NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When it comes to credit cards, experts say the average person carries about three, with at least one being a rewards card.
But it can take some know-how to get the biggest bang for the bucks you charge, CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported Tuesday.
Some say cash is king, but not Lionell Gardner.
“I have in total 20 credit cards,” he said.
And he said the reward for having and using all those cards are the rewards.
“Total point accumulation between miles and points, it’s somewhere in the million range,” Gardner said.
He has nearly half a million points on AMEX cards alone, plus thousands in cash-back rewards. But Gardner works hard to maximize his rewards.
“I make sure to use the cards that will give me the best benefits on dining. AMEX Gold, which is four times points on dining,” Gardner said.
“We are all obsessed with maximizing our points and miles. Some of us have spreadsheets to kind of keep track of things. Some of us have stickers on our credit cards so we know when there are enhanced offers,” said Benet Wilson of The Points Guy.
Wilson added this is a great time to shop for a credit card.
“There are cards out there that are offering increased sign-up bonuses, and some of those bonuses are high enough to actually allow you to book a vacation right now, after you do the required spending within three months,” Wilson said.
It’s estimated that about one-third of Americans didn’t take advantage of their credit card points in 2020, largely because travel was down by more than 40% and that’s the biggest category for redemption. But Jasmin Baron from Business Insider said card issuers offered users other incentives instead.
“For example, you know, Chase with the Sapphire Reserve, that card comes with a $300 travel credit. People can’t use that right now for the most part, so they’ve changed that to, you know, for a limited time you can use that now towards things like groceries or gas station purchases,” Baron said.
Baron added it pays to be diligent about offers.
“Make sure you’re opted into your bank emails. Sometimes the best promotions come through an email that you would normally just click delete,” Baron said.
As for Gardner, he plans to put a good chunk of those miles to some long overdue trips in the coming year.
“Depending on where you want to go and how you want to fly, these points will take you all over the world,” he said.
And everyone warns not to use your cards for things you don’t need just to get the points. Experts prefer the major credit cards instead of many of the store cards for longer term, more flexibility and bigger benefits.