5 Questions to Ask About Credit Card Rewards

television spokespeople fast to inform you why the charge card they’re shilling is much better than the rest. 

Double points! No blackout dates! No yearly cost!

They make it appear so simple to acquire points and trade them in totally free flights and top-shelf resort stays. 

But there’s no such thing as a totally free lunch — even if you’re making points on it. 

That’s not to state there aren’t advantages to utilizing benefit charge card. You can make totally free travel and other advantages — however you need to be tactical to make them work for you.

What Are Credit Card Rewards?

Credit card benefits are advantages that charge card business use on some cards as a reward for cardholders to utilize the card. The benefits can can be found in the type of travel miles, points, or money back. 

Cash back is quite uncomplicated — it’s a direct money benefit. Travel miles can be redeemed for things like airline company tickets for a range equivalent to the quantity of miles you’ve accumulated. Points can be redeemed for products like present cards or other purchases, so they’re like a more minimal variation of money back.

Before you make an application for that hip brand-new card you’re seeing in commercials, ask yourself these 5 concerns initially.

Aileen Perilla/ The Penny Hoarder

1. What Does That Credit Card Agreement Actually Say?

Be sure to review all the information of a charge card contract prior to registering. It’s crucial for 2 essential factors. 

First, you wish to have a clear view of rate of interest, yearly charges, late charges, expiration dates, foregin deal charges and other conditions of usage. 

Second, you wish to make certain the advantages of the card deserve it. 

For example, it would be a wild-goose chase to utilize a card to make flight benefits if you can’t in fact utilize the points or miles on your preferred airline company.

2.  Does the Credit Card Offer Cash Back or Reward Points?

Some charge card use money back rewards, while others award you points redeemable for things like flights and hotels.

Cash-back cards are typically a much better alternative. They hold their worth much better than points, supply higher versatility and your benefits are much easier to utilize. On some cards, you can establish an automated transfer to an account — even that charge card — when you accumulate a specific quantity.

There’s likewise a number of great cash-back benefits cards without a yearly cost, which is another huge plus. 

How Does the Point System Work? 

If you select a benefits card that collects points on purchases, make certain you comprehend:

  • How numerous points you make for particular purchases.
  • The money worth of each point.
  • What you can redeem your points for.

Each charge card business runs its point system a little in a different way, so particular purchases can assist you make benefits much faster than others. 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card, for instance, provides 5 points for every single dollar invested in travel reserved straight through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website, in addition to 3 points per $1 on dining and 2 points per $1 on all other travel costs. 

Meanwhile, the Citi Premier card provides 3 points per $1 invested at dining establishments,  grocery stores, flight and filling station, along with one point per $1 on all other purchases. 

Most charge card programs let you straight redeem their points through an online website. 

Many programs likewise permit you to move your indicate partners and after that redeem them for flights or hotel stays, which is another clever method to get more bang for your points. 

Credit card mail offers.
Aileen Perilla/ The Penny Hoarder

3. Are the Rewards Redeemed Automatically?

Many, if not most, benefits cards need you to log into your account, gain access to a website, and go through a procedure to redeem your points or money back rewards. This is undoubtedly not perfect — specifically if the benefits have a time frame or expiration date. Companies do this in the hope that you’ll ignore the benefits, which would conserve them cash.

On the other hand, some cards let you establish a schedule to immediately redeem your benefits. This is a significant perk — depending upon how most likely you are to keep in mind, it might be the most crucial perk of all, considering that it ensures you’ll redeem your benefits.

4. Is There an Annual Fee?

Some benefit charge card need an annual cost for the right to access their advantages. 

Annual charges typically begin around $50 and can leap to $600 or more for premium-level cards. However, the precise cost differs, depending upon the charge card business and the level of advantages and benefits provided. 

The Platinum Card from American Express is among the most costly, with a yearly cost of $695.

But charge card author Beverly Harzog states yearly charges aren’t all bad. 

“Be sure the rewards you earn are far going to outweigh their fee,” she stated. 

Many cards waive the yearly cost for your very first year, and you can constantly contact us to ask if they’ll waive it a 2nd time. 

Not all benefit cards charge a yearly cost. If you’re simply beginning, concentrate on those deals when buying a brand-new card.

Some popular benefits charge card without yearly charges consist of:

A woman calculating monthly expenses.
Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

5. Is Your Normal Spending Enough to Earn the Sign-up Bonus?

The genuine worth in miles and points originates from welcome deals, which make you much more than the normal 1% or 2% benefit.

If you’re simply utilizing your card for your normal costs, it might be tough to get adequate points or miles for significant benefits. Here’s a technique to navigate needing to be a huge spender to get benefits without drowning in financial obligation. 

Use your benefits charge card to spend for almost whatever you purchase. Then log into your account every day, or every other day, and settle the balance completely. 

This assists keep your charge card balance little and workable. You’re likewise less most likely to spend lavishly on things you can’t pay for. After all, you’ll need to spend for whatever you simply acquired within the next couple days. 

If you’re continuously knowledgeable about your charge card balance and you pay it off a number of times a week, you can still make the most of those sweet benefits points without acquiring financial obligation and interest. 

Before you register for a benefits charge card, take a look at your budget plan and see just how much you usually invest in a month. 

If you typically invest about $1,000 a month on all your costs, you can quickly strike a sign-up perk that needs you to invest $1,000 in the very first 3 months. 

But if the sign-up perk needs you to invest $5,000 in the very first 3 months, well, you must most likely choose a various card that provides a more obtainable perk. 

Some costs, like energies and lease payments, typically charge a charge if you pay with a charge card rather of a bank account. Use your debit card to cover these costs and utilize your benefits charge card for whatever else. 

Frequently Asked Questions (Frequently Asked Questions) About Credit Card Rewards

There are a lot of concerns about charge card benefits and we’ve collected the responses to those most frequently asked. 

Are Credit Card Rewards Worth It?

Rewards charge card deserve it if you are a disciplined user. Sure, they use great advantages, consisting of travel points and money back. But if you’re not mindful, you’ll quickly negate the benefits with interest. To make the benefits beneficial, you require to pay the card off totally regularly.

How Much Are Credit Card Rewards Fees?

Rewards charge card can have yearly charges varying from $50 annually for fundamental cards to $600 annually for premium cards. The precise charges differ from company to company and card to card. To conserve this cash, try to find cards without any yearly charges.

What Credit Score Do I Need For Rewards Credit Cards?

Rewards cards tend to be superior cards, therefore you usually require great credit (or much better) to be authorized for them. A FICO rating of 670 or greater is thought about “good credit.”

What Is the Cash Value of Rewards Points?

The money worth of your points differs from card to card, however the most typical money worth is 1 cent per point. Note that when redeeming them through the charge card company for authorized benefits, they might be valued greater — the worth of 1 cent is just if you wish to cash them out.

Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior author for The Penny Hoarder. Lisa Rowan is a previous senior author for The Penny Hoarder and factor Dave Schafer upgraded this report.


A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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