Whether you have a rewards card in your wallet already or you’re thinking about adding a new piece of plastic to your spending arsenal, you may find yourself asking the question, “Is a rewards card really the right option for my spending needs?”
It’s not always an easy question to answer, since it depends how you use your card, what your budget looks like, and whether or not you’d get enough use out of the rewards program to justify the hefty costs. But answer “yes” or “no” to these few questions and we might be able to help you work it out.
Who doesn’t love something for nothing? The whole point of a rewards card is that you get more bang for your buck, by earning points on every dollar you spend. Not only that, but you can also pick up other freebies and perks, like complimentary insurance cover, cashback and a concierge service.
The important thing with a rewards card is making sure you’ll get enough value from your rewards program to justify paying a hefty annual fee or interest rate. If you think you’ll forget or not bother to use your points, the price tag might not be worth it.
Rewards plastic generally comes with a pretty steep interest rate attached, often around the 20% mark. That means that if you’re going to keep your credit card use affordable, then you should only opt for a rewards card if you pay off your bill each month and avoid paying interest.
Remember that to avoid getting whacked by hefty interest, you need to clear your whole balance and not just pay the minimum amount shown on your statement. If you do find yourself just paying the minimum, you might be better off to try out a low interest card.
By the same token, a rewards card is best suited to spenders who faithfully pay off their bill before the due date. Not only will this mean avoiding interest, but you’ll also avoid paying late fees.
If you sometimes forget to make payments but really want a rewards card (or any credit card, for that matter) one good idea is setting up automatic payments to cover either your whole bill, or at least the minimum amount.
The easiest route to earning a stack of rewards is by spending a lot of money - but don’t go emptying your bank account just yet. Although spending up big does make you a prime candidate for a rewards card, a smarter strategy is to instead just make the most of what you already spend, by flashing your plastic every time you hit the check out.
So if you prefer plastic to cash and use your card every single day, you’re in a good position to get serious value from a rewards card.
One of the best perks of having rewards plastic is free travel! Among other things, you may be able to cash in on free flights, accommodation and hire cars, free airline lounge passes, flight upgrades and complimentary international travel insurance. Not too shabby right?
And Mozo has found that redeeming rewards points for flights or flight upgrades is actually one of the best value ways to use your rewards program. So if you’re an avid traveller, packing this plastic in your carry-on may be well worth it.
As we mentioned above, the more you spend on your rewards card, the more points and freebies you’ll earn, and the easier it will be to justify the cost of carrying the card. But if you have existing credit card debt hanging over your head, it’s a good idea to blast it away before spending any more money.
If you have a lingering balance, take a look at a balance transfer card instead, and get back in the black before buying anything else.
The trade-off for all those goodies and perks is that a rewards card will more often than not have a hefty annual fee attached, often anywhere from $50 to over $400. While that might seem like a lot, you need to remember that if you take full advantage of your rewards program, it could be well worth the price tag. For example, some cards come with a free domestic flight each year, which might justify the annual fee.
So if your budget can handle a lump sum fee each year, then a rewards card is an option for you. If not, you might want to consider a no annual fee credit card instead.
|You’re probably the kind of person who uses a credit card a lot and has managing your balance down to a fine art.|
The next question is, which rewards card will suit you best? To find a piece of plastic that matches up to your freebie dreams, head over to our rewards revealer tool.
|You can still cash in on the convenience of plastic. But instead of a rewards option, you might be better off with a low rate, no annual fee or balance transfer card.|
You can use our handy infographic to work out which credit card is right for you.