Perform a Credit Card Rewards Annual Review

By Elizabeth Lang. Last updated 23 May 2017. 2 comments
Photo: °Florian

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In my mail this week I received a “Rewards Guide” from two of my credit card companies. These guides are brightly colored, well-laid out catalogs explaining all of the rewards available to me. In looking through the catalogs, I realized that there was a lot I didn’t know about my cards. (If you’re wondering what types of rewards your card might offer check out the Ultimate Guide to Credit Card Rewards.

As part of annual financial planning, it seems that a good plan is to conduct an annual credit card rewards review.

1. Look at Reward-Program Information to Find New or Unnoticed Rewards

Here are some things I learned in browsing the catalogs I received and the actions I will take from learning them:

  • One of my cards gives an “annual bonus” in November, which essentially puts the rewards at 1.25%. My action: Check to see if I got this bonus and how much it is for.
  • There are bonus offers up to 15% at various stores I frequently shop at for one of my cards. My action: See if these bonus cash-back purchases are only for online or for in-store too. Then make a mental note to use that card when shopping at that store.
  • One card only gives additional travel bonuses for the first $5,000 spent on travel. My Action: Check to see if I went over this limit last year and start using a different card if that is the case.
  • One card gives me extra bonuses for dining at restaurants for an additional $25/year. My Action: Check to see if last year I would have earned enough in extra bonuses to make this worthwhile. (To check this see #2 below.)

2. Review Annual Statements to See If You Are Using the Right Cards

Each year my credit card companies send annual statements of how much I spent in various categories. Look through yours to see if you are really spending money on the cards that will give the best benefits in those categories.

3. Consider What, If Anything, You Will Do Differently This Year

If you find that there is a reward with one card that you aren’t taking advantage of, or that you are always using a certain card that isn’t giving you many rewards, make a conscious mental note and do something differently this year. Maybe that means leaving a useless card at home, or changing your Amazon account to charge to a different card.

I don’t advocate that you spend an entire day conducting an annual review of your credit card rewards, but the amount of both money and hassle you can save by using the right card and the right time can add up. So take an hour from your day, see how many rewards you are earning, and figure out if you can do anything differently this year.




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Guest's picture

These are all good points. The other thing you can to is set up calendar reminders to sign up for bonus rewards programs if you have Chase Freedom or Discover or any other card that makes you opt-in for the extra bonus. A few minutes of set up could yield a much higher reward.

Guest's picture

we no longer use credit cards. However, right before we canceled one of our cards I noticed rewards points at the top. I looked it up online and found that I could request $50 gift card. Not much, but I'm glad I saw that before we canceled it.