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Six ways to maximize your travel rewards

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Travel rewards experts Greg Russell experts shows savvy travel savers how to get the most out of their “miles”credit card…

Selecting the best miles credit card for your lifestyle can be a tricky task, but the challenge doesn’t end once you’ve chosen a specific credit card. In order to take full advantage of a card’s benefits and rewards system, it’s important to employ a bit of strategy. Luckily, there are multiple tactics available to make your everyday spending activity work for you; however, some of these tricks may not be obvious to all cardholders. Let’s look at six ways to maximize the travel rewards earned by your miles credit card.

Grab those sign-up bonuses

Credit card companies are in fierce competition for your business, and they’re willing to hand out serious bonuses in order to bring in new cardholders. Take advantage of this fact by jumping on some of the lucrative sign-up bonuses they might offer. This strategy might require opening up a few different credit cards in a short amount of time, so it’s a tactic best employed by consumers with good credit and a solid grip on their credit card use. While some consumers might worry about the impact of frequent credit inquiries on their credit score, savvy travel-rewards veterans report that their ability to obtain favorable mortgage rates and other lines of credit has never suffered due to these practices.

Use Your Credit Card for Everything

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It’s easy to fall into a habit of using your credit card only for specific purchases. In fact, most financial advice warns consumers to be careful not to overuse their credit cards; some advisors recommend using credit cards only for emergencies and relying on cash for everyday spending. To maximize your reward miles and points, you need to adjust that mindset and start using your credit card wherever it’s accepted. When employing this strategy, it’s important to avoid getting carried away with your credit card use: Carrying a balance will incur interest charges that completely negate the value of your rewards. Only charge as much as you’ll be able to pay off at the end of the month.

Take advantage of partnerships

When cardholders think about maximizing their travel rewards, they often focus on ways to earn more points and miles. While it’s certainly important to earn as many points as you can, it also pays to be strategic about how you redeem those points. For example, sometimes the most effective way to use miles isn’t with the primary airline but rather with one of its partners. In more complicated situations, some travelers even transfer points from one airline’s reward program to another, and they then use their miles on one of the second airline’s partners.

Don’t forget about car rentals

Most travelers need to rent a car after an airline flight, and these rentals can offer a great way to accumulate extra miles. Many airline miles programs have partnerships with a variety of car rental companies. Some programs award a certain number of miles for each dollar spent, and others offer a flat award amount per rental. Either way, it makes good financial sense to use your miles credit card to book your car rental using one of the partner companies.

Look for big point rewards on dining

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Check out your preferred airline’s dining rewards program. Using your credit card for purchases in these areas can yield lucrative double-point and triple-point deals. Many airline dining rewards networks allow you to register multiple cards, and you can earn rewards using any of these linked cards at participating restaurants. Be careful if you’re planning to earn miles on multiple airlines: These dining reward systems often prohibit consumers from registering the same card for more than one program. It’s worthwhile to take note of which card you’re using for which reward program in order to avoid any problems.

Transfer your hotel points

If you’re not planning to use your hotel rewards points, you may want to consider transferring them to your airline rewards program. Most of the popular hotel rewards program offer transfers to a wide variety of airlines. However, the transfer value varies, depending on the hotel reward program and the airline; be sure to check for any restrictions and find out if you get a bonus for transferring a certain amount of points to the airline program.

As you can see, it’s possible to squeeze quite a few extra points and miles out of your travel rewards credit card. A tip by Milecards.com which extensively reviews credit cards suggests that assuming you’ve already chosen the best miles credit card for your situation, it just takes a bit of planning and effort to make the most of the card’s reward system. With some strategic spending and the right card, you can soon be on your way to traveling more and paying less.

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