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High inflation has stuck around for the past few years, driving up prices and crunching Americans’ budgets. One way to fight back? Using credit card rewards.

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More than 80% of Americans say inflation has made them more interested in earning credit card rewards, according to WalletHub’s Credit Card Rewards survey. Over two-thirds say they would use multiple credit card rewards to maximize total earnings.

The points and perks you can rack up on credit cards essentially give you free money to offset higher prices. Here’s how:

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Using Rewards To Offset Price Hikes

The rising cost of living has made it harder to afford the essentials, like groceries and gas.

Most credit cards offer rewards on your purchases — such as 1-2% back or 1X-2X points on every dollar spent. These rewards come in the form of statement credits, cash back, gift cards, airline miles and hotel points that you can redeem for free travel.

If you have a cash back credit card, maximizing rewards can help you directly recoup some of the higher costs. For example, if you have a 2% cash back card and spend $10,000 over the course of a year, you’d earn $200 in cash back.

While that doesn’t outpace inflation (which is around 3%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), is can help somewhat offset the cost.

If your card earns points or miles, the value of those rewards often rises with other costs. For example, if you earn enough airline miles for a free domestic flight, that could offset $400+ you’d otherwise pay out of pocket. With inflation pushing prices higher, miles and points can save you even more.

Targeting Your Bonus Categories

Other ways to make the most of your credit card include:

  • Pick cards with bonus categories that align with the bulk of your monthly spending. For example, cards that offer 3-6% back on groceries and gas can help offset your everyday spending.

  • Many credit cards offer sign-up bonuses — a one-time cash or points bonus if you spend a certain amount in the first few months of opening the card. These bonuses can sometimes be lucrative, worth hundreds of dollars.

  • Consider requesting a higher credit limit to charge more expenses on your card and earn more rewards. The key is to make sure you’re not carrying a monthly balance.

  • Look for cards that offer annual statement credits to recurring bills you already pay, like travel fees, streaming services, etc.

While no credit card rewards program can fully offset the impacts of broad rising prices, maximizing your points, miles, and cash back does put some money back in your pocket.

Americans spent an average of $5,703 on food at home (or groceries) and $3,120 on gas in 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Consumer Expenditures Survey.

If you had a credit card that earns 5% on groceries and gas, you’d earn around $450 in cash back rewards each year — just on your essentials.

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Remember that credit card rewards are only beneficial if you pay balances in full monthly and avoid overspending.

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This article originally appeared on 4 Reasons Why Maximizing Your Credit Card Rewards Is More Important Than Ever

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