Slide Show | September 2011

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Best Rewards Credit Cards, 2011

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Of the 1.4 billion credit card solicitations mailed in the first quarter of this year, 80% were for cards with rewards programs, according to Mintel, a market-research firm. Issuers are even dangling cash bonuses to entice you to sign up or use their cards.

What’s in it for them? Cardholders tend to spend more with rewards cards than with plain-vanilla credit cards. And if you don’t pay your balance in full each month, issuers reap hefty interest charges. Rates on rewards cards have dropped slightly, to an average of 13.9% annually, but the extra cost of paying interest would probably offset any rewards you’d earn on your purchases.

But if you pay off your balance every month, rewards cards can be very rewarding -- especially if the card you choose complements your spending habits. The following cards are among the best of the rewards cards. We calculated what the rebate would be, assuming you charge $20,000 annually to each card and your spending tracks patterns in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey. Unless otherwise noted, there’s no cap on points you can earn and points do not expire.

Best Rewards Credit Cards, 2011
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