What Is the Best Way to Use Credit Card Rewards?

September 23, 2013, Written By Natalie Rutledge

When you start racking up rewards points on your credit card, you may be confused as to what to do with them. Should you spend them right away or save them for later? Should you convert them to cash or use them to buy something online? The big question is: what is the best way to use credit card rewards?

Here is our analysis of credit card rewards programs so you can learn what the best way is to use the benefits you have accumulated.

Before You Use Your Rewards…

Before you use your credit card rewards, you need to understand how your rewards program works. Some rewards programs offer points that do not expire, others do. So the first thing you need to find out is whether your points will expire since that will have a big impact on your ability to use them. You can learn this by reading the terms for your card or contacting your credit card company.

You may also want to learn about how your points are earned based on the kind of items you buy. If you normally pay cash for your gas and groceries, you may be able to generate significant rewards points by making these purchases on your card. Some credit cards have certain categories of purchases that offer more rewards than others.

Finally, you need to explore your rewards program and see what options you have within it. Can you get cash for your rewards, or do you have to use the points as points? Can you use them for shopping online, or can you only use them in stores? This information should be highlighted in your credit card terms of use. But you can also contact your credit card issuer to learn more.

For Expiring Rewards

If you have expiring rewards, it will obviously important to use them before they go bad. Each point should have its own expiration date, so you will need to keep that in mind.

Ideally, you need to use as many points as possible before they expire, and use them for something significant that you want. Of course, this will depend on how your rewards program is set up. If you can use your points for cash, you may be able to withdraw them at any time. If you are going to use them for travel expenses, it will be best to save them for one large purchase.

For Non-Expiring Rewards

If you do not have expiring rewards, you should be able to save as many of them as you want. At this point, how you use your points is entirely up to you. Most people will find an item they want to acquire with their rewards and then set a goal to save for it. You can do that and adjust your spending to get you the most points possible.

If you have the opportunity to convert your points into credit card payments, you may want to consider that as well. This will save you money, which you can then use to spend however you like. Not all credit card companies will allow you to do this, but some will let you pay off entire balances if you have enough points built up.

Other Tips to Keep in Mind

What is the best way to use credit card rewards? For whatever you want. You determine how much you get out of your card benefits and when you start to cash them in. Here are some quick tips to ensure you get the most out of your credit card rewards:

  • Make sure to take advantage of bonus points given out throughout the year. These are excellent opportunities to earn accelerated rewards.
  • Watch your rewards account for changes in your points total. If you suddenly lose a lot of points, you may need to contact your credit card company.
  • See if you can combine rewards points between your credit cards. Some companies will allow you to do this, giving you a chance to do even more with the points you have.
  • Don’t be afraid to spend a little something on yourself. You’ve worked hard to earn the points you have. Spend them well.

Follow this advice and you’ll see why people love credit card rewards so much.



The information contained within this article was accurate as of September 23, 2013. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Natalie Rutledge

Natalie Rutledge majored in Communications at Mississippi State University. She was in sales for a number of businesses and spent nine years working as a communications advisor to various entities. Natalie can be contacted directly at [email protected]
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