taking advantage of your cash back rewards

How to Take Advantage of Cash Back Cards

Cash back cards can give great benefits over time; anyone that isn’t already using one should consider switching to a cash back rewards card. This article will go over some easy tips to help you maximize the amount of cash back you earn from your rewards credit card.

Editor’s Note: You can see our current recommendations for best cash back rewards cards in this Guide.

Understand the Terms

The first tip is to make sure you understand all the terms of the credit card before you apply. Read the terms and understand the program; sometimes a credit card company will hide important information like rewards caps and qualifying purchases. You’ll also need to understand what purchases qualify for cash back. Usually all purchases qualify for some cash back and everyday purchases receive a higher reward. Everyday purchases are usually gas stations, drug stores and grocery stores, although you’ll need to read your terms to understand exactly what qualifies.

Another thing you should watch out for is this: some credit cards require you to spend a certain amount of money each year before you earn rewards. This should be avoided because there are plenty of great rewards cards that don’t require any such thing. Also don’t apply for a card that caps the amount of rewards you can earn.

Related Reading:  Find out more about cash back cards here.

Charge Everything

Next, charge everything to your credit card to earn maximum rewards. The more you use your card the more points or cash back you’ll accumulate. The important thing to remember is to pay off your balance each month. Failure to make a payment will throw your account into default, possibly forfeiting all rewards and points you’ve accumulated thus far. Make sure you pay off your balance immediately so you can keep earning cash back.

You’ll also need to be in charge of remembering how many points or cash back you’ve earned, keeping track in some way. Make sure you understand the method for redeeming them and don’t let any points expire; that’ll defeat the whole purpose. Some credit card companies help you keep track of your rewards on your statement each month; this can be very helpful to make sure you don’t let any rewards or points expire.

Don’t Pay More than You Earn

Another great tip is to make sure you aren’t paying more to earn your cash back, which will just cancel out any rewards you earn. Don’t use a cash back card that charges an annual fee; there are plenty of great rewards cards that don’t charge this.

There are dozens of great rewards cards but a few stand out. The Discover it credit card lets you earn up to 5% cash back on purchases on rotating categories, which notably include grocery stores, department stores, gas stations and restaurants – depending on the calendar quarter. Meanwhile, you can earn 2% cash back with the Citi Double Cash Card – 1% when you purchase and 1% when you pay. All without worrying about signing up for rotating categories.

Meanwhile the newly announced Costco Anywhere Card by Citi will doubles as your Costco membership card while allowing you to earn 4% back on gas, 3% back on dining and travel, 2% back at Costco, and 1% back everywhere else.

Cash back rewards cards are a great option for anyone. Remember these tips and you’ll have no trouble choosing a cash back rewards credit card that’s perfect for you and your lifestyle.

Credit Shout is a community of personal finance experts dedicated to helping you save money and make smart financial decisions. Learn how to master your credit card rewards, improve your credit score and start eliminating your debt.