Leveraging Credit Card Rewards

Credit cards

One of my new years’ resolutions this year was to maximize my credit card rewards.  Not by buying more stuff.  But by being careful about what card I use for what purpose.  For a long time I’ve been using one card that offers me 5% rewards on certain categories that revolve each quarter, and 1% rewards on all other purchases.  But I also have another card that offers me 2% rewards on all purchases, regardless of the category.  And I have an Amazon Visa card that gives me 3% rewards on all of my Amazon purchases, 2% on certain categories, and 1% on everything else.  Plus every time I fill my gas tank at Sheetz I toy with the idea of getting their credit card that would give me an extra 5 cents off every gallon of gas I buy and 5% rewards on the things I buy in their store.  Who knew that the world of credit card rewards–just the cards hanging out in my wallet–could be so complicated?!?

My biggest rewards on my existing cards come from the 5% categories on my old tried and true card.  This quarter those categories include groceries (which I buy all the time), movie theaters (which I do rarely) and Starbucks (which I do almost never).  So I’m using that card for groceries exclusively (next quarter when it flips over from groceries to restaurants, I’ll readjust).  My next biggest reward comes from the Amazon card used at Amazon.com.  I admit that I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon.  So I have that card set up as my go-to card on that web site.  And I don’t use it for anything else.  For absolutely everything else I’ve been using the card that gives me 2% back on every purchase.

It is kind of a lot to keep track of.  Where am I?  What card do I need to use?  But I’m hoping it will pay off for me.  Last year I earned about $600 in cash back rewards…just by buying things I would normally buy and using a rewards credit card to do so.  I’m hoping to exceed that this year…and to spend less money doing so.  We’ll see how well I do with that.

Of course this whole thing would be a moot point if I were not paying my bill in full every month.  Accruing interest would wipe out any savings I would get from rewards.  But I use my credit cards not for credit, but for convenience.

Do you use credit cards for regular expenses but pay them off in full every month?  If so, is your credit card giving you rewards?  If not, you should possibly consider getting a card that does.  If your card is giving you rewards, are they as much as you could be getting?