Let's face it: You already know you're going to spend a ton this month on food, gas and other essentials. Wouldn't it be nice to get rewarded for these everyday purchases?
That's the lure of the rewards credit card -- they're a great way to earn cash, discounts at your favorite stores, and even free plane tickets and upgrades. But knowing you want a rewards card is the easy part. You need to find the best rewards credit card on the market, but there are a multitude of options. So, what’s your next step?
With so many different credit card choices flooding the market these days, finding the best rewards credit card for your life has become an increasingly arduous task. But we’re here to help!
From cash-back rewards to retail-specific cards, here’s our handy guide for the best rewards credit cards for you.
Cashback credit cards
These cards allow you to earn a cash credit—usually 1 to 2 percent—on every purchase. For example, if you spent $1,000 per month on your credit card, you’d earn $10 to $20 off your bill. Some credit card companies offer a higher cash-back percentage with an increased or specific usage of the card. Everyone can use a little bit extra cash, right?
You should get this card if … you’re responsible with your monthly credit card payments and you prefer to make most of your purchases with a card to boost your cash-back rewards.
You shouldn’t get this card if … you would rarely use your credit card, or if you aren’t timely with your monthly payment.
Airline miles cards
These cards allow you to accrue miles based on purchases made. While these cards often come loaded with complimentary points—sometimes enough for a free flight right off the bat—you'll need to spend thousands of dollars to earn additional trips. And be careful: Many airline miles cards have high annual fees.
You should get this card if … you’re a high-volume traveler. If you’re traveling often, then adding this card to your wallet would surely pay off in reward miles.
You shouldn’t get this card if … you don't spend enough to justify the annual fee, or don’t travel often. If you’re flying just a handful of times every year, it will be tough to earn free flights through purchases.
Before committing to a travel card, it’s important to identify how many miles are needed to qualify for a free ticket; if there’s an annual cap on miles earned; and when (if) those miles expire.
Retail rewards cards
This type of card is co-branded with a major brand or retailer, such as Amazon or Macy’s. These retail-specific rewards cards offer double or triple the points for purchases from the partner brand, and may offer additional store-specific benefits as well, such as an extended return period.
You should get this card if … you make a majority of your purchases from one brand or site, such as Amazon.
You shouldn’t get this card if … you are making just a handful of purchases every year from the store affiliated with the card.
One thing to beware of with retail cards is their interest rates are almost always higher than other credit cards.
With gas prices escalating over the years, credit card companies now offer gas rewards cards that offer a rebate of 1 to 5 percent off the gas they buy. These gas reward cards come in two different types: brand specific and general. General gas cards will offer a fixed percentage of cash back on everyday purchases while giving upwards of 5 percent back on gas purchases. Brand-specific gas cards will only offer a higher cashback percentage on gas bought from specific stations.
You should get this card if … you have a long commute to work, or if you really love driving. If your lifestyle revolves around frequent trips to the gas station, then this card is right for you.
You should get this card if … if you don’t commute very far, or work from home. If you have an electric car or use public transportation, then this card probably isn’t for you.
One thing to keep in mind with a gas rewards card is that some gas stations might be popular in one region, but uncommon in another. If you’re planning a long road trip, a brand-specific gas card might not be for you.
The most important step when picking the best rewards credit card is to identify what each card can offer you that the others cannot. Enroll in the card that fits your lifestyle. Never alter your spending habits to fit a card’s perks.