How do rewards credit cards work?
Some credit cards have rewards programs that really pay off.
Rewards programs typically allow you to earn points on every dollar you spend on qualifying purchases with your credit card. You can then redeem those points for all kinds of rewards, including:
- Gift cards
- Travel (airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, etc.)
- Gift products and selected items
- A partial or total refund of your credit card balance
The name used for your points can differ depending on your financial institution.
Good to know: There are also cashback credit cards, which are not the same as rewards cards. As their name suggests, these cards let you earn a predetermined percentage of the money you spend with your card as cash back.
Will I earn bonus reward points when I apply for a card?
Keep your eyes open! Financial institutions often have welcome rewards for people enrolling for a credit card with them for the first time. These promotions often give you a nice bundle of points that you can use to treat yourself when you sign up for a new credit card.
Good to know: Some of these cards have certain conditions, such as a minimum spending amount for a given period. For example, you may have to spend $3,000 on your credit card within the first 3 months of enrolling.
How can I earn points on a credit card faster?
Some financial institutions give you a higher points accumulation rate for recurring bill payments. That means you’ll earn more points per dollar spent on those bills than for any other type of expense. Plus, since they’re regular payments, you’ll earn points on your card every month, without having to do a thing.
Word to the wise: Make sure you always pay your credit card balance on time, otherwise you’ll have to pay interest. It could also hurt your credit score. Be sure not to go into debt on your credit card, since it will have a huge impact on your credit score. People sometimes forget that you can pay your card balance at any time—you don’t have to wait until the deadline. In some cases, you can even pay in real time online.
To learn more about your card’s interest rate and other
→ See our article on how credit cards work.
To help you better understand your credit score and keep it
→ See our tips on how to have a good credit score.
How do I pick the right credit card for my lifestyle?
There are a lot of credit cards out there. Chances are, there’s at least one that’s right for you. Think about your lifestyle and what you spend the most money on, then pick a card that will maximize your rewards:
- What you spend money on: In addition to recurring bills, other types of expenses let you earn more points. A few examples: groceries, restaurants, gas or electric chraging for you vehicule, etc. Find out what those categories are to see if you could be earning more on your current purchases.
- Where you spend your money: Some credit card issuers have agreements with specific businesses, which means you earn extra points by shopping with them. If you’re a regular customer of those retail partners, you could come out way ahead.
Bonus tip: If a store is known mainly for one thing but carries a wide range of items, like grocery stores, you could start doing more of your shopping with them—and earn more points!
What other kinds of benefits do credit cards offer?
This last tip won’t necessarily help you earn more rewards faster, but it will help you make the most of your credit card. Rewards and cash back are great, but credit cards can do a lot more! Here are some tips to help you make the most of yours.
Convert your points wisely
The rate of exchange for your credit card points probably varies depending on the selected product or service.
- For a travel booking, 100 points could be worth $1
- For a gift card, it might cost you a whole 250 points for $1
Take the time to compare the different types of rewards. Make the most of your points by finding out how many points you need for each available reward.
Use your financial institution’s mobile apps and online platform
Creating an account for your financial institution’s online platform or downloading the mobile app can be a good way to get the lowdown on your rewards program.
Online platforms and banking apps typically allow you to:
- View your current points balance
- Redeem points for rewards more quickly and easily
- Spot possible mistakes or fraud
- Find out about changes to your account or your card program
Make the most of your many credit card perks
Your card could do a lot for you. Here are just a few examples:
- Insurance and coverage, including medical insurance for your travels, trip cancellation or interruption insurance, baggage insurance, insurance against damage, loss or theft of your cell phone, and coverage or extension of manufacturer warranties for your purchases
- Reimbursement of certain travel expenses, such as seat selection fees, checked baggage fees, airport parking fees, and more
- Access to private airport lounges
A credit card is a convenient way to pay for everyday purchases—especially online purchases. Rewards and benefits can offer great perks. But make sure you always stay within your budget and credit limit and pay your balance on time. You should never use your credit card to buy things you can’t afford. Don’t hesitate to talk to a financial advisor for tips on managing your budget and keeping your personal finances in top shape.
For tips on how to use your credit card well:
→ Check out our article on “6 smart ways to use your credit card”
To help you manage your finances:
→ Check out our personal finance page
For tips to help you pay down your debt:
→ Check out our article with “7 tips for paying off your debt”