earn rewardsChances are, if you own or are looking to own a rewards credit card, you want to be able to earn the maximum rewards possible. You are probably aware that certain types of transactions performed with your credit card can earn you a certain percentage or number of rewards, but how can you know for sure which ones can and can’t earn rewards points, miles or cash back? For example, if your credit card earns 1.5% cash back, does that apply to balance transfers? What about a cash advance? To help you out, we’re answering this question once and for all.

Which transactions can’t earn rewards?

In general, you cannot earn rewards points, miles or cash back with a credit card by transferring a balance (or paying off that transferred balance), taking out a cash advance or making purchases that do not fall under your card’s terms and conditions for earning rewards. When it comes to earning rewards with a credit card, you may be limited to certain types of purchases — for example, the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express (a NextAdvisor advertiser) earns 3% cash back at U.S. grocery stores (up to $6,000/year in purchases, then its 1%), 2 % at U.S. gas stations and select department stores as well as 1% on all other purchases — but, in general, all rewards earned with a credit card will be earned through purchases made with your card. In some instances, you might get bonus rewards for doing certain things, like depositing your rewards into a specific type of bank account or redeeming miles through a specific airline. For example, a number of Bank of America credit cards allow you to earn a 10% to 75% rewards bonus, depending on the type of account you have, when you redeem your rewards into your Bank of America checking or savings account, and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card’s points have 25% more value when they’re redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Choose a rewards credit card that earns you the most for your spending

Every rewards credit card is different — some offer users the ability to earn a fixed percent or amount of rewards for all of their purchases, while others allow you to earn a certain percent or amount in a variety of fixed or rotating rewards categories. You might be earning miles or points that can be used for travel, or a percentage of your purchases that can be redeemed for cash back, statement credits or merchandise. When deciding on the right rewards card for you, it’s important to think about your lifestyle and how you spend money, as well as what type of rewards you want to earn from your purchases. Do you want a travel rewards card or a cash back rewards card?

If you think a travel rewards card is up your alley, you can take a look at our Travel Rewards Credit Card Analysis, which compares each credit card to show you how much the points, miles and other rewards earned with them are really worth. Likewise, we’ve reviewed and ranked the best cash back credit cards. You can also take advantage of our Personalized Cash Back Calculator to zero in on the best credit card for your spending style.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.