How To Win At The Credit Card Points Game, Part 2
Don’t just read about people using points to enjoy travel. Become one of them!
As a quick recap, last week we covered the first two key lessons in playing an effective credit card points game. You have to pick the cards that best fit your spending style, and you have to choose the set of cards in the same ecosystem that compliment each other.
Let’s continue exploring the different ways you can generate your own stash of credit card points.
Take Advantage of Sign-up Bonuses
One of the best ways to accumulate credit card points quickly is to take advantage of sign-up bonuses, also known as welcome bonuses. Many credit cards offer sign-up bonuses of thousands of points to new cardholders, thereby accelerating your point generation.
To qualify for a sign-up bonus, you’ll typically need to meet a minimum spending requirement within a certain period of time after opening the account. For example, you might need to spend $3,000 in the first three months of opening the account to earn a 50,000-point sign-up bonus. Usually, the more premium the credit card, the stronger the sign-up bonus, the higher the spending requirement.
You should only apply for credit cards that you can afford to use responsibly. Don’t spend more money than you can afford just to earn a sign-up bonus. Usually it makes sense to apply for a card with a compelling sign-up bonus just before a major expense such as moving, buying a major appliance, remodeling your home, paying off school tuition, major medical expense, etc.
Warning: Make sure you meet the minimum spending requirement without incurring unnecessary fees. For example, you wouldn’t want to pay for your rent with your new card if it means paying a credit card processing fee. That is what’s known as manufactured spending, or spending you’re only doing to meet the sign-up bonus. You also wouldn’t want to run late and pay interest on your balance. Both the processing fee, the late fee, and the interest would eat into the welcome bonus you’re supposed to be earning.
Maximize Your Bonus Categories
Many credit cards offer bonus rewards on certain categories of spending, such as travel, dining, gas, and groceries. To maximize your point earnings, you should use your credit card for purchases in your bonus categories whenever possible, especially if you bought into a particular ecosystem like we tackled last week. Sure, you’ll have to carry around more than one credit card to be prepared, but this is one sure fire way to get ahead in point accumulation
For example, if you have a credit card that offers 5% cash back on gas purchases, you should use that card to fill up your gas tank instead of a card that does well with entertainment expenses.
You can also use a service like MaxRewards to help you maximize your credit card rewards earnings. MaxRewards automatically selects the credit card with the best rewards rate for each purchase you make.
Using Online Shopping Portals
Another great way to accumulate credit card points is to use online shopping portals. Online shopping portals are websites that offer rewards for shopping at participating online retailers.
To use an online shopping portal, simply visit the portal’s website, and after signing up and logging in, click on a link to the retailer where you want to shop. You’ll then earn rewards on your purchase, which can be redeemed for credit card points, cash back, or other rewards.
Some of the most popular online shopping portals include:
Refer Your Friends, and Strangers, to Earn Credit Card Points
If sharing is caring, then let your friends express their care by signing up with your referral links. It’s no different than referring people to Uber Eats, Instacart, or similar service where each successful referral gives you a little extra credit.
One good way to gain credit card referrals is by searching Reddit posts. There are threads specifically reserved for posting your referral link for visitors to use to sign up, especially if your referral carries a little more value than the sign-up bonus they would have encountered on their own.
Be sure to follow the rules to make sure you’re not violating any etiquette. Credit card afficionados understand the importance of referrals, but there is such a thing as proper decorum.
Other Tips for Accumulating Credit Card Points
Here are a few other general tips for accumulating and retaining credit card points you might consider:
- Pay your bills on time and in full each month. This will help you maintain a good credit history, which can make it easier to qualify for new credit cards with competitive rewards programs.
- Use your credit card for recurring expenses. This can help you rack up points without even thinking about it. For example, you can use your credit card to pay for your monthly gym membership, cell phone bill, and streaming service subscriptions.
- Take advantage of special offers and promotions. Credit card companies frequently offer special offers and promotions that can help you earn bonus points. For example, you might earn a bonus 500 points for spending $50 at a specific retailer during a certain period of time.
Accumulating credit card points can be a great way to save money on travel, merchandise, and other rewards. By following the tips above, you’ll be surprised at how easily you’ll generate enough points to put a dent in your next trip.
Really, there’s no secret to winning at the credit card points game. The more you spend, the more points you’ll generate. Make sure you don’t spend more than you can handle. Just let the points accumulate in the background. Yeah, it might take a little effort at juggling cards to meet the right purchase, but with a little practice, I promise it’ll become second nature. If you ever accidentally use the wrong card and lose out on a fantastic reward accumulation, don’t worry. We’ve all been there.
Before we take a little breather from discussing credit cards, I’m going to publish one more post talking about the best credit card I obtained this year. If you’re all about learning ways to get a significant boost to your point strategy, stay tuned for the credit card you just might want to make a top priority for your next application, especially if you are renting.
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you!