How to Boost Your Credit Card Rewards Balance

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

If you’re an active user of credit card rewards, you may think you already know how they work. You spend money on your card and collect the points, dollars, or cash back that accrue from each purchase. Then, after saving up until you have enough to redeem, you choose how to spend them: gift cards, statement credits, hotel stays, flight upgrades. You name it, there’s a reward redemption option for you.

But did you know that there are more ways to boost your credit card rewards balance than just by making purchases? Here are a few other ideas to maximize your rewards, including some you may not have been aware of:

  • Join some frequent flyer programs. Loyalty programs like United MileagePlus, Delta SkyMiles Southwest RapidRewards and others all offer periodic promotions that allow members to earn extra miles. These can then be combined with your credit card rewards miles balance. All you need to do is go to the sites of the airlines you frequent – or might frequent, if you had the miles – and sign up. Opt in to receive emails that will alert you to special promotions, so you don’t miss out on any opportunities to rack up rewards.
  •  Sign up to dine out. There are several dining programs associated with frequent flyer programs that allow you to earn miles or points for dining out and writing a review of your experience. You’ll need to use the credit card associated with the program you’re a member of, so make sure you pick the one you want to use to pay for dinner or drinks when you sign up for the dining program. To find one of these programs, just visit the websites of the frequent flyer programs you joined and click on the current promotions.
  •  Apply for another credit card. Signup bonuses can be a very lucrative way to increase your rewards balance. Make sure you look around for the best deal, because these offers frequently change. Many co-branded airline cards offer signup bonuses good for enough points to take a round-trip flight, or for a weekend in a hotel. Just don’t apply for too many cards at once, or it can negatively affect your credit score. Stick to one or two great rewards cards with big bonuses.
  •  Book premium seats when you fly. Spending more money means getting more rewards, but not just because you get a certain number of miles per dollar spent. Look for promotions and deals that give you extra miles for flying first class or business class. Once you get in the habit of flying premium, it might be hard to go back to coach class. Luckily, there are enough great ways to earn rewards flying premium that you may not have to.
  •  Transfer your points. Here’s where being a member of multiple frequent flyer programs comes in handy. Sometimes transferring your points or miles from one program to another can mean getting more. Check out the fine print on your rewards program or call to find out whether you can transfer points from a program you don’t use as much, to one that offers more bang for the buck.

There are so many ways to earn credit card rewards—especially frequent flyer miles—that you’ll do yourself a big favor when you explore some new rewards-earning territory.

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