However, if you spend under $12,000 a year, or can’t pay off your balance every month, chasing high flying rewards points may be futile.
Rewards programs that accumulate points are not for everyone. If you don’t spend enough each month, or you pay interest regularly on your credit card, the cost of your credit card rewards program – interest rate plus annual fee – is probably higher than the value of rewards gained. In this case, you might be wise going for instant rewards. These are non-points based instant rewards available on many cards. They vary greatly but can include shopping discounts such as two-for-the-price-of-one deals at places you shop at regularly. For your convenience, Instant Rewards are included but not rated in our star ratings reports.
However if you’ve set your sights on scoring as many points as possible, be aware of the difference in terms and conditions between one rewards program and another. Many have a limit on the number of maximum points you can earn within a one-year period. Others to watch out for in a handful of cards include monthly points caps and points “hurdles”, whereby after a certain amount of money is spent on a card within a certain period (usually a month or a year), subsequent points accumulate at a slower rate.
Watch out, too, for points expiry. If your goal is, say, 4,000 points which you calculate you could achieve after two years, it would be devastating to find your points have expired after 18 months, leaving you back at square one!
For the serious points-chaser, a couple of golden rules will get you across the line quicker. Using bonus partners and taking advantage of double or triple points during promotions should see your points swell satisfyingly.