Loyalty is often a good thing, but not necessarily when it comes to your credit card. If you’ve been using the same credit card for several years, you may be leaving a lot of cash rewards on the table, especially if your preferred credit card doesn’t pay any rewards at all.
Cash rewards credit cards are the best they’ve ever been. There’s no reason you shouldn’t earn rewards on spending you’re going to anyway. Here are four good reasons you should have a cash rewards credit card in your wallet.
Earning rewards is better than not earning rewards.
The basic benefit of a credit card is that you can make purchases now and pay for them later. Many credit cards come with some other perks like fraud protection, extended warranty, and price protection. If you never use them, then you’d almost be better off just using cash.
And if you only use a debit card for your purchases, then you earn nothing and get almost no extra protection or benefits on your purchases.
With a cash rewards credit card, you earn cash rewards on some or all the purchases you make on your card. Some cash rewards credit cards pay a flat rate of cash back on all purchases, others pay more cash back on purchases you make in certain categories. Either way, the goal is to earn something for your credit card purchases.
You can maximize the rewards you earn by using your credit card for all your spending and then paying your full balance at the end of the month with the money from your checking account. Just make sure you tuck your debit card away so you don’t overspend.
The signup bonus is unbeatable.
One of the best things about cash rewards credit cards right now are the signup bonuses. If you’re not familiar, a signup bonus is a one-time incentive credit card issuers pay out to new cardholders. A signup bonus will be something like a $150 statement credit or $200 cash back.
To earn the signup bonus, you’ll have to spend a certain amount of money on your credit card within the first 90 days or three months of opening your account. Cash advances and balance transfers don’t count – you have to make actual purchases. Once you’ve met the spending threshold, the signup bonus is posted to your account.
If you’re already planning to make a large purchase – a new set of furniture or a pricey summer vacation – putting it on your credit card will help propel you towards your signup bonus.
You can reduce your balance with a statement credit.
You don’t have to use your rewards for purchases, you can use them to help you pay off your credit card. By applying the cash you’ve earned as a statement credit, you can reduce your actual credit card balance, leaving you with less to pay off.
The statement credit doesn’t take the place of your actual credit card payment. Be sure you make at least the minimum payment listed on your credit card statement. Otherwise, your credit card issuer might hit you with a late fee.
You can use your rewards to save money or help afford airfare.
If you let your rewards accumulate, they can really make a difference. You can use them for holiday shopping or for wedding or graduation gifts. Honestly, however you can spend cash, you can use rewards.
Those who’ve been struck with wanderlust know how difficult it can be to cover travel expenses for all the places you want to go. The ability to accumulate rewards on non-travel purchases can help you pay for your travel.
And since cash is universal, you don’t have to worry about booking restrictions, having to stick with a specific airline, or losing miles or points in frequent flier program conversions.
The main thing to remember with cash rewards credit cards – any rewards credit card – is that you must always pay your bill in full each month. If you’re paying interest, you’re not really earning anything. Avoid credit card fees by paying on time and staying away from transactions that incur fees, like cash advances and balance transfers.