Choose your credit card wisely. You’ll be spending a lot of time (and money) together. Not all credit cards are created equal. You should always compare interest rates, fees, and rewards programs to see how credit cards stack up against each other. After all, a rewards program is no good if you don’t value the rewards.
Whether you’re upgrading your credit card, or getting your first one, check out these tips for maximizing your credit card rewards.
1. Plan for the Sign-Up Bonus Spending Requirements
New cardholders are the lifeblood of the credit card industry. To entice you to sign up, some credit cards offer sign-up bonuses. Before you sign up, make sure you’ll be able to take advantage of them. Some cards require a minimum amount spent on the card within some time period to receive a sign-up bonus. For example, with Scotiabank Gold Amex card you get 20K points when spending $500 within 3 months.
Other cards have less strict requirements and only need the card to be activated and used once to trigger the bonus reward. For example, with MBNA Rewards MasterCard you get 5K points with your first purchase.
2. Buy Everything With Your Card
With the move toward a cashless society, it’s more common these days for people to use their credit card to make everyday purchases (even small purchases). Ditch the cash and cheques when paying. Use your card to maximize rewards. But be responsible. Don’t go over budget.
The goal is to earn the most rewards while paying no fees or interest. Fee-based transactions, such as paying taxes and other things that charge fees generally do not fall under this strategy. Make sure the purchase works out in your favour.
3. Add Authorized User(s)
An easy way to boost your rewards is to combine all your family’s spending onto one credit card. Some credit cards offer higher reward accruals when you spend above a certain amount (just be careful because some credit cards cap your rewards as well).
Add your spouse or college student as an authorized user to earn even more rewards. A word of caution: just make sure you understand that you are ultimately responsible for any charges made on the authorized user’s card. Before adding your son or daughter as an authorized user, take the time to educate them about the benefits and pitfalls of credit cards.
4. Bonus Reward Categories
Some credit cards offer higher reward accrual rates on certain categories. The most common categories are groceries and gas. Some cards like the Tangerine Money Back card offer even more freedom by letting you choose your spending categories. Receive up to 2 percent cash-back (4 percent for the first 3 months) in 3 spending categories of your choice.
5. Shop Online Through Bonus Shopping Portals
If you’re already planning to shop online, why not earn extra rewards for doing so? Some issuers have a “shopping mall” that allows you to earn bonus points when shopping online through the shopping portal links. For example, MBNA Rewards cardholders can shop through MBNA Rewards mall and earn additional points.
6. Use Multiple Cards
Sometimes having 2 cards in your wallet can help you earn more points. If you already get 2 percent cash-back with 1 credit card, perhaps choose 3 different categories with your Tangerine credit card to boost your rewards even more. This advanced strategy takes additional discipline, but can pay off in the long run.
The Bottom Line
These are just 6 of the many ways you can make your credit card even more rewarding. Just make sure you don’t go overboard. There’s no credit card in the world where it makes sense to earn 1 or 2 percent cash-back and pay 18 percent interest or higher. Use your credit card responsibly and only buy what you can afford to pay off in full once your credit card statement comes due.