Credit Cards Offering Better Rewards

Credit Cards

Credit Cards Offering Better Rewards

But look beyond juiced-up bonuses.


Credit card issuers are pitching potential customers with increasingly desirable rewards. In the final quarter of 2014, cash-back amounts and miles (or points) offered as initial bonuses on rewards cards rose 14% and 10%, respectively, over the same period a year earlier, says credit card research site

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As you sift through options, look at the broad picture rather than focusing on a juicy bonus, says Curtis Arnold, founder of card review site Pay close attention to the details on how to earn and redeem rewards. Some cards require you to spend a certain amount before rewards kick in, or they limit how much you can capture in rewards during a specified period. Travel rewards cards may restrict when you can use your miles, and miles may expire if you don’t maintain a minimum amount of account activity.

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Review your budget to determine what type of card fits your spending patterns, and do the math to see whether benefits outweigh any annual fee. If groceries and gas are a big slice of the pie, a card such as the American Express Blue Cash Preferred ($75 annual fee)—which pays 6% on up to $6,000 in supermarket purchases annually, 3% on gas and retail purchases, and 1% on everything else—may be a winner. The Citi Double Cash card pays 1% when you make any purchase and another 1% when you pay the bill.