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Your monthly credit-card to-do list

The end of the month is coming up. For holders of some credit cards, that means monthly statement credit opportunities are about to expire. For others, that means a chance to reevaluate spending and earn more rewards. And for pretty much everybody, it’s a good time to redeem rewards, enroll in offers and cash out your cash back. Having a monthly credit card to-do list can help you maximize both the rewards and benefits of your cards. Here’s what you need to do by the end of the month to maximize your credit card rewards and benefits:

  • Use your monthly statement credits
  • Reevaluate your spending patters to get more cash back
  • Enroll in card-linked offers

Use monthly statement credits

Many cards offer monthly use-it-or-lose it statement credits. If you haven’t used your credits this month, you have a few days left to use them. If you hold a card that offers monthly statement credits, now is a good time to pay bills that can be offset by statement credits (like cell phone bills) or make a plan to use periodic credits that require a purchase (like Uber credits and dining credits.) Here are some of the statement credits that you should use before the end of the month:

  • Amex Platinum Card – $10 monthly Uber Cash, Walmart+ Credit, $240 digital entertainment credit
  • Amex Business Platinum – $10 monthly wireless phone credit
  • Amex Gold Card – $10 Uber Cash, $10 dining credit
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card – $25 monthly dining credit

Automate your credits. Many cards offer statement credits for things like wireless phone bills, digital entertainment and subscription services. Rather than spending these credits manually every month, put these charges on auto-pay. You can also automate reminders for credits you have to manually use. Set a reminder on your calendar, on your to-do-list or on your mobile phone to use credits like dining credits or Uber Cash.

Flexible category change-up

It’s a good idea to reevaluate how you use your credit cards each month. Especially if you hold cards with flexible categories or rotating category rewards. A few minutes thinking about how you spend on your cards could mean more cash-back in your pocket.

Rotating category cards. If you put your groceries on a card with flexible categories but groceries are a featured category on the Discover It, Chase Freedom Flex or Citi Dividend this quarter, can you shift your spending around?

Big purchases or changes in spending patters. If you plan on making a big purchase, look at your cards with flexible categories. If you change one of your card’s categories or change your spending patterns, can you get more cash back?

Here are the cards with flexible categories. If you hold one of these cards, think about how you could use the card next month to get maximum cash back.

  • Citi Custom Cash gives you 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle on up to the first $500 spent.
  • Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards offers 3% cash back in the category of your choice on up to $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter. You can change your bonus category monthly.

Automate your credits. If you are using a card with flexible categories and won’t. For example, you could buy a gift.

Enroll in card-linked offers

Chase card-linked offers, showing examples of bonus cash back available.
Chase card-linked offers.

Card-linked offers can be a great way to increase the amount of cash back you earn. Amex, Bank of America, Chase, Citi and Capital One all offer their own flavor of these cash-back deals to cardmembers. Many times you can get 20%, 30%, or more additional cash back on things you buy anyway just by adding one of these offers to your card. If you hold a card at any of the banks below, be sure to enroll in your card-linked offers.

  • Amex – Amex Offers
  • Bank of America – BankAmeriDeals
  • Chase – Chase Offers
  • Citi – Citi Merchant Offers
  • Capital One – Capital One Offers

There is no downside to enrolling in card-linked offers. In fact, there are good reasons to add offers that you might not need immediately. Many offers are only available to a limited number of people and you can lock-in your ability to use the offer when you enroll. Also, American Express stops targeting your card for Amex Offers once you have 100 offers available on your card. Adding Amex Offers to your card allows you to be targeted for more offers.

About the author

  • Aaron Hurd

    Aaron Hurd is a credit card, travel rewards, and loyalty program expert. Over the past 15 years, he has authored over a thousand expert contributions published by leading outlets including WSJ, TIME, Newsweek, Forbes, NerdWallet, The Points Guy, Bankrate, CNET, and many others. He has also served in consulting roles for many of these same outlets, designing content strategy, hiring teams of teams of editors and contributors, developing thought-leadership pieces, and ghost-editing for senior editors. Aaron is well-known in the miles and points community and regularly presents about travel rewards at conferences like the Chicago Seminars and Minnebar. Aaron has enjoyed the game of optimizing credit card rewards since getting his first credit card shortly after he turned 18. He started learning about credit cards and travel rewards from the (now defunct) FatWallet Finance forums and FlyerTalk. He holds more than 40 open credit cards and has first-hand experience with almost every major credit card product.

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