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How to use your loyalty reward cards earnings

Maximize Your Loyalty Reward Cards Earnings!

by / 0 Comments / Mar 22, 2015

Intro Bonuses and Everyday Spending Rewards

Loyalty reward cards allow you to earn cash back, points or miles two main ways: introductory sign-on bonuses and ongoing rewards for purchases on your credit card. Some offer both, while others forego the sign-on bonuses.

Introductory Sign-on Bonuses

Card issuers offer many enticements to acquire your business. A popular approach is the offer of big rewards when you open your credit card account and meet specific criteria. Most commonly, you are required to reach a specific spending threshold within a set period of time in order to qualify for your initial rewards bonus.

Some of these loyalty reward cards also offer anniversary bonuses that include cash/points/miles or perks, like a free hotel stay. The cards offering this feature usually come with an annual fee.

Ongoing Rewards

To encourage continued use of your card, issuers reward you with points, miles or cash back when you make purchases with your credit card. The standard rate is 1 point/mile/penny for each dollar you spend. The best reward cards will exceed this earn rate for some, if not all of your purchasing dollars.

Popular Loyalty Reward Cards with Intro Signing Bonuses

The following are examples of some well-known rewards cards that offer introductory cash back, points and miles bonuses.

  • American Express Blue Cash Preferred – $150 cash back as a statement credit. You must spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months to earn the bonus. This card boasts 6% cash back for your supermarket purchases, capping at $6,000, and 3% cash back at gas stations and select department stores in the U.S. It does charge a $75 annual fee after the first 15 months.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – 40,000 bonus points (with a $500 value towards hotels or airfare with Chase Ultimate Rewards) when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of opening your card account. Your travel and restaurant purchases give you an earn rate of 2 points for each dollar spent. You also enjoy 20% off travel when you redeem these purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.
  • PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express – 20,000 bonus points when you spend $2,500 in the first three months of opening your card account. Your airfare purchases give you an earn rate of 5 points for each dollar spent. The card has no annual fee.
  • Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard – 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases during the first 90 days after you open your account. You earn 2 miles for every dollar spent on purchases, and earn 10% miles back when you redeem your miles for travel statement credits. The $89 annual fee is waived the first year.

Popular Loyalty Reward Cards with Ongoing Rewards and no Signing Bonuses

These cards provide good everyday rewards, but offer no introductory bonus when you sign up.

  • Discover It – 5% cash back on specific purchases that rotate quarterly. You can also earn between 5 and 20 percent cash back when you shop online at ShopDiscover, the card issuer’s online mall. This card has no annual fee.
  • True Earnings from Costco and AmEx – Gas station purchases earn 3% cash back and travel and restaurant purchases earn 2% cash back. You pay no annual fee if you have a Costco membership.

Intro Bonuses vs. Everyday Spending Rewards

Bonuses, earn rates and other features can vary quite widely in rewards cards, so it’s important to identify the features most important to you and to do your research. Generally, your best bet is a rewards card with both a respectable signing bonus and then a good ongoing rewards earning rate.

Typically, you won’t find a rewards card that offers an excellent ongoing earn rate simply because it sacrifices an intro bonus. Instead, you should look carefully at annual fees and high interest rates. Usually, the better the rewards and earn rates, the more likely the card carries an annual fee. Most interest rates are largely based on your creditworthiness, but you will find that many loyalty reward cards with bigger rewards carry a somewhat higher APR.

About the Author

Elizabeth Boyd is a financial writer and paralegal. She has written extensively for the financial and credit card market for several years and feels strongly about making consumers aware of their choices and rights.

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