You saw an irresistible credit card offer — tens of thousands of bonus points or miles easily worth a plane ticket or short hotel stay. You earned the sign-up points and enjoyed them to their fullest. Here are five ways to keep your card carrying its weight for years to come.
Get to know your card's bonus categories
Many rewards credit cards pay you one point or mile for every dollar you charge. But more and more, these cards are adding bonus categories that double or triple the points you earn for certain types of purchases. Dining, travel, gas and groceries are among the more common bonus categories. They vary by card, so read the terms of your card to see where your spending will get you the best rewards.
Use your card for auto-pay services
Do you have Netflix, Hulu or any other video or music streaming service? Does your insurance company bill you automatically? Have an automatically renewing newspaper subscription or charitable donation? Do your utilities, phone, insurance or other ongoing bills offer auto-pay?
Make sure the credit card they have on file is paying you points or miles for these recurring expenses.
Pay your bills with your card
Not every bill lends itself to set-it-and-forget-it automatic payment. But even the occasional doctor copay and Amazon purchase can accelerate your earnings if you put them on your rewards card. And many state and local governments let you pay parking tickets, taxes and auto registrations online with a credit card — just be sure the rewards you are earning offset any fees you might incur for paying with a card.
Reach for your card, rather than cash
Some people feel silly pulling out a credit card for a cappuccino. But charging small purchases can help build up your points and miles balance. Beware, though: If paying in cash helps you resist impulse purchases at the register, using a card for a small purchase can be a bad idea. Also, watch for retailers such as gas stations that sometimes charge higher prices if you use a card.
Shop your reward program's virtual mall
If you buy a $1,000 computer with your card, you are likely to earn about 1,000 points or miles. But if you buy it through an airline or hotel's online shopping portal, you could earn additional points. These "malls" are just like shopping at the store's website directly, except a cookie in your browser triggers a miles or points reward.