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Rewards credit cards can be a great way of earning a little something extra for the purchases you make every day. Most rewards cards dole out 1–5 points for each dollar you spend. But there are a few transactions that never earn rewards. Keep these in mind so you don’t end up disappointed when you look at your rewards statement later on (and instead try the strategies that follow to boost your rewards earnings).
1. Cash advances at an ATM
If you use your credit card for a cash advance at an ATM, you are running up a balance on your credit card. Unfortunately, that balance won’t earn you any rewards points — or any love from your card issuer. Whenever you take out a cash advance from an ATM, you should plan on paying a higher interest rate immediately on the advance amount, as well as a cash advance fee of 2–5 percent and any fees that the individual ATM charges.
2. Cash advance checks you receive in the mail
Those cash advance checks you receive in the mail might seem like an awesome deal. You write the check out to yourself, cash it, and the money is yours. Unfortunately, that money will need to be paid back, along with fees, of course.
You can expect to pay the same fees as you pay for withdrawing cash from an ATM, except for the ATM fee. You’ll still pay a transaction fee and a higher interest rate on your cash advance, though. There will be no grace period before interest starts accruing on the cash advance, either. And just like a cash advance from an ATM, you won’t earn any rewards for the privilege.
3. Balance transfers
In a perfect world, we could all earn millions of credit card points by endlessly transferring balances. We could transfer the same balance back and forth for years, earning oodles of welcome bonuses and points for our spending.
But in this world, you never earn rewards on balance transfers. Banks would simply lose too much money if they offered this…
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