Interest rates and fees are undoubtedly the first aspects to check when applying for a credit card – but rewards and perks are a close second! And yet, only around 30% of credit card holders redeem their rewards or take advantage of the points they have accrued.
Could this be because the credit card rewards game has become increasingly harder to navigate over the past years? Certainly.
But it is also because many credit card holders don’t build a rewards plan that truly works for them. Here is how to level up your credit card perks through diversification.
Start With an Advantageous Sign-Up Offer
With credit cards, the secret is not to put all of your eggs in one basket. But, before you can take advantage of multiple reward plans from various credit card issuers, there’s one hurdle you’ll need to overcome: signing up for the right accounts.
During the sign-up process, you’ll receive an introductory rate offer and a welcome bonus. And, undoubtedly, these offers do a great job at luring prospective users into opening an account. Nonetheless, not all introductory offers are created equal.
For example, you might get a welcome offer that allows you to receive a $200 cash bonus for every $500 spent during the first three months. Or, you can get access to a whopping 60,000 bonus points if you make a $4,000 purchase within 90 days of opening your account.
No matter what the issuer’s offer is, make sure to review both timelines and eligibility requirements and opt for cards with different introductory offers.
Pro-Tip – if you are planning a holiday or big expenditure, applying for a credit card and completing your purchase within the introductory offer’s period can help you take advantage of these one-time bonuses.
Pick The Right Credit Cards For Your Lifestyle
One of the reasons why many credit card holders just let their rewards expire is that they can’t use them advantageously. So, when it comes down to diversifying your rewards, look for cards that compliment your spending strategy and can offer you real-life benefits.
Some cards offer whopping bonuses and thousands of airline miles, but these perks might only be accessible when spending a certain minimum – which can be as high as $10,000! If you are not a big spender or you don’t make such large investments on a regular basis, you might never be able to access the card’s rewards.
Ideally, you should diversify your credit cards by rewards type (miles, points, and cash-back) and amount. In particular, you could combine a credit card that offers rewards for everyday purchases with a premium card that allows you to receive significant bonuses for larger expenditures.
And, don’t forget to look for accounts that match your current lifestyle. For example, student credit cards are an excellent alternative to receive discounts on books and other college material.
Redeem Reward Points in Cryptocurrency
Before diving into the credit card application process, make sure to check what redemption options the issuer offers.
Some of the most common redemption alternatives include merchandise and “pay with points” options, which are, incidentally, the worst ways of getting value for your rewards.
Oppositely, some credit card issuers allow you to deposit your cash-back and points rewards directly into your bank account – or even convert it to cryptocurrency. As a rule of thumb, you should look for redemption options that offer a value of at least 1:1 (1 cent for each point, or $10 for each $1000 spent).
Beware of Devaluations and Expiry Dates
Diversifying your credit card rewards by type is crucial, but you should not underestimate the importance of looking for rewards with different expiry dates and usage periods.
Indeed, some programs – such as frequent flyer and hotel programs – are likely to devalue over time, requiring you to increase the number of points necessary to access a certain reward. What’s more, some benefits are time-bound and come with an expiry date.
Make sure to create a credit card rewards mix that includes short-term perks for everyday purchases and long-term points to use towards a larger investment you are currently saving up for.
Value Your Time and Spendings
While credit card rewards can certainly be beneficial, not everyone has in mind to become the next Brian Kelly – the Points Guy who turned credit card points into an empire. After all, he has spent years figuring out the ins and out of reward programs and owns 25 credit cards!
Optimizing your credit card rewards can be extremely time-consuming and overwhelming – and even encourage you to spend more than you can afford. Make sure to find a balance between the rewards you are able to enjoy and the time spent managing your accounts!
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