Remember that time your friend said he flew across the country for free thanks to his credit card, and you were confused? You should keep reading.
Banks compete for business by offering perks when you sign up for their cards and then swipe them — a dynamic that's been heating up lately. "It's a very, very good time to shop for credit card rewards," said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at Comparecards.com.
Navigating the world of points and cash-back deals can seem daunting, but the average American could earn close to $400 a year if they just put their usual expenses on the right credit cards, according to Creditcards.com.
One important note: People who carry a balance on their cards should stay on the sidelines of the rewards game, said Ted Rossman, an industry analyst at Creditcards.com.
"The math just doesn't work: 2 percent cash back on a 17 percent interest rate is a losing proposition," he said.
Here are simple ways to get the most out of your credit cards.