The best way to choose a rewards credit card is to narrow down your choices to what your credit score qualifies you for, then compare the rewards rates and costs of the remaining options. Next, pick the credit card with the highest expected rewards earnings, based on your spending habits, minus any annual fees.
In addition to net rewards value, there are many secondary features that might influence you to pick one card over another when choosing a rewards credit card. For example, you may want a card that gives a certain type of rewards, whether cash back, points or miles. You may also want qualities like no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, introductory financing on purchases, or perks with certain airlines or hotels. How long you want to keep the card and where you want to use it will factor into your decision as well.
How to Choose a Rewards Credit Card
Eliminate cards you can’t qualify for. Check your credit score, then narrow down your options to the cards you can qualify for with that score.
Decide what kind of rewards you want. It’s clear how much cash back rewards are worth. Cash back can’t be devalued, either, unlike points or miles. But many points and miles cards offer increased redemption value toward travel.
Think about where you want to use the card. Some credit cards give extra rewards at certain merchants or types of merchants, so you might look for a card that caters to your biggest purchase categories. Or you might want a card with a good flat earning rate on everything.
Consider how long you want to keep the card. If you’re only planning to keep the card for a year, initial bonuses and promotional financing will probably factor heavily into your decision. If you’re looking for a card for the long haul, terms like fees and ongoing rewards rates are more important.
Compare offers based on expected net value. Calculate the amount of rewards you expect to earn in a year or two with each card you’re considering, based on your spending habits. Then, subtract the cards’ annual fees to see which one provides the most value.
Compare perks. There are all kinds of features that might sway you to pick one rewards card over another. Some examples are $0 foreign transaction fees, big initial bonuses, 0% introductory APRs, credits for certain types of purchases, and airport lounge access.
At the end of the day, the best way to choose a rewards credit card is to figure out what you want out of a card and then pick the credit card offer that most closely matches that description. And you can use WalletHub’s editors’ picks for the best rewards credit cards as a starting point to do just that.
In addition, you can use WalletHub’s CardAdvisor tool to get credit card suggestions based on your answers to a few simple, anonymous questions. Or, you can create a free WalletHub account to get access to personalized credit card recommendations based on your WalletHub profile and credit report info.
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