I’ve recently become somewhat of a credit card enthusiast. I've watched dozens of hours of YouTube videos describing how to raise one's credit score and how to maximize credit card rewards. Playing the "credit card game" has been a fun hobby that's also helped me become more responsible with money.
Almost all of the credit card content creators I follow promote an application called MaxRewards. In short, MaxRewards is a credit card monitoring app that shows you useful information like credit card balances, credit scores, utilization percentages, bill due dates and automatic reward activation. Though it doesn’t track airline miles or hotel points, it’s definitely a great app for folks who are really into credit cards.
I installed MaxRewards on my iPhone 13 Pro earlier this year, and it's quickly become one of my favorite apps. If credit cards are a hobby of yours, then you may want to consider checking out the app yourself. It's really superb.
Here's how I use MaxRewards and how it has benefitted me.
Setting up MaxRewards is easy. You can download it from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store. After that, you can link your credit cards to the app, which uses bank-level encryption to keep your data secure. It also says it doesn't sell user data, per CNBC.
MaxRewards is free, though subscribing to MaxRewards Gold unlocks features like automatic reward activation. At the time of this writing, you can select how much you want to pay per month, which will be billed annually. The minimum is $5.
Major card issuers like Chase, Discover, Bank of America, American Express and more are supported on the app, though some — like Credit One — aren’t.
MaxRewards: Credit utilization
MaxRewards’ main selling point is that it keeps track of and automatically activates rewards. It’s the reason most credit card enthusiasts will get the app. However, my favorite feature is credit utilization tracking.
Credit utilization is something a lot of people either don’t know or care about. In short, credit utilization is the ratio of your total credit to your total debt. Most financial advisers and financial institutions suggest keeping one’s credit utilization below 30% on all credit cards. It can be tedious trying to figure out how much money you've spent on one card, let alone the sum total across multiple. That’s where MaxRewards comes in.
I like keeping my utilization in the single digits. This seems to be the optimal range to raise your credit score or maintain a high score (as stated by the aforementioned YouTubers and based on my anecdotal experience). MaxRewards shows me exactly what my utilization percentage is the instant I open the app. Because of that, I always know where I stand. If my utilization is too high, I know to pay off a card (or cards) to bring it back down.
I’ve managed to raise my credit score by 20 to 40 points in less than a year on different credit bureaus thanks in large part to MaxRewards.
MaxRewards: Best Card
Some credit cards offer more rewards in certain buying categories than others. The Best Card tab on MaxRewards tells you which card to use in a given situation.
For example, my Discover It card offers 2% cashback on dining and gas while my Petal 2 card offers 1.5% on travel and groceries. With that knowledge, I can be strategic about where I use my cards. If I’m taking public transportation, I’ll use the Petal card. If I’m buying a sandwich at 7-Eleven, I’ll use my Discover card.
If you have location tracking enabled on your phone, MaxRewards will scan your area and tell you the best places to use your credit cards. It also displays offers from different online stores you can take advantage of with specific cards.
In the future, I plan to get cards like Chase Freedom Flex and American Express Gold which offer even greater rewards. MaxRewards will help me make the most of these and any other cards I sign up for.
MaxRewards: Spending tracker and credit scores
There are a lot of apps that track your spending or that show your credit scores. In that regard, MaxRewards isn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. Still, I like the fact that both of these features are built into the application.
It can be easy to overspend when using credit cards. That’s why it’s good to keep an eye on your monthly spending to see where you can cut back. For example, I was spending close to $40 a week on food whenever I went to the office. Yes, I can afford it, but why spend money I don’t have to? Seeing where every dollar I've been spending goes is helping me to make better use of my money.
As I said at the outset, the main reason I became invested in personal finance was to raise my credit score. Seeing the credit scores on each of my credit cards shows me how well I’m doing. It’s also proof that the strategies I employ to keep my utilization in the single digits are working.
Playing the “credit card game” has been an extremely fun hobby. Not only have I maximized my credit cards' rewards, but it's also helped me become more financially responsible. I plan to continue along this journey and will make good use of MaxRewards along the way.
Credit cards often get a bad rap. But if used responsibly, you can reap the benefits they provide, including rewards and a solid credit score. MaxRewards has helped me keep my credit utilization and overall spending low. It’s also allowed me to use my credit cards more effectively. If you want to make the most of your credit cards, then I highly recommend MaxRewards. It’s one of the best apps you’ll come across.
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Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on X/Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.