How to maximize credit card rewards

Whether you earn cash back, miles or points, learn how to use your card rewards for your benefit.

You’ve found a rewards credit card that suits your lifestyle and spending habits. Now when you use it, you can start earning cash back, miles or points. But before you do, did you know there are certain things you can do to make the most of the rewards available? 

Keep reading to learn ways you can help make the most of your credit card rewards.

Types of credit card rewards

The idea of a rewards credit card is simple: Each time you make a purchase with an eligible card, you earn rewards. There are three main types of rewards cards:

Cash back rewards cards

Cash back rewards cards typically allow you to earn a percentage of cash back on every purchase or on selected purchases. Flat-rate cards offer the same percentage of cash back on every purchase you make with your credit card. Tiered-category cards offer different levels of cash back according to the spending category—like dining or entertainment, for example. There are even cards that rotate rewards levels through different spending categories.

Miles and travel rewards cards

Having a travel rewards card may help you earn rewards to redeem for past or upcoming travel costs. With a general travel rewards card, you can typically use your rewards on a range of airlines and hotels or for travel purchases like car rentals and train tickets. With an airline card, you generally earn rewards to use with your favorite airline and—depending on the card—other travel partners. You may be able to redeem your miles for everything from plane tickets to perks like free checked bags and early boarding.

Points rewards cards

Rather than cash back or miles, some rewards credit cards let you earn a certain number of points based on every dollar spent with the card. How you earn or redeem points varies based on the card. And the value of the points may differ based on the kind of purchase you make. 

How to make the most of your rewards

Whether you earn cash back, miles or points, here are some ways you can get the most out of your rewards credit card:

1. Choose the right card for you

When choosing the right rewards card for you, it’s a good idea to think about your spending habits and lifestyle. Planning on taking a vacation this year? You might want to look into how different travel rewards cards could benefit you on your trip. 

Perhaps you’re a film buff with a healthy appetite for dinner and a show. A card that gives you higher rewards for dining and entertainment purchases, like the Capital One Savor card, may be a good fit.

Remember, it’s about knowing which categories you spend the most in. If you need help with that, consider using a budget to help you understand your monthly expenses—even the guilty pleasures.

2. Check for ways to earn higher rewards

Some cards give you the chance to earn a higher rate of rewards on certain purchases. For example, Savor cardholders can earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases.1

Capital One Venture and Venture X cardholders earn an unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase.

And there are enhanced rewards available for booking through Capital One Travel:

  • Venture cardholders earn 5X miles per dollar.
  • Venture X cardholders earn 10X miles on rental cars and hotels—including luxury hotels and resorts available through the Premier Collection—and 5X miles on flights.

3. Qualify for an early spend bonus

You can check whether your card comes with an early spend bonus. That means if you spend a certain amount in a specific time frame, you could earn extra rewards—on top of the card’s standard rewards. For example, the Capital One Venture X card early spend bonus awards 75,000 bonus miles if you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.2 

4. Understand your perks

Understanding all the benefits that come with a particular card can help you make the most of your rewards. 

If you’re just using a travel rewards card for the miles, you could be missing out on other valuable perks. For example, the Capital One Venture X card offers cardholders Priority Pass™ membership as part of its Visa Infinite® benefits.3

It’s also a good idea to be aware of how long, and under what circumstances, your rewards can be used. For example, with Capital One, your rewards are yours for the life of the account. There’s no limit to how much you can earn, and they won’t expire for the life of the account. But to redeem them, your account must be in good standing. That means it can’t be suspended, restricted, delinquent or in default. Also, keep in mind that rewards redemption rates and benefits may be subject to change. 

5. Check for other ways to redeem your rewards

Your issuer may offer other ways to redeem rewards. For example, Capital One lets you use your rewards balance for eligible purchases made through and PayPal.4

6. Pay your bills on time

The value of the cash back you’ve earned could be offset or outweighed if you revolve a balance and accrue interest. Paying off your balance in full each month and before you’re charged interest is a good way to make sure you get the most value from your rewards.

Unlock the benefits of your rewards card

Understanding your spending habits and the details of your card can help you take advantage of your credit card rewards. Consider tracking your spending to see where a rewards card can help you the most. And read your account agreement and the terms and conditions of your rewards and benefits so you know exactly what to expect from each purchase you make with your card. 

Capital One has plenty of options when it comes to rewards cards. Rewards won’t expire as long as your account is open. And you can view or redeem them by signing into your account online or through the Capital One Mobile app. So go ahead and make the most of those well-earned rewards.

Where will Venture X take you?

Earn 75,000 bonus miles and other exclusive perks with the Venture X card.

Learn more

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