“The best way to maximize credit card rewards is simply to get a credit card that best fits your lifestyle,” Schulz said.
The average American spends $6,477 on groceries each year, according to Creditcards.com. If they used a card such as American Express’s Blue Cash Everyday Card, which offers 3 percent cash back at supermarkets, they’d pick up $185. “There are cards that give you bonuses for old standbys like gas and groceries,” Schulz added.
Dine out a lot? The Uber Visa Card offers 4 percent cash back at restaurants. Bank of America’s Cash Rewards Card will earn you 3 percent cash back on gas, which the average person spends $1,899 a year on, Creditcards.com found.
For frequent travelers, Rossman recommends the Wells Fargo Propel Card from American Express. It gives 3 percent cash back on travel, and there’s a $300 sign-up bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
Avoid redeeming points for items that will leave you with other expenses you can’t afford, said Bruce McClary, vice president of communications at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. For example, a free airline ticket will mean you need to shell out for accommodations and dining. If those purchases will sap your budget, he said, consider using your rewards for more practical items such as gas or food.