How can you find the best rewards program for credit cards?
If you choose the right program, you can travel in first class, get airline-specific privileges, or stay in hotels for free.
The challenge is that with so many credit card rewards programs available, how do you choose? Read on to find out about the best rewards programs. You’ll also find out how to get the most out of your rewards program.
Chase Sapphire Rewards
The Chase Sapphire Rewards card has long been a favorite of many travelers. The reason why is because you get so much right off the bat. If you spend $4000 on your card in the first three months, you get 50,000 points.
The points can be used for hotel stays, flights, and shopping. That makes this card the most flexible out there.
It’s also very hard to qualify for. Before applying, make sure that your credit score is high, at least above 700.
Southwest Rapid Rewards
For fans of Southwest Airlines, this is a great option for you. You can easily rack up miles and a companion pass in the first few months of opening an account.
Alaska Air has an incredibly generous rewards program. Every year, you get a $99 companion pass, just for being a member. On top of that, you earn bonus miles when you sign up.
The only problem is that Alaska doesn’t fly to a lot of east coast destinations. On the West Coast, though, this card is a must-have.
Capital One Quicksilver
Don’t care about traveling? Let’s look at one of the top cash back cards, the Capital One Quicksilver card. Capital One has a generous signup bonus of $150 if you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months. You also can earn 1.5% in cash back on purchases.
That doesn’t sound like much, but if you spend $500 a month on your credit card and pay off the balance every month, you can earn $90 every year. That’s essentially free money for buying things like workout gear.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite
If you can spend $5000 in purchases in the first 90 days, you could earn a whopping 70,000 miles for travel.
It’s perfect for international travelers since there are no foreign transaction fees. It’s also set up with an international chip and pin.
How to Find the Best Credit Card for You
In order to get the best rewards program to approve you, you have to have good credit. Typically, credit card companies offer the top programs to highly qualified people.
They don’t want to sign people up, have them be credit risks, give them great rewards, and they fail t pay their bills. Ideally, your credit score should be in the 690-850 range.
When you start to use the card will you pay it off every month or carry a balance? Be brutally honest with yourself here. Don’t tell yourself now that you’re going to pay off your card every month if you plan on getting a big purchase.
This is important because you could wind up paying so much in interest, that it outweighs the costs of any rewards that you might get.
The next thing to consider is your spending habits. How much do you really spend each month and on what?
If you don’t really travel much and don’t plan to, an airline rewards card won’t be a good fit for you. In that instance, you might want to get a cashback card.
With a cashback card, you can use it for normal purchases like gas, groceries, utilities and pay the balance off every month.
Are You a Brand Loyalist?
For travelers or people who are loyal to a certain hotel chain or airline, it would make sense to get a rewards card for that brand.
If you fly Southwest airlines all the time or stay at a Marriot, then it would make sense to get those cards.
If you want to travel around the world, then get a card that has outstanding alliance programs that gives you plenty of options when booking your flight.
Before you sign up, you’re going to want to take a look at several programs to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Take your time and shop around, especially for cash back programs. They’re not created equal. Check out these reviews for cashback cards before making a decision.
Getting the Most Out of Your Card
You can have the best rewards card and rack up those miles and points. If you don’t cash them in, you’re just giving your money to your credit card company as a gift.
Did you know that 31% of people don’t cash in their rewards? Here’s how you can avoid being one of them.
Don’t wait to sign up for a rewards program or use your rewards. Banks are looking at the costs and revenue of rewards programs. Don’t be surprised to see a reduction in the number of benefits in the near future.
When you are ready to redeem your rewards program, it’s as simple as logging into your online account and going shopping. Chase, for example, has an Ultimate Rewards website where people can redeem their points online or transfer them to their preferred travel program.
The Best Reward Programs Are…
As you can see, there are many rewards programs out there. Some are just plain better than others. The best rewards programs have a low annual fee, a lot of perks, and a great reputation.
Deciding on the best rewards program for you is a very personal choice. You have to take into account your spending habits and travel pattern to find the right program. If you take that step, you can easily maximize your rewards.
Finally, don’t forget to use your rewards. You’ve done all the hard work, now enjoy it!
As you earn miles and plan your next getaway, you’ll want to read this article about getting travel insurance.