How to pick the right rewards card for your needs

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The way everyone’s going after them, rewards cards have become a real hot property these days! Probably no other product has ever enjoyed this kind of popularity in the history of finance. These cards are the easiest way you can get free hotel nights and s-load of air miles! Agreed that the sign up bonuses are amazing, but the benefits don’t just stop there! Every rewards credit card comes with some unique features, maximizing its offerings and allowing the users to increase their points’ balances in all sorts of ways.

Rewards credit cards

The key point

Whenever you’re faced with multiple credit card options, look deep into each one of those cards and pay close attention to the finer details. Don’t restrict your vision just to the sign up bonuses. All in all, ensure that the rewards credit card meets your different travel requirements, the present and the future ones. For instance, if your sole purpose of buying a credit card is to be able to use it during your overseas travel, the 50,000 Southwest Points may not be of much use.

Following are some important points we suggest our readers to go through before making their final card choice:

Will the miles be really useful and is the sign up bonus seriously good?!

Sign up bonuses have always been hot and nothing has changed! There are all sorts of rewards credit cards out there which are offering some highly attractive sign up bonuses. Any rewards card that gives you sign up bonuses less than 50 K may not be worth paying attention to.

But, as we mentioned before, it’s important to look beyond the sign up bonuses. You should also be able to use all those miles effectively. If there’s a particular airline that you love flying with, there’s a good chance they have a rewards credit card for loyal customers like you.

We know many people who love mixing and matching these sign up bonuses! For instance, someone we know signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card last year. In his opinion, what makes this card so better than the others is the kind of flexibility you get with the points. The earned points can be easily transferred to Hyatt, Priority Club, British Airways, Marriott, Southwest, Continental and United. It couldn’t get flexible than that! Mind you, all these programs come with their own rewards cards too! And this is exactly where you start maximizing the value of your points.

This person also signed up for the United MileagePlus Explorer card as its sign up bonus was phenomenal and he flew United and its various international partners pretty frequently. However, the biggest reason why he applied for that card was because he already had Sapphire in his possession and over 50,000 points on it, waiting to be transferred to his ‘United’ account, enabling him to fly first class to Europe! This is a very good example of maximizing the credit card’s sign up bonuses. Furthermore, he added another credit card from Chase into the equation, which came with 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

He has earned more than 150,000 points in total with just these 3 cards in the past few months. It allows him the flexibility of either traveling more in the coach or flying classy in the first. He didn’t just stop at that, he made his wife also sign up for the very same cards. Now that’s household miles maximization for you!

This is just a basic example of finding the right rewards cards for your needs and using them appropriately for fulfilling your travel requirements.

Go through the spend requirements

Make it a point that you check the spend requirement on every card under consideration. Although it’s common sense, but there is no harm in setting a reminder! After all, you wouldn’t want to get into a situation that may soon go out of control. The best rewards card deals are the ones where you’re handed the sign up bonus right after your first purchase. Nevertheless, many cards may have certain minimum spend requirement before you’re allowed to lay your hands on that sweet bonus. For instance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred puts the condition of spending at least $ 3000 in the first 3 months with the card.

First year annual fee waiver

Almost every rewards card waives off the first year annual fee. Still, don’t take that for granted, and double check. There are some card issuers who aren’t that generous. For instance, the American Express Platinum has an annual fee of $ 450 which it doesn’t wave. However, it does provide you with some very nice perks for offsetting that fee. Although the perks may not completely justify that first year charge, they’re at least there for you to benefit from! You can also learn some tricks for finding your way around such annual fee payment! We’ll leave that to another blog post!

What exactly are the special perks?

Every rewards card offers different perks like free checked bag, priority boarding, lounge access and more. Go through each one of these perks and figure out if the card is right for you or not. In order to do that, you must know your needs very well. A good number of airline rewards cards offer priority boarding and free checked bags. Some may even offer free lounge access.

Many of these rewards cards may also provide you with spending bonuses. For example, the Chase Sapphire card gives 2 rewards points on every dollar spent on travel and meals. But it doesn’t provide the same deal on the money spent on groceries and gas. But, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card does. So, you’ll need to look into your monthly budget and figure out where you spend most, and then select your card.

A good number of cards also don’t charge any foreign transaction fee. This can be huge for people who travel overseas very frequently. They won’t mind the convenience of using the card anywhere they like, without having to worry about any additional charge.

To conclude

When it comes to rewards credit cards, it’s very important that you understand the benefits of each one of them. How else will you be able to take full advantage of their perks and maximize your earnings? You must put your thinking cap on and get into the research mode! Pay close attention to the fine print, bullet points and every term and condition. All these efforts will be worth it in the longer run when these cards will start earning you some major air miles and allow you to travel the world for pennies!