Getting started with card rewards
Best places to hone your credit card reward strategies
Rewards expert who writes the "Cashing In" reader Q&A column for CreditCards.com
A lot of people are realizing there is a lot of value in credit card rewards. That growing appetite is pushing card companies to devise new and better ways to attract customers.
And the field is becoming more lucrative. According to research by First Annapolis Consulting, the maximum earning rate for credit card rewards has increased 38 percent this decade, while the value of sign-up bonuses nearly doubled. That’s a rewards bonanza for people who can stay on top of the new offers and take advantage of them.
But how do you do that? If you’re just now tuning in to the world of credit card rewards, how do you get your questions answered and find the information and card deals you need?
There is no shortage of information. Typing “credit card rewards” into Google returns nearly 50 million results. But if you’re looking to hone your reward skills, here are some places you might consider looking:
CreditCards.com. CreditCards.com has been bulking up its coverage of rewards programs for some time. We have regular contributors who write every week about rewards and plenty of helpful articles and videos. If you can’t find the answer to a question, just ask. The site also offers reviews of rewards cards and tools such as WalletUp and CardMatch to help you find the right card.
Blogs. Whatever your interest, there’s a blog for it, and credit card rewards is no exception. Everybody will have a personal favorite, but some of the best-known card reward blogs include The Points Guy, Million Mile Secrets and View from the Wing. (Full disclosure: The Points Guy and Million Mile Secrets are part of the CreditCards.com family.)
You’ll find that many of these blogs seem to be oriented toward hardened road warriors, business travelers who are accustomed to flying internationally in business or first class. But they’ll often also have tips and news for those seeking more basic information than reviews of Emirates’ first-class seats out of Dubai.
Discussion groups. The most venerable online discussion group is Flyertalk, which, despite its name, has forums discussing credit cards and rewards that go far beyond just airlines. It is an older interface and sometimes tough to navigate, but there are detailed discussions of every reward program.
Video: Credit card reward hacks
A newer addition is a Reddit group called r/churning, which has detailed daily discussions of credit card reward news and offers. You’ll need to learn some of the shorthand, such as “5/24” (the Chase rule limiting the number of card approvals to five in 24 months), “VGCs” (Visa gift cards) and “MS” (manufactured spending, an advanced and sometimes risky technique to boost rewards).
You can’t necessarily believe everything you read on discussion groups, but you can glean helpful information.
Card issuer websites. While blogs and forums can offer advice and help you learn some of the tricks of the trade, it is also helpful to look periodically at the websites of card issuers. You might also follow them on Twitter. Generally, the biggest card issuers tend to have the financial resources to offer the biggest rewards, so look closely at the offers from American Express, Bank of America, Barclaycard, Capital One, Chase and Citi.
These are all good places to start. As with most topics on the internet, you’ll find that if you are so inclined, you could spend hours reading about credit card rewards and working to understand how to find the best deals for you.
Once you develop a basic understanding, you can put your knowledge into action and tap another source of information: personal experience.
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