The birds are chirping and the plants are blooming, but that doesn't mean you should forget your credit card game.
In all reality, spring is the perfect time to reassess your credit and credit card rewards strategies, and for myriad reasons. Since we've just entered the second quarter of the year, timing is crucial if you hope to take advantage of rotating bonus categories, get more rewards for every dollar you spend, or even sign up for a new card that will help you meet your goals.
With all of this in mind, here are our top credit card tips to consider as spring settles in:
1. Activate Your Rotating Category Bonuses
If you have any credit cards that offer 5% cash back in categories that rotate every quarter, you'll want to "activate your bonus" quickly to take advantage.
For April through June of 2016, for example, the Chase Freedom® card offers 5% back at grocery stores. However, you must activate your card between March 15, 2016 and June 14, 2016 to qualify. If you don't manually activate your card, you'll miss out.
2. Sign Up for a Card that Earns Extra Rewards on Home Improvement
Have a ton of home improvement projects to tackle this summer? If so, you might want to wait until July to get started.
From July until the end of September 2016, the Discover it® card is offering 5% cash back on your first $1,500 spent at home improvement stores and Amazon.com. Whether you have an upcoming landscaping project or need to purchase supplies for an interior remodel, earning 5% back is huge.
By signing up for the card now, you'll be geared up and ready by the time July 1 rolls around.
3. Still Have Lingering Holiday Debt? Consider a Balance Transfer
If you still have debts from the holidays, you should focus on becoming debt-free instead of earning rewards. With most of the top balance transfer credit cards we offer, you can score 0% APR for anywhere from 12 – 21 months.
4. Start Planning Your Summer Travel – Using Rewards, Of Course!
If you have a healthy stash of points already, spring is the perfect time to find a way to use them. Taking advantage of summer travel sales and planning early to find the best reward availability is the best way to get started. And by planning now, you can start counting down to a fun summer trip right away.
5. Assess Your Everyday Spending to Look for New Ways to Earn Points and Miles
Did you really maximize your rewards last year? Do you think you may have been able to do better? By taking stock of the rewards you earned last year, you can determine whether room for improvement exists.
If you want to rack up as many points and miles as possible, you can also figure out ways to pay more bills with credit than you were before. Think beyond your grocery and gas spending and see if you can pay your utility bills or insurance payments with credit. Of course you'll want to pay those balances off right away, but this is a smart way to rack up more points and miles than you were before.
6. Get a Free Estimate of Your Credit Score to See "Where You're At."
Whether your credit is already excellent or you know it needs some work, it's wise to take a peek at your score a few times each year.
Fortunately, LendingTree makes it easy to do just that. By signing up for a new account, you'll get an estimate of your credit score and see most of your recent credit details in one fell swoop. Best of all, signing up is free.
7. Consider Some New Cards with Increased Signup Bonuses
With spring comes new credit card products and better signup bonuses. If you want to rack up a ton of points in a hurry, consider a new card that offers a certain number of points after you meet a minimum spending requirement.
8. Make Sure You're Maximizing Shopping Portals to Earn Even More Points
Most rewards cards offer shopping portals that make it easy to boost your earnings when you buy anything online. With the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, for example, you can often earn up to an additional 5X points for every dollar you spend through the portal. To make your purchases qualify, you simply need to click through the portal before you buy anything at a qualifying store. Although retailers change in the portal all the time, you can usually count on seeing stores like Macy's, Home Depot, Lowe's, and Best Buy among your choices.
9. Make Sure You're Using a Card that Allows You to Earn the Most Points Possible for Your Spending Style
If you find yourself spending some serious money at the grocery store this year, consider a grocery card. On the flip side, a travel credit card with bonuses for travel might be smarter if you're jetting off fairly often this spring. Regardless, taking stock of your spending is the best way to find the best credit card for your needs.
10. Get Your Spouse Involved
If you love rewards and want to earn double, consider getting your spouse in the game. With plenty of opportunities to spend money starting with the warm weather, you could rack up quite a bit this spring by getting your spouse to earn some signup bonuses of their own.
Spring is the perfect time to take stock of your credit, analyze your rewards strategy, and find ways to get more rewards on your everyday spending. By getting started now, you can be on your way to better rewards in no time.