Credit Card Reward Points: How to Collect and Spend Them Like a Geek
Lots of credit cards offer a rewards system — spend some money, get some points. After a while of using your credit card(s), you’ve probably racked up quite a few points. You could always redeem them for cash back, or you could put them towards some stuff to make the geek in you happy.
Here are a few geeky ways you can earn and spend your credit card points and be awesome.
Get a Geeky Credit Card
There are a few cool ways to earn some credit card points. First, try to sign up for a tech-oriented credit card if you find one. The best example is the Best Buy credit card from Citi. With it, you can get 5% back in points on Best Buy purchases, and up to 2% back in points on purchases outside of Best Buy. Maybe you can find another credit card that gives you enhanced rewards at your favorite tech store!
Use the “Mall”
You do a lot of online shopping, but did you know that you’re probably missing out on extra rewards every time you shop online? Several credit card companies have their own “malls” or shopping portals that you can visit. Click on a store in their “mall” that sends you to the same site that you’re familiar with, but via a special link that tells the site that you came from your credit card company’s “mall”.
Once you buy something, the credit card company will know you used their mall and will give you the extra rewards. How much more, exactly? Depends as the offers are different with each online store, but don’t be surprised if you see offers such as “10 pts per $1 spent” with some stores.
Loan Some Money
What’s better than earning points without actually spending any money? With Kiva.org, you can make micro-loans to prescreened applicants from the comfort of your computer. And you can fund these loans using your credit card, allowing you to earn points on whatever amount you’re lending. With a low 1% default rate, you’ll also eventually get your money back, but you get to keep the rewards points that you earned. How cool is that?
Buy Gift Cards
Most banks allow you to get gift cards for all those points you’ve earned. Among the long list of participating retailers, there should be several that offer various electronics or other geeky items you may be interested in. Look for Amazon, Best Buy, and other gift cards that may be offered.
The downside to getting gift cards with points is that the ratio of the amount of points you need to get the gift card to money you get on it is usually the same as your cash back rate; most often, this is 100 points for $1. So you’re not really getting anything more out of your points, but at least you’re getting something cooler than simply cash.
Use Points to Pay for Stuff
Speaking of Amazon, there are several retailers that may let you use your rewards points directly on their site. I know from experience that Amazon allows people with Chase credit cards to use their points to pay for their purchases.
Again, the downside here is that you’re not getting a better points to money ratio. But who needs to spend actual money when they can get their awesome stuff using intangible points?
Travel to a Tech Destination
Usually, you’ll get the best return for your points if you use them to book travel. Therefore, why not plan a trip to Silicon Valley, or CeBIT in Europe? Several banks allow you to get a better points to value ratio when you book travel, which is usually the best way to get the most out of your points.
For example, Chase gives you a 25% discount if you book travel through them and use points to pay for it. So something that would cost $1,000, or 100,000 points, would only cost 75,000 points instead.
The best deal (if your bank does this) is to transfer your points to participating rewards programs of other companies, especially if you get a 1:1 ratio. This usually results in an even better points to value ratio than anything else we’ve mentioned already.
For example, with certain Chase cards you can transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to programs such as United’s MileagePlus program. Then, if you use those miles to book a trip from the US to Europe (which can cost $1,500 or more in the summer), you’d only spend 60,000 miles — meaning you’d only have to transfer 60,000 points. So instead of getting $600 worth in gift cards using your 60,000 points, you can instead get a $1,500+ trip to Europe using those same 60,000 points.
If you have points in one rewards program but need to move them to another, there are ways of transferring points between programs . Spoiler alert: you’ll probably get pretty bad conversion rates, but it’s a service that exists if you need it.
Rewards Are Worth It!
These are some of the easier ways to earn and spend money in geeky ways. It’s definitely worth it to get into a rewards program (as long as you avoid interest) as you get essentially free stuff for your regular buying habits.
I’m sure there must be other ways, so let us know in the comments! Have fun spending your points on great items!
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