Living with credit, Rewards, Shopping, Travel

4 easy ways to stack your card rewards

Stephanie Zito

The only thing better than earning credit card rewards points on your everyday spending is finding easy ways to earn even more bonus points for the same purchases! Why settle for one point per dollar when you can score more points – sometimes five times or more points – with your charges?

In the points- and miles-collecting world, we call this a “double dip,” and if you’re savvy with your spending you can earn multiple points on the dollar every time.

Here are four easy ways you can score more miles on things you’re charging without spending an extra cent:

1. Join free dining programs.
Nearly all of your favorite U.S. based airlines and hotel groups offer a free dining-for-points program that pays you bonus points when you use your credit card at participating restaurants.

How dining programs work: Register online with Rewards Network for the airline or hotel loyalty program in which you want to earn your bonus miles and then connect your credit card number to your dining miles account. Whenever you dip or swipe your card at a restaurant in the program you’ll earn up to 5x bonus points per dollar you spend on your meal.

How to stack your points: These dining program rewards are in addition to whatever points you’ve earned for making the purchase with your credit card. As a result, that $20 happy hour charged at a dining program restaurant that used to earn you only 20 points is now going to land 120 points in your mileage account. Cha-ching.

2. Use online shopping portals.
Any time you buy something from an online retailer there is a pretty good chance that you could be earning bonus miles. Just like most airlines are part of a dining rewards program, nearly every airline, many hotel chains, and even some bank points programs, offer online shopping malls or ”shopping portals.”

How shopping portals work: Shopping portals are simply a loyalty program with a landing page of links to many of your favorite online merchants. To earn bonus points, make sure you visit a shopping portal web page as your first click whenever you’re about to make an online purchase.

For example, rather than going directly to to buy food for your dog, first, click a shopping portal homepage and find the Petsmart link. You’ll wind up on the same shopping page – the only difference is that when you make your purchase you’ll rack up bonus points with everything you buy.

How to stack your points: The $100 a month you spend feeding Rover now could get you an extra 400 bonus points from the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal (or a similar haul of added rewards at another shopping portal).  If you don’t like getting things delivered, you often can use a portal to shop online and pick up your items in-store.

3. Enroll in card bonus offers.
Most of us keep track of credit card sign-up bonuses and the ongoing category bonuses that our credit cards pay out – such as 3x points at supermarkets or 2x points at gas stations. But did you know that credit card issuing banks often offer periodic bonus promotions that can deliver extra miles or cash back on purchases?

How bonus offers work: A Citibank email recently offered me a special spring-earning bonus of 3x American AAdvantage miles on an extended group of spending categories. The only requirement was clicking the enroll button to register and then using my card!

Every month, American Express places promotional offers in my online account – often for bonus earnings with specific merchants. I check the offers available when I review my statement online and register for the ones that I’m likely to use. Since my card is linked to the offer, when I use my card at that store, I get that extra haul of rewards or cash back.

How to stack your points: To be in the loop on bonus earning opportunities from your credit card, be sure you’re registered to get your card’s email updates and check your card issuer’s linked offers. Then enroll in the offers you want, and you’re good to go.

4. Save – and get additional points – with airline partner discounts.
Airlines have all kinds of partner relationships, but often we’re too busy booking a flight to even notice.

How airline partnerships work: Airline sites often list rental car companies, car insurance agencies, phone companies and even some utilities as partners. You’ll usually find these partners listed under “Earn Miles” on the airline’s website. Book your flight and your hotel stay or rental car at the airline’s site and you’ll often save and/or earn bonus points on your charge.

Just one example: My personal favorite airline promotion currently is JetBlue’s partnership with Amazon – one of the few online merchants you can’t find on an airline shopping portal. With the current JetBlue/Amazon partnership, I’m earning 3x bonus TrueBlue points every time I make a purchase with my Prime account – and earning points makes it much more fun to order toilet paper on Amazon Pantry.

How to stack your points when you use your cards: Whether you’re a frequent diner, an online shopaholic or just someone who overstocks on paper products to earn points, there are ways you can be earning double – or sometimes many more – points when you use your cards. Start today by searching out which of these tools work with your spending habits, and then watch those bonus points add up!

See related: Simple ways cards can save you money when dining out

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