Four Hacks To Help Boost Your Credit Card Rewards Points
There’s an entire movement around collecting credit card points but remember: The money you spend isn’t as important as how you leverage the rewards.
Article originally published on January 29, 2020 and refreshed on March 18, 2021.
It's well known that credit card rewards programs provide many benefits to consumers, such as cash back, points, miles and other incentives. But unless you use your credit card strategically, you may spend years collecting points you won’t redeem.
There’s an entire movement around collecting credit card points but remember: The money you spend isn’t as important as how you leverage the system.
Here are four strategies that can help you boost your credit card rewards points.
Credit card rewards strategy #1: Position yourself to take advantage of sign-up bonuses
Credit card sign-up bonuses often include bonus points, cash back and miles. For some credit cards, it might even be worth an annual fee to obtain these bonuses. Some credit cards also offer a promotional period in which you’ll earn extra cash back or double points.
It isn’t ideal to spend money simply for the sake of earning points. But if you’re planning to make any major purchases — such as a home appliance or plane tickets for a dream vacation — it could make sense to use a newly opened credit card to maximize your points.
Credit card rewards strategy #2: Align your credit card rewards with your spending patterns
Credit card rewards are widely varied and often include gift cards, merchandise, travel miles, cash back and points. It’s also common for financial institutions to give you the option to select specific categories, such as gas, travel or select business purchases.
You’ll accumulate points more quickly if you align rewards with your spending patterns. If you’re trying to live frugally, you may benefit from choosing categories that offer cash back or points for essential purchases, such as filling up your gas tank or stocking up on groceries. If you’re a small business owner, you may prefer a business credit card that provides rewards on categories such as office supplies, telecommunications or business travel.
Credit card rewards strategy #3: Leverage bonus rewards through participating merchants
Many financial institutions have relationships with retailers that allow you to earn special rewards. To earn your bonus, you’ll typically need to access these retailers through an online shopping portal from your financial institution’s website. This shopping portal will generally list the rewards you can earn from participating retailers, such as cash back or bonus points.
Some participating retailers may also reward you for making a purchase at their physical locations with your credit card. If you plan ahead and make purchases from the retailers your financial institution has relationships with, you will reap the rewards from being a savvy consumer.
Credit card rewards strategy #4: Don’t sit on your reward points
Some consumers hoard points for years in the hopes of achieving their ultimate prize, but it’s unwise to wait too long. Many credit cards have expiration dates for points, while for some others, including the Zions Bank Vivid Rewards Visa® Credit Card*, the points you earn don’t expire.
Credit card issuers must notify you if your terms change, but you may not receive enough advance notice to cash in on your points. It’s helpful to make a realistic plan for reward points that is based on your spending habits. If it will take you more than a few years to achieve your goal, you run the risk of your reward program changing or being tempted to switch reward programs if a better offer comes along.
*Credit cards are subject to credit approval. Terms, conditions and restrictions apply. See a banker for details.
Malcolm Hong is the Public Relations officer for Zions Bank in Idaho.