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How To Choose The Best Rewards Card For You

How to choose the best rewards card for you

Updated Aug. 26, 2021, at 10:45 a.m. CT
BY JIM BEMBOOM | Card services manager at Dupaco

Who doesn’t like to be rewarded?

Rewards credit cards “reward” you with some type of bonus or extra perk when you use them. And when used correctly, these cards can be a great way to get the most out of purchases you already planned to make.

But not all rewards cards are created equal. And some of their benefits can be confusing. About one-third of cardholders don’t completely understand all of the benefits available to them, according to a J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction Study.

Learn how to spot the pros and cons of these cards so you can get the most out of your rewards card.

Know the potential drawbacks

When looking for the right rewards card, you’ll want to be aware of a few potential drawbacks:

  • Higher interest: Annual percentage rates can be higher on rewards credit cards compared to traditional cards.
  • Annual fees: These cards can also carry a larger annual fee.
  • Limited redemption options: Redemptions might be limited to certain things or certain times of the year.
  • Point expiration: Points might expire sooner than you’d expect.

What rewards factors you should weigh

Knowing how each card works can help you weigh whether the benefits are worth it to you. Here are some features to consider:

Annual percentage rate

Expect a rewards credit card to come with a higher APR than a traditional one because you’re being rewarded.

Find out what the APR is, and determine what your goal ultimately is with any debt you might have.

For example, if you’re trying to pay down debt, opening a credit card with a higher APR—even with rewards—might not be in your best interest.

Find out whether debt consolidation is right for you >

Annual fee

Some rewards credit cards come with annual fees that could cost you hundreds of dollars each year. You shouldn’t have to pay to be rewarded.

Dupaco’s Rewards Visa has no annual fee.

Check out Dupaco’s Rewards Visa >

Usage

Some rewards credit cards can only be used for certain purchases or at specific stores, such as airline tickets or gas stations.

If you don’t make frequent purchases at those businesses, that rewards credit card might not be the right one for you.

Redemption options

Some rewards credit cards only allow redemptions on certain things, such as airline tickets. So if you don’t fly a lot, consider a card that rewards you for the things you use.

With Dupaco’s Rewards Visa, you earn points with every purchase, and can redeem the points for a variety of options, including:

  • Merchandise
  • Concert tickets
  • Airline tickets
  • Hotel stays
  • Cash back

Carrying a balance

If you carry a balance on your card from month to month, make sure your rewards outweigh what you would pay in interest each year.

Maintaining healthy credit card habits means you're free to enjoy the perks and rewards of your credit card.

How to get the most out of your rewards card

Once you have your card, you’ll want to take full advantage of its perks. Here are some ways to get the most out of your card—without busting your budget:

Use it as frequently as possible

If the card isn’t store- or purchase-specific, consider using it more often to pay for purchases you already plan to make.

Some people use their rewards credit card for all of their expenses—gas, utilities and cell phone bills—and pay it off each month.

But this still requires budgeting to make sure you can afford those charges.

Stay within your means

Again, make sure that any charge you make is part of your budget. Spending more than you can afford—just to earn rewards—isn’t worth it.

5 tips to stay within your budget with credit cards >

Pay your balance in full

Pay your balance in full, or as close as you can, each month. This way, you’re not paying interest on top of your purchases.

Even if you don’t pay your balance in full, a rewards card might be an option. Dupaco members who carry a small balance from month to month can still benefit from Dupaco’s Rewards Visa.

But everyone’s financial situation is unique, and Dupaco can help you decide which credit card is the right option for you.

By paying in full and on time, you avoid carrying a balance on your card, which means the credit card company cannot charge you interest on your balance.

Use those points

You don’t want to leave rewards on the table.

Remember to use those points you’ve already accumulated before they expire. There’s nothing worse than working to save points to use for something special, only to find out that they expired!

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