While it’s great to have a credit card that gives you rewards, it’s even better to maximize your rewards!

Here are eight secrets to be sure you’re getting the most from your rewards credit cards:

  1. Look Beyond the Initial Bonus—Rewards cards that deliver double or even triple points on your purchases can be great as long as you don’t make purchases beyond your budget. 
  2. Keep Track of Your Rewards—It’s easy to forget about the rewards you’ve accumulated on your rewards cards. It’s awful if your rewards expire before you redeem them. Keep up-to-date on your rewards, redeem them periodically and pay attention to any changes in your rewards credit card terms. Your credit card company is required to notify you whenever there's a change in your card terms.
  3. Monitor Your Annual Fees—You expect more from a rewards credit card, and sometimes it’s worth paying for those extra benefits. If your rewards card comes with an annual fee, be sure your annual rewards surpass that fee. If not, it might be time to change rewards cards. 
  4. Match Your Rewards Card to You—A rewards card that earns travel points won’t do you much good if you rarely travel, so make sure your card offers the best redemption options for you. Points from travel rewards cards are often worthless if redeemed for merchandise or cash. If you’re mostly interested in cash back, a cash rewards card is usually a better option.
  5. Be Disciplined With Rewards Card Use—Do you pay off your rewards card balance in full each month? If not, be careful with your spending. Don’t go deeper into debt just for extra rewards. As with any credit, don’t borrow more than you can figure out how to pay off.
  6. Consider Using Just One Rewards Card—Using just one rewards card for all your purchases will not only simplify your spending habits-it will also propel you faster to your card’s rewards. A great way to maximize rewards is to use your card to pay regular household expenses such as utility bills. Be sure to pay these off every month, though, to avoid interest charges.
  7. Check Out the Other Benefits on Your Rewards Cards—Not all rewards cards are created equal. Some rewards cards offer much better benefits than other cards. Look for benefits that relate to your interest. Travel benefits such as travel accident insurance and waiving foreign transaction fees make great additions to travel rewards cards. Price match guarantees and extended warranties are good add-ons for cash rewards. 
  8. Check With Customer Service—If you have a question about your card’s rewards, an answer is just a quick toll-free phone call away, especially if you have a Navy Federal Credit Union rewards card (1-888-842-6328). You can also chat with a customer service representative online at navyfederal.org.