8 sweet reward-card deals

Savvy spenders who choose carefully can save hundreds or more

Published: June 30, 2015 01:30 PM

With the economy rebounding and consumers spending more, credit-card issuers are upping their efforts to snag you as a customer. According to the most recent data available from CardHub, a website that compares credit cards, cash-back deals are inching higher and higher, with some credit cards giving more money back than ever—up to 6 percent—on certain purchases. And to tempt you even more, some cards provide initial bonuses that amount to an average of almost $100, up 14 percent from a year ago.

You might be persuaded to apply for a card because of the rewards, but you should never let the promise of a payback feed an impulse to overspend. That could lead to paying high interest rates on outstanding balances and late fees if you miss payments. Also, before applying, consider a card’s terms and conditions carefully. High annual fees might negate the very rewards you were after in the first place.

To find the best card for you, consider the rewards the cards below offer and determine which works with your spending patterns.

Citi Double Cash Card

This is among our favorite offers for those with a wide variety of expenses. It offers 1 percent cash back when you make a purchase—and another 1 percent when you pay at least the minimum due on your monthly statement. If that doesn’t scream out to you, this might: The discounts apply to every purchase you make. There’s also no limit on how much cash you can earn, no annual fee, and no interest charged on balances for the first 15 months. You’ll probably need excellent credit to qualify for this card.

Chase Freedom Card

If you are looking for more cash back, this card gives you 5 percent, up to $1,500 spent per quarter. There is no annual fee. But the kinds of purchases that qualify for cash back rotate every quarter, from grocery stores to restaurants to gas stations to Amazon.com purchases. So you need to carefully monitor how you use this card. You’ll also get 1 percent cash back on other purchases and a $100 bonus if you spend $500 in the first 90 days. Like other cards, Chase Freedom charges no interest for the first 15 months, and here, too, you’ll probably need excellent credit to qualify.

American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card

If you spend a lot of money in supermarkets, you’ll like credit cards that offer a relatively new reward: cash back on purchases at any grocery store. The Everyday card charges no annual fee and gives you 3 percent cash back on the first $6,000 in grocery expenses in a year. After that it gives you 1 percent back. It also gives you 2 percent back on gas, and purchases at certain department stores. After you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days, you’ll get a $100 credit on your statement.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card

If you have excellent credit and are willing to pay an annual fee of $75, you may be able to get an even better deal than with the Everyday card. The Preferred provides many of the same benefits as the Everyday card but gives you a whopping 6 percent cash back on groceries—the most we’ve seen—up to $6,000 per year. After that, it gives you 1 percent back.

Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard

If your credit score isn’t excellent, but good, this card from Barclays gives you 2 percent cash back on all purchases related to gas, groceries, and utilities. For all other purchases, you get 1 percent back. Once you have earned 1,000 points, you can redeem them for statement credits or gift cards. The reward points don’t expire, and there is no annual fee.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Not long ago, travelers often opted for credit cards that earned miles on particular airlines. Now they are more likely to go after general reward cards that give miles that can be redeemed for flights on any airline, at any hotel, or for car rentals. For those with excellent credit, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is a good choice. If you charge at least $3,000 to the card in the first 90 days you’ll get 40,000 bonus miles (a $400 credit) for travel purchases. You also get two miles for every dollar you spend, and there is no annual fee in the first year.

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

Similar to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, the Venture Rewards card increased its one-time bonus of 20,000 miles to 40,000 miles last year (equal to $400), as long as you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days. The drawback, though, could be significant. If you make a late payment, you could be hit with an onerous APR of 29.4 percent that could last, well, indefinitely.

Chase Slate Card

One “gotcha” with many credit cards is the 3 percent fee they charge if you transfer a balance to a new card. Chase Slate, aimed at cardholders with at least a good credit rating, waives that fee for any balances transferred within 60 days of opening the account. It also offers 0 percent interest on the balance for the first 15 months—a nice combination. 

Nikhil Hutheesing (@Nikhil212 on Twitter)

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