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3 tips to score credit card rewards

Credit card rewards offers are as ubiquitous as the Internet. But getting the most out of them requires doing a little work. Here are three tips to make your rewards, well, rewarding.

Pick the right card

What's the best credit card rewards program? The answer depends on your spending habits and preferences. Take a look at how much you charge in an average month to understand how fast you're likely to accumulate points. After that, ask yourself how likely you are to use the offered benefits. For example, if the card helps build miles, but you only travel once a year, you're probably using the wrong card.

While points are great, you're still spending money to earn them. It's important to set spending limits and stay within your budget.

Redemption

Use it or lose it. If you don't redeem your credit card rewards points, you're missing out. Many consumers leave their rewards unclaimed, citing a lack of appealing redemption options or difficulty using the system. The onus is on the cardholder to take advantage of what he or she has earned.

Taxes and retirement

We tend to think of cash back, trips and other discretionary items as the standard choices for credit card rewards. But there are other, less-traditional options. Some companies allow you to earn points to put toward your retirement account. Check the restrictions on those programs -- you may need to meet a spending threshold before points can accumulate. Similarly, certain programs allow consumers to apply points to their tax bills. There are restrictions there, too, and it's important to note that your points will likely go pretty fast when applied to taxes.

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