Credit Card Rewards Guide
The US economy has increasingly shifted from being a cash-based system to one that increasingly relies upon credit cards and mobile payments. As such companies have increased the benefits associated with their credit cards to lure in consumers. These benefits typically involve either receiving cash-back or some type of reward (travel/gift cards/hotel rooms, etc.)
Types of Credit Card Rewards
When shopping for a new credit card ensure that you narrow down what you’re looking for in a card. Specifically what type of rewards best aligns with your objectives. Cash-back, travel, gift cards, concerts, sporting events, and charity donations are just some of the categories of rewards that credit card companies offer.
Beyond pure rewards, credit cards may also offer additional benefits such as no foreign transaction fees, roadside assistance, car rental loss and damage insurance, travel accident insurance, extended warranties, extended return policies and fraud protection. Please note that not all cards offer the same benefits so determine what is important as you narrow your list.
What Are The Pros and Cons of a Rewards Card?
There are several considerations to make before deciding to proceed with a rewards credit card. As with any financial decision, it’s helpful to have an understanding of the pros and cons associated. Some of them include:
- There are a lot of different choices of credit cards out there that reward you for everyday purchases that you need to make.
- Most of the credit cards listed have no annual fee and offer great initial bonus offerings for signing up as well as low initial APR rates.
- Rewards are typically easy to redeem and can be used for everything from pure cash back to booking flights, hotels, gift cards, etc.
- Some credit card rewards offer specific bonuses above and beyond the standard rewards for spending on specific categories and on certain products.
- Initial APR interest rates typically only last for 12 – 15 months. Beyond that period interest rates typically jump into the double-digit range.
- Applying for multiple credit cards in a short period of time in order to take advantage of initial bonus offers may impact your credit score.
- Terms and conditions are often buried in small print and difficult for consumers to discern. Make sure that you read thoroughly all of the card disclaimers and fees prior to applying.
What is the Process of Getting a Rewards Card?
The process of getting a rewards credit card is pretty straightforward and typically entails the following steps:
- Research and identify credit cards that may be right for you. Narrow down your list based on the type of reward that is of interest to you.
- Look into what options may be available to you; what you may qualify for based on your credit score; what are the fees (if any) associated with the card and what sign up bonuses/promos may exist.
- Apply for a credit card online. Ensure that you’re using the correct bonus/promo code link.
- Wait for a decision to come online or in a few days in the mail. Note: If you have a credit freeze the credit card company will typically contact you to ensure that you were the one applying for the card if you don’t lift the freeze prior to applying.
- Once you receive your new credit card activate it. From there set up the mobile app, bank account connection, and auto-pay (if applicable).
- Ensure that you meet any criteria associated with a bonus/promo within the specified credit card company time frame.
How We Rate Credit Card Rewards Companies
We independently identify credit card companies. The credit companies are then evaluated based on five factors that we believe are important for consumers: years in business, number of products offered, customer service availability, state licensing footprint, and Better Business Bureau (BBB) Ratings. Please find a full description of our ratings system here. Disclosure: We do receive advertising compensation from some partners, which influences what companies appear on our site and where they appear. For additional details please click here.