How Much Could You Earn With a Rewards Credit Card?

Using smart spending strategies can help you maximize your rewards.

By Navy Federal September 7, 2017

If you have a rewards credit card, it’s a great feeling to know you’re earning rewards every time you use it. But did you know that with a little bit of planning, you can use your card to earn even more? Consider these ideas to maximize what you earn.

Make it your preferred payment method. When you use your rewards credit card as your go-to way to pay bills and everyday expenses, you can earn rewards on nearly all your spending. Filling up the gas tank or buying groceries? Grab your rewards card. Paying phone, TV and utility bills? Earn rewards! However, remember to make sure you can pay off your credit card bill every month to avoid interest charges. It doesn’t make financial sense to pay interest to collect rewards points.

Check into bonus categories. Many rewards cards offer additional points on specific types of everyday purchases. These may include gas, travel, restaurants or entertainment, for instance. Find out which purchases qualify for bonus points, because it’s not always obvious. For instance, if a card offers bonus points for travel, that may include not just airfare, but ordinary expenses like parking fees.

If you have multiple rewards cards, use the card that pays the most points for the specific purchase you’re making. For example, if you can earn 2 points on gas with one card and only 1 point with another, use the card that pays 2 points when you purchase gas.

Pay attention to the details. Some cards set dollar limits for the bonuses you can earn in certain spending categories, or your rewards may have expiration dates. Make sure you understand the limits so you can manage your rewards and avoid losing points.

Check exclusive shopping portals. Many rewards cards are associated with online shopping portals (think a “members only” online mall). The credit card company partners with retailers like well-known clothing, toy, electronics or department stores to offer additional points or other bonuses that are available only to their cardholders when they purchase through the portal (website).

If your credit card company offers an online shopping portal, you can see if they partner with your favorite retailers and check out how much more you can earn when using their site.

Find the right card for you. Your credit card should fit your lifestyle and spending patterns. To get the most rewards from your spending, look for a card that has features like:

  • bonus rewards on everyday items
  • a long time to redeem points or a “rewards never expire” policy
  • online shopping portals

Navy Federal Credit Union offers a variety of credit card options that can help you maximize your rewards earnings.

Tally Up Your Rewards

The example below shows how rewards points can really add up quickly.
Spending Category Points per dollar Monthly spending Points earned/month
Gas stations/supermarkets








Everywhere else






This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.