• Discounts and special offers
  • Subscriber-only articles and interviews
  • Breaking news and trending topics

Already a subscriber?

By signing up, you accept Moneywise's Terms of Use, Subscription Agreement, and Privacy Policy.

Not interested ?

Basic types of rewards cards

Black leather wallet with credit and discount cards
Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock

So, you think you want a rewards credit card. But what type?

  • Hotel rewards cards can save you loads of money at your favorite accommodations.
  • Airline rewards cards help you build up frequent-flier miles toward free trips, and offer luxury bonuses like access to first-class lounges at the airport.
  • Gas rewards cards allow you to collect points toward discounts at your favorite gas stations.
  • Travel rewards cards offer points that you can use at a range of airlines and hotels. You're not limited to just one carrier or chain.
  • Cash-back rewards cards put money back in your pocket, usually a percentage of your spending.

Find a financial adviser in minutes

Are you confident in your retirement savings? Get advice on your investment portfolio from a certified professional through WiserAdvisor. It only takes 5 minutes to connect with an adviser who puts you first.

Get Started

How to narrow it down

Couple doing the check-in at a luxury hotel paying by credit card
Eviled / Shutterstock

Yep, you have a lot of options! But the more you're a creature of habit with your spending, the easier it is to pick a rewards card that you can really milk for savings and perks.

For example, do you have a favorite hotel company that you like to stay with at least a few times a year? You can rack up high-value points faster with the card that's tied to your preferred hotel brand.

If you commute to work, consider getting a card that rewards you heavily at the gas station.

You may find that you'd like at least one travel-related or other co-branded card in your wallet — and one cash-back credit card. In that case, you'll need to decide which sort of cash-back card to carry.

Different flavors of cash-back cards

Credit cards and dollar bills
pgaborphotos / Shutterstock

All cash-back cards are not created equal. There are three basic kinds.

  • Flat-rate cash-back cards offer you a fixed percentage of cash back — usually 1-2% — on every purchase you make.
  • Cash-back cards with bonus categories shell out extra dough when used on certain types of spending, like you might get 5% back on gas or groceries. Usually, there's a lid on the bonus rewards — they stop once your spending hits a threshold.
  • Cash-back cards with rotating categories pay bonus amounts in spending categories that change, typically every three months. To earn the cash-back bonuses, you have to go to the card's website and opt in each time the categories change.

This 2 Minute Move Could Knock $500/Year off Your Car Insurance in 2024

Saving money on car insurance with BestMoney is a simple way to reduce your expenses. You’ll often get the same, or even better, insurance for less than what you’re paying right now.

There’s no reason not to at least try this free service. Check out BestMoney today, and take a turn in the right direction.

Get Started

Applying for a rewards card

CREDIT APPLICATION FORM CONCEPT
garagestock / Shutterstock

If you want to open a rewards credit card, head to the credit card company's site and fill out the requested information. The card issuer will look at your credit score to determine whether you're worthy.

When deciding whether to apply for a particular card, explore whether there's a sign-up bonus. If using the card just a few times will score you 60,000 miles with your favorite airline, that may be all the incentive you need!

Be warned that rewards cards tend to have higher interest rates, so it'll be important to pay off your balance every month. They also usually come with annual fees, which may not start until the second year. (Sneaky!)

Remember, rewards credit cards offer free money, airline tickets and more, but you have to choose cards that match your spending habits. Now get out there and save!

Sponsored

Follow These Steps if you Want to Retire Early

Secure your financial future with a tailored plan to maximize investments, navigate taxes, and retire comfortably.

Zoe Financial is an online platform that can match you with a network of vetted fiduciary advisors who are evaluated based on their credentials, education, experience, and pricing. The best part? - there is no fee to find an advisor.

Moneywise Moneywise Editorial Team

The Moneywise Editorial Team is a group of passionate financial experts, seasoned journalists, and content creators who are deeply committed to providing unbiased, relevant, and accurate financial information. With years of combined industry experience, our team is dedicated to maintaining the highest journalistic standards and delivering informative and engaging content. From personal finance and investing to retirement planning and business finance, we cover a broad range of topics to suit the financial needs of our diverse readership. You can trust the Moneywise Editorial Team to empower you with the knowledge and tools necessary to make wise financial decisions.

Explore the latest articles

7 types of credit card protection

There are multiple ways to make sure you are protected from credit card fraud and unexpected expenses.

Sigrid Forberg Associate Editor

Disclaimer

The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.