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What to Expect from a Credit Card Rewards Program

The first thing you can expect when looking for a credit card rewards program is a multitude of rewards. Take the time to shop around before picking a rewards program.

There are cards that are geared towards small businesses, travelers, students and people that work and live near home. The most popular rewards are cash back on purchases or airline miles, but you can find programs that reward you with store gift cards to exercise equipment to iPads and other electronics. There are also cards that allow you to redeem points for other services such as hotels and rental cars. For those that travel often, cards that reward customers with frequent flyer miles typically offer generous rewards while benefiting from other travel discounts (such as hotels and rental cards) when using the card.

Just about every credit card company (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and more) has one or more credit cards that come with rewards programs. Often stores offer credit cards that reward you with purchases from that store. Sometimes you are limited to spending money in that store, other times you can use the card on purchases anywhere.

Typically most reward programs operate using a point based system by rewarding you a certain amount of points for every dollar your spend ($1 spent equals 1 reward point). With most rewards, they tend to become cheaper as the point level rises. For example a $50 gift card may cost 6000 points and a $100 gift card may cost 10,000. Often a card will have a bonus period that allows you to earn additional points on specific (or all) purchases for a predetermined time. You should also expect your card to provide you with additional benefits such as rental car insurance and other travel benefits.

Customer support should be easily accessible. If an issue arises with your credit card, you want to be able to access customer support 24 hours a day and have quick prompt service. You want a card that monitors transactions and notifies you when a purchase seems out of the ordinary. They should also provide you with zero liability coverage for any unauthorized transactions. You should also expect to be able to check and pay your balance easily using an online banking system.

Although interest rates may vary, most people can expect to be approved for a credit card with a rewards program. People with low or no credit are being approved for credit cards with limited maximum balances and high interest rates. Those with good credit history usually receive the lower advertised interest rates.

No two rewards programs are exactly the same, so be sure to research and read the fine print before signing up. Use independent reviews of the credit cards to see how their rewards programs compare. With the variety of credit card rewards programs available, you can expect to find a program that will work for you.

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