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Perhaps the only thing worse than hearing about a great vacation you weren’t able to go on is learning that it was free or deeply discounted. (Ok, we know you aren’t that friend, but you have to admit that you get a tad envious when it comes to hearing about great travel stories.)
No matter the level of travel jealousy you experience, it’s safe to say that it’s compounded by the fact that maybe you could have gone to the Maldives nearly for free — had you been paying attention! That, my friend, is credit card rewards FOMO — fear of missing out — and it’s often accompanied by a persistent feeling of “Why didn’t I know about that?”
Whether it’s for a specific card or a general benefit offered by most card issuers, not taking full advantage of those offerings makes having a rewards credit card seem pointless. For those of us who are paying annual fees for credit cards, the feeling intensifies.
If you are like me and want to make sure this doesn’t happen to you anymore, here’s a guide on how you can stop missing out on key promotions and perks offered by your credit card issuer.
How to avoid missing out on credit card deals and promotions
Once you get in the habit of checking up on these promotions, it will like an exciting treasure hunt, looking for the best deals possible. Pretty soon, you could be the friend that always has a cool story about wallet-friendly, envy-inducing vacations (or other neat discounts and perks).
Check your credit card rewards portals
Let’s start with the easiest method — your credit card issuer’s rewards portal. Depending on the card, there may be a dedicated rewards portal featuring your card’s current promotions like events, special perks, and new card benefits. These portals are usually updated often and even provide tips on optimizing how you redeem your points for the most value.
Credit card programs that have these portals include:
If your rewards card has a portal, log in frequently to stay abreast of what’s going on and how you might save money on events, travel, or shopping.
Join Facebook credit card groups
Facebook groups have a plethora of collective intelligence regarding credit card rewards. There are many groups that focus on certain cards, specific rewards benefits like discount travel, and even groups that focus on reward cards for business owners.
You might have to get a little creative when searching for helpful groups, but a good start would be to search for a Facebook group that focuses on a specific credit card, like Chase or American Express cards. Other options are to focus on rewards benefits like gift cards, services, and very detailed information on co-branded cards.
Members of these groups often provide informative, up-to-date information about current promotions, changes to card issuer policies, and even review new credit card offerings. The benefit of these groups is having first-hand accounts, from real card users.
Search credit card hashtags on social media
There are certain hashtags you can check on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, to get user updates on the latest on credit card rewards. Even if you omit the hashtag, a search for your specific card or issuer on some social media sites could lead you to very informed, expert-level posts about your credit card.
For example #travelhacking, #cheaptravel, or #travelrewards are good terms to search while credit-card-specific hashtags work, too. On some platforms, you can even follow these particular hashtags to get regular updates sent to your feed.
Optimize your email
Update your communication preferences with your card issuer so that you are not missing out on promotions. Usually, you can opt into promotional emails through your credit card issuer’s website.
Once you opt-in, you might have to take additional steps to actually see the emails. Some email service providers might divert these emails directly into another folder like spam or promotions. If this is the case, you may not see those emails when it matters, as many credit card rewards promotions can be time-sensitive. Set up a filter that automatically moves these emails into a folder of your choosing for quick, easy access.
Call your credit card issuer
Sometimes, it just makes sense to pick up the phone and call your card issuer to find out about any perks or benefits you could be missing out on. Some card issuers even have “customer retention” efforts in place designed to keep you from closing your card.
For instance, if you call to let them know you’re thinking of canceling your credit card, it could trigger special deals and rewards offerings. The retention department may offer to waive your annual fee or give you bonus rewards points. You could also just ask, “Is there anything new I should know about my card?” This “call-and-see” approach is not always guaranteed but it’s worth a try to get access to deals you wouldn’t have otherwise known about.
If you’ve read over all of these suggestions to avoid the worst credit card rewards FOMO and are more certain that you’ll definitely miss out, don’t worry. Yes, there is plenty to do when it comes to staying on top of your credit card rewards, but like any other financial activity, you can designate a time of the month to focus just on this issue. For example, if you have a monthly budgeting, planning, or mail opening session, you might want to schedule a short block of time just to explore your credit card rewards.
Inevitably, you probably will miss out on something because the universe of credit card rewards benefits and promotions is vast and ever-changing. However, just a little bit of time towards this effort can go a long way. Do what you can in the time that you have available and hopefully, navigating your card rewards and benefits will become more like second nature than a chore.
Aja McClanahan is a writer and blogger based in Chicago who covers topics on personal finance and entrepreneurship. She writes from her experiences with money management and paying off over $120,000 in debt.