Credit card rewards programs offer many great perks, including cash back, gift cards and points you can redeem for travel expenses and other purchases. When you use a rewards card to make purchases, you earn points that you can redeem for rewards. The more you buy, the more rewards you earn.
The key is not to go overboard and spend more than you can pay off each month. By using the card strategically, you can amass points and other rewards without incurring excess debt. Here's how:
- Shop through a designated site. Many credit card companies offer double or triple points when you make purchases with a rewards card via an online shopping portal, such as Navy Federal’s Member Deals.*
- Tap into partner programs. Some rewards programs offer more points when you make a purchase with a designated partner.
- Build rewards by paying bills with your credit card. Don’t overlook the opportunity to build rewards by putting your bills on your rewards card, instead of paying by check or debit card. As long as you’re smart about budgeting and paying off your card balance each month, this can help you maximize your card rewards.
*Program excludes Navy Federal Business and Home Equity Line Visa® Platinum credit cards and Navy Federal Debit Cards.
Cash in on opportunities to save money on traveling expenses by accumulating points on rewards credit cards. Depending on the program, you can redeem travel points for:
- hotel stays or room upgrades
- airline tickets or seating upgrades
- airport lounge access
- waived checked bag fees
- discounts on car rentals
- dining discounts
- travel planning
- concierge services
- entrance to amusement parks
- reduced rates on cruises or planned excursions
Your card may also offer extra protections that are valuable for travelers, such as car rental insurance, accident insurance and emergency assistance. If you travel abroad often, look for a card with no foreign transaction fee.
To get the most from a rewards program, you need to pay attention to the terms of your credit card agreement and how the program is set up. These strategies can help:
- Watch for bonus opportunities. Credit card companies often offer opportunities to double or triple your rewards during certain times of the year. You may receive notification of these opportunities via mail or email. You usually have to opt into the bonus program to score the extra points.
- Don’t miss a payment. A missed or late payment on a rewards card may mean you have to forfeit your earned rewards.
- Use it or lose it. Depending on the terms of your credit card agreement, your credit card company may be able to take back rewards if you don’t use your card for a prolonged period of time.
- Limit balances. Rewards cards often charge higher interest rates than non-rewards cards. Paying higher interest on your balance than you would otherwise can wipe out the benefits of the rewards.
- Regularly redeem points for rewards. Rewards points may have an expiration date—look for this information before you sign up. If you aren’t saving points for a particular big-ticket item or trip, consider regularly cashing in your points so you don’t lose your earnings.
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