For people who pay down their balance each month, credit cards can be rewarding. Between free flights, cash back, and a host of other discounts, the benefits of using credit cards for everyday expenses can add up quickly.
Unfortunately, tracking all of these benefits can feel like a full-time job. Several apps are now hoping to help. Tracking everything from cashback offers to miles and rewards points, these apps promise a path to maximizing cashback and rewards — if you can manage your spending.
“When buying with a card, people tend to be more prepared and ready to hit the ‘buy’ button when they see a product they like, as opposed to when buying with cash” , says Sachin Banker of the University of Utah. marketing professor who has studied how the use of credit cards affects the brain’s reward systems.
For people committed to a zero balance lifestyle, however, these top apps offer a way to squeeze even more value out of your credit cards – in many cases for free.
AwardWallet helps you track awards
AwardWallet was one of the first credit card award tracking apps on the market. Founded as a website in 2004, it now has over 700,000 users and partnerships with over 670 companies ranging from credit cards to retail stores.
AwardWallet is made for travelers. It provides a single location to track credit card rewards, airline miles, hotel points, cruise rewards, and retailer and restaurant loyalty program benefits. It also includes detailed information on point conversion rates and timeframes along with their estimated value.
The app allows users to add travel itineraries, insurance information, driver’s license, and even a vaccination card. The one thing this app won’t do, however, is tell you which credit card to use to get the most out of your credit card company.
The free version of AwardWallet is enough to track all your awards. The paid version costs $30 per year and adds faster balance updates and email notifications about expiring rewards.
MaxRewards maximizes cash back rewards
MaxRewards, which also has free and paid versions, is designed to help users maximize cashback offers and select the best card for each purchase. It lets you see which of your cards will get you the most money at groceries, which of your cards is best for gas, and which card you’ll want to use to pay for your vacation.
The app’s most useful feature, however, is that it shows you which of your credit cards to use at which companies to get the most cash back. Users can see which cards offer the greatest rewards on which spending categories or search for a card from nearby businesses. There is also a search function by address.
Is that the biggest downside? MaxRewards only works with credit card issuers. You’ll need to find another way to track airline miles, hotel rewards, and retailer loyalty programs that aren’t tied to credit cards.
But if you’re looking to improve your credit score and manage your spending, MaxRewards can help, too. It displays the credit scores available through your credit cards as well as your credit usage, which takes into account your credit score. And it displays current interest rates on the cards in your wallet, key information for reducing the debts you carry.
The paid version of MaxRewards, MaxRewards Gold, offers a mobile pay scale with a minimum price of $5 per month. The paid version automatically activates coupons linked to your cards from issuers such as American Express, Chase, and Citi. It also sends notifications about new and expiring offers.
If all you want is to know which card to use for which purchases, the free version has you covered.
Mint, if you don’t want another app
If you’re a Mint user and you’re experiencing app overload, there’s a way to track at least some of your credit card rewards in Mint.
The free budgeting app allows users to connect all of their financial accounts in one place. It’s meant to help people track their spending and savings to meet their budget goals, and some users have found a hack to incorporate credit card rewards into the mix.
Mint derives statement credits from any credit card rewards you redeem for cash payments in your account. To add revenue from return percentage offers, some users manually add additional categories to track entries.
CardPointers, for new offers
CardPointers brings new customer credit card bonuses to the fore by highlighting the top 10 offers each month. The app also tracks how much you spend on fees each year and offers deals tied to your cards.
A Pointers category shows you which of your cards are best for which shopping categories.
Uthrive, so you don’t miss a thing
Uthrive, which launched late last year, is one of the newest credit card rewards apps.
It shows users how much they are missing out on by not putting their purchases on another credit card. “Not many people know how much money they’re leaving on the table,” said Uthrive founder Sameer Gupta, who spent nearly a decade working for American Express.
Uthrive shows when you earn the most for a purchase and recommends cards that might offer a better return on their spend. It can also track business card rewards.
Whichever app you choose, paying off your credit card balance in full each month is key to getting more value out of it.
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