What To Look For in Credit Card Reward Programs

by : Ann Wilson

Copyright (c) 2008 Ann Wilson

In the past, rewards credit card were limited to cards with Frequent Flyer Miles Programs. Today, as credit card rewards holders continue to grow and as the competition among credit card companies grows even stronger, the emergence of rewards credit cards is undoubtedly an effective marketing strategy in attracting clients.

With this in mind, it is obvious that not all reward credit cards genuinely bring rewards to its users. Therefore, as a consumer, it is your responsibility to be aware of reward credit cards that offer great deals and those that do not. In this article, let's discuss the features you should look for and the things you should avoid in a reward credit card.

Features to Look For

The Right Kind of Reward. What particular reward program can you benefit most from? Are you a frequent traveler? Do you drive a lot and spend a lot in gas? Or do you just use your credit card for shopping and groceries? Whether you choose a Frequent Flier Credit Card, a Gas Reward Credit Card, or a reward credit card with Cash Back- what matters is that it matches your spending habits and your lifestyle.

Reasonable interest rates. Obviously, you'll want a reward credit card with a reasonable APR. Yes, you can avoid the interest rate by paying your balance in full each month but you can't always guarantee that you won't need to carry your balance over for the next billing cycle. The interest rates alone can kill the value of your rewards. Always be on the safe side by choosing a reward credit card with low APR.

Reasonable fees or no fees at all. Aside from a low APR, check out the other credit card fees such as the annual fee, late fees, etc. Some reward credit cards with good APR have no annual fees at all. Clearly, you can get more from your credit card if you won't have to worry about additional fees from time to time.

Things to Avoid

Reward limits. A reward credit card may limit your rewards to only a maximum value. For instance, you can earn points but as soon as you reach $5,000 value, that's when you stop qualifying for the rewards. You'll want to stick with reward credit card that will last you a long time and not just for short period.

Blackout dates. Blackout dates often defeat your purpose of getting a reward credit card. Some reward credit card companies will not allow you to use your points at high travel times such as Christmas & Thanksgiving. You need to make sure you are aware of the blackout dates so you can properly plan your vacation.

Forfeit your rewards. Restrictions are always part of the deal. For instance, you may strive to rack up your points for the whole year to get your travel reward. But if you fail to earn enough mile points, would you be able to carry over your collected points for the next year? Or will all the points you earned be forfeited and you'll have to start from zero all over again?

Also, the timeliness of your payments is a major factor in getting your rewards. If you delay a single payment, you may be disqualified from the rewards program. Make sure that you clearly understand your reward credit card's terms and conditions on collecting and redeeming rewards.