These New Apps Can Help Maximize Credit Card Rewards

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Are you using the right rewards credit cards to maximize your potential rewards return? And if you are, did it take you a lot of time and effort to come up with the right card for each purchase?

Credit card expert and Team Clark contributor Jason Steele says this is an area of concern for many consumers.

“The credit card industry is extremely competitive, and most credit card users don’t realize that they’re not using the right credit card for the purchases that they’re making,” Steele says.

But there are now some phone and web apps that can both help you pick the right rewards credit cards and simplify the rewards earning process.

Using them might also help you find rewards you didn’t even know were available to you!

In this article, Team Clark will look at some of the emerging app products that could help you maximize your credit card rewards, sort through some reasons to use them and get the advice of money expert Clark Howard.


Table of Contents


3 Ways Apps Can Help You Maximize Credit Card Rewards

If you’re wondering, “Why would I need to add another app to my phone for this?,” I totally get it. I initially shared your concerns that adding another app to your life for an already complicated topic might just be too much.

But after digging into the available apps more closely, it became apparent to me that using one of these apps could save you time and earn you additional rewards at the same time.

Here are three ways these apps could make earning credit card rewards easier for you.

Help Pick the Right Rewards Credit Card

Do you even have the right credit cards in your wallet? You might be carrying around a travel credit card when a cash back card is actually the best match for your monthly spending habits.

One of the essential steps to maximizing credit card rewards is picking cards that best align with your spending habits and rewards goals.

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And thankfully there are some free tools that we’ll talk about more in this article that can help with this process.

For example, the CardWiz quiz is a web-based app that doesn’t even require an app download. It can walk you through a comparison of the many card options available based on factors like spending habits, credit scores and annual fee tolerance.

Help Maximize Rewards on Purchases

Once you are sure that you have the optimal credit card mix in your wallet, you can utilize these apps to make sure you’re getting the most out of your spending.

That means pulling the right credit card out of your wallet each time you go to make a purchase … every time. And the more credit cards that you have, the harder that might be.

You can load your credit cards into an app and receive assistance on things like picking the right card to use at a certain store or on a particular product. It may even recognize that your card has a limited-time bonus offer available that may have been beyond your basic rewards program.

CardCon founder Jason Steele says he uses the credit card rewards app Uthrive to help make sure that each purchase he makes is with the right credit card.

“When you’re shopping, it can be very difficult to tell which credit cards offer bonuses at the store I’m visiting,” Steele says. “But Uthrive uses geolocation services that quickly tell me exactly which credit card to use to earn the most rewards, as I’m about to make a purchase.”

Uthrive is not the only app that can help with this, and it is worth noting that Jason does have a professional relationship with that business. Both The Points Guy and MaxRewards also offer this capability, for example.

Help Track Your Credit Card Rewards and Activity

Not only can you find the right credit card with an app and have it help you maximize your rewards with each purchase, but you also can have an app track all of your credit card activity and rewards programs in one spot.

This will help you monitor the big picture of your spending to ensure you don’t miss payments or accrue balances you can’t afford.

But it also will help you monitor your rewards programs and show you the progress that you’re making with turning your categorical spending into the best possible reward. Some of the apps also allow for credit score monitoring.

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4 Apps To Consider for Managing Credit Card Rewards

Methodology: While there is a variety of apps and websites available to aid you in credit card rewards management, I sifted through many of them in an attempt to highlight some of the ones we thought could be most useful to you.

In curating this list, some of the things I looked for included: user-friendly interface, tools that actually help you maximize rewards, connection with major credit issuers and their rewards programs, cost and ease of accessibility to the content.

Here is a quick rundown of some of the apps you may want to consider:

MaxRewards

  • Official Site
  • Available on: Android and Apple devices
  • Good for: Maximizing credit card rewards for each purchase, tracking available bonuses
  • 3 Things To Know:
    • Once you put your cards into the app, MaxRewards will create a “cheatsheet” that shows you which card to use for each type of spending to maximize rewards. It will also show you the best rewards usage opportunity at nearby merchants based on your location.
    • You can access all of your credit card bonus offers all in one place on this app. It connects with all of the major card issuers to find your current offers and discount deals.
    • MaxRewards says it does not sell your data and uses bank-level encryption for your data.
MaxRewards app
MaxRewards promotional material

Uthrive

  • Official Site
  • Available on: Android and Apple devices
  • Good for: Maximizing credit card rewards on each purchase, using your location to spot the best card for merchants
  • 3 Things To Know:
    • Uthrive touts that you can know what card to use for maximum rewards in just two taps on the app. And it also has geotracking, so it’ll recommend a card to use based on nearby merchants.
    • Once you input your card information, it gives “personalized advice” for the card to use for categorical purchases.
    • Uthrive says it does not store sensitive information, including credit card numbers or login credentials, and touts a bank-level of encryption on the data it does process.
UThrive app
Uthrive promotional material

The Points Guy

  • Official Site
  • Available on: Apple devices
  • Good for: Setting points goals and tracking progress, analyzing spending to identify missed rewards
  • 3 Things To Know:
    • The Points Guy app also will help you with real-time tips on the right credit card to use to maximize rewards.
    • When you sync your card data, the app will give an analysis to show you where you’re doing a good job maximizing points and the areas in which you’ve been leaving rewards on the table.
    • The app allows you to set points and miles goals, and it helps you keep track of progress and look for ways to meet those goals.
The Points Guy app
The Points Guy promotional material

CardWiz

  • Official Site
  • Available on: Desktop or Mobile Web (No app download required)
  • Good for: Comparing credit card rewards programs, picking the best credit card for your spending
  • 3 Things To Know:
    • CardWiz uses a free quiz process on things like categorical spending habits and credit score to curate a list of top credit cards for your situation.
    • You’ll get the opportunity to do a side-by-side comparison of the cards to analyze the rewards programs and the characteristics that mean the most to you.
    • CardWiz promises to show the best cards regardless of its affiliation, but its worth noting that they do receive commission from select card issuers if you choose to apply from their site.
CardWiz app
CardWiz promotional material

Clark’s Stance on Using an App for Credit Card Rewards

By now, you may be wondering if this concept has the Clark Howard stamp of approval.

At the time I spoke with him about this emerging technology, he told me that he did not have one of these apps on his phone to track his spending for rewards. But that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily opposed to the idea.

“If you love gamifying how you buy things to get the biggest gain for every dollar that you spend, using an app that helps you do that is fine and great,” Clark says.

Clark says the question you should be asking yourself is: are you’re up for the commitment it takes to maximize these rewards, even with the help of an app?

“It’s all a matter of how much complexity you want in your life,” Clark says. “If you want it, and you want to be able to get that last screaming mile or point or value, the problem is that you just can’t do it yourself. There’s too many offers and too many specific deals. It’s crazy to think that you need an app to help you with this, but it’s a lot of work. And yes, they’re helping you automate some of it, but it’s still work.”

That’s why Clark typically recommends that consumers who lead busy lives apply for a good cash back credit card with a 2% return on everyday purchases so that you can confidently shop knowing you may not be getting the best rewards humanly possible, but you’re getting a decent return on every purchase you make.

Clark Discusses Safety Concerns with Credit Card Rewards Apps

While Clark expressed a general positive outlook on the use of a credit card rewards app for those who are willing to go the extra mile for their rewards, he did give me some words of caution about protecting your personal data.

“Any time you give people access to your financial information you always have a certain amount of risk,” Clark says. “No matter what precautions they say they take or what level of encryption they use, there’s always the chance that there is a hack.”

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The good news for most credit card users is that many card issuers have a standard “zero liability” policy if your card is compromised and used for fraudulent charges. And many of the apps we’ve mentioned in this article state they go to great lengths to protect your information.

But that’s a headache we’d all rather avoid, if possible.

Clark says that with this type of product, in particular, that the risk lies in the longevity of the company and what happens to you personal data after the business is potentially sold or shuttered.

“You never know how long these things will last,” Clark explains. “If it doesn’t last, whoever buys the remains of a product like this in bankruptcy court is buying access to the data on the people who have voluntarily given their information to the app or the website.”


Final Thoughts

The takeaway here is simple: Maximizing your credit card rewards can hard work and time-consuming. Using some of the apps mentioned in this article can make that easier, and ultimately can make your reward earnings go up.

But the apps still require a commitment in both the time it takes to set them up and then checking them regularly to put the tools to use.

If you’re the type of person who has time to take on that challenge, I believe there are at least a couple of apps out there that can really help you along the way. With a little commitment, the apps can help you put the right cards in your wallet and could lead you to unlocking rewards you didn’t even know were possible.

If you’re a consumer who leads a busy life and just wants to make sure you’re not leaving major amounts of reward money on the table, you may be best suited to apply for a 2% cash back rewards card and enjoy the predictability of a solid return on all your purchases.


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