Why You Should Compare Credit Card Rewards Programs CarefullyMarch 19, 2011 - 8:42 am
In the past, credit card rewards were plentiful and could prove to be highly beneficial to your wallet. But since the changes in the credit card industry and with the implementation of the CARD Act, rewards programs are not what they used to be. It not only pays to compare several programs from different card issuers, it is imperative to read the fine print for all programs before committing to one.
Why Are There Rewards Programs?
Essentially, credit card programs that reward customers were created as a way to keep the competitive edge from one provider against another. The rewards programs of the past were varied and could be a great incentive for interested consumers. It was a way for card providers to hook new customers and convince clients of other providers to make a switch.
However, with all the changes and cutbacks in the economy, credit card rewards programs are no longer what they used to be. Credit card companies have been limited to what they can now charge their card holders for different services and as a result they have lost money.
Growing Cut Backs Affect Consumers
Since the inception of the CARD Act last year, credit card providers have pulled back on what incentives they are able to offer to consumers. In the past, credit rewards points can be doubled or tripled by making simple purchases at the right location but now many limitations have been imposed on the card holder. It can be tougher to find the right rewards program that offers everything you want and that fits your lifestyle.
While credit card companies still need to offer these incentive programs to keep existing customers happy and new customers interested, you can expect to have to dig a little deeper to find the right choice for you. Comparison shopping for the right credit card offer with a good rewards program is necessary these days. Otherwise you end up with a credit card that offers no additional benefits for your spending habits.
Finding the Best Incentives
The easiest way to compare credit card rewards programs is to consider how you live your life and spend your money. Based on how you use your credit card normally, you should be able to come up with a few programs that meet your needs. You’ll then need to compare the rewards program itself and make sure you select the best one available to you. Make sure you understand the features and limitations you are being offered and compare that with the other programs. The way to be clear on your expectations is to read the fine print on the credit card agreement which outlines how incentives work.
For some consumers, straight cash back may be the way to go. For others, free airline rewards are what is the most beneficial. However you decide to go with rewards programs, you need to also realize there is more that goes along with. You should never sign up for a credit card offer based solely on bonus points. You need to also go over the part of the contract that discusses the APR, grace periods, penalties, and annual fees so you know exactly what you are obligated yourself to contractually.
While credit card rewards programs are getting slimmer, there are still plenty of offers that are still a really good deal and can save you money or earn you extra incentives. The trick is to practice some patience and explore what is out there before making a decision. Once you sign up for one offer, it is not wise to close the account soon after simply because you found a better deal.