Many people end up choosing the wrong credit card, for a variety of reasons. Some people simply take the first offer that comes their way, without doing comparisons among the various rewards credit cards on the market today. Other people are sent slick mail offers aimed at people who just rebuilt their credit from credit card companies offering less than ideal terms. You’ve worked hard to get where you are at credit wise so you deserve the best credit card that your credit rating and good financial habits allow. If you have had bad credit but worked hard to repair it, do not let the skeletons in your closet and the ghosts of credit gone bad haunt you.
The keys to finding the right rewards card for you are:
* Finding an offer that suits your lifestyle. A travel rewards card will do you little good if you never travel. A gas rewards card will do you little good if you do not drive. Pick the rewards card that offers you a reward you can most use. Pay attention to the fine print and other details other than simply the reward being offered, things like annual fee’s, processing fee’s and even foreign transaction fee’s if you travel abroad often. Big things to pay attention to are the interest rates and grace periods to avoid paying interest and what if anything can cause your rewards to expire.
You need to ask yourself what you can use the most. Do you want free bag checks on flights and discounted or free airfare? Do you want cold hard cash back? Or perhaps gift cards to some of your favorite stores and merchants. Do you want free hotel stays or car rentals? If you travel often what matters most to you perk wise, such as free access to airport clubs and lounges or a certain number of free bags checked, or priority boarding perhaps or all the above. There are cards out there that offer some or all of these options.
* Understand what types of rewards cards are out there in the market place. There are travel rewards cards, dining rewards cards, co-branded rewards cards for some of your favorite stores and merchants,hotel companies and airlines. Co-branded cards often give you the best value as other types of rewards cards average out at 1 cent per reward point, but co-branded cards are often much more than simply one cent per point value wise. There are also cash back rewards cards. Other types of rewards credit cards allow you to redeem points for flights or hotels or transfer your points to airline and hotel loyalty programs, or the option to convert your points to cash if you elect to not travel with your points.
* Understand that the credit card industry is very competitive and that your business is worth them giving you something for the privilege of doing business with you, provided that your credit score is at least decent. Many rewards credit cards offer rather huge sign up bonuses just to gain your business. If the offer you are considering is not an exception card and offers no decent sign up bonus, you might do better reconsidering applying for that card and instead comparing offers with another credit card which is offering a hefty sign up bonus. Also remember if the card has a sign up bonus to compare that to any potential annual fee it may have, some cards charge an annual fee the very first year and can negate completely or at worst a large part of the sign up bonus. The better cards on the market offer no annual fee the first year or simply no annual fee ever.
* Understand that you are not forced into choosing just one card. You can apply for a few cards, though I recommend not applying for more than two at any one time to keep your credit score as high as it can be and to keep your usage of available credit at or below 30% of your credit limit, this is known as your credit utilization score, and this directly impacts your overall credit score. There is no rule stating you can’t for example choose the Citibank double cash back card and a well rounded out travel rewards card. You can choose a variety of credit cards to suit your needs. For example the Chase Sapphire Preferred card earns two points per dollar spent when dining out and on travel so you can leverage that cards rewards value on those two areas of spending and use the Citi double cash back card for your other spending.
Some cards are very suited to savvy shoppers. For example the Chase Freedom card is currently giving out 5% cash back when shopping at Amazon.com, Zappos.com, Kohl’s and select department stores. If you choose to shop at Kohl’s for example and go through the shopping portal to the Kohl’s website, you get 10 points per dollar, then you will get an additional five for using your Chase Freedom card, which basically equals 15 percent back. So in essence the key to maximizing your rewards and selecting the right rewards card is to know what you want, compare current offers and maximize your rewards by shopping through online portals offered by credit cards, airlines, merchants and hotels with points or rewards programs. Lastly the credit card industry is huge, do not jump at the first offer that comes your way, you can be selective.