I have almost 30 credit cards, and this is my strategy for getting the most out of my points and miles

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  • I have
    almost 30 credit cards
    , and I use them to earn points, miles,
    and cash back to fund my travel.
  • Two main strategies help me earn the maximum rewards on all my
  • I use cards that earn me bonus points on my biggest spending
    categories, such as the
    Chase Sapphire Reserve
    for dining and the
    American Express® Gold Card
    for groceries at US
  • Since not all of my spending is eligible for bonus categories,
    I also use a credit card that earns more than 1% cash back on
    everyday purchases. Top options include the
    Chase Freedom Unlimited
    and the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature
    Credit Card.

card rewards
are a major part of how I’m able to travel, so
it’s important to make sure that I’m getting as many points as
possible for all of my purchases. Here are some of the strategies I
use to maximize the return on my spending.

Look at your budget and figure out where most of your spending goes

This will allow you to find credit cards that offer significant
rewards in your largest spending areas.

For example, if you spend a lot at restaurants (like I tend to),
look for a credit card that offers major rewards on restaurant
spend, like one of these:

If you spend a lot on groceries, American Express probably has a
card for you:

  • American
    Express Gold
    : 4x Membership Rewards points at US supermarkets
    (up to $25,000 per year, then 1x)

  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
    : 6% cash back
    at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then
  • Amex Everyday® Preferred Credit Card from American Express: 3x
    Membership Rewards points at US supermarkets (up to $6000 per year,
    then 1x), plus a 50% bonus when you use the card at least 30 times
    in a billing cycle (my current pick)

  • Hilton Honors American Express Card
    : 5x Hilton Honors points at
    US supermarkets

Learn more:
The best credit cards for buying groceries in 2019

There are lots of credit cards that offer bonus points on travel
spending (my pick: the
Chase Sapphire Reserve
), as well as categories you might not
immediately think of like gas. Plenty of business
credit cards
also offer bonuses for things like postage and
shipping, internet and phone service, and online advertising.

Pick a default credit card that earns valuable rewards for
everything else

No matter how many credit cards you have, you’re always going to
have some expenses that don’t fall into a bonus points category.
Most cards with bonus categories only offer 1 point or mile per
dollar spent on non-bonus spending, so you’ll want a better option
for all that “other” spending.

Many people like to use a credit card that earns at least 2%
cash back for these purchases, like the Citi
Double Cash Card
, or the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Credit
Card (my current pick). The new
Apple Card
also offers 2% cash back for purchases made through
Apple Pay.

consider a card that offers more than 1 point per dollar spent on
all purchases, like the
Chase Freedom Unlimited
(1.5% back or 1.5 Ultimate Rewards
points per dollar spent).

Learn more:
How to turn Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cash back into
Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Business owners should consider the
Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
, which
earns 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 in
purchases every calendar year (then 1x).

Several credit cards also offer a higher rate of rewards for the
first year you hold the card:

  • New applicants for the Chase
    Freedom Unlimited
    will earn 3% back/3x Ultimate Rewards points
    on purchases in the first year, up to $20,000.
  • The Discover it® Miles card offers 1.5% cash back everywhere,
    and Discover will match all the cash back you’ve received at the
    end of your first year.
  • Alliant Credit Union’s Cashback Visa Signature Card offers 3%
    cash back for the first year (2.5% thereafter).

If you spend a lot of money at specific stores, consider
store-specific cards that offer high rewards:

  • Amazon offers credit cards through Chase, American Express, and
    Synchrony Bank that offer 5% cash back on Amazon purchases for
    Prime members (3% cash back for everyone else). The Chase and
    American Express versions also get you cash back at Whole Foods
  • Target offers credit and debit cards that provide an instant 5%
    discount at the register.
  • Lowe’s has a credit card that offers 5% cash back on Lowe’s
    purchases, which could be a great deal if you’re planning a big
    home renovation project.

Keep in mind though that store-specific credit cards count for
5/24 rule
, so if you don’t have many credit cards, you probably
don’t want to start with these. Chase’s 5/24 rule prevents you from
being approved for many Chase credit cards if you’ve opened five or
more credit cards (from any issuers) in the last 24 months. Due to
this rule, your best bet is to apply for Chase cards first.

Learn more: Chase’s
5/24 rule — what it is, and what it means for your credit card

Use rewards credit cards wherever possible

This might seem obvious, but in order to maximize your rewards,
you actually have to use your credit cards! I almost
never use a debit card
for anything other than ATM withdrawals,
and I only use cash at local businesses or when I’m traveling
abroad in cash-centric countries.

Watch out for extra fees for credit card processing, though: If
a merchant charges a fee for using a credit card, you could have to
pay upwards of 3%, which usually outweighs any rewards you might

Keep track of which cards to use where.

If you have trouble remembering which cards earn bonus points in
which categories, grab a label maker and stick a note onto the card
so the information is always at your fingertips.

Pro tip: Travel Freely is a free tool that I absolutely love
that helps you keep track of your credit cards, including their
bonus spending categories!

Learn more:
I have almost 30 credit cards — here’s how I keep track of pay
dates, benefits, and rewards balances

Don’t sweat the small stuff

It’s not hard to really go down a rabbit hole when it comes to
trying to maximize the rewards you’re getting for every purchase.
My recommendation is don’t stress too much about it – pick two or
three credit cards for your major spending categories, and use a
card that offers decent rewards everywhere for everything else.

Here are a few more of my favorite credit cards:

  • Chase Freedom
    , thanks to its quarterly rotating
    categories that earn 5% cash back (5x points) on up to $1,500 in
    purchases each quarter you activate. A great way to rack up some
    serious points!

  • Platinum Card® from American Express
    , because
    it gets me access to American Express’ wonderful Centurion Lounges
    and credit for Uber rides each month.

  • IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
    , mostly for the
    one free night (up to 40,000 points) at IHG hotels every year just
    for paying the annual fee.

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Source: FS – All-Travel destinations-News
I have almost 30 credit cards, and this is my strategy for getting the most out of my points and miles