While some people choose a credit card based on the interest rate or perhaps a balance transfer promotion, if you don't intend to carry a balance on your credit card you may be more interested in a rewards program. The best credit card rewards programs are tied to your interests. You can check out the credit card offers with rewards on this page to find the one that matches the way you want you to be rewarded.
Qualifying for a rewards credit card
Most credit cards that offer rewards are limited to customers with good or excellent credit, so if you have poor credit you may need to work on building up your credit score by paying off credit card balances and making on-time payments before you can be approved for a points and miles credit card.
Interest rates and fees
While it's great to be rewarded for using your credit card, credit cards with miles promotions or other rewards often have a higher interest rate than other credit cards. Some also have a higher annual fee in order to compensate for the rewards you'll earn. Before choosing a rewards credit card, make sure you can pay off the balance in full each month and that the annual fee won't cancel out the benefit of the rewards you earn.
Choose your rewards
Before choosing a rewards credit card you need to decide if you want to earn cash back, gas rebates, points you can use for travel or merchandise, or airline miles that you can use to supplement your frequent flyer miles. Even if you decide a free airline credit card is perfect, you'll need to choose whether you want to earn miles for one specific airline or miles that can be used on multiple airlines.
Comparing points/miles credit cards
Next, you'll need to compare the specific programs to see which one will earn you the most rewards. Compare:
- Signup bonuses. Some credit cards offer new customers a bonus of extra points for their first purchase, or a certain level of purchases within a certain time.
- The rate of rewards earnings. If you are looking for airline miles, look for a credit card that earns you airline miles at a rate of at least one mile per dollar spent. Some credit cards allow you to earn rewards in specific categories at a faster rate depending on where you use your credit card.
- Reward redemption rules. Some credit card rewards programs require you to wait until you accrue more points and others limit your rewards to gift cards or to flights on specific airlines. If you are looking for airline miles, make sure the airlines you use are covered by each rewards program. Make sure you have enough time to cash in your points before your next vacation if you want to use points for a hotel room.
- Compare your spending with the rewards. The number of points you need for a free flight vary by rewards program, so try to find the program that earns you the most points for the least amount of money or that allows you to convert points to airline miles at a low rate.
- Check the dates. Make sure your points or miles won't expire before you can use them. Some rewards programs don't have an expiration date at all. Also, see if your airline miles are subject to blackout dates. If you plan on traveling at a popular time, you want to make sure you can use your points.
If you've decided that a credit card with miles promotions that you can use for airline tickets, hotels or merchandise is best for you, compare the points and miles credit card offers on this page to find the credit card that matches your needs.