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The Points Guy shares 5 ways to earn credit card points and make the most of them

Earned points on purchases has become a business in itself. The Points Guy, Brian Kelly, tells TODAY what we need to know.
/ Source: TODAY

It's time to stop writing off points and start putting them to good use.

Most credit card companies offer some type of points program to make your money go further and it's a mistake to opt out, said Brian Kelly, aka The Points Guy.

"If you're not earning points on every purchase, essentially, you're paying for points for everyone else because they've already built that into the price," Kelly told TODAY's Jill Martin in an Instagram Live Thursday.

Here are some of the most useful tips we learned during their chat.

1. Every purchase should earn points

Points are available on a lot of everyday purchases — when buying groceries, dining out, flying and more. It all depends on the points program associated with the purchasing card. The goal, Kelly said, is to find a credit card that offers the maximum points for the items you buy most frequently.

Mid section of woman buying groceries in a market hall
Points on everyday purchases, like groceries and gas, are available from most credit card companies. Westend61 / Getty Images

"There are so many credit cards out there," Kelly said. "Look at what you're spending money on. Not just these huge sign-on bonuses, you can earn on everyday spending. And once you start earning three, four, five points in all these key categories, the points is a system that keeps replenishing itself."

And the best way to stack up points is to use your credit cards.

"Wherever possible, I put it on credit cards," Kelly said, adding that he puts all his business expenses on cards and then uses the accumulated points to fund travel and other leisure activities.

2. Actually use your earned points

Don't hoard points once they start pouring in, use them.

"If you've got a bunch sitting (somewhere), use them on your next trip," Kelly said, sharing that he's purchased international, first-class airline tickets using points. "Generally, using your airline and hotel points for travel is going to get you the most value. If you have credit card points like American Express, Chase, Citi, Capitol One, most of those cards will let you transfer to frequent flyer programs and that's where you get the most value."

And while points are technically transferrable to other people, Kelly doesn't recommend doing it because of associated fees. Instead, simply make purchases for other people within your account.

Customer paying for order of cheese in grocery shop.
Brian Kelly, aka The Points Guy, recommends purchasing everything on a credit card when possible and using the accumulated points for future purchases and rewards.Prostock-Studio / Getty Images

3. You can even earn points on rent payments

Bilt Mastercard is the first ever credit card where you earn points on rent payments without associated fees. You can earn up to 50,000 points annually that can be transferred to airlines, fitness centers and more.

"I pay rent (in) New York and I'm earning one point per dollar spent on rent," Kelly said. "50,000 American Airline points is worth like $1,000."

4. Find out what other types of perks are available

"Points are one thing, but perks are another," Kelly said, adding that American Express has a purchase protection feature in which lost or stolen items are fully refunded, and most credit card companies have similar protections. There are also travel protection features available for missing bags or canceled flights.

"Southwest Airlines just melted down last month," Kelly said. "When your flight's delayed or canceled, the airline does not owe you a hotel room. In the United States, the airlines owe you nothing except a refund if you miss a flight. So if you miss a cruise, if you all of a sudden have to pay for a hotel, the best way to get that covered is by using a credit card with purchased travel protections on it."

Kelly said additional perks include access to exclusive events. "Each of the major loyalty programs are getting more and more into experiences," so it's easy to "use points to get access to events you can't even buy," such as attending the Grammys using Marriott points or attending golf tournaments.


5. Keep doing research and stay knowledgeable

There are so many cards and different points programs available, so it can be easy to get lost in it all. But staying up to date on different offerings will save you money.

"My push to everyone here is just to think of every expense you have and try to earn points for it," Kelly said.