The golden rules for maximising rewards

Many of these tips will be common sense but take a moment to do a quick health check of your credit card habits.

1. Using your credit card

  • Use your Credit Card for as many purchases as you can - except where you are charged a surcharge

  • If you are married or have a partner and share finances, use the same credit card account. Many banks will provide multiple cards for the one account

  • Try if possible to direct all possible income to the one rewards program. Spreading purchases across multiple cards dilutes the value you receive

  • Keep a separate fee-free credit card on hand for emergencies. From personal experience, the card comes in very handy of your main card is lost or compromised, as it takes a week or longer to issue a new one

2. Paying off your card

  • Pay your credit card off on the due date to avoid paying any interest. This is the most important advice to follow. There's no point earning $1000 in rewards if you pay $2000 in interest!

  • Automate this payment via direct debit - it should happen every single month, no exceptions

  • Make sure you have sufficient funds in your debit account each month; we recommend setting your credit card limit low enough so your balance never exceeds the funds you will typically have available on the due date.

  • Most banks will allow you to set the date each month when your payment is due - if you are paid monthly, set this date a few days after your pay day

3. Redeeming points

  • Compare reward options carefully. In our experience, gift vouchers for department stores or supermarkets represent the best return and value for money

  • Think out side the square - if you have your heart set on that expresso machine, it may represent better value to select a gift voucher and use the voucher to buy the machine at a department store.

  • Some programs will offer more value for the higher value vouchers - a $200 voucher may represent better value than a $50 - so consider letting your points accumulate a little

  • Don't wait too long to cash in your points ... for two reasons: (i) the points you earn in some programs expire, so best get the value whilst you can; (ii) Rewards Programs have been known to shift the goal posts by revaluing points (and not always to the benefit of consumers). If a program offers the ability to automatically redeem, sign up!

4. Choose the right card

  • Once a year, compare rewards programs to make sure you are getting the best value for money

  • Factor in how widely your card will be accepted. In our experience, many stores do not accept, or will charge a surcharge to use an American Express card

  • Consider regular purchases and their rewards programs - for example which supermarket do you use most frequently, which airline do you regularly fly with. If you shop at Coles, FlyBuys programs may be more beneficial; if you fly with Qantas for work, perhaps cards that earn Qantas Frequent Flyer would be more beneficial.

  • Bear in mind some cards (Gold, Platnium) have qualifying criteria based on income, credit history, etc so do not assume you will qualify for every card

Do you have any other rules you follow? Or any other tips worth sharing? Let us know via the form below