We often hear stories…”How I Earned 11,172 AIR MILES In 1 Year…” and “The Time I Used 430,000 Aeroplan Miles To Fly First Class To Bali, Indonesia…” and think…
These people are serious points gurus – it can feel downright intimidating. But trust me, you too can become a rewards boss and level up your credit card game.
Ever wonder if you’re doing everything you can to get the credit card rewards you need?
Chances are, you’re probably not.
But have no fear – we’ve got your back.
Here are 25 credit card hacks to boost your rewards big time.
1. Buy gift cards at gas stations and grocery stores to earn extra points where you wouldn’t normally
If you’re earning bonus points at gas, grocery, and/or drugstores, why not buy gift cards for places you were going to shop anyway, and earn extra credit card rewards while doing it? Since these stores are often at the top of your earn rates, you can earn even more rewards.
Some credit card issuers might mention in their terms and conditions that gift cards won’t earn rewards. It’s best to test that out with a smaller purchase, then make sure it’s earning you a reward and that it’s not being counted as a cash advance.
Also, some stores might only let you buy gift cards with a debit card or cash, or even charge a fee for purchasing a gift card – so make sure to ask before you try to purchase.
2. Buy gift cards to hit minimum spending requirements for welcome bonuses
If you’ve jumped through the hoops we’ve mentioned above and are all clear to buy gift cards with your credit card, and you’re struggling to meet that minimum spending requirement to get the full welcome bonus on your card – try buying gift cards.
Stash them away for gifts or use them for your everyday groceries and other shopping to make sure you get that sweet welcome bonus.
3. Pay attention to your emails and offers
If you shop at Sobeys and use your Air Miles, chances are you’re receiving weekly emails to load your points. This rings true for a lot of rewards programs.
Make sure you’ve opted into marketing emails because no matter how annoying they can be, they can save you big time.
4. Filter your emails so you never miss a deal
We’ve all been there.
All from stores exclaiming “75% off! Last Chance Deal!”
If you feel like you’re drowning in emails, but still don’t want to miss a deal, filter your emails. Gmail allows you to set up specific tabs for promotions, but that doesn’t always ensure that the automatic filter they’re using to separate them will work.
You can make sure all of the emails you actually want to see get put into a special folder in your inbox if you set up a filter that uses the specific email address that companies use when sending out promotional emails.
Want to go the extra mile to make sure you don’t miss these emails?
Set up an email specifically for promotions and only enter that one in when opting in for marketing emails.
5. Bonus rewards at certain merchants
On occasion, some credit cards will offer bonus rewards you can earn at a select merchant for a limited time.
Some credit cards, even those tied directly to a bank-specific rewards program, will give you bonus rewards or even cash refunds from time to time when you spend a set amount at a certain store.
For example, here’s a bonus offer for the
6. Choose the rewards program with the highest value to you
For example, if you’re not a fan of Air Miles, or just don’t use them, they’re not going to be of any value to you.
There’s no point in collecting something you’re not going to use, so make sure that you choose the best program for you.
Personally, I don’t travel often, but I buy groceries every week. This is why I’m a big fan of the PC Optimum program.
No matter what, I’m earning points I’ll actually use, and if I choose a PC Financial credit card, I’ll earn even more on top of my weekly offers.
7. Pay for all insurances direct by credit card
When buying something covered by insurance like medicine, phsyio therapy, massage, glasses, and more – pay for it with your credit card.
You’ll get the rewards, and then submit the claim manually to the insurance company for reimbursement. Same money out of pocket, but way more rewards.
Unsure on how to set it up? Contact your insurance provider and they’ll point you in the right direction.
Just make sure they don’t charge an additional fee, since that can offset the rewards you’ll earn.
8. Pay your bills with your credit card
It’s not just insurance you can pay with your credit card. Many service providers will let you pay your bills with a credit card too:
- Phone/internet/cable bills – such as Bell, Koodo, Rogers, and more.
- Subscriptions – Spotify, Netflix, and more.
Some credit cards even have higher earn rates on recurring bills, like the
This way, you can get rewarded for your Netflix addiction. I mean, who doesn’t want to watch two seasons of Friends in one day?
9. Use multiple credit cards to maximize your rewards
Take a look at your spending and figure out what your biggest spending categories are. Spend a lot of money on groceries? You’ll need a credit card that has a big grocery multiplier.
Chances are, you might want to use multiple credit cards to maximize your rewards.
For example, a winning strategy is to combine an American Express credit card with higher average rewards with a second backup no-fee Mastercard or Visa to ensure you have at least one card that will be accepted everywhere you shop.
Looking for a superhero credit card combination?
Look no further than the
- cash back on all of your purchases – 1% back on every dollar you spend,
- complimentary roadside assistance, and
- no foreign transaction fees, for those who travel or shop online in foreign currencies.
Your killer card needs a sidekick. Try the
- 5% back on gas and grocery purchases for the first 6 months (up to $500 spent a month),
- 2% back on gas and grocery purchases after the initial 6 months (up to $500 spent a month), and
- 0.5% cash back on all other purchases – as an added bonus, you can use it at Costco.
10. Pay attention to sign up bonuses
It’s hard to keep track of sign up bonuses – thankfully, you can use our Compare Credit Cards page to filter cards by their welcome bonuses to see which one is right for you.
Use our sliders to help select the cards with the features most important to you, and your perfect card (with a great sign up bonus) awaits.
11. Transfers to other programs
It pays to know your rewards program.
Many of them will let you transfer your points to another program. In some cases, your points may even increase in value when you do this, like when you transfer Amex Membership Rewards to Aeroplan.
On top of that, sometimes you can even receive bonus points for transferring your points to another program. For example, sometimes Aeroplan and other rewards programs have promotions like this one that will give you a 30% Aeroplan bonus when you convert points from other hotel programs into Aeroplan Miles.
12. Payment apps to maximize credit card rewards
It’s the 21st century – and you can pay almost anything with a credit card. With services like Plastiq or PayTM, you can pay rent, taxes, and more with your credit card. It charges a fee, but it could be worth it with the right rewards credit card.
Here’s an overview from Plastiq’s website on exactly how it works:
Just make sure the value of your rewards exceeds the fee you’re paying, otherwise it’s costing you money.
13. Electric bill with Canadian Tire
If you have a Canadian Tire credit card, like the
This lets you pay your municipalities and utilities using your credit card – getting you rewards on the things that are normally out of your credit card’s reach.
14. Get your annual fee waived
Some banking packages, like the Ultimate Package from Scotiabank, offer an annual fee waiver for their credit cards. But sometimes you can simply call your bank and get your annual fee waived no matter what accounts you have.
Not paying a big annual fee can really boost your rewards because you’re not paying anything extra to earn them.
15. Bonuses for adding an authorized user
Does your credit card offer a bonus when you add an authorized user? An example of a card that does is the
If you have this card or something like it, you might want to consider adding your spouse, a trusted friend, or maybe someone in your family that doesn’t have a credit card (but really needs one).
This way, you can grab those bonus points, on top of earning points your friend makes on his spending. If they were just going to use cash anyway, why not earn the points and have them pay you the cash instead?
16. Pay attention to your spending caps
Getting a nice credit card rewards bonus at the gas station? Pay attention to how much you’re spending, because bonus rewards points are often capped off at a certain amount. Be sure to check the fine print.
If you find you’re hitting your spending cap, you should consider adding another card to your wallet that will continue to give you bonus rewards.
17. Personal credit for business transactions
Whether you’re an employee or a business owner, you may be able to use your personal credit card for business transactions.
For an employee, simply fill out your company’s version of a compensation form for all eligible purchases.
If you’re a business owner, all points earned may be treated as a taxable benefit if you use them for personal rewards, especially if they turn into a cash reward or a statement credit. It’s not something that’s often tracked – but it’s good to keep in mind.
It can still be a good idea to use a personal credit card for business though because personal cards tend to earn higher rewards than business credit cards. Then you can use those rewards to save the business money even if you can’t redeem them for your personal trip to Hawaii.
18. Always check the highest value reward
You’ve got the points, just make sure you spend them well.
Getting that FitBit with your Air Miles might seem great, but you’re getting pretty poor value in comparison to redeeming them for flights.
For example, when redeemed for travel, the value of an Air Mile is on average 14.1 CPM (cents per Mile), but when you choose merchandise, that can quickly go down to an average of 7.7 CPM.
Luckily, we here at creditcardGenius break down rewards programs so you know exactly what value you’re getting. Here’s our break down of the Air Miles point value for rewards:
At the end of the day, the value is really what you put on it. If you don’t want to fly, but will use your FitBit every day – it might just be worth it to you.
Wondering what your points are worth? Here’s a link to the value of all of the different rewards programs.
19. Choose a card that rewards you – even when you’re redeeming
Often when you’re redeeming, you’ll lose out on the points you could have earned for making the purchase. But if you choose a cash back credit card, you’ll still be earning cash back on top of the cash back you’re redeeming.
For PC Optimum, you’ll also get any personal offers (but not the dollar based points) when you’re redeeming, so keep that in mind.
20. Buy lottery tickets at a gas station
This one can be tricky, because some people have reported lottery tickets purchased with a credit card as showing up as cash advances. But a creditcardGenius team member purchases Pro-Line tickets at the gas station with his credit card and gets rewarded every time.
Like with the gift cards, it’s best to try it out and then come back for more after confirming if you’re getting rewarded.
21. Don’t upgrade your credit card
Have a no fee version of a card and are looking to get the premium version? If you simply call and upgrade your card, you probably won’t get the welcome bonus that may come with it.
Apply for your new card online, get the bonus, then cancel your older card instead (or keep it open, since older cards help your credit score).
The same can be true for product switching if your issuer allows it..
22. You don’t need a good credit score to earn rewards
Have a rough credit score?
You don’t need a good one to get rewarded.
With a prepaid credit card like the
23. Choose a no FX fee card
Looking to earn points even when you’re travelling?
Choose a card with no foreign transaction fees to maximize your credit card rewards. On top of your rewards, you’ll also save yourself 2.5% on every transaction made in a foreign currency.
With no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, the
24. Price protection – offering you savings and rewards
A perk you might not know you have?
This awesome perk lets you bank the difference between the price you paid for a product and the sale price you may have found for the same product (often within a certain amount of time).
This way, you get all of the savings, with all of the rewards.
Wondering what a great credit card is with price protection? Look no further than the
25. Join our email list to get the latest and greatest on all things credit card deals and news
And because we couldn’t resist: join our email list. We scour the news every day to make sure our readers are up to date with the latest and greatest in all things credit card deals and news.
Ends January 31, 2020.
Think you’ve got better tips?
We want to hear from you.
Let us know all of your credit card rewards boss moves in the comments below.