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Best Rewards Credit Cards for Your Wallet

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If you’ve been carrying the same rewards credit card in your wallet for several years, there’s a good chance you could get a better deal. Card issuers are competing hard for your business by promising rebates on everyday purchases, with the potential to earn as much as 5% or 6% on staples such as groceries and gas, and up to 2% on every­thing else you buy. Many issuers are also dangling heaps of extra points or cash back—worth $500 or more, in some cases—if you spend a few thousand dollars in the first three months after opening the account. If your rewards card is earning just 1% on all purchases, “it’s time to shop around,” says Curtis Arnold, founder of CardRatings.com and BestPrepaid­DebitCards.com.

Using a rewards card usually makes sense only if you pay off your balance monthly; otherwise, interest payments will eat into earnings. Cards with annual fees can provide the most bountiful rewards, but you’ll have to do the math to decide whether your spending patterns will make the fee worth paying. To qualify for many of these cards, you must have good or excellent credit, with a minimum credit score of about 700 to 750. Take a look.

Typical annual rebates listed here are based on average spending figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and assume $22,000 a year in charges on the card. (Rebates don’t reflect annual fees waived the first year or sign-up bonuses.) Except where noted, rewards earnings don’t have caps or expiration dates. And none of the travel-focused cards charge foreign-transaction fees.

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