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Making the most of your rewards credit card
Smart Money

Making the most of your rewards credit card

Last updated

The idea behind rewards credit cards is brilliant. You earn points for the spending you do on your credit card, and those points can be used to treat yourself, perhaps with a shopping voucher, a stay in a hotel, a flight, or a new appliance for the kitchen. Rewards cards reward you for your spending. Brilliant.

However, not all rewards cards are brilliant, or at least, not all rewards cards are brilliant for all cardholders. To make the most of a rewards card, there are certain rules to follow.

Choose the right card

If you want to make the most of your rewards card, you need to choose the right card. While some rewards cards look good on paper, they may not work well for your spending, or they may not offer value for money.

The right rewards program

Don’t choose a rewards card simply because it offers rewards. Find out more about the rewards on offer, and think about whether you would actually benefit from those rewards. If you choose a frequent flyer card, think about whether you want to earn points on the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, the Velocity program or a program from another airline. If you want a shopping rewards card, find one that offers rewards that you enjoy or can make good use of.

Point-to-dollar ratio

Not all rewards cards are made equal. To get value on the points you earn, you need to find out more about the card’s point-to-dollar ratio. First work out how many points you earn for each dollar you spend, and then work out how much each point is worth.

The right card for your spending

Choose a card that rewards you for the spending you do most. If you use your card primarily for supermarket shopping, make sure you earn as many points as possible for that type of spending. If you travel frequently, make sure you earn points on your travel. There’s no point getting a rewards card if it doesn’t allow you to easily earn points.

Points capping and expiry

Some rewards cards cap the amount of points you can earn, and some delete points after you have had them for a certain amount of time. If you are a big spender, choose a card with no points capping. If you a slow points earner, choose a card with no points expiry.

Annual fee and interest

Many cardholders don’t think about how much they are paying out in annual fees and interest on their rewards card. Unfortunately, it can be all too easy to negate the value of the points you earn simply by paying too much in annual fees and interest. Choose a card with an affordable annual fee, and always pay the balance in full to avoid interest charges.

Earn more points

Big spenders usually benefit most from rewards credit cards. The more you use your card, the more points you earn. However, you don’t need to be a big spender to get the most out of your card. Do some research to find out how to earn more points on your card to maximise the number of points you earn. This could involve paying your bills with your credit card, or using your card at certain retailers. Just be sure to always pay off your balance at the end of the month, and don’t spend on your card just to earn points.

Making travel count

Don’t forget to use your rewards card when booking travel. You may be able to earn points when you book flights, accommodation, tours and activities, or when you hire a car. You may even be able to use your points to pay for the booking, and earn points on that purchase as well – win, win!

Pauline

Pauline Hatch

Pauline is a personal finance expert at CreditCard.com.au, with 8 years in money, budgeting and property reporting under her belt. Pauline is passionate about seeing Aussies win by making their money – and their credit cards – work smarter, harder and bigger.

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