How to Negotiate for the Best Credit Card Rewards

Nicolas Cesare  | 

One of the best parts of having a credit card is collecting on your rewards. Improving your credit score is one of the other great perks, but many people like rewards because they are a more tangible and more immediate benefit. In order to get the most out of your credit card, you need to be getting the best rewards that you can. Read on to learn more about why credit cards haves rewards in the first place, and how you can use this knowledge to negotiate for the best rewards for your credit card.

Why Credit Card Companies Offer Rewards

Although credit card companies can often make life hard for the average consumer, all credit card companies are driven by one simple motive: profit. What they don’t want you to know is that they really really need consumers to user their credit cards in order to make money. Part of this comes from the revenue that credit card companies collect in fees and interest payments from their cardholders, but a huge part of their revenue comes from retailers who pay to accept credit cards in their businesses.

Of course, retailers only want to accept a given credit card if lots of their potential customers carry that card. Otherwise, it’s a waste for them to pay retailer fees to the credit card company.

This is what credit card companies don’t want you to know. As soon as you figure out that they need you, you can leverage your value to negotiate all sorts of things about your credit card.

This is why credit cards often come with rewards. Each company wants to entice you to use their card, so they’re willing to put up big rewards to make their card more attractive to you, the consumer.

How You Can Negotiate for the Best Rewards

You can negotiate for better credit card rewards with a history of loyalty to your credit card company and a strong credit score. If you feel that the rewards you started with on your credit card don’t reflect your value as a customer or even if you’re starting with a new credit card company and you believe that they can give you a better offer, here are some things that you need to do.

  • Build Credit: One of the most important things in any negotiation having to do with credit or debt is your credit score. Your credit score is the closest thing to proof that lenders and credit card companies can get about how reliable you are at paying your credit card bills on time. If you have a high credit score, then you are exactly the kind of customer that credit card companies want to retain. They will be willing to offer better rewards if you make it clear that that’s what will it will take to keep you as a customer.
  • Create History: Your credit score is a very broad look at how you handle debt. Credit card companies also like to look at a your history with their card. This tells them more about how reliable you are at paying their particular credit card bill. If you have a good payment history with an older card, then you have a much better negotiating position for the best rewards. This is one of the reasons why you should never cancel your oldest credit card account.
  • Compare Offers: Credit card companies are very competitive with each other. Each one wants you to use their card and stay away from the others. If you receive credit card offers from other companies with better rewards than your current card, hold on to them. Those will be very useful when you want to negotiate for better rewards from your current credit card company.

Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Credit Card Rewards

Once you’ve negotiated for the best credit card rewards, it’s important not to let them go to waste. Make sure that you’re getting the most out of your rewards program with these tips.

  • Avoid Fees: Credit card companies may try to offset the cost of giving you the best rewards by tacking on fees to your credit card account. Make sure that you’re not paying more in fees than you’re receiving in rewards and never pay unnecessary credit card fees.
  • Get Rewards That You Will Use: When negotiating for you rewards, make sure that they come in some kind of tangible benefit that you can use. Cash back is the most flexible kind of rewards, but if you can get a better rewards program on a service that you know you’ll use — such as hotels or flights for travelers — then stick with that rewards program.
  • Use Your Card: Rewards are tied to the spending that you make on a certain card. In order to get the most out of your rewards, make sure that you’re using that credit card whenever you can. This is how you can turn shopping into investing.
  • Don’t Let Rewards Expire: The absolute worst thing that you can do with rewards is to never use them at all. Make a note of the expiration date on your credit card rewards and be sure to use them before they expire. Expired rewards mean that you did all that negotiating for nothing.

Credit card rewards are one of the best ways to make the most out of your credit card. Get the best rewards that you can by improving your credit score, building history with your credit card company, and comparing credit card offers. Once you have great rewards, make sure that you get the most out of them by using your card often and spending rewards on tangible benefits.

Want more tips and guides on credit cards? Visit our resource and learning center for more information.


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Nick Cesare is a writer from Boise, ID. In his free time he enjoys rock climbing and making avocado toast.

This post was updated December 11, 2017. It was originally published September 27, 2017.