How can I make the most of my credit card rewards?

Last Updated: May 16, 2013 09:01PM UTC

Paying balances in full each month to avoid interest charges is the most important strategy, but knowing where you spend the most money and selecting a card that rewards on at least those purchases will increase the value of the points you earn, particularly if you spend heavily on gas, groceries, dining, and travel.

With any card, read the fine print about points programs. Some cards promote the ability to earn 5% cash back on every purchase in a featured category, for example, but that usually has a “cap” on the eligible dollar amount points are rewarded up to. In such cases, use that card up only up to the amount you’ll earn points on, and switch to another rewards card you carry to ensure you’re paid for every dollar spent.

Some cards also offer merchandise or gift cards at a greater value than the cash redemption (such as spending $40 in points for a $50 gift card).  

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