Get the perks you’ll use most
“If you’re already a big traveler, get a card that offers more points for travel-related purchases, like the Chase Sapphire card,” advises Benjamin Glaser, features editor with Deal News. “But if you are buying mostly gas and groceries while trying to save up for a family vacation, then the AmEx Everyday Preferred card might be better.” Pay attention and plan to get maximum value. Think about the program and credit card that best complements the type of travel and destinations that fit your goals. While some might save points for a specific destination, others might prefer business or first class flight rewards, partner ticket programs, and complimentary checked bags. Read up on your benefits so you can take advantage of it all,” says Kevin O’Brien, Chief Client Officer at Aeroplan. He also advises putting all your regular expenses on one credit card to maximize your earning power. Timing is also important, so learn when you should (and shouldn’t) open a store credit card.
Take advantage of signing bonuses
If your credit score can handle it and you’re willing to manage an additional card, consider a new one each year or every other year. “This will allow you to take advantage of introductory offers that provide free points up-front. Monitor blogs like Million Mile Secrets and The Points Guy, which will alert you to the best card promotions. And if you do sign up for a new card, make sure to watch out for minimum spending requirements (to get your introductory points) and annual fees,” says Clem Bason, the current CEO of value hotel search site, goseek.com, and the former president for hotwire.com. They’re often waived for the first year but then will get you the second year if you don’t cancel the card first or call to ask them to waive it again. Just don’t overspend to meet the minimum. “If you know your credit card bill is at least $1,300 every month, then it should be easy to spend $4,000 in the first three months of having a new rewards card in order to get a bonus 20,000 points,” says Glaser. But if you need to work on your credit first, use these 11 tips for improving your credit score.