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What should your rewards card offer you?

Friday, June 15, 2012 at 1:19:21 PM

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If you have a good credit history and think a rewards card would allow you to recoup some of the costs you face for using your account, you might be right.

Rewards credit card offers are now quite popular with lenders and consumers for different reasons, and as such, you might want to consider opening one. But before you apply for a credit card, you should remember the right and wrong ways to manage it.

How rewards cards can help

A rewards card will give you a certain amount of benefits for the spending you do using the account, and depending upon the kind you get, those perks can vary widely.

Cash back cards are what they sound like: They grant you a certain amount of money for every dollar you spend. Most grant 1 percent cash back as a standard, but incentivize certain types of purchases - such as gasoline, groceries, restaurants, and the like - with higher rewards rates.

A points card will give you benefits that you can build up over time and redeem for many different kinds of things, such as gift cards, exclusive prizes and other rewards you might want.

A miles card is associated with travel and allows you to earn airline miles that you can later redeem for flights, seat upgrades and other perks that you might find beneficial when you leave home.

Depending on your current spending habits - i.e. what you use your current credit cards to purchase most often - it can be easy to determine which of the above account types will be the best credit card for you.

How they can be costly

Of course, lenders will want to have some reason to give you points, cash back or miles for every dollar you spend, and they recoup the costs of operating these rewards programs in two ways.

First, they come with higher interest rates and annual fees than traditional credit cards normally do, meaning that the costs you face just to keep the card every year will likely be elevated, especially if you tend t carry a balance from one month to the next. Second, many have limitations and expiration dates on the rewards you accrue, so you'll have to cash them in on time to earn the full benefits.

Whenever you're looking for a new accounts, you should review a number of credit card applications to find the credit card offer that will work best for you.

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