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How you need to think about your rewards
One financial expert has pointed out that the way you need to think about points and miles on your credit cards is that you’re getting back a percentage of what you spent. This means if you're not maximizing your rewards, you're actually losing money.
A different way to shop
Here's an example of what you can do if you view your points and rewards differently. Let's say that want to maximize your travel points. In this case you should first check your airline's shopping malls. In most cases you will find the same products at the same prices but if you buy through the mall, you’ll earn extra miles plus those you earn on your credit card. For example, you might earn as many as 2000 miles just by renewing your mobile phone contract through your airline rather than at www.attwireless.com. I also read of one person who earned 10,000 miles by buying a sofa.
How to use those miles
One good way to use those travel miles is not to buy flights but to buy upgrades such as from coach to business or first class. You might be able to buy a fare on United or American for $150 to $180 and then use 15,000 or 17,000 miles to buy an upgrade that otherwise might cost $2500.
Concentrate on one or two cards
Most people who are experts at rewards programs say that you should keep the number of your rewards cards to the bare minimum. If you have many different cards, you could easily lose track of how many points you’ve earned on each, which is something the loyalty programs actually count on. On the other hand, if you have just one or two rewards cards this will keep your points more on the top of your mind and you won't be as likely to forget about them.
If you never travel
Even if you rarely or never travel you can still take advantage of rewards programs. You could redeem your points for dining out, gift cards, clothing or household items. For that matter, if you have a card that gives you 2% cash back on everything you spend, that's like getting cash in your pocket.
Even if you don't have a credit card
There are other rewards programs available for people who don't have or don't use their credit cards frequently. For example, there is the Southwest's Rapid Dining program, which lets you earn points by dining out or going to a club.
Put them into a central credit card points bank
Is also a good idea to accrue all of your rewards points into a central credit card bank, like through American express or Chase. Each of these has a number of different travel partners and redemption opportunities for everything from music to books and groceries. You can then use TripIt or Award Wallet to track all of your rewards points and when they expire.
Don’t get carried away
While earning points, travel rewards or cash back is a good thing, don't get carried away using those credit cards. If you don't pay off your balances at the end of each month,