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Earn A Million Miles In A Year! Maybe Not. But Make The Most Of Your Rewards

But let's face it: if most of us put that much industriousness and commitment and ingenuity and motivation into our working lives, we'd be able to buy our own first-class airline tickets without a second thought. The reason we can't currently afford them is precisely because we lack those qualities. And the chances are remote of our discovering them within ourselves through the carrot of free flights.

Keeping current with credit cards

Luckily, credit cards are designed to give ordinary people like us something worthwhile without all that hassle. If you're prepared to spend just an hour or so every two or three months on the website, you might easily save yourself hundreds or thousands of dollars during 2013. Precisely how much is likely to depend on your personal circumstances: your credit score, your current card balances and your willingness to open and close card accounts. Here's what you need to do during your regular visits:

  1. Click through to the rewards credit cards section, and check out current sign-up bonuses. There are several cards offering at least 10,000 bonus points/miles, and the highest gives you 40,000. Find the one that suits you best (often the most generous), and then don't hesitate: Apply! It's only inertia that's holding you back.
  2. If you currently have a significant card balance on which you're paying interest, visit the balance transfer credit cards section. There's been a recent resurgence of 0 percent balance transfer offers that last anywhere from six to 18 months. If you have balances of $5,000 and are paying the average rate for rewards cards on them, you could save close to $1,000 in interest during the first year alone.
  3. Scan the news blogs and feature articles. These frequently highlight some of the perks and benefits on particular cards you might otherwise miss. Some might even apply to plastic you already have. For example, extended warranties, and price and purchase protection could save you serious bucks -- but only if you know you're covered.

Okay, none of this is likely to buy you a first-class flight to Hong Kong with complimentary Champagne and caviar. But it doesn't feel like a full-time job, either. Your only commitment is a few hours over the next 12 months. Now that really could be a worthwhile New Year's resolution.

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