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5 Things to Know about Credit Card Rewards Programs
Credit card rewards programs have come a long way. At first, they were reserved for the elite credit cards, which mostly required high priced annual fees to participate. Now, most every credit card has a rewards program, and most every program doesn’t even require an annual fee. That’s the beauty of rewards programs now—they’ve become a major way for credit cards to compete for your business. So you should take advantage of your opportunities and get the best rewards program possible.
1. Experience Rewards
The first thing you should know about credit card rewards programs, though, is that today’s are not your grandmother’s rewards programs. Today, you can basically get anything that you want as a reward. This new system is sometimes called "experience rewards"—by which you can practically name anything as a reward to the credit card concierge, and he or she will tell you then how many rewards points you need.
2. Is it for You?
Of course, you should know whether or not you need such extravagance. If you don’t have the time or the inclination to, say, ask for an experience reward like an African safari, then these fancy cards are not for you. You may be better off looking for cash-back rewards programs, or a smaller scale travel rewards program with no annual fee.
3. Are You a Dedicated Customer to a Particular Brand?
A third aspect of rewards programs to know about are the very specific cards out there from, for example, a specific car maker or a theme park company. Usually, rewards from these programs go to free or discounted items from only that particular company. That makes these cards only worth it for very dedicated customers—someone who only buys GM cars, for instance, or someone who regularly visits Disney parks or stores.
4. Shop Around for the Best Deals
Whatever type of rewards program you pick, you should be sure you’re getting the best bang for your spent dollars. Many average programs offer 1 reward point for every dollar spent, or 1 percent or less cash back for every dollar spent. If you shop around for specials, however, you may be able to find even better deals in rewards programs.
5. Know the Ins and Outs of Your Deal
Lastly, never pass up the chance to beef up on your rewards points. Most cards offer chances to load up on points through special promotions. They may, say, offer triple rewards points during the first six months you have the card, or offer more cash back if you shop at specific stores or eat out at restaurants. Know these deals. Take advantage of them!
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