Watch your credit card rewards pile up with these 5 tips
Just because summer's approaching doesn't mean your wallet gets a vacation. From graduation season and Father's Day to the Fourth of July and back-to-school spending, you'll likely drop some dollars.
Rewards-earning credit cards can help you save on these expenses — but you can also combine those rewards with other money-saving strategies to help you hang on to even more of your cash.
Here are five such "stacking" strategies for your credit card.
1. CHECK YOUR ACCOUNT FOR OFFERS
Some card issuers have online bonus malls — accessible via account login — that offer discounts or higher rewards rates at hundreds of merchants, on top of what your card already earns.
"I recently bought new outdoor furniture and a gas firepit, and I logged into Chase, clicked through the portal to Lowe's, and got an extra 3 points per dollar spent," says Holly Johnson, founder of Club Thrifty , a personal finance blog dedicated to saving money.
You can also check for one-time or limited-time promotions that are specific to your card. Chase Offers and AmEx Offers, for example, are visible to eligible cardholders when logged in. They feature discounts or bonus rewards at dozens of retailers, including many brick-and-mortar merchants, although you must opt in by "adding" the offer to your card.
2. SIGN UP FOR A RETAILER'S EMAIL LIST
Ever had a salesperson offer you a discount on the spot if you sign up for the store's credit card? Similarly, when you're shopping online, many stores will offer you a percentage off your first order if you sign up for an email list, so snag that discount on top of your normal credit card rewards.
Or maybe it's free shipping you want. Seventy-five percent of consumers now expect it even on orders below $50, according to a report by the National Retail Federation . Signing up to receive a retailer's emails can be one way to get free shipping, at least on your first purchase. (Note that retailers charge different prices for shipping and may not add that cost to your total until it's in your cart.)
Another way to dodge shipping charges: Buy online, preferably through an online bonus mall, and pick up in store. This may also require you to submit your email address and be added to a mailing list. But agreeing to receive correspondence from a retailer is much easier than signing up for a store card. If those emails start getting overwhelming, just unsubscribe.
3. USE CASH-BACK SITES WITH A CASH-BACK CARD
Cash-back sites like Ebates, TopCashBack or BeFrugal function much like online bonus malls, but they're not tied to any particular card issuer.
When you join one of these portals and log in, you'll see hundreds of participating retailers, as well as the percentage back that those retailers offer for shopping through that portal. Click on the offer you want, and you'll be directed to that merchant's website to shop.
You'll get a percentage back on your purchase by using your rewards card and an additional percentage back from shopping through the portal.
4. BUY DISCOUNTED GIFT CARDS TO THE PLACES YOU SHOP
Gift cards remain popular: 45% of respondents in NRF's 2019 Mother's Day Spending Survey said they were planning to purchase them.
There are two approaches to saving money via gift cards. First, you can buy them at a place where you already earn elevated rewards for shopping. For example, if you have a card that pays high rewards on supermarket purchases, pick up a gift card for your favorite retailer while you're getting those groceries. You'll earn the same high rewards as you would on your milk, eggs and bread.
Your other option is to use a rewards credit card to buy gift cards through an exchange site like GiftCardGranny or Raise, where people sell their unwanted gift cards at a lower-than-face-value price. You'll save on the card itself, plus you'll get a percentage back on the purchase via your rewards card.
5. TRACK PRICES ACROSS DIFFERENT SELLERS
Before you shop with a specific retailer through a bonus mall or cash-back site, it pays to compare. Consider using tracking tools like CamelCamelCamel, which focuses on Amazon prices, or sites like PriceGrabber and Google Shopping to see which retailer is offering what you're looking for at the lowest price.
With that quick bit of research, you can get your item at the lowest price, rack up portal rewards and pile on credit card points for that category or retailer.
This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Robin Saks Frankel is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @robinsaks.
NerdWallet: How Cash-Back Sites Give You Money for Shopping http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-cash-back-sites
NRF study says more online shoppers want free shipping https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/nrf-study-says-more-online-shoppers-want-free-shipping
NRF: 2019 Mother's Day Spending Survey https://nrf.com/insights/holiday-and-seasonal-trends/mothers-day