smart spending

6 simple ways to score free stuff

Acquire rewards points
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Rewards credit card

Bagging rewards points can be fun and profitable. Reward points can be redeemed for everything from travel perks to coveted electronic gadgets.

But to get the most bang, know where to look. Credit cards offer a lot of perks, and the rewards are flexible. You can usually use them for travel, gift cards or cash back, according to Bankrate's 2011 Credit Card Rewards Survey. Check into what's being offered and align rewards points with your needs. Most importantly, know when your rewards points are expiring.

For their part, debit cards offer fewer rewards than reward credit cards, according to Bankrate's 2010 Debit Card Rewards Survey. So, they may go unnoticed. But if you do earn rewards points via debit, redeem them now. They may vanish when, or if, legislation that caps debit card fees for merchants goes into effect.

One word of caution: Don't overspend. Consumers who use rewards points programs often increase their spending, according to a 2010 Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago study.




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