I have spoken before about how I love credit cards. Yes, they’re inanimate objects so you really can’t “love” them, but what I do love is credit card rewards points. We love to travel in my family and that can take a lot of money. That is money we could use on something else more important like investing for retirement. What credit card rewards allow us to do is still satisfy our travel itch while also not costing us much in the process. That means we can do more with our money.
In my time of churning credit cards I’ve learned some simple tricks that can help you maximize your return. Essentially, these tips allow you to earn more rewards for relatively little extra work. We all like to earn more by doing less work and the same applies with rewards points.
Credit Card Rewards Points are Free Money
I won’t beat a dead horse as I’ve covered this in other posts, but credit card rewards are essentially free money. That is assuming, of course, that you manage your finances wisely. If you pay off your credit card bill in full each month then it pays to take advantage of some of the more hefty sign up bonuses many credit cards offer.
Simply put, if I know that I’m going to spend $1,000 or more over the next few months and a bank will give me at least several hundred dollars to do so then it only makes sense to earn those rewards points.
Get Two Cards
What many people don’t realize is that there are some credit cards out there that offer the same card in both a personal and business version. Take the Hawaiian Airlines credit card for example. They offer both a personal and business version of the card. Each version of the card offers 35,000 bonus miles when you spend at least $1,000 in the first 90 days. By signing up for both, assuming you can hit the spend, you instantly double the amount of points you can earn.
I know what you must be thinking…I don’t have a business. Don’t sell yourself short. Do you have a blog that is bringing in income? Do you have a side hustle you earn money through? Then you can apply, generally speaking, for a business credit card. The great thing is that you can often combine the points so you don’t have to worry about that. One tip though, your business needs to be a legitimate one. If you’re not generating anything outside your day job then you likely shouldn’t be applying for a business card.
Banks that issue credit cards will do just about anything to market to us. Credit card bonuses are the obvious answer, but they also do other things to get more card signups. That usually comes in the form of issuing new cards. This can happen in one of two ways. The first is issuing the same card under a new name. Often times, this doesn’t really change the name but they’ll add “Platinum” or “Gold” to the card name, thereby qualifying it as a new credit card. You are generally able to sign up for that new card.
The second is when the card changes hands. For example, if a card had been issued by Visa but changed to MasterCard that is now a new card you can sign up for. Since these are technically different cards, you can sign up and earn the rewards points by following the terms and conditions.
Apply with Your Spouse or Partner
One of the best ways to take advantage of credit card bonuses is by applying at the same time as your spouse or partner. This can be a great way to instantly double the rewards you’re able to earn, assuming you can comfortably meet the minimum spending requirements. My wife and I have done this numerous times, starting with the US Air credit card and going from there.
A common question I hear is whether or not these points can be combined. In many cases, like with Chase Ultimate Rewards, you CAN combine those points. That means you can really make some headway in your credit card churning so you can earn free trips or cash back. This also may be a challenge if one of you isn’t in to travel hacking, but there is an easy fix. In our family, surprise, surprise, I’m the fan of churning cards, which means that I’m the one who manages the cards and what we apply for, and my wife just spends the money on the card we’re currently working on.
Credit card rewards can provide a great way to do some things that otherwise would cost you money. That said, you should only sign up for cards that you can comfortably meet the minimum spending requirement on. If you’re seeing that you’re having to overspend to earn bonuses then it’s not worth it…plain and simple. That does mean you do have to let some offers slide by, but that’s ok. Your financial well-being is much more important.
How do you earn more credit card rewards points? Does your spouse like/not like churning credit cards? How much have you earned over the past year in bonus points?
Photo courtesy of: Kristopha Hohn