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When you apply and get approved for a new credit card, there are certain action items you need to take care of so you maximize your card’s potential and benefits as well as make sure you’re working towards your sign-up bonus which could be potentially really valuable and high, and is something you definitely don’t want to miss out on.

Pay Your Credit Card Annual Fee

If the credit card you’ve opened comes with a bunch of travel benefits and credits, the chances are that it has a high annual fee. You usually want to pay the annual fee right away when it posts so that you can get it out of the way. Remember that the annual fee never counts towards to sign-up bonus so always exclude that and any other bank-related fees when you’re counting your spend towards the bonus.

Spend Towards Your Sign-Up Bonus

Many credit cards offer great sign-up bonuses and if you’ve opened one, chances are that it also included a valuable amount of miles, points, credits, etc. that you definitely don’t want to miss out on. Carefully track and read the details of your sign-up offer so that you complete it fully within the required amount of time. It never hurts to “over spend” just in case you need to return something or you missed a transaction. If you don’t meet the required spend for the bonus, you won’t get it and it is something you don’t want to miss out on.

Activate Your Credit Card Offers

Lots of banks now include offers on credit cards in the form of a statement credit if you spend at certain places. For example, American Express has their AMEX offers program whereby you get either a certain amount or a percentage back after you spend a certain amount with eligible retailers – but you must activate the offer on your account prior to any spend for it to qualify. These offers are great because they can really save you quite a bit of money if you maximize them.

Activate Your Lounge Access

If you’ve opened a premium travel credit card, chances are that it includes some type of lounge access – usually all premium travel cards come with a Priority Pass membership which allows you to visit many lounges around the world. Some card issuers have their own lounges as well, like AMEX Centurion Lounges, for example. If the card issuer has their own lounges, you can simply show up to the lounge and present your card for access. However, for the Priority Pass lounge benefit, this needs to be activated and a card will be sent to you.

Activate Other Credit Card Benefits

Your premium credit card will include a variety of other benefits – such as monthly or yearly credits, for example. These items usually need to be activated before you can make a qualifying purchase for the credit to be added to your account. Some of these credits and benefits will be easy to use and others are harder to use – for example, some cards have a flat travel credit that triggers after any travel transaction while other cards have a specific use airline credit that may not work on all airline purchases. Nevertheless, it is important to activate all of these credits and benefits and use them up.

Register Card on Your Phone

Having multiple credit cards on your phone and being able to pay with them is amazing – make sure you add your new card to your phone so that if you forget your wallet, you can still pay for a purchase using your new card.

Update Any Upcoming Spend/Bookings

If you have any upcoming bookings or spend that you made prior to receiving your new card, check to see if you can shift that spend to your new card – for example, if you have a hotel booking that hasn’t been charged yet, make sure to change the card on file to your new card so you can work towards the sign-up bonus. There are even some types of purchases that let you change your credit card after the purchase is completed – be sure to check if this is possible if you have a large spend requirement.

Adjust Your Spending Strategy

Many premium credit cards include bonus categories – for example, 3 points per $1 spent on dining or 5x on all airline tickets. Have a look at what spending categories your new credit card has and adjust your card use so that you are always earning multiple points per $1 spent. Firstly, you should always work towards the sign-up bonus on any card, but after that is completed, be sure to continue to use the card if it offers you increased points earning on certain purchases. Adjusting your credit card strategy throughout the year is perfectly fine – you always want to be earning the most amount of points possible.

Travel Miles 101 has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel Miles 101 and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.