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But if you don’t like to use credit cards, or can’t get one, there are still ways to be rewarded when you spend money.
1. Shop Through Shopping Portals
If you’ve ever heard of Splender, Ebates or MyPoints, you’ve heard of shopping portals. They’re services that will pay you, in points, whenever you make a purchase at a store after clicking through the portal.
Some sites, like Splender and Ebates, structure it directly as cash back. Others, like MyPoints, award you points that you can convert into gift cards.
If you are a member of any frequent flyer programs, it’s often worth checking to see if they have a shopping portal too. Before every purchase, I check Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping because going through that portal gives me Southwest Rapid Rewards points, which I need to get the Southwest Companion Pass.
Plenti is a new type of rewards program by American Express that is a loyalty card that spans several retailers. You accumulate points whenever you make purchases with certain partners, like Rite Aid, Macy’s, and Expedia; and those points are then automatically converted into discounts at checkout as soon as you accrue enough points.
With some merchants, you need to connect your Plenti account to your existing account. With others, it’s automatic. When you join, you’re notified which is which. The rate at which you earn points varies but this program is one you can set and forget. Every 1,000 Plenti points is worth at least $10.
There is also an American Express Plenti credit card but you don’t need it to take advantage of the Plenti program. At checkout, you pay with whatever method you wish, even cash, and you don’t need to be an American Express card member to join Plenti.
What makes this program unique is how you can earn rewards at one store and redeem them in another. Your purchases turn into points and once you have enough points, are automatically converted into discounts at the register. You could make all your purchases at Rite Aid and then find yourself getting a discount at Macy’s.
3. Join Dining Rewards Programs
Many frequent flyer programs have dining programs that reward you with miles or points when you dine with a dining partner. All you need to do is create an account, link up your credit and debit cards, and shop as usual. Whenever you dine at a partner, you are awarded points based on how much you spend.
Most of the programs are run through a company called Rewards Network. The easiest way to find the one for you is to search for the name of your frequent flyer program and “rewards network.” Most programs are called the name of the airline and “Dining” — such as SkyMiles Dining and American Airlines AAdvantage Dining.
If you aren’t a member of any frequent flyer programs, you can always join uPromise Dining or iDine and get rewarded in gift cards.
While the best way to earn rewards is often with a cashback or rewards credit card, there are still plenty of ways to be rewarded for your spending without having to use a credit card!
And, if you are using a rewards credit card, be sure to do so responsibly. High levels of debts related to overspending and missed payments can hurt your credit score. You can see where you credit currently stands by viewing two of your scores, updated every 14 days for free, on Credit.com.
At publishing time, American Express products are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.