Money Talks News: How to Get the Most from Your Credit Card

What's better than a nice hotel room? A nice, free hotel room.

Visit Manhattan, and you'll find it's tough to find a decent room for less than $350/night. But the last time I went, I paid zero, because I used credit card reward points instead of cash.

According to a recent survey from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, 61 percent of Americans don't shop their credit cards. Result? Some are paying for things they could get free. Want to find your perfect plastic? Here's how.

First, decide the rewards that will be most rewarding. For example, hotel and airline rewards are useless if you don't travel much.

Step two? Shop! The internet makes it easy to compare cards.

Step three? Strategize when signing up, and spending. For example, I got 50,000 points for signing up for my credit card, then had my wedding at a place I earned double points. Result? Lots of points to pay for travel.

Another tip... understand the value of your points. You know you can get 1 percent cash back when you use some cards. But some reward cards, you can leverage those points and get even more than that.

Another tip: Be on the lookout for bonuses. For example, some credit cards offer bonus points gas, grocery or restaurants.

Next, know the rules: how points become rewards, when they expire. Then, cull your cards. If they're not delivering for you, find one that does.

And here's the most important tip. If you're carrying a balance, forget reward cards.

They often have higher rates that are going to more than offset those rewards you're getting.

So if you're carrying a balance, you want to shop for a low rate period. No matter what kind of car you're shopping for, I can help.

Just go to Just do a search for Credit Cards.

For Money Talks News, I'm Stacy Johnson.