5 underrated ways to earn credit card rewards


Earning rewards is one of the great benefits of using rewards credit cards. Usually, you earn these rewards by spending popular items like flights, gas, food, and more. There are many traditional ways to earn credit card rewards, as well as a few unconventional ways to earn them. These more underrated ways to earn credit card rewards won’t always be the first thing advertised on your card issuer’s website, but they can still be lucrative.

Use your utility bills

Utility bills are recurring charges that you have to pay anyway. Why not put them on your credit card to earn rewards on a monthly purchase? A downside is that some utilities may charge a processing fee when you pay bills with a credit card. But paying for your utilities with your credit card can help you build a positive credit history. New features like UltraFICO and Experian Boost use and record bill payments as a contributing factor to your credit history, creating new avenues for building credit beyond just responsible credit card use.

Participate in partner programs

Many credit cards are co-branded or have partner programs that offer rewards when you spend. Partner programs cover many categories, including restaurants, airlines, retail stores and more. If you enroll in a partner program like Southwest’s Rapid Rewards Dining program or American Airlines’ AAdvantage program with your card and spend at any merchant participating in that program, you will earn rewards on your card that can be used for any redemption of your card. options. Find out about your card’s program partners so you know all the places where you can maximize your earnings.

Look for retention offers

A retention offer could be on the table for people who already have good to excellent credit. Card issuers want to keep cardholders in good standing, so you may have some leverage to negotiate a retention offer or an incentive to keep your account open. These incentives can be annual fees refunded or credit card reward points added to your account.

You can often negotiate incentives when you call an issuer to cancel a card, or if you have a complaint about your experience with the card itself or the brand associated with the card. For example, if you experience flight delays with your co-branded airline card, you can call and have additional rewards added to your account to make up for the inconvenience.

Buy gift cards

A concept called manufactured spending is another cool way to get your hands on more rewards. This process involves using your credit card to purchase gift cards that can earn you both rewards on your credit card, as well as the cash incentive that comes with the gift card you purchase.

For example, if your card only earns rewards and high cash back at grocery stores, buy gift cards on it for restaurants, Amazon, rideshares, streaming services, or other places you normally spend. anyway. Technically, you could even buy a Visa gift card; however, some issuers may consider this type of activity a red flag and may cancel your account or revoke rewards you have already earned.

Bet on bonuses

A popular way to earn a windfall of rewards meeting the spending requirements to earn your credit card sign-up bonus. You can easily cover this by making a large purchase on your credit card, like a new laptop. Simply pay off this purchase on the closing date of your next billing cycle to avoid any interest charges.

On the other hand, referral bonuses are when you receive an extra windfall of rewards for referring a friend to apply for your credit card and their application is approved. Another way to earn bonus rewards is with an authorized user. This user has the ability to spend on your card’s line of credit and your account earns rewards for their purchases. Make sure you have someone who is responsible or you trust as an authorized user on your card, as you will be responsible for covering the purchases they make.

How to Maximize the Value of Your Rewards Points

  • Take advantage of portals. If your card has a spending portal, like Capital One Travel or Chase Ultimate Rewards, use them to maximize your earnings. These portals often offer enhanced rewards rates when you make purchases or book travel through them.
  • Watch your redemptions. Not all redemption options are created equal and you could unintentionally dilute the value of your rewards. For example, cards that offer travel rewards will often have their highest redemption rate when you redeem them for travel-related purchases. Redeeming travel rewards for other things like statement credit or buying a gift card could cut your points value in half.
  • Stack the cards. Multiple cards from the same issuer used together will help you maximize your rewards earnings and increase their overall value. A good example of this concept is the Chase Ultimate Rewards program and the Chase trifecta. The overarching goal is to strategize spending using multiple cards, then consolidate those rewards earnings into one account for maximum amount and value.
  • Transfer to partner airlines. Travel cards that have partner airlines generally allow cardholders to transfer rewards to those airlines. In some cases, transferring your points or miles to another airline partner may increase the value of the miles or points.
  • Beware of limits. Be aware that some cards with lucrative bonus categories have spending caps. Once you reach these spending limits, the value of the bonus category most often drops to the lowest reward rate. Spending limits and time windows before these limits reset vary by card.

The bottom line

Using all the options available to you, a windfall of rewards could be yours in multiple unique ways. Read all the fine print on your card, sign up for partner programs, and think critically about how you’ll want to redeem your earnings. As always, follow responsible credit habits and you’ll open up even more income opportunities over time.


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