To help redeem rewards quickly, if you’re shy the necessary points for a flight you planto book, try a points-trading site such as Points.com. You might be able to exchange points you don’t need from another card for mileage points someone else at the site hasfor your airline. Points.com charges a 1-cent-per-mile fee to trade, so it’s best if you’reless than 10,000 miles short of your ticket.
3. Pay a Steep Annual Fee
Carry a card with an annual fee of $50 or more and you may accumulate rewards faster than with a no-fee card. But unless you’re really racking up the points, the cost is likelyto exceed the value of the extra points. Many issuers offer a no-fee card and a card withan annual fee that’s a bit more generous with rewards — and in most cases you’re better off going with the free card.
4. Fail to Qualify for Your Card’s Rewards
Some cards only dole out their biggest rewards to serious chargers. For instance, the
requires that cardholders spend $1,000 a month to earn themaximum 3 percent cash back on purchases. (There’s also a $25 annual fee.) Other cardslimit rewards to spending at particular types of stores or specific chains.Some companies rotate their best rewards quarterly. The
for example, is offering a 5 percent cash-back bonus on up to $300 in purchases on gas,hotels, movies, and theme parks from July 1 through September 30. Planning to take aColumbus Day road trip through New England to see the foliage? Too bad. You’ll onlyget 1 percent back when you fill up at the pump.
5. Buy an ‘Experience’
How’d you like a “free” trip to the Indy 500, or a week at a Wyoming dude ranch? Somecard issuers let you cash in points for outings like those or hard-to-get tickets.Occasionally, the point programs may work out for you. For instance, run up 15,000
(valued at about $150) and you can snag two ChicagoCubs box seats and a catered pre-game meal. The two game tickets alone are worth $96,and the meal could easily run $40 apiece, so this is a decent deal.But as a general rule, unless it’s an experience money really can’t buy, you’ll usually geta better deal — and a better ability to tailor the experience your way — by paying cash.
6. Make a Late Credit Card Payment (Even One)
Because thecredit card reform lawlargely ignored rewards programs, it’s one area wherecredit card issuers can still turn the screws.
changed the fine print on its
cards, for instance,and now, if you accidentally make a late payment, you’ll forfeit all the points you would