How to Choose a Rewards Credit Card

Monday, November 14th, 2011

It feels good to be rewarded for something, especially when it is something you do on a daily basis such as spending. While many banks have done away with the rewards programs attached to debit cards, credit card rewards programs are becoming more and more generous with the perks they are availing creditworthy cardholders.

There are a few rules of thumb when it comes to choosing which rewards credit card to apply for. Firstly, you want to pick a card with a program that allows you to earn rewards with the least amount of effort, which means that ideally, you rewards credit card will match your spending habits and allow you to pile up perks without having to go out of your way.

For instance if you drive frequently, look for a card that offers bonuses for buying gas at the station you habitually frequent. If you find yourself making several trips to the grocery store each week, consider a card that offers a higher cashback percentage rate for such purchases. If you do a lot of shopping at a specific retailer or department store, see if they offer a credit card that will earn you rewards such as a discount on your bill each time you spend money there. If you travel a lot and tend to use one airline more often than others, find a rewards card that ears you bonus miles for that particular carrier.

If you are able to match your rewards card with a specific retailer that is already within your shopping circuit you will likely earn rewards that are bigger than those offered by cards that are non-specific. The best part is that you will get perks for simply doing what you normally do without having to alter your spending habits.

Non-specific rewards cards tend to be fairly similar, most offering 1 or 2% cash back on all purchases across the board with some sort of sign on bonus. The bigger the bonus, the more restrictions are involved so make sure you have a complete understanding of the card’s terms and conditions before applying.

Convenience isn’t the only reason why you should pick a rewards program that fits into your current spending behavior. The simple fact of the matter is that there are no rewards offered by any credit card that make it worthwhile to buy things you wouldn’t normally buy. This means that it doesn’t make sense to spend money on things just in order to earn rewards. That cost and additional effort it requires to shop at a different store or meet a minimum spending balance offset any reward benefits.

Finally, the rewards program attached to your credit card matters very little if you are carrying a balance from month to month. If that is the case, the most important feature of your credit card is not its rewards program but its APR. Rewards cards typically have higher interest rates than non-rewards cards, and it does not matter how many airline miles you earn or hotel points if you are paying a lot in interest on your outstanding balance. This means that a rewards credit card – of any type – is most beneficial for people who are able to pay off their credit card balance, in full, every single billing cycle.

Latest Credit Card Rewards Guides

The One Thing You Need To Know About Rotating Rewards Credit Cards July 18th, 2017

If you have a cash back credit card, chances are it’s one that offers you 5% back in certain spending categories that change each quarter. These types of cards are some of the most popular cash back cards, and for good reason. It’s an easy way to earn cash back in different ...
Continue »

Unexpected Ways to Earn Credit Card Rewards May 17th, 2017

Double and triple points can boost your rewards balance, while rotating categories of 5% back often let cardmembers earn up to $75 cash back per quarter.
Continue »

How a Travel Rewards Card is Different From Other Rewards Cards December 28th, 2016

Did you know that a credit card could do much more for you than simply pay for purchases? A credit card is a tool, not just a payment method, and if you choose the right tool, you’ll be able to do more than you ever thought possible.
Continue »

5 Unexpected Perks of Rewards Credit Cards June 15th, 2016

Rewards credit cards are great for earning airline miles, cash back, and points to use in a variety of ways. But there are some benefits to cash back cards that you might not know about. Here are five unexpected perks that your rewards credit card might offer you
Continue »

How to Boost Your Credit Card Rewards Balance February 17th, 2015

If you’re an active user of credit card rewards, you may think you already know how they work. You spend money on your card and collect the points, dollars, or cash back that accrue from each purchase. Then, after saving up until you have enough to redeem, you choose how to ...
Continue »

Best Credit Offer
Discover it® - Cashback Match™
Check off the cards you want to compare. Then click the Compare link to go to the comparison table.
Consumer Rating: 5 / 5
Horizon Card Services Horizon Gold Credit Card
Copyright © 2001-2017 All Rights Reserved.

* The webpage is a free service and an information resource for credit cards and financial products and services available to eligible United States consumers. does not offer any warranties and is not a direct service. There are no guarantees for approval or offers when applying for a credit card. Please refer to the application if you would like more information on each credit card. When you click "Apply" for a particular credit card, please take the time to review the terms and conditions of the product/service at the issuer's website. All logos on the website are property of their respective owners.

Disclaimer: This editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all info is presented without warranty. Consult a card's issuing bank for terms & conditions. makes every effort to keep information up to date and accurate. However, the information regularly changes and is presented without warranty. Therefore, we strongly recommend all our readers to visit the credit card application page by clicking "Apply Online!" button to review the detailed credit card's terms and conditions. Note that may be compensated by the credit card issuers when the readers apply for a credit card through this site. is an independent, advertising-supported website which receives compensation from the credit card issuers and companies whose offers appear on the site. Compensation may impact how and where products appear on our site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear on the site pages. does not review or list all available financial or credit offers.

Disclosure: Not an access card.

User Generated Content Disclaimer: These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.