Making the Most from a Rewards Credit Card
By Sharon Secor
Consumers are inundated with a flood of credit card offers and advertisements every day, touting a dizzying array of available credit cards and their various benefits. Among the most popular credit cards these days are rewards credit cards, offering reward points that can be redeemed for various perks like cash back, discounted products or services, and airline frequent flyer miles among many others. If chosen carefully and used with discretion, rewards credit cards can yield a reasonable return for the consumer.
Choosing the Right Rewards Credit Cards
Rewards credit cards make up the majority of credit card accounts today, their numbers nearly doubling over the last few years, rising to sixty or seventy percent of credit cards issued. Rewards credit cards are offered in nearly every category, such as cash back credit cards, store cards, gas cards, and hundreds of others. This wide array of rewards cards options include cards that earn points towards such perks as airline frequent flyer miles, free gas, cash rebates, and discounts on various goods and services.
The best rewards credit cards plan varies according to the purchase and payment habits of each consumer. For example, consumers that travel frequently, airline miles rewards credit cards can yield significant benefits. For the person who does a great deal of driving, gas cards that earn points towards a free fill-up can be best. Many grocery store chains offer their own rewards credit cards, rebating consumers a portion of their charges with either cash or store credits. Phone companies, hotel and motel chains, and vehicle manufacturers are among the extensive list of organizations that offer their own rewards credit cards.
When comparing rewards credit cards, finding the best one to suit your needs requires checking into more than just the rebates and rewards offered. These can be among the top considerations for those who pay the bill in full each month, but those who carry a balance must also consider interest rates, ensuring that they do not cancel out the benefits offered. Annual fees are a consideration as well, as they can also work against the gain of the rewards programs offered.
Know the Details to Ensure the Best Rewards Credit Cards Return
Many rewards credit cards programs can be quite lucrative for consumers, if chosen carefully to suit their lifestyle and financial circumstances. However, some of these offers are better than others, making careful research necessary. When comparing rewards credit cards, it is very important to take the time to read the fine print. Some rewards credit cards will advertise great benefits, yet the terms and conditions of the account place severe limitations on them, making these perks very difficult to qualify for or claim.
With some rewards credit cards you must reach a high spending level before your purchases begin to earn points, preventing many consumers from receiving any significant benefit. Others cap points earnings at a very low level, making it possible to claim rewards for only a small portion of the total charged throughout the year. Some rewards programs restrict points earnings to those who carry a balance from month to month, while others require payment in full each month to qualify. Some credit card agreements place such a tangle of rules and restrictions on the use of rewards points that customers give up in frustration, never managing to redeem them. Reading and understanding the terms and conditions of these cards before signing on the dotted line can avoid unpleasant surprises later, when the time comes to claim the rewards advertised.
While finding good rewards credit cards does require some careful research, the incredible number of them on the market makes it possible for virtually any consumer to find a rewards plan that will suit their lifestyle. An informed consumer can earn rewards and discounts of significant value with carefully chosen rewards credit cards, helping to stretch those hard earned dollars farther.
See Also: Understanding Credit Cards