2016's Best Points & Gift Rewards Credit Cards

Below are our picks for 2016's best cards that offer points, gifts and other rewards for purchases. Many of these also offer an enticing 0% intro rate for a number of months:

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More About: Points & Gifts Credit Cards

7 Tips for Earning More Credit Card Rewards

Mike Randall
Finance Expert
7 Tips for Earning More Credit Card Rewards
CardRates.com Guide: Rewards Cards

Credit card companies are competing against each other for your business. They are offering more rewards in more different categories than ever before, and that’s great news for consumers who learn to make the most of their credit cards’ perks.

But  most people still don’t take full advantage of their credit card reward points – a fact the credit card companies rely on. However, follow a few easy rules and you’ll take full advantage of the rewards system.

Make sure you have the right rewards cards

Decide what rewards are best suited to your lifestyle and choose only those cards. If you drive a lot for work, choose a gasoline rewards card. If you’re on a budget, pick one that gives you cash back or points toward staples like grocery store purchases.

Use the right card

Some cards offer better rewards for certain activities. Travel rewards cards or gasoline rewards cards are two examples. Maximize the benefits by using the right card at the right time.

Leverage the value of your points

Card companies will offer different ways to use the points you accumulate, so get the most out of them. Exchanging your points for cash is usually the least efficient use, while airline tickets, hotel stays and electronics gadgets offer a higher value.

Carry a balance

You can turn the tables by paying off your balance every month. You still get all of the rewards without having to pay up to get them.

Use them for everyday purchases

If you’re going to be spending the money anyway, you may as well get rewarded for it. Just make sure to budget the cash by sticking it aside for when the bill comes due. Remember rule number four!

Review your rewards cards periodically

You may find that one or more of them no longer benefits you. Shopping around for a replacement card every so often can lead to higher rewards overall.

Watch your expiration dates

Accumulating points is – well, pointless – if you don’t use them. Your card company should notify you before the points are due to expire, but proper planning will ensure you use them long before then.

Credit card rewards are a great way to earn a little something extra, as long as you know how to do it right. By following these seven tips, you’ll put yourself in the minority of folks who actually come out ahead with their reward cards. It takes a little effort, but the rewards are worth it.

Photo source: cedarsage.com

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Mike Randall

* Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which CardRates.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. See the credit card issuer's website for specific terms and conditions of each card.