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What makes the best rewards credit card?

Sunday, July 15, 2012 at 4:20:11 PM

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If you're in the market for a new credit card that will grant you rewards for every dollar you spend on the account, you might be wondering how you can tell exactly which credit card offer is best for your situation.

As with any other type of credit card program, the only way to figure out if a rewards account is better than others is to closely look at all the terms associated with it. For instance, you will need to not only figure out how much you'll be able to earn in rewards benefits for every purchase you make, but also what you might expect the card to cost you.

Start with costs, based on your own habits

Based on your current card use, it can be easy to figure out how much a new card will cost you over the course of a year, as long as you're willing to do a little math. If you carry a balance with regularity, figuring out the average per isn't hard, and then you can use the interest rates listed on various credit card applications to determine how much each will add to your account every month. Multiply that by 12 to get the total you'll face in interest charges per year.

If the card comes with an annual fee, you can add that to the yearly interest charges to figure out exactly how much the card will cost you.

What can you earn?

Once you know what several rewards credit card offers will cost you, you should also figure out how much they will make you. Calculating the amount you could earn on a card is easy if you closely review your statement and note spending in certain categories. This is especially true given that many cards now add even more benefits for spending on things such as gas and groceries, or in some cases travel arrangements.

Once you know both how much you can earn on a specific card given your personal habits, you can compare that with what the card would cost, and see the exact financial benefit it might provide you. If what you can expect to pay exceeds what you might be able to earn, it's wise to seek out other credit card applications online.

Any time you're trying to figure out which is the best credit card for you, you should think about how it will impact all aspects of your finances.

Apply for your credit card tactically.

When most people look for new credit cards, they only need one but they need to make sure they do get the one with best benefits and features. So shop carefully, then apply carefully. Accurately fill out one application for the card you want most and wait for an answer.

Online credit card applications have a faster turnaround, so there is no need to apply for several cards and then reject approvals for the cards you didn't really want anyway.

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