Kiplinger

5 Ways to Max Out Your Credit Card Rewards

If you're using a single rewards card that pays only one point or cent per dollar spent on your purchases, it may be time to rethink your strategy. With three or four carefully chosen cards in your wallet, you can bank enough points and miles to kick back in first class or lounge in a plush hotel suite. If travel is not your thing--or you don't want to spend time studying the ins and outs of award charts--you can still earn hundreds of dollars in cash back each year by rotating your spending among credit cards that match your spending patterns.

Melissa Frank, director of recruitment for an education technology nonprofit, holds nine cards. The Long Island, N.Y., resident delegates different purchases to different cards--for example, all travel goes on her Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa ($450 annual fee). Her points have taken her to South Africa in business class twice, helped treat her dad to a rain forest adventure in Peru, and cut the cost of numerous jaunts around the U.S. "I can't think of one instance in recent times that I have paid full price out of pocket for a flight," she says.

Whether you want to dabble in credit card rewards or dive in deep, these five strategies will help you milk more value from your points and miles. You can combine tactics to earn even greater rewards. (Unless noted otherwise, the cards we recommend do not carry annual fees; for additional picks in a variety of categories, go to The Best Rewards Cards, 2019.)

Don't worry that strategies to max out rewards will lower your credit score.

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