For example, the third-quarter 2020 categories are grocery stores, streaming services, gym memberships and fitness clubs. If you maximize the bonus categories each quarter, you’ll earn $300 in bonus category rewards each year.

Just like the Freedom Unlimited, you can also pair this card with one of the Chase credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards and earn valuable Chase points rather than just cashback. With TPG’s valuation of Chase points at 2 cents each, you’ll be earning 10% back on bonus category spending.

Chase Sapphire Preferred: Best for beginner travelers

Sign-up bonus: 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Rewards rate: Earn 5x on Lyft, 2x on travel and dining, 1x on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $95

Who should apply: The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best beginner travel cards available. You’re getting an excellent sign-up bonus worth $1,600, according to TPG valuations. Its rewards structure is simple, but broad enough to earn points on a large number of purchases.

Plus, Chase recently added additional temporary benefits to help cardholders get the most out of their card during this time when many aren’t traveling.

The points currency you’re earning is among the highest-value transferable currencies out there. You can redeem points for 1.25 cents each through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal or you can transfer points to one of Chase’s airline and hotel partners.

Plus, you’re only paying a $95 annual fee. For travelers who want a card with more firepower, the Sapphire Preferred has an older sibling, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which comes with a higher 3x rewards rate and perks such as a $300 annual travel credit — along with a $550 annual fee.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for airline rewards

Sign-up bonus: Limited Time Offer: earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $20,000 on purchases within the first 12 months from account opening. Or still earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Rewards rate: Earn 2x miles on every purchase.

Annual fee: $95

Who should apply: The Venture has long been a crowd favorite for travel rewards because of its simplicity. You know you’re getting 2x on every purchase, which takes a lot of the guessing game out of earning rewards.

The miles earned can then be used as a statement credit to “erase” eligible travel (and temporarily some non-travel) purchases or they can be transferred to one of Capital One’s 13 airline and two hotel transfer partners.

As an added perk, you’ll also get a statement credit of up to $100 every four years for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee, which isn’t a benefit commonly found on low-fee cards.

Also, Capital One recently added a new perk: Venture and Savor cardholders will now earn an unlimited 5x/5%, respectively, on Uber Eats purchases. The good news is that this promotion will run through the end of January 2021 — with no caps on how many miles you can earn.

This card is often marketed as a beginner card, but anyone can take advantage of the card’s rewards structure and benefits. Beginners will enjoy the simplicity of using the Venture, while experts can use it for non-bonus spending.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for frequent travelers

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months

Rewards rate: Earn 10x points on Lyft; 3x points on travel (after using $300 travel credit) and dining; 1x on everything else

Annual fee: $550

Who should apply: The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is one of the top premium travel cards available. Although changes to the card unveiled in January 2020 were met with mixed reactions, this card remains a favorite among many TPGers.

You’re earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points on a wide range of travel and dining purchases (because Chase defines both categories quite broadly), while also getting access to luxury perks such as an annual $300 travel credit, Priority Pass lounge access, TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee credit, a $60 annual DoorDash credit (for 2020 and 2021), at least one year of DashPass membership through DoorDash, a Lyft Pink membership and an impressive array of travel protections.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve also just dropped a few new perks to help maximize benefits during the pandemic.

When it comes time to redeem your rewards, you can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to any of Chase’s 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners, or you can redeem them for certain travel (and now also non-travel) purchases at 1.5 cents each. If you’re a regular traveler who can take advantage of all of the card’s perks, this is an excellent rewards card to have in your wallet.

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for small businesses

Sign-up bonus: 100,000 points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months

Rewards rate: Earn 3x on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services and on advertising purchases made with social media site and search engines each account anniversary year.

Annual fee: $95

Who should apply: The Ink Business Preferred is one of the best all-around business credit cards on the market. You’ll earn 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $15,000 in the first three months.

TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, which puts this bonus at $2,000 in value when you maximize Chase’s transfer partners. Or you can redeem points through the Chase Travel portal for 1.25 cents each, giving you $1,250 in value.

The Ink Business Preferred offers 3x (a 6% return) across a wide range of business expenses, giving business owners ample opportunities to earn rewards. Plus, you’ll also get access to some solid benefits, including travel protections and cell phone insurance.

It is worth noting, though, that Chase is currently requiring a sign-in to apply for the card. You’ll need to be an existing customer to get the Ink Business Preferred at present.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for commuters

Welcome offer: A $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months

Rewards rate: Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1%) and select U.S. streaming services; 3% on transit and at U.S. gas stations; 1% on everything else.

Annual fee: $95

Who should apply: The Blue Cash Preferred got a much-needed facelift in 2019, adding valuable bonus categories to keep up with changing consumer habits. With a new streaming service being launched every other day, earning 6% on streaming is a great bonus category that only a few cards recognize.

This card is also a commuter’s dream, with an unlimited 3% cashback on gas and transit (which includes taxis, ride-shares, tolls, trains, buses and more). Although the card does not earn Membership Rewards points, it remains a simple way to earn rewards on common everyday spending categories.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express card: Best for gas rewards

Sign-up bonus: 20,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months

Rewards rate: Earn 3x on dining (eating out and ordering in), gas stations, transit, travel and popular streaming services; 1x on everything else

Annual fee: $0

Who should apply: The Wells Fargo Propel offers a low-cost way to earn fixed-value points on everyday spending categories. Earning 3x on such a wide array of categories is unique for a no-annual-fee card, which makes this a great option for beginners in the rewards game.

If you also have the Wells Fargo Visa Signature® card (another no-annual-fee card), your points could be worth 1.5 cents each. Although this isn’t a great rewards card for travel experts because of its lack of transfer partners, beginners can get a lot out of the Propel.

Capital One Savor Card: Best for entertainment rewards

Sign-up bonus: $300 after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months

Rewards rate: Earn 4% cash back on dining and entertainment; 2% cash back at grocery stores; 1% on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $95

Who should apply: Anyone who spends a lot on dining and entertainment should consider this card. Capital One defines both of those categories broadly, meaning you’ll earn 4% back for sit-down restaurants, take-out, coffee shops and bakeries, concert tickets, movies, sporting events and even tourist attractions.

This is a great tiered earning structure for rewards-card beginners because you don’t have to pay attention to changing categories, plus it offers excellent value for veterans of the rewards game. With no foreign transaction fees, this is the perfect card to use on entertainment purchases, both at home and when traveling.

Keep in mind that Capital One also recently added streaming services as a 4% category through Sept. 30, 2020, and the Savor will also earn 5% on Uber Eats through Jan. 31, 2021.

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for flexible rewards

Sign-up bonus: $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months, plus earn 5% back on groceries (excluding Target and Walmart) on the first $12,000 spent in your first year.

Rewards rate: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every day purchases.

Annual fee: $0

Who should apply: Everyone needs a card that earns rewards on those purchases that don’t fall under any other bonus categories. That’s where a card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited shines. The card is especially valuable for existing Chase Ultimate Rewards cardholders.

If you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, you can transfer your cashback rewards from the Chase Freedom Unlimited to your Ultimate Rewards account.

You can then redeem those points at an elevated rate through the Chase portal or transfer them to travel partners. TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, which doubles the value of your rewards.

How to get More Benefits From Credit Card Rewards

The best credit cards reward you for doing something you would have done anyway. And whether you have a travel, cashback, or generic rewards credit card, knowing how to maximize the benefits you get from the card can help you get the most bang for your buck.

To help you make sure that you don’t miss out on the best rewards out there, we’ve put together a list of five ways you can get the most out of your credit cards’ rewards programs.

1. Choose the right cards

There’s no best credit card out there for everyone. The right card for you depends on your spending habits, your personal preferences, and your credit score.

Spending habits

Let’s say you have a large family and spend a lot on groceries and gas. It might make sense then to get a card like the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card that offers bonus rewards on those purchases.

On the flip side, getting that kind of card wouldn’t make much sense to someone who is single, has a low grocery bill, and doesn’t own a car.

Personal preferences

The biggest decision you need to make is whether you prefer travel rewards or cashback rewards. If you choose travel rewards, then you’ll need to decide if you want a general travel card or an airline or hotel card.

You’ll also need to decide whether you want flat-rate rewards or the opportunity to earn bonus rewards, and so on. This can get complicated if you let it, so try to simplify this process as much as possible.

You can’t get most of the best rewards credit cards unless you have good or excellent credit, which typically starts with a 700 credit score. If you’re not there yet, get there before you start applying.

Go through this process not with just one card, but with a few. By using two or three rewards credit cards regularly, you can take advantage of their different rewards programs based on your spending habits.

For example, you could use the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for travel purchases, the Discover it® Cash Back for its great cashback program, and the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card for everything else.

2. Use your cards for everything

The more you put on your credit cards, the easier it will be to rack up rewards. No, this isn’t an invitation to start spending money on things you don’t need. Rather, it’s an encouragement to use your credit card instead of cash or a debit card whenever possible.

For example, some utility companies allow you to use a credit card without paying a fee. Even car dealerships may allow you to put some or all of your car down payment on your card.

Start looking for situations in which you can use a credit card instead of another payment method. But if a merchant charges a fee to use your credit card, do the math to see if you’re paying more in fees than you’d earn in rewards. If the fees exceed the rewards rate, it’s not worth it. Also, be sure to use the card only when you have the cash to pay off the balance.

3. Know what doesn’t generate rewards

It’s easy to get carried away with trying to use your card for everything, but don’t let it go so bad that you start doing things that don’t earn any rewards at all. For most credit cards, this includes cash advances and balance transfers.

It’s also important to note that both of these activities typically come with fees. And there’s no grace period with cash advances, so interest starts accruing immediately. Do yourself a favor and leave these out unless you absolutely need a balance transfer.

4. Pay off your balance in full

The worst thing you can do with a rewards credit card is to pay interest. It can reduce the value you get from the card’s rewards or even neutralize it entirely.

To help you avoid carrying a balance, create and maintain a monthly budget, only spend what you can afford to pay off, and keep an emergency fund to cover any unexpected expenses that arise.

5. Redeem your rewards the right way

If you have a cash back credit card, you may think that your best redemption option is cash. But with some cards, that’s not the case. For example, the Discover it® Cash Back offers a $5 bonus when you use your rewards to get gift cards on over 100 brands.

If you have a travel rewards credit card, you’ll have an even better chance of maximizing the rewards you’ve already earned. If it’s a general travel card, you can seek out the cheapest hotels and flights for your trip. And if it’s a hotel or airline card, you can book your trip at a time when your points or miles are worth the most.

This part of the game can take a while to get good at, but it’s worth the time improving your skills.

How can I Accumulate Credit Card Points?

Not having a rewards credit card is a waste of a good credit score, but owning a rewards credit card without maximizing your points is just as wasteful.

There are plenty of ways to collect extra points, miles, and cashback without spending extra money. Follow these simple credit card tricks, and you could be adding a zero or two to your points balance in no time.

Couple up your credit cards

Maybe your credit card offers extra points on travel spending, and the issuer has another card that offers extra points on groceries and gas. Consider getting a second card and switching them up depending on what you’re purchasing in order to maximize rewards.

Transfer unused points

If you have a few thousand points sitting around in a reward account you no longer use, you might be able to transfer those points to the rewards account you’re currently using. Check your rewards program’s point transfer policies and partnerships.

Put home improvements on the card

Planning on renovating the kitchen or adding a spare bedroom? Put those expenses on your rewards credit card, as long as you aren’t charged a fee to do so.

Add an authorized user

This one requires a judgment call on your part. Adding someone as an authorized user makes you responsible for any debt they accumulate and fail to repay. It also means that any mistake you make, such as a late payment, will show up on their credit report, affecting their credit score.

However, if you’re sure you can trust each other, many credit cards give you extra bonus points — usually around 5,000 — for adding an authorized user who makes a purchase in the first few months. Plus, if that authorized user adds additional expenses to your card, the points they accumulate are added to your account.

Pay your mortgage or rent with a credit card

Services like RadPad and Plastiq let you pay your rent with a credit card. Your landlord doesn’t even have to sign up; these websites send a rent check to your landlord on your behalf. Unless you find a promotion, it will cost you a 2%-3% transaction fee.

This means you’re paying 2 to 3 cents per $1, so you need to be getting back more than 2%-3% in rewards to profit. If you’re trying to hit a minimum spend requirement to get the sign-up bonus on a credit card offer, the 2%-3% fee is almost always worth it.

Pay tuition with a credit card

If you’re covering tuition for your kid, you might as well get a reward for all the money you’re spending. Most colleges now allow you to pay tuition with a credit card, although many charge a fee. If you’re lucky and the college you pay doesn’t charge a fee for credit card transactions, charge away. Just make sure you have the funds to pay off your credit card immediately.

Pay your taxes with a credit card

As of 2018, the fee for paying any taxes you owe the federal government is 1.87% to 2%. That means this option is only worth it if you’re getting more than 2% back, which can be in the form of high value points or a good cash-back credit card.

If you’re trying to meet a minimum spend requirement for a sign-up bonus, this option has lower fees than paying your rent online.

File a complaint

Did you recently experience an inconvenience with the airline or hotel chain you’re trying to earn points for? Whether your flight was seriously delayed or your room was overbooked, complaining to the company will often result in them depositing a generous amount of miles or points into your account in exchange for your forgiveness.

Buy gift cards

Buying gift cards for places where you know you’ll shop is an effective way to hit a minimum spend requirement. This can also be a good way to get extra cash back.

For example, if your credit card offers 5% cash back on groceries, then buying restaurant or department stores gift cards at your local grocery store may let you get 5% cash back on purchases that aren’t part of your bonus category.

Close your credit card — and then reapply

Some credit cards only allow you to get a sign-up bonus once in a lifetime. However, other offers simply state that you cannot earn the sign-up bonus if you’ve already earned it once within the past 24 months.

So, if you’ve had your rewards credit card for more than two years, you may be eligible to get the sign-up bonus again by closing it and reapplying. Just read the terms of the sign-up bonus carefully to make sure that you qualify. Also be aware that closing a credit account may ding your credit score by lowering your average account age.

Redeem your rewards wisely

Accumulating points quickly is only half of the process. In order to get the most out of your rewards, you have to redeem them wisely as well.

Read Also: Why do People Use Debit Cards Instead of Credit Cards?

To choose what you want to redeem your points for, calculate how much you’d typically spend on your award redemption and divide that by the number of points it costs — that’s the value of each point, and you should aim for at least 1.5 cents.

Redeeming points for products on a marketplace or for cash will typically get you the lowest value per point, while redeeming them for travel rewards like flights and hotels tends to get you the highest value.

Remember to weigh the costs of these methods with your potential rewards. After all, it’s never worth it to spend more than you earn. It’s also not worth charging more than you can afford to multiply your rewards, as credit card interest rates will surely cancel out any benefit. Whatever you do to earn points faster, don’t let it get you into debt.


With a little planning and forethought, it is possible to earn more credit card points and miles. However, at the end of the day, when you’re in the market for a new card — whether it’s a reward credit card, cashback card, travel card or beyond — one of the best things that you can do is to find a type of credit card with a rewards structure that matches up to your typical spending habits. It’s all in the card details.

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