How to make your credit cards work for you 

  • Interested in not paying for vacations?
  • People are getting savvier in their quest for credit card points.
  • Financial advisor Winnie Sun shares her tips.

Financial advisor Winnie Sun has a client who has not paid for a vacation in six years. She has credit card rewards to thank for that.

"She is pushing on only almost 5 million points," said Sun, founder of Sun Group Wealth Partners. That client puts all of her businesses expenses on her cards, along with any other costs she can, to watch her points pour in.

Sun has some tips on how people can capitalize on their credit card perks without getting bogged down in debt.

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Her No. 1 rule? Pay your balance in full every month, she said. That's because some cards come with interest rates as high as 25 percent. "That really deletes all the benefits of earning rewards or cash back," Sun said.

To make sure you actually do this, set up automatic monthly payments to your credit card as soon as you get it in the mail. "Link it up with your checking account without even leaving your seat," Sun said.

To decide which credit card is best for you, consider what you'll be using it for. "Are you trying to earn points toward travel? Or are you looking for cash back?" Sun said. Some cards are better for one, some the other.

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You'll want to weigh if it's worth it to get a card that comes with an annual fee, which many of the travel cards do. "They're really interesting if you do quite a bit of travel," Sun said, "and you really are able to go through some additional hoops to earn those points."

Make sure your cards aren't making you spend more than you normally would, Sun said.