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How much your rewards offers are worth to you?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 8:38:22 PM

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These days, consumers who are still a bit cautious about dealing with credit cards are making the accounts they're opening a bit easier to bear by finding rewards programs.

But it's important for you to remember that just because you received a credit card offer for a rewards account doesn't mean that one will be exactly right for you. Usually, if you're receiving offers, rather than having to apply for a credit card that is not a good fit, it's probably a good idea to take the time to review several different cards at least.

Where to start

If you receive an offer for a rewards credit card, you should first figure out what the benefits you can earn will be, and how that helps you. For example, if you don't fly often, but an offer is for a card that grants you airline miles, it might not be as beneficial as one that gives you cash back instead.

You'll also want to think about the added cost this type of account might come with, as they

typically have higher interest rates and annual fees

than accounts that do not grant you rewards. For this reason, you'll probably need to do a little bit of math to figure out how much more this card will cost you over what you're used to paying, and if the added price of maintaining it will be larger than the amount you earn in rewards given your normal spending habits.

Decide which kinds of rewards you want most

Many rewards cards these days also come with the ability to earn more points, cash back or miles depending on the type of spending category the card is used in. For instance, some will grant double or triple the benefits for spending on gasoline or groceries, while others can give added incentives when using them to book travel arrangements.

Taking the time to carefully consider how you normally use your current credit cards can help to inform the decision you make regarding the opening of a new account.

Taking all these concerns into consideration will allow you to fill out only one or two credit card applications and still find the best credit card available to you.

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