According to COLLOQUY, a loyalty publishing, education and research practice, American consumers let 33 percent of the 48 million rewards points earned go unused each year. That’s an estimated total value of $16 billion left on the table! Don’t let your points go to waste. Follow these tips to ensure you are taking advantage of your credit card and reaping all the rewards.

Choose the right card

Start with choosing a card that offers rewards that fit your needs. If you travel a lot, a travel rewards card may work for you. If you are considering purchasing a new car, an auto rewards credit card could be a good fit, which could help you lower your down payment or even your monthly car payment.

Before deciding on a rewards card, make sure to read the fine print.  Some cards have rewards expiration dates, limits on how much you can earn, and even blackout dates. Additionally, rewards can be complicated to redeem in some cases. Some cards may require customers to redeem in fixed amounts, or they may carry redemption minimums. Know the details before you sign up. Also check to see if the card has an annual fee; if the annual fee is greater than the rewards you expect to acquire with the card each year, look for a card that offers a better value for you.

Look for earnings potential

Be sure to also look for a card that has a good earn rate. While one percent seems to be an industry standard, some cards offer two percent or more. Be aware of cards that boast high earn rates for select categories, or even for rotating categories: it may be harder to keep track of what you’re actually earning with each purchase.

The BuyPower Card from Capital One offers a unique rewards structure, at five percent Earnings on the first $5,000 spent each year, then two percent Earnings on every purchase after that. All Earnings can be used toward the purchase or lease of an eligible, new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle.

“Those are rewards that can really add up,” says Tom Grekowicz, senior manager of GM Rewards Cards. “We want to help you accumulate Earnings which can add up to real savings when you are ready to purchase your new vehicle,” Grekowicz explains. In fact, since the launch of the GM Rewards Card programs, there have been over 7.2 million vehicle redemptions totaling over $10 billion in Earnings redeemed.

Spend wisely

Once you decide on a credit card that is right for you, identify opportunities where it would make sense to use your card as a payment method. See below for a few ideas, and keep in mind that everybody approaches financial management differently, so it’s important to find the method that works best for you.

  • Day-to-day spending: For everyday spending like gas and groceries, consider using your credit card instead of cash or a debit card. Then, set aside the cash you would normally use for these purchases to pay off the credit card bill at the end of the month.

  • Automatic payments: Switching your automatic monthly payments from your checking account to your credit card can help you earn additional rewards, ultimately getting you closer to your rewards goals.

  • Primary payment on websites: Many online platforms allow you to select a “primary card on file.” If you do a lot of online shopping, it could be a good idea to set your rewards card as a default method of payment.

To avoid accruing interest, pay your bill on time and try to always pay your bill in full. It’s also a good idea to set up an automatic payment on your credit card to ensure you never miss a payment.

Monitor and redeem

With the right card and a few tweaks to your everyday spending, your rewards can add up quickly. Keep track of your rewards by signing up for your card’s online account and log in and see your progress. If your card does have rewards expirations, know when your rewards expire and make sure to redeem them before they do.

Set a goal for yourself, too. Think about how much you’d like to acquire and start shifting your spending to the card to help you achieve your goals. When you’ve reached your goal, get ready to redeem and enjoy the benefits of all your hard work. You deserve it!