The Best Credit Card Rewards Programs

Credit card rewards programs offer points or cash back for purchases made on the card. Some examples of rewards that can be earned include hotel discounts, free airline tickets, cash or gift cards, discounts on vehicles, and merchandise.

Generally, you need to have an excellent credit rating to be approved for a rewards card. Once you've determined which type of card offers the type of rewards you want, it is also important to compare what the card will cost you over time. First, find out how much the annual fee is. As you'll notice, some cards have a rather high annual fee, but don't charge interest because you are required to pay the balance in full each month. If you have a reliable source of monthly income that allows you to pay off the balance each month, this isn't necessarily a bad thing as you'll save a lot in interest charges.

If you don't think you'll be able to pay the complete balance each month, choose a card that offers lower interest rates. Since most cards now offer variable interest rates, you need to realize that the rate you start out with will probably change over time. By choosing a card with the lowest initial variable rate, you'll save money over time compared to a higher rate.

Also check the requirements and restrictions on how rewards can be redeemed. And make sure that the rewards and points will be for something that you will actually use. For some people, earning airline miles allows them to take a vacation or go see family without the extra expense of airline tickets. If you drive a lot, a gas rewards card is worth considering because you'll earn cash back and points each time you fill up the tank.

Below you will find some of the best cards depending on the type of rewards you want, whether its airline rewards, cash back or points on gas, or free nights in select hotels.

Before applying for any credit card, be sure to carefully read over the terms and conditions to fully understand what you are getting and agreeing to. See if the points or rewards expire after a certain period of time and whether there is a cap on the amount of points you can earn.

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If you're still undecided about which rewards program is best for you, the following types of cards can help you narrow down your choice: