These 5 credit card hacks could save you thousands

Grace Cheng and Pedro Pla know how to stretch a dollar — or, more accurately, their credit card points. Thanks to savvy planning, they and their two children have already flown to five continents for free, and that’s just in this year so far.

Cheng and Pla are the founders of GET.com, a website that helps travelers make the most of their credit card points through firsthand blogs, travel guides and a customizable credit card comparison tool. The site made eight figures within its first two years, according to the company.

In an interview with CNBC Make It, Cheng and Pla share their top tips and tricks for how credit card users can minimize travel expenses and make their credit card use more efficient overall.

1. Choose the right card

It’s not enough to just choose any rewards card, according to the couple. Especially if you want to travel.

“If you want to use your rewards points to redeem for an air ticket, you will need to make sure that the credit card you are using allows you to convert points to real airline miles on the airline of your choice and at a favorable rate,” they say. “This may seem obvious, but there are many cards that advertise themselves as ‘miles’ cards where miles can only be redeemed toward a statement credit on travel booked through certain sites.”

They add that the amount of points one can earn will vary based on the credit card as well as the spending category, “such as air tickets, restaurants, supermarkets, etc., so it’s important to use the card with the highest earn rate for each type of purchase you make.”

2. Let banks compete for you

“Don’t get too comfortable with your existing stash of credit cards. Banks are constantly trying to outdo one another to get new customers,” they say. Be proactive in finding the right fit.

“It’s important to frequently update yourself with the latest credit card offers. The fact that credit card offers are constantly changing and have different terms and conditions, signing bonuses, rewards programs and rewards earning rates make it tough for people to find the best cards,” they say.

Look around and stay current. “Don’t be afraid to apply for a new card if the offer is better than what you have,” they say. “We signed up for several new credit cards while working toward our goal of earning a million miles for our family’s round-the-world adventure.

“Earning a million miles through meticulous planning ended up saving us $54,000 just on air tickets, so the time spent planning, comparing cards and working toward the goal was more than worth it.”

3. Pay bills on time to avoid interest

Pla and Cheng pay their credit card bills in full each month to avoid accumulating any interest. That allowed them, within a year, to reach their goal of earning a million miles from their credit cards, “enough for our family of four to fly to five continents on business class.”

Billionaire Mark Cuban, who doesn’t use credit cards, has explained that interest is part of the reason why: “The money I save on interest by not having debt is better than any return I could possibly get by investing that money in the stock market,” adding, “I should have paid off my cards every 30 days.”

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