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Do you like a reward for being responsible? If you are paying your credit card's balance in full every month, the credit card market is set up to offer you valuable rewards for your spending. All you need to do is choose one of the many reward credit cards.

Just like smart savers who choose the best investments based on their rate of return, smart reward card users will choose credit cards that offer the best returns for their spending. The best card for each cardholder will vary depending on how they spend. There is no single best card for everyone. Click here to use our online Credit Card Calculators to help you compare credit cards.

Here are the main details to look for:

  • Value per dollar spent. Over the long term, the most important thing about a rewards card will be how much value it returns for each dollar spent. For example, cash-back reward cards simply return a percentage of spending, while other products offer airline miles, hotel points, or other rewards. It's up to each person to assess those rewards in order to determine the value received for each dollar spent. In general, anything more than 2 cents per dollar is considered excellent, 1 to 2 cents is acceptable and less than 1 cent is poor.
  • Sign-up bonus. This is another feature common to many reward credit cards. Banks offer new applicants a lump sum of rewards, usually after reaching a minimum spending requirement. In fact, there has been quite a race between banks to offer the most attractive rewards, with some products featuring bonuses in the form of points or miles worth $1,000 or more.
  • Perks and benefits. In addition to points, miles and cash back, many reward cards feature benefits such as travel insurance and purchase protection policies. Rewards credit cards co-branded with airlines and hotels can also offer impressive benefits when traveling, so don't ignore the value of these types of rewards.
  • Costs and fees. The best reward cards will have an annual fee, but there are still some entry level products that are offered for free. Some cards also have a foreign transaction fee that is added to all purchases made outside the country, but increasingly, many cards no longer have this fee.

New applicants should ensure that the value of the rewards justifies any fees paid. Reward cards usually have higher interest rates so those who carry a balance should always use a credit card with the lowest possible interest rate, not a reward card.

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Last modified: Saturday, October 23, 2021.