8 Best Rewards Credit Cards

8 Best Rewards Credit Cards

20
Hours
Researched
65
Products
Evaluated

After 20 hours of research evaluating 65 products, we picked Chase Freedom Unlimited® as our top choice.

Much like cash back credit cards, our best rewards credit card will give you some nice incentives for every purchase you make. It’s certainly a compelling idea - earning free travel in exchange for the purchases you’re already making.

The caveat? Earning rewards for spending money makes it more tempting to flash that plastic wherever you go.

Don’t be fooled by Tina Fey in those American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card commercials, treating everyone around her to various purchases because of the points she'll get in exchange.

We're gonna go ahead and make the assumption that you don’t have the millions she has to frivolously spend. However, if you choose one of the best credit cards for rewards wisely, the payoff can be nice.

SO:

When it comes to choosing the best rewards credit card to add to your wallet, you'll need to first learn the art of restraint. But know that using a reward credit card for your everyday purchases will benefit you over the long run.

After 20 hours of research evaluating 65 products, our top pick for best rewards credit card has plenty of advantages if you use the card wisely.

WHAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE?

In order to help you make the best one based on your lifestyle, we've compiled a list of the best rewards credit cards around.

Whether you're big on traveling, dining, or shopping, there is a perfect rewards credit card suited for you In fact, rewards vary from best cashback credit cards to best credit card for travel, so you can earn free airline trips and hotel stays. Who wouldn't be excited about that?

Here’s a list of the best rewards credit cards, which have been chosen through extensive research, based on a number of factors that include: signup bonus, ongoing rewards rate, redemption options, and annual fees.

Let's go!

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated September 3, 2019 but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

Why trust us: Faveable has spent thousands of hours researching, interviewing experts, and testing products to come up with carefully selected lists trusted by millions of consumers since 2013.

The Best Credit Card for Rewards

  • 8. Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
  • 7. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
  • 6. Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
  • 5. Capital One Venture Rewards Card
  • 4. Chase Freedom®
  • 3. Chase Sapphire Preferred®
  • 2. The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • 1. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Best Fixed Value Travel Rewards Card

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Best Fixed Value Travel Rewards Card: Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
Variable APR
95
Cash Advance APR
90
Rewards Rate
95
Annual Fee
90
Intro APR
90
Bonus Offers
95
Application Process
95
92 % Editor Score
97 % User Score
354 Clicks

Why People Love it

  • Earn a high rewards rate on all your purchases, plus a huge sign-up bonus
  • Get ultimate redemption flexibility for travel purchases
  • Expect miles back every time you redeem

You'll earn 2 miles per dollar on every purchase; no need to worry about bonus rewards categories. Also, no foreign transaction fee, plus international chip and pin capability.

Charges an annual fee, doesn't offer great ways to maximize your rewards, and no luxury perks.

Expert Ratings

Variable APR

9.5 / 10

18.24%, 22.24%, or 25.24%

Cash Advance APR

9.0 / 10

27.49%

Rewards Rate

9.5 / 10

Earn 2 miles per dollar spent, plus get 5% of your miles back every time you redeem.

Annual Fee

9.0 / 10

$89 (waived the first year) - so it could be worse.

Intro APR

9.0 / 10

None.

Bonus Offers

9.5 / 10

Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

(Normally, you can earn 60,000 miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — worth $600 in travel statement credits.)

Application Process

9.5 / 10

Apply online through the Barclays website.

Details:Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® »

Best Cash Back Card for Household Spending

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Best Cash Back Card for Household Spending: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Variable APR
14.74% - 25.74%
Cash Advance APR
26.99%
Rewards Rate
6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
Annual Fee
$95
Intro APR
0% on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months.
Bonus Offers
$200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
84 % Editor Score
82 % User Score
233 Clicks

Why People Love it

  • Offers great cash back on groceries, gas stations and department stores
  • Gives a solid introductory APR promotion
  • Provides travel benefits

  • Earn up to 6% cash back on bonus category purchases
  • Introductory APR for new cardholders
  • Charges a high annual fee
  • American Express isn't accepted widely overseas
Expert Ratings

Application Process: Apply online with American Express and get a response within 60 seconds.

Rewards: Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit services, and 1% back everywhere else.

Annual Fee: $95.

Details:Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express »

Best Rewards Credit Card Without Annual Fee

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

Best Rewards Credit Card Without Annual Fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
Variable APR
16.49% - 24.49%
Cash Advance APR
19.49% to 26.49%
Rewards Rate
1.5 points per dollar
Annual Fee
$0
Intro APR
0% on purchases and balance transfers for 12 billing cycles
Bonus Offers
20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases.
82 % Editor Score
85 % User Score
205 Clicks

Why People Love it

  • Bank of America customer? Earn bonus points on top of your bonus points!
  • Solid sign-up bonus
  • A high flat rewards rate

  • Offers bonus points for being a Bank of America customer
  • Allows flexible redemption options
  • No annual fee
  • The card doesn't have a great sign-up bonus compared with other travel credit cards
  • It's more restrictive than a straigh cash-back card
  • If you're a big spender, you could get better rewards elsewhere
Expert Ratings

Application Process: Apply online and get a response within 60 seconds.

Rewards: Earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases. Plus, you can get between 10% and 75% more rewards, depending on your relationship with Bank of America.

Bonus OffersReceive 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days, equivalent to $250 of travel credit.

Annual fee: None.

Details:Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card »

Best for Travel Rewards

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

Best for Travel Rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Card
90 % Editor Score
82 % User Score
278 Clicks

Why People Love it

  • A simple, no-fuss earning structure and redemption process
  • Flexible rewards: miles don't expire and there are no blackout dates
  • Nerdwallet lauds the card's “Stress-free 2% travel rewards”

This card stands out thanks to a high rewards rate of 2x the miles per $1 spent, plus flexible, user-friendly redemption options. Like many of the other best Capital One credit cards, the use of this card means no foreign transaction fees—a perfect pair with mileage-focused rewards points.

If you’re a frequent traveler, you might be deterred from this card because of the fact that it offers no airline specific perks. You may be better off with more specific airline credit cards. Furthermore, you won’t get a lot out of this credit card if you’re looking for general cash back benefits—this is a card whose strength lies in travel.

Application Process: Apply for your shiny new credit card on Capital One’s website and receive a decision within seconds.

Annual Fee: This credit card comes with a fee of $95 per year, but you’ll get a free pass during your first year of use.

Rewards and Redemption Options: There are two ways to claim rewards when using this card:

  1. Use Capital One’s platform to find hotel, flight & rental car deals.
  2. Use Capital One’s Purchase Eraser to get statement credit for your flight or hotel.

What makes Capital One’s Purchase Eraser different than the standard option is that there is no minimum for full travel statement credit options, just a 2,500 mile minimum for partial travel credit redemptions. This means that you can redeem at least $25 to help offset costs for more expensive tickets.

Bonus Offers: Capital One offers a one time bonus of 50,000 miles for every $3,000 spent in the first 3 months of account opening, or $500 in rewards.

Details:Capital One Venture Rewards Card »

Best Promotional APR Credit Card for Cash Back Rewards

Chase Freedom®

Best Promotional APR Credit Card for Cash Back Rewards: Chase Freedom®
Variable APR
16.24% - 24.99%
Cash Advance APR
26.24%
Rewards Rate
1.5%
Annual Fee
$0
Intro APR
0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
Bonus Offers
Earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
85 % Editor Score
85 % User Score
273 Clicks

Why People Love it

  • Unlimited cash-back rewards for qualifying purchases
  • Promotional APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers
  • No annual fee

  • Earn up to 5% cash back on everyday purchases
  • Offers a decent sign-up bonus
  • Charges a high balance transfer fee
  • The card's rewards program is somewhat complex
Expert Ratings

Application Process: Apply online and get a response within 60 seconds.

Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate; unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Bonus Offers: Score a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases during your first 3 months as a cardholder. Get $25 more when an authorized user makes their first purchase in the same 3 month period.

Annual fee: None.

Details:Chase Freedom® »

Best for Flexible Redemption

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Best for Flexible Redemption: Chase Sapphire Preferred®
Variable APR
17.49% - 24.49%
Cash Advance APR
26.49%
Rewards Rate
2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Annual Fee
$0 for the first year, then $95
Intro APR
n/a
Bonus Offers
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
86 % Editor Score
92 % User Score
379 Clicks

Why People Love it

  • Offers a large signup bonus compared to similar cards
  • You'll get a rewards boost if you use your points to book travel through Chase
  • Redeem points for airlines and hotels, without being tied to any specific companies

  • You can use points to book travel through Chase, get cash back or gift cards, or transfer them to one of Chase's travel partners
  • The card itself is metal instead of plastic
  • You'll get premium travel protections
  • Base rewards rate is mediocre
  • Charges an annual fee
Expert Ratings

Application Process: Online, through Chase.

Rewards: Earn 2X points on travel and dining purchases worldwide, and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere.

Bonus Offers: Earn 50,000 rewards points for every $4,000 spent for the first three months, which is $625 towards travel when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. If you add an authorized user who makes a purchase within the first 3 months, you’ll earn an additional 5,000 points.

Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $95.

 

Details:Chase Sapphire Preferred® »

Best Premium Card

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Best Premium Card: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Variable APR
n/a
Cash Advance APR
n/a
Rewards Rate
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. 1X points on all other purchases.
Annual Fee
$550
Intro APR
n/a
Bonus Offers
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
76 % Editor Score
95 % User Score
249 Clicks

Why People Love it

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Premium perks, including airline fee credits, Uber credits, and other travel perks
  • Bonus rewards on eligible airline and hotel purchases through Amex Travel

  • Luxury travel perks for the frequent traveler
  • Make up for the annual fee through benefits and rewards
  • Charges a sky-high annual fee
  • Offers a low rewards rate on everyday spending
  • The airline fee credit is limited to just one airline and only on incidental fees
Expert Ratings

Application Process: Apply online and get a response within 60 seconds.

Rewards: Earn 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel, and hotel stays booked through Amex Travel. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

APR: None; it's a charge card and requires you to pay your balance in full each month.

Annual Fee: $550.

Details:The Platinum Card® from American Express »

Best Overall Cash Back Credit Card

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Best Overall Cash Back Credit Card: Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Variable APR
16.24% - 24.99%
Cash Advance APR
26.24%
Rewards Rate
1.50%
Annual Fee
$0
Intro APR
0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months
Bonus Offers
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
86 % Editor Score
82 % User Score
268 Clicks

Why People Love it

  • If you have more than one Chase credit card, you can earn more by transferring points and splitting your spending between the two cards
  • Freedom and flexibility: the flat 1.5% cash back rate isn't limited to a specific category
  • The bonus offers are easily attainable and include a $150 bonus after spending $500 within 3 months after opening. Plus, you'll earn a $25 bonus after you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the same period.

There's a lot to love about the Chase Freedom Unlimited cash back credit card. It provides a high rewards rate with no nonsense in terms of rotating spending categories - just a flat 1.5% back on every purchase you make with the card. With responsible use, you won't have to pay a penny to use this card, as there's no annual fee. 

As far as actually getting the cash back you've earned, there's no minimum required for redemption, and cash back earnings can be redeemed for any amount (unlike the Chase Freedom card, which requires a minimum $20). On top of that, there's a relatively small minimum spend required to earn the lucrative account opening bonus.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card doesn't offer any specific bonus categories, due to its nature as a flat-rate cash back credit card. So those who know their high-spending categories (like groceries, for example) may want to opt instead for a cash back credit card that caters to their spending habits.

While going through this list, you'll also notice that it's not the highest flat-rate cash back card around. There's also a foreign transaction fee, so if you want a credit card specifically for international travel you should look into opening a credit card that caters specifically to travelers. 

Expert Ratings

Application Process: Online, over the phone, or at a branch. Online is the easiest method, but it's nice to know that you have options!

Annual Fee: No annual fee! How's that for maximizing the money in your pocket? Balance transfer fees are $5 or 5% of the transferred amount (whichever is greater).

APR: 0% for the first 15 months, then a variable APR of 16.24% to 24.99%. 

RewardsYou can redeem your rewards as cash back in the form of:

  • Bank account deposits
  • Statement credits

Or, you can also redeem rewards using the Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1 cent each and may be claimed through the Ultimate Rewards portal for:

  • General merchandise purchases made through the portal, or third-party retailers (such as Amazon)
  • Travel purchases 

Bonus Offers: Earn a $150 bonus after spending $500, within 3 months after opening a new account. Additionally, you can also earn $25 if you opt to add an authorized user of the card, and that person makes their first purchase within the 3 month period.

Details:Chase Freedom Unlimited® »

Faveable Expert Tips

With so many different credit card options available, it’s difficult to navigate the financial world and choose the card that’s right for you. That’s why we’ve compiled an extensive list of frequently asked questions about rewards credit cards to help you make an educated decision. Call us out in the comments section below if we forgot anything!

General Questions About Rewards Credit Cards

What is a rewards credit card?

A rewards credit card is a credit card that lets cardholders rack up rewards for qualifying purchases. There are different types of rewards credit cards, including cash-back rewards cards, airline rewards cards, and hotel rewards cards.

Is a rewards credit card the same as a customer loyalty card?

Nope, but people often confuse the two. Both card types generally let customers earn rewards, but there are some notable differences:

  • Customer loyalty cards do not offer a line of credit
  • Rewards credit cards report payment history to the credit bureaus
  • Rewards credit cards are often accepted by numerous retailers, but customer loyalty cards are only good at a specific store or chain
  • Customer loyalty cards do not require a credit check
  • You typically have to be at least 18 to get a rewards credit card, but loyalty cards are often available for shoppers as young as 13 (sometimes even younger!)

The good news is that you might not have to choose between a customer loyalty card and a rewards credit card. Your favorite retailer might accept both, and you might even be able to pair them with paper coupons and digital rebates.

Can I use a rewards credit card with a regular rewards card?

Unless the store forbids it, you can combine a rewards credit card with a customer loyalty card. Some gas stations and retailers encourage shoppers to pay with cash when they use their loyalty cards, so that might be a roadblock for you.

Rules may vary by location, so don’t get discouraged if one manager says no. You can try your cards at a different location or contact the corporate office to learn more about the policies regarding customer loyalty cards.

Do I need good credit to get a rewards credit card?

Usually, yes. Think of it like this: Good behavior gets rewarded in the financial world.

If you pay your bills on time, you get cards with low APRs and generous rewards. If your credit sucks, you get stuck with high interest rates and few, if any, reward options.

We’ve seen a couple cash-back credit cards (Credit One Cash Back Visa is a popular one) that don’t require good credit, but there simply aren’t many traditional rewards credit cards that approve folks with bad credit.

What is the best rewards credit card?

We’ve got seven favorites! You can find them in the review above, but we’ll also list the cards here:

  • Chase AARP Visa
  • Discover it Cashback Credit Card
  • American Express Blue Cash Preferred
  • BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card by American Express
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

The American Express Blue Cash Preferred is ideal for everyday purchases, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card, and BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card are excellent options for frequent travelers.

We encourage you to read our detailed review of each card above so you can figure out which one is best for your lifestyle.

Applying for Rewards Credit Cards

How do I apply for a rewards credit card?

All you need is a smartphone or a laptop! Just input some basic info about yourself, and you’ll have a decision in less than a minute if your application doesn’t require manual review.

Some credit card companies also let you apply over the phone, at a bank, or at a hotel or airline. It’s only necessary to submit one application, so don’t apply in person if you’ve already applied online.  

How can I increase my chances of getting approved for a rewards credit card?

Clean up your credit report! Rewards credit cards typically require you to have good or excellent credit, but you might be able to squeak by with fair credit if your debts are all fairly old.

Also, make sure you don’t job hop or home hop. Credit card companies like stability!

When can I reapply if I get rejected for a credit card?

Whenever you want, but we recommend waiting a minimum of 6 months, preferably much longer. Many financial experts suggest waiting at least 12 to 18 months.

The length of time you should wait depends on the reason(s) you were rejected for a rewards credit card. Have you fixed the issues that caused your rejection? Has your FICO score significantly increased since your rejection?

If the answer is no to either of those questions, you aren’t ready to reapply. A credit card company needs to see a considerable change in circumstances - in a good way, not a bad way - before they’ll consider approving your card.  

If you think you were unfairly rejected, contact the credit card company ASAP and ask for the reconsideration line. All of the major credit card companies have one, and speaking with a customer service agent who specializes in reconsideration might just help you score the card you want. If your phone skills aren’t the best, mail a detailed letter describing why you feel you’re a good candidate for the card you want.

Why does the company need 7 to 10 days to review my application?

There are lots of reasons this happens, but it basically boils down to this: The computer that evaluates applications can’t figure out what to do with yours. There might be a typo that’s throwing off the computer when it compares your app to your credit report, or you might have inputted data that set off a red flag.

When a credit card company requests additional time to evaluate an application, it simply means they’re handing it over to a human for processing.

Can I apply for more than one rewards credit card?

Yes, you can apply for an unlimited number of cards (but we don’t recommend it). Consider your credit history and your current financial situation before you apply, and make sure you only choose cards that you’ll use often.

Some rewards cards offer very specific rewards, plus they have annual fees. It might be tricky to justify the annual fee if you’re spreading out purchases across multiple credit cards.

Credit Card Reward Types and Redemption Options

What are the different types of credit card rewards?

There are several different types of credit card rewards, including:

  • Cash-back rewards
  • Hotel rewards
  • Airline rewards
  • Gas rewards
  • Retail rewards
  • General rewards

Apply for a cash-back credit card if you like getting rewarded for everyday purchases and/or if you don’t travel often. Cards that offer hotel rewards and airline rewards are great for frequent travelers, and so are cards with gas rewards.

Some cards offer more than one reward type. If you’re not sure which type of rewards you like best, consider test-driving a card that waives the annual fee for one year.

How do I earn credit card rewards?

It depends on the card, but you usually earn rewards simply by using your card to pay for qualifying goods or services. You can do this online or in a store.

Some cards, including the Discover it Credit Card, have rotating rewards. Make sure you’re shopping in the right category if you want to maximize your rewards.

How do I redeem credit card rewards?

Some credit card rewards are automatically disbursed in the form of an account credit. Other times, you have to wait until you earn a specific amount to cash out your rewards. You can also apply some rewards to purchases, like if you’re buying airline tickets online with a travel rewards card.

Cash rewards are often distributed via direct deposit or paper checks, but sometimes you can convert them to gift cards or travel-related rewards.

Do credit card rewards expire?

Sometimes, but it depends on the card. We’ve seen many cards that let you rack up rewards with no expiration date.

If you have an expiration date, expect your rewards to last at least a year or two. Credit card companies generally give you plenty of time to redeem your rewards.

Can I earn unlimited credit card rewards?

Yes, if you choose a card that offers unlimited cash back. The Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card offers unlimited cash-back rewards.

Some cards put a cap on rewards, but the company should clearly outline restrictions in your cardholder agreement.

Can I transfer credit card rewards?

Possibly. Some credit card companies let you transfer rewards from card to card. You might also have the option to transfer your credit card rewards to a different rewards program, such as a hotel or airline loyalty program.

Keep in mind that transfers aren’t always point-for-point or dollar-for-dollar transfers. In other words, you might lose some of your rewards during the transfer.

Rates and Fees

How is my APR determined?

Your credit history determines your APR, so clean up your credit as much as possible before you apply for a new card. The higher your FICO score, the lower your APR will probably be for the card.

It’s important to remember that APR ranges drastically. Someone with excellent credit might pay as low as 10% or 12% interest, while someone with bad credit might pay anywhere from 24% to 30% interest.

Do I have to pay an annual fee for my rewards card?

You might have to, but it depends on which card you choose. As a general rule, a high annual fee equals excellent rewards. The exception is if you have bad credit and get a card geared toward people with unfavorable credit histories.

Not a fan of fees? Look for a card that offers an introductory period for new cardholders. You’ll typically get to try the card for 12 months without paying a fee, and you might even enjoy a 0% APR and no balance transfer fees during your promotional period.

What if I can’t afford to pay my annual fee?

Forgive us for being blunt, but don’t get a card that charges an annual fee if you can’t afford to pay it. You should never get a credit card that you can’t afford.

Also, it’s difficult to bail out on the annual fee since every card we know of adds it directly to your statement. Try to avoid maxing out your card so you don’t end up over your credit limit when the annual fee hits. You may want to mark down the date in your planner so you can prepare for it; many companies don’t warn you that it’s almost time to pay your yearly fee.

Can I pay my annual fee with cash-back credit card rewards?

Possibly. You can’t call the company and specifically request to pay your fee with rewards, but you can use cash-back rewards to pay your credit card bill. You can use cash-back rewards to pay for anything you want (as long as your purchase doesn’t break the law) if you’re getting paid via direct deposit or check.

Is my APR for my rewards card always the same?

Not necessarily. Many cards charge a higher APR for cash advances than they do for goods and services. You’ll probably also pay a higher APR on cash advances from an ATM.

If you’re a new cardholder, you might have a promotional APR (usually 0%) for anywhere from a few months to 1.5 years. After the promotional period ends, you’ll get charged the regular rate for all of your purchases.

After establishing a lengthy history of paying your credit card bill on time, you can contact the company and request that they lower your APR. If they deny your request, you can transfer your balance to a new credit card with a lower interest rate.

Issues and Concerns Related to Rewards Credit Cards

Can a credit card company freeze my rewards?

Yes, so make sure you play by the rules! Follow all of the requirements in your credit card agreement, and make sure you always pay your bill on time. Here are a few reasons why a company might freeze your rewards:

  • Delinquency on multiple payments
  • Prohibited use, such as using your card to purchase illegal items
  • Excessive spending that puts you over your credit card limit (even if you’re current on payments)

A credit card company might also freeze your rewards to protect you, like if your card is lost or stolen. This is just a temporary freeze that should be lifted shortly after the issue that caused the freeze gets addressed.

Can a credit card company refuse to honor my rewards?

Yes, but this generally only happens if you break the rules. When you receive a new card, it generally comes with a cardholder agreement. This agreement specifies exactly what you can buy with your card, and you won’t be rewarded for purchases that violate it.

For example, you might be prohibited from buying firearms or gambling at a casino with your credit card. If you ignore these guidelines and use the card anyway, the credit card company does not have to honor your rewards.

A company might also refuse to honor your rewards if you’re behind in payments or if you are currently going through a bankruptcy.

What if I have an emergency situation that prevents me from using rewards before they expire?

Talk to your credit card company as soon as you can. They may extend your redemption deadline if you explain what’s going on, especially if you can provide proof of your situation. Here are some emergency situations that may qualify:

  • An extended hospital stay
  • Military commitments
  • Natural disasters that cause significant damage

This is not a full list of potential emergencies. If you think you’ve got a valid excuse for not redeeming your rewards in time, talk to your credit card company.

What if I forget to pay my credit card bill on time?

Uh oh! Make a payment as soon as possible so that you don’t damage your credit. Many credit card companies don’t report delinquent payments until you are at least 30 days late, so you should be okay if you’re only a day or two behind.

If you know your bill is going to be late, call the company and give them a heads up about your situation. Some cards offer an extension, especially if you have a good payment history. You may also be able to get late fees waived.

Why did my credit score drop after I got a rewards credit card?

This is a common complaint from cardholders, so we totally get your frustration. There are several reasons why your credit score might drop when you add a new card, so it’s difficult to give you a specific answer without knowing much about your credit history.

Here are a few reasons why your credit score might drop when you get a new card:

  • The company performed a hard pull rather than a soft pull (a soft pull doesn’t affect your credit score, but a hard pull does)
  • You used your credit card right away, so you already had a balance by the time the company reported your new account
  • Your score dropped for reasons unrelated to your new account that happened to occur around the same time you got a new card (examples are having an account sent to collections or increasing your overall card utilization ratio)

Pay the bill for your new card (and other bills!) on time for at least 3 to 6 months, and your score should slowly increase.

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Maddy Osman creates engaging content with SEO best practices for marketing thought leaders and agencies that have their hands full with clients and projects. Learn more about her process and experience on her website, www.The-Blogsmith.com and read her latest articles on Twitter: @MaddyOsman.

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8 Best Rewards Credit Cards

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