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The Top Citibank Credit Cards of 2014

There are many credit card issuing banks out there on this earth.  Not all are created equal.  Some banks really are known for solid card products (looking at you, Amex and Chase) and support their customers.  Citibank is one of those companies.

But, which cards are the best to hold in your wallet in 2014?  Which ones have the best offerings for travelers, for big spenders, or for the thrifty among us?  This post is for you.  Let’s get into what the top Citi credit cards are for 2014, shall we?


Do You Like Rewards?

I would recommend the Citi ThankYou Premier card for those of you that enjoy redeeming points for the best rewards possible.  I love Citi’s “ThankYou” system, which gives you a twenty-five (25) percent boost for booking through Citi for flights and hotels.  This card is a powerhouse for earning with regular spending.

If you spend a lot of money on airfare or hotels, you’ll earn three points per dollar spent.  This is huge for business travelers.  For any other purchase, you’ll earn one point per dollar.  Still, if you are a big traveler (and taxi fares count under the travel category), this card is solid.  There is a $125 annual fee, though.


Big Balances

I know that many of us have had bad ‘luck’ with keeping up with our credit card bills.  Many don’t realize that a way out of some bad credit card debt with high interest rates is a balance transfer to another credit card with a lower interest rate.

The Citi Simplicity card is a good card for this type of trouble.  With the most 0% APR financing for purchases and balance transfers on the market today, at eighteen months, this card is awesome.  There are no penalty fees or penalty APRs with this card.  What an awesome credit card!


No Fees? No Problem.

The Citi Dividend Platinum Select card features no annual fee, and gives you a nice sign-up bonus- $100 after spending  $500 in the first three months of card membership.  Another one of those ‘cycling category’ credit cards, the Citi Dividend Platinum Select credit card additionally offers 5% cash back on four different categories a year.

The benefits are capped at $300 per year, though, limiting you a bit.  You’ll have unlimited 1% back on all other purchases, however.  There are better cash back credit cards out there, sure, but if you like Citi as a credit card issuer, this is your best option.



These are the best options from Citi, in my opinion.  Are they the best options available on earth?  No, but I do love a card that offers you mistake-free credit (the Simplicity card), or a card that offers three points per dollar spent on travel (ThankYou Premier) or a cash back card with bonus categories (Platinum Select).

What do you think? Do you think these cards are worthy of a spot in your wallet?  Or, do you think there are better cards out there?  We want to know in the comments!

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How to Choose a Secured Credit Card

Those who are searching for secured credit cards have little to feel secure about when it comes to their credit, which is why making the right choice is so important. With many options available, it is critical that you examine each offer carefully so that you get the secured credit card that is right for you and your unique circumstances—and so that you are not surprised by fees, hassles or penalties!


What is a Secured Credit Card?

A secured credit card is designed to help those with credit problems rebuild their credit. The bank takes a security deposit from you, and holds it in escrow, while you get to enjoy a limited spending limit. This allows you to earn the trust of the bank and help show them that you are going to responsibly spend and pay your bills on time each month. When you do these things, you will see your credit score rise, and, hopefully before too long, you will qualify for a traditional credit card that does not require any security deposit.

Before you sign up for the first offer that comes along (of course, you are eager to start rebuilding your credit, but impulsive decisions may have been part of the problem with your credit history in the past, so take it slow!), consider these several factors so that you make the right choice.

How Large of a Deposit Do You Have to Make?

Read the fine print carefully to find out how large of a security deposit you have to make in order to qualify for the secured credit card. The size of the deposit may depend on your credit score, so the lower your score is, the more you may have to shell out in advance to be able to prove that you are now credit worthy. It is common for a secured credit card to charge 100% security deposit, meaning you have to put down $500 to get a $500 spending limit.

There are cards that may offer you up to 150%, or $750 on a $500 deposit, so this is something you might want to shop around for. In the case of getting a secured credit card, you do want the limit to be fairly small, to prevent you from getting into bad debt—something you are trying to reverse!

Will Your Good Credit Behavior Be Promptly Reported to the Credit Bureaus?

This is a very important thing to consider! You want to make sure that your discipline and hard work toward rebuilding your credit is recognized by the credit bureaus, and that getting the secured credit card will actually help you to improve your credit score. Otherwise, why bother?

Also, make sure that you are signing up for an actual secured credit card, not a prepaid debit card, which will not do much for your credit score. If it’s not in the fine print, you can often call the customer service number to find out which credit bureaus your good behavior will be reported to, and on what kind of schedule.

Will You Get Your Deposit Back?

Importantly, you want your deposit to truly be a “security deposit.” This means that the money is held in case you do not make payments on time, or default on the account. Assuming you pay your monthly bill on time and do not go over your spending limit, you should be able to get your money back. Some credit companies may even offer small interest rates on your security deposit, but these are usually very small and you shouldn’t really think of it as an investment (other than making an investment in improving your credit!).

In most cases, you should be able to get your security deposit back after one year of good credit behavior, but check the fine print to be sure.

Where is the Complete Fee Schedule? 

You need to know exactly what you will be charged for, and how those fees will be assessed. There are certain rules that apply when it comes to credit card fees.

Are Automatic Payments a Possibility?

When you sign up for automatic payments, you may not only get a break on your interest rates but you also may qualify for a traditional credit card sooner.

Are You Disciplined Enough to Have a Secured Credit Card?

If you have not carefully considered the repercussions of your bad credit, you may not be ready for a secured credit card. Be prepared to make your payments on time, and do not let the balance build up so that you have to pay high interest rates.

A secured credit card is often the answer for those with poor credit, flimsy credit or no credit. When you build up your credit you will qualify for a perfect, low rate credit card with plenty of perks!


Other posts on secured credit cards:

How to Build Your Credit with a Secured Credit Card

The 5 Best Secured Credit Cards of 2014

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The 5 Worst Ways to Redeem Credit Card Rewards

My favorite part of earning thousands of credit card miles each year, is the time that I get to redeem them (isn’t it everyone’s?).  With so many cities and countries on earth to visit, it can be quite a large choice!  But, what worries me about some of you reading this blog, is that you may make the wrong choices with your points.  You know, like underutilizing them.

Let’s dig into five of the worst ways to redeem your credit card miles and points, shall we, so you don’t make a grave mistake!


1.  Physical Items

I see this play all the time.  What you must see is that award miles and points for credit card companies are liabilities for them.  That means that secretly, they don’t want you to use them very efficiently.  Heck, they really don’t want you to use them at all!  So, they often dangle an item in front of you, like a new blender, for an inflated points to dollar ratio.

For example, a Nespresso VertuoLine instant coffee machine costs 47,840 Membership Rewards points in the American Express shopping mall.  At 1 point per dollar value, a conservative valuation, that’s $478 worth of points.  The very same machine costs $299.00 on


2.  Point Devaluation

We see this happen often.  You hoard and hoard points or miles, waiting for that perfect trip.  Then, out of nowhere, the airline or hotel chain decides to ‘devalue’ their program by adding new categories of hotels that cost more points than before, or raising the price of a roundtrip flight.

One way to avoid this is to ‘earn and burn,’ meaning grossing as many points as possible in as short of time as possible, and using them quickly!  Usually, these companies are good about giving you time between announcements and when the changes take effect.  Take a look at to make sure you don’t miss the news!


3.  Annual Fees

Simply put, if the cost of owning a credit card doesn’t match the amount of miles that you’re earning, there is no reason to be using that credit card.  Many cards, though, offer lots of bonuses to make up for this difference.  The American Express Platinum card is a great example of this, with its free Starwood Gold status, Global Entry enrollment, and other benefits.


4.  Missing out on that Sign-Up Bonus

This is the saddest of sad moments.  You get the credit card for that hefty sign-up bonus, but fail to meet minimum spend requirements in the time frame allotted.  Don’t miss out!  Use’s reminders to e-mail you when that date is approaching!


5.  Events Put On by the Credit Card Company

This happens more than you think.  Chase and American Express often offer up special events at the US Open or in your local city for things like SegWay tours.  The points redemption, like the physical items redemption mentioned above, are super inflated and often not worth your points!



So, those are some very simple ways that you can waste your points!  Did I miss any above?  Let me know in the comments some ways you think people waste points!

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The Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards

Nobody likes fees.  Especially when they’re unneeded.  That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best no foreign transaction fee credit cards.

For the longest time, since credit cards were invented, they have carried the dreaded ‘foreign transaction fee.’  This usually was a two or three percent charge on every dollar you spent outside of the United States while travelling or on business.  These fees, though, are slowly but surely going the way of the dinosaur.  There are many cards out in the marketplace today that do not charge a foreign transaction fee.  This post is to detail some of the best cards out there!


Barclaycard Arrival Mastercard

This badboy is one of the best credit cards out there on the market for travelers.  It makes earning points easy- you’ll earn two points per dollar spent everywhere, and, you’ll receive a 10% redemption rebate when you use them, totaling 2.2 points per dollar!

Furthermore, when you apply for the credit card, you’ll receive 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 or more in the first three months of card membership.  The annual fee is $89, but your first year is free, and the usual host of card benefits like insurance, purchase protection, and customer service is included.

Link: Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®


British Airways Visa

This credit card makes noise on the internet every now and then, due to its 100,000 mile sign up bonuses that are often offered.  Today, though, you’re stuck with 50,000 miles for spending $2,000 in the first three months on the credit card. Still not a bad bonus, but you may want to wait it out until the 100,000 offer comes back.

This card earns Avios miles, which can be very valuable when used for short-haul domestic flights on American Airlines or US Airways (partner airlines of British Airways).  You’ll have to pay tall fees and surcharges for longer haul flights.  Coupled with their 2.5 Avios for every dollar spent with British Airways, this is a great offer for any person who frequently finds themselves in London or will take advantage of the shorter domestic flights.  The annual fee for this card is $95.


Chase Sapphire Preferred

Everyone who owns this credit card loves it (including me!).  For one, it’s made of metal, so you’ll receive compliments from everyone who touches it.  No, really, I’ve probably received fifty comments about the card over my time with Chase.

It’s sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles is a great start in its Ultimate Rewards program, since it has great transfer partners like British Airways, Southwest, and United.  You’ll also receive 7% of the points you earn as a bonus at the end of the year.  You’ll receive two points per dollar at restaurants, and one point per dollar on everything else.  The annual fee is steep at $95, but that is waived for the first year.


The BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card

With no annual fee, you’ll want to take a look at this card from Bank of America.  A sign-up bonus of 10,000 points when you spend $500 is available, and you’ll earn 1.65 points per dollar spent, since you receive a 10% bonus each year on the 1.5 points per dollar you earn.

So, if you’re not interested in paying an annual fee but still want to earn travel rewards and enjoy no foreign transaction fees, this might be a match for you.  This card works similar to the Barclaycard Arrival (which has a comparable no annual fee version here: Barclaycard ArrivalTM World MasterCard®) when you’re ready to redeem your rewards.



These are just a few of the cards out there that don’t have foreign transaction fees.  It’s important to look at whenever you’re applying for a credit card, even if you don’t do international traveling often.  You don’t want to add a straight 3% to your trip costs, and, in our internet economy, if you make a purchase online from a foreign retailer to ship to your home, you may incur a fee!  But, stick with any of the cards above, and you’ll be safe.

It’s also important to mention that all of the cards mentioned above, besides the Barclaycard Arrival, offer smart chip technology. This can come in handy, since many countries don’t used the ‘swipe’ method of transactions we’re used to here in the States.  I recommend having at least one credit card with a smart chip if you’ll be traveling internationally!

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How to Choose the Right Low Interest Credit Card

Look around you and you will see tons and tons of offers for low interest credit cards. They seem to be everywhere—on your computer screen, on your mobile device, in your mailbox, on the television, everywhere you look. Seems like it should be simple to get a low interest credit card—and, while it is not necessarily difficult to get one, you should put a little work into finding the best one for your needs because they are not all necessarily created equal.

We have put together a list of questions that you can ask yourself as you review and compare low interest credit cards, so that you can figure out which one fits.

How Long Does the Introductory APR Last?

Most low interest credit cards are going to offer a 0% APR introductory rate. Find out how long this period lasts. Be sure to check on what the interest rate will be once the introductory period ends. If you look, you can probably find a card that offers 0% for up to 18 months, which is great, assuming the rate doesn’t jump too high after that. Read the fine print, because the credit card issuer may only have to give you two weeks’ notice if they are raising your interest rate. Also, be sure to note whether or not there are any additional fees to get the longer 0% APR.

Use this online calculator to get an idea of how long it will take you to pay off your balance, with either the 0% APR or whatever the APR will ultimately be.

Are There Late Fees or Will the APR Change With Penalties?

Credit card companies are, unfortunately, notorious for sneaking in fees and penalties. Low interest credit cards are especially well known for this. After all, they want to make a buck, and they won’t make much when they offer you 0% APR for a very long time. They often make up for this by assessing stiff penalties in the form of late fees, or jack your APR up to a high rate if you miss a payment deadline.

Again, reading the fine print to see if there are any activation fees, high balance transfer fees, late payment penalties, penalty APR rates, or even inactivity fees is going to be important, unless you don’t mind spending extra money!

What Will You Use the Card For?

Do you plan to make a one-time large purchase with the low interest rate credit card and then have an extended period of time to pay for the purchase? Or, will you be using it as an everyday card? Maybe you are trying to pay off a higher interest rate card using a balance transfer?

Determining how long you think you will use the credit card, and whether or not you are going to pay it off every month, are important factors when choosing a low interest rate credit card. If you are going to keep the card for longer than the introductory 0% APR lasts, then you want to ensure you are not going to pay tons of money in interest over the long run. Figure out what the average interest rate will be for the time that you plan to keep the low interest credit card.


Nobody likes surprises, especially when it comes to their credit cards. When you carefully compare the options, and read the fine print, you can make an educated decision as a consumer, and protect not only your money, but possibly your credit score, too! Take the time to consider the various options, and, if something seems too good to be true, then remember that it probably is!

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Which Credit Cards Offer the Longest 0% APR?

Let’s talk about the credit cards with the longest 0% intro APR period.

When you sign up for a new credit card, often one of the most enticing perks is having a 0% introductory APR.

A promotional APR rate is often used to lure customers to sign up for a particular credit card. According to federal laws, the promotional rate cannot be offered for less than 6 months. Promotional rates can be simply lower than the current rates offered, or they may actually be 0%. A 0% APR introductory rate can be very enticing, as it usually means that as long as you make your minimum payments on time, you will not pay any interest during the entire promotional period.

There are many cards that offer a 0% APR as an introductory rate, we will compare two cards, the Citi Simplicity and the Discover it. Currently, both of these cards offer a 0% APR for 18 months, which is an excellent benefit. Although these cards have little else in common, both may make for great choices when you are looking for your next credit card.

Citi Simplicity Offers No Fees, Ever!

Not only can you get a 0% APR for 18 months—on all purchases and balance transfers—but you can avoid paying any annual fees, penalties or late fees, ever, when you use this card. One the introductory rate expires, you will pay an interest rate that ranges from 12.99%-21.99%, depending on your credit score. The Citi Simplicity charges 3% on all balance transfers.

Never having to pay fees makes the Citi Simplicity a very attractive option! Plus, the promo rate applies for the full 18 months for both purchases and balance transfers, meaning you can save a ton in interest, especially if you don’t make it a habit to pay off your credit card in full each month.

Link: Citi Simplicity Credit Card Review


Discover It Offers Great Cash Back Rewards!

Discover has a great option with its latest offering, the Discover it credit card. This credit card offers an amazing 18 month introductory APR of 0% on balance transfers, and 6 months on all purchases. Discover charges 3% on all balance transfers made. In addition to this great promotional APR, the Discover it card is a cash back rewards card that allows you to earn 1% cash back on all purchases made with the card, with bonus categories that rotate quarterly and offer 5% cash back! Just as an example, the current categories this quarter that qualify for the 5% rate include home improvement stores, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and many furniture stores.

At the end of the introductory period, your APR will range from 10.99%-21.99%, depending on your creditworthiness. Other benefits offered from Discover it include a free FICO credit score listed on every statement. This can really help you stay on top of your credit score, and be nearly instantly aware of any changes—good or bad—that happen to your credit score.

There is no annual fee for this credit card, and no penalty fees assessed. You won’t be charged a late payment fee for the first late payment, but after that you will be charged up to $35 for late payments.

Apply Now: Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer


Comparing the Citi Simplicity and Discover It Cards

In summary, both the Citi Simplicity and the Discover it credit cards offer terrific benefits, including a long promotional 0% APR. Discover it has a shorter period of 0% on purchases, but both offer a full 18 months of 0% on balance transfers, making either a great choice if you are trying to pay off credit card debt that is currently at higher interest rates. With the added perk of getting cash back rewards (up to 5% in certain categories), the Discover it has to come out a little bit ahead, in our opinion. What do you think?

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The Best No-Interest Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Looking for the best 0 APR Balance Transfer credit card?  We can help!

Sometimes, we accrue a balance on a credit card.  It’s rough, if it gets too big.  And, on top of it all, you may start paying interest on the interest that you have on the credit card.  It can be a very stressful situation for someone, but luckily, there is a solution.  It is often a smart idea to search for a credit card that offers no balance transfer APR in order to buy you time to pay off your card.  You may still have to pay a straight transfer fee, but overall, it will save you money.  So, let’s explore some of those credit cards available to you, shall we?

Discover it

This credit card is a powerful beast.  Not only does it feature no annual fee, no overlimit fees, or foreign transaction fees, but it offers 0% Intro APR for the first 18 months of card membership (it switches to 22.99% after that).  A fee of 3% applies when the balance is initially transferred.  Furthermore, your intro APR on purchases for 6 months is 0% as well!  You’ll earn 5% cashback in a series of rotating bonus categories, and 1% cashback on every other purchase.

Citi Simplicity Card

Another ‘no annual fee’ credit card with no APR for a time on balance transfers is the Citi Simplicity Card.  For the first 18 months, your APR will be 0%.  After that, it will change to 12.99%-21.99%, based on your credit worthiness.  Furthermore, the fee for transfers is 3% or $5, whichever is greater, so be sure to do the math to make sure any transfer makes financial sense.  It says it in the name, but the Citi Simplicity Card is really that- simple.  There are no bonus points or rewards offered with this card.


Chase Slate

Another ‘no frills’ credit card, the Chase Slate is great for someone who absolutely needs to transfer a large balance.  First, there is no APR for purchases or balance transfers for the first fifteen months of cardmembership.  Furthermore, there is no annual fee.  But, the real bonus is the fact that there is no balance transfer fee associated with the card!  Yes, that’s right- you could possibly pay off your entire balance without paying another dime of interest.  This could really help save some people from financial distress!  After fifteen months, the APR returns to either 12.99%, 17.99% or 22.99%.



These credit cards are some of the best available on the market for people that needs to transfer a balance from one credit card to another.  The Discover it card is a great option for those that would like to earn some rewards while they make purchases on their new credit card.  The Citi Simplicty card is great for those that want a simple card with low APR after 18 months.  And, the Chase Slate card is the winner in this category, with its fee-free offer of balance transfers and APR.  But, it seems to me that each one of these cards offers at least something to the consumer.  So, which one tickles your fancy?

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Category Bonus Comparison: Discover it vs. Chase Freedom

Everyone loves a little extra bit of moolah in their pocket, especially in the form of cash back on your credit cards!  The Discover it® and Chase Freedom® credit cards do just that, in the form of their famous bonus categories that change each quarter.

These categories, a rotating list of stores and types of purchases, offers up 5% bonuses for the first $1,500 in purchases each quarter.  After that, the bonus will resort back to just 1% cash back for each dollar you spend in the category.  Let’s compare the two cards’ categories, and see which ones is right for you, shall we?


Discover It

As stated above, Discover It has four rotating categories each year.  This year began with restaurants and movie theaters.  Any purchase the company considered was a restaurant or a movie theater, you earned 5% cash back (up to $1,500).  This category ended on March 31st.

The current category that we are in is ‘home improvement stores, furniture stores, and Bed, Bath and Beyond.’  Think of it as sort of a spring cleaning event for you!  This quarter ends June 30th.

In the future quarter, from July 1st until September 30th, we only have a vague ‘Summer Fun’ category to go off of at this time.  In 2013, this category featured 5% cash back on gasoline purchases, no doubt to help families on their summer road trips.  Only time will tell which shops we will earn 5% cash back on this year, but check back here in May for the details!

The final quarter for this card is also just as vague, dubbed ‘Holiday Shopping.’  In 2013, this category was online holiday shopping, and featured, iTunes, and facebook purchases.  I would imagine that similar stores will offer up 5% cash back October through December this year!


Chase Freedom

The current Chase Freedom categories are similar, but with some key differences that you will want to take note of.  The past quarter from January until March was gas stations, movie theaters, and Starbucks stores.  In the current quarter, restaurants and Lowe’s home improvement stores are in the 5% bonus categories.  You must activate by June 14th, 2014 to reap the benefits!

In the summer months of July until September, you’ll have gas stations and Kohl’s stores.  You can begin activation on June 15th, 2014 for this category.

Finally, during the holiday months of October until December, Amazon, Zappos, and select department stores (click here for a list) will be offered up.  You can activate that category on September 15th, 2014.



So, which card is best for you in 2014?  It’s hard to say, since we don’t know exactly which stores Discover It will offer in the last two quarters of 2014.  We do know, however, all of the Chase stores.  I would say that both cards offer similar benefits, so it’s all about which categories appeal most to you and make the most sense for your personal spending.

Though we can’t yet see Discover it’s upcoming categories, looking at last year’s offerings should help you with what to expect.  It’s hard to go wrong with either card, as they both have solid benefits, including no annual fee and the ability to earn 5 points per dollar!

What do you think?  Which card tickles your fancy?

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The Best 0% APR Credit Cards in 2014

Looking for the best 0% intro APR credit card out there?  We’ve got you covered.  Sometimes, you get a little ahead of yourself with the credit card spending.  A lot of times, it may make sense to seek out a card offering 0% APR on balance transfers, to save you the interest you may be paying every month.  Some of you may also want to make a big purchase, and pay it off over a longer period of time without interest.  Here are some great new cards available for you today!


Chase Freedom Card

With your 15 months of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers (then a variable APR of 13.99%-22.99%) and cash back rewards, you can’t go wrong with the Chase Freedom card.  You’ll earn 5% cash back on several bonus categories that change every three months, up to $1,500 in each quarter.  Every other purchase earns a normal 1% cash back.  With no annual fee and a $100 sign up bonus on $500 in spend over three months, you can’t go wrong with the Chase Freedom card!


Chase Slate

You may have never heard of the Chase Slate, which gives you 15 months as opposed to 18 months of 0% APR on purchases with the Citi Simplicity card. A variable APR of 12.99%, 17.99%, or 22.99%, depending on credit worthiness, will find you after 15 months.

There is no balance transfer fee for the first 60 days. It’s the only card that features both a 0% intro period and no balance transfer fee. This is a good deal, because while other cards will not charge you interest on your transfer, but still charge you a hefty balance fee, the Chase Slate does the opposite.  If you can pay down your debt quickly, this might be a better option for you.


Discover it

We love the Discover it card over here at Card Watchdog.  It has it all, like 14 months of 0% interest on purchases and transfers, 5% cash back on rotating categories (up to $1,500 per category), and no penalty APRs or foreign transaction fees.  Your first late payment fee is even forgiven!  We also love that Discover has recently added your free monthly FICO credit score on your monthly statement, making staying on top of your score that much easier.  Add the benefit of no annual fee and you have a solid no hassle rewards card.

Apply: Discover it®


Citi Simplicity

With 18 months of 0% interest on purchases and transfers, which is unheard of for other credit cards, it also charges no annual fee, nixes late fees and penalty APRs and has only a 3% transfer fee for balance transfers. For those of you that might be a bit more forgetful than the rest of us, you might want to consider the Citi Simplicity card.


Barclaycard Arrival

I love this card for the travel rewards, at 20,000 – 40,000 miles (depending on which version you get) when you spend $1000 or $3000 in the first 90 days of card membership.  Simply put, the no annual fee version earns lesser rewards and the annual fee version earns more rewards, so it’s all up to you which card makes more sense for you! Both cards offer 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.  Add in 1 to 2 points on every purchase you make, and you’ve got a killer credit card!



We hope the above analysis was a good primer on some 0% APR credit cards on the market, available for you today.  You really can’t go wrong with any of these cards. It’s all about assessing your own spending and goals to see which one is right for you. So, which one tickled your fancy?  Did we miss any that you’ve enjoyed using?  We want to hear about it!  Comment below!

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Credit Card Rewards: Points vs. Cash Back

There’s something for everyone in most cases, and when it comes to rewards credit cards, this certainly applies. With so many various options, from miles and points to cash back, choosing what will work best for you is important. This decision should be based on several different factors, and, for some, there will not necessarily be a clear choice.

In these cases, having more than one card is certainly acceptable, but when you focus on the advantages of one card over another you can often truly maximize the benefits and perks! Here are some important questions and tips that should help you determine which kind of credit card rewards are for you.

Are You a Frequent Traveler?

Those who travel frequently for business or pleasure may benefit the most from credit cards that offer miles, or fixed or transferable rewards points for travel. A great option is the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®. When you can redeem your points toward free flights, hotels, and other travel expenses, this can be a huge money saving benefit. In addition, many of the cards that are focused on travel have no international transaction fees, meaning you won’t pay more for purchases you make while abroad.

Are You More of a Homebody?

For those who travel infrequently or rarely, then earning cash back on your everyday purchases is definitely a more attractive option. When you can earn up to 5 points per dollar on certain purchases, whether it is groceries or gas, you can build up a nice little refund for yourself to apply to your statement balance or get as a cash refund in the mail. We like the Discover it®, especially because it also has no annual fee!

Will You Lose Your Rewards Points?

If you’re not great at keeping tabs, it is important to use a credit card that has no expiration date for the travel miles or points. But as long as you have activity in the loyalty program or credit card, this shouldn’t be a real issue. But, if you do end up earning a ton of points and then they expire before you are able to redeem them, then they are, well, worthless. (ps. Our Card Watchdog software does help you stay on top of things like this and it’s FREE.)

So, if you are not the personality to stay on top of your points, you should probably opt for cash back instead. Cash back is not only less likely to expire, but often much easier to redeem in the form of a statement credit.

Cash Back is More Flexible

Unless you already know that you are going to build them up quickly—and then use them before you lose them, then cash back could be a better bet for you. Getting the cash back means you can certainly still spend it on a great vacation—but you could also spend it on other expenses, freeing up the money you need to pay for the trip. While you will still earn cash back rewards on the money you spend on your trip, this can take another little bite out of your expenses.

Points Can be More Valuable

Transferable points (not fixed value points) and miles can offer incredible value – often more value than you’ll get with just cash back. For example, you can book a round-trip ticket to Europe for 60,000 United miles – the cost of this ticket would easily be over $1,000.

60,000 fixed value points, like Capital One Venture points, would only be worth $600 in travel. And obviously, $600 in cash back would only be worth $600 in travel. But by using miles (or transferable points like Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred), you’re getting hundreds of dollars more value!

Bottom Line: If cash back wins for simplicity, then points/miles win for more potential value. It’s up to you to decide which one makes more sense for you!

Extra tips:

If Something Seems to Good to Be True, Then it Probably Is

Always know what you are signing up for, and understand the reality of being able to use the rewards that you earn, whether you opt for travel miles, reward points or cash back. It does make a difference! Make sure you consider all of the other benefits and expenses, such as 0% introductory APR offers, rotating categories, annual fees, transaction fees and more so that you can make the most out of your credit options.

Pay Off Your Balances!

One final word of caution to credit card users—when you are trying to spend lots of money earning rewards, make sure you are paying off your balances each month. If you are paying interest on those purchases, the net reward or return that you will receive will end up being far less—and could even end up costing you money if you pay a lot in interest fees!