Getting to know the basics of credit card rewards

Thursday, October 7th, 2010
Updated: October 7th, 2010
The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.

Although credit cards rewards programs have huge benefits, there are certain hidden costs that negate all the savings and rewards that are offered. Each credit card has its own unique reward programs and each reward will benefit different customers in different ways. For instance, a person who travels extensively will benefit from the travel rewards and the travel rewards credit cards would be far more valuable than for someone who travels just occasionally. Hence it would be wise to do an evaluation as to which card offers would be ideally suited for an individual.

The first point of consideration is the interest rate. Cards that have rewards programs carry a higher rate of interest than those that don`t and sometimes the interest rates could be double. Even in cases of regular payments and leaving no balances on the card, the interest rate could still be high in case of unavoidable circumstances where a part of the balance is due.

The second point to take note of is the account fees. Rewards credit cards normally charge account fees also. These account fees will usually occur as higher transaction fees, annual fees that are more than average, fees on foreign transaction, or an increase in fees with regard to balance transfers. It would be worthwhile to consider the excess charges and then take a relook and try and figure out if the excess charges outweigh the benefits in terms of rewards.

Next is the value of the rewards, as the reward in itself varies from one card to another. While some cards may offer rewards on a spending of about $5000, there could be another card offering the same reward on a spending of about $50,000. While this could be overlooked in case the fees and the interest charged is less, but this cannot be overlooked if all the other charges are also on the higher side.

In case of redeeming the rewards there is a fee charged for the reward redemption also. While a percentage of the reward value may be charged as the redemption fee in some cases, in others the various cost factors such as shipping charges etc could be on the higher side. This could in turn negate the value of the rewards itself. So, one has to consider these things carefully before redeeming the rewards. In case the issuer fails to reveal all these hidden costs or charges, then in all probability the terms and conditions could be disadvantageous to the card holder.

All rates and fees, and other terms and conditions of the products mentioned in this article/post are actual as of the last update date but are subject to change. See the current products' Terms & Conditions on the issuing banks' websites.

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