Most Rewarding Reward Cards

There are a lot of new reward credit cards out there that promise you cash back, points, or air miles. Sorting through the offers can be confusing. But Consumer Reports Money Adviser has done the work for you.

Bobby Johansen has flown many times for free, thanks to his Jet Blue Amex rewards card.

Johansen says, "If I make a lot of larger purchases, I generally do them on the Jet Blue Card so that I can redeem as many flight points as possible."

Consumer Reports Money Adviser has sized up the "best rewards cards." But Chris Fichera says be aware, they're only worth it if you pay off their balance in full each month.

Fichera says, "These cards generally have higher interest rates. So if you carry a balance, you could end up paying more in interest than you get back in rewards."

And watch out for hidden fees! 19% of rewards cardholders said they had increased fees for services like balance transfers, cash advances, and foreign transactions in the past years.

Also, scrutinize the fine print.

Fichera says, "Some cards have clauses that can make you lose out on points or cash back."

Take the Discover card. It gives 1% cash back. But that drops down to .25% at warehouse or discount stores like Walmart.

Fichera says, "The Chase Freedom card can be good because it offers 5% cash back in certain seasonal categories. But since those categories change every quarter, you have to opt in every time, which can be a hassle."

Consumer Reports Money Adviser says one of the best cash back reward cards is the American Express Blue Cash. It doesn't charge an annual fee, and after spending $6,500 within a year, it offers 5% cash back at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations, and 1.25% elsewhere.

Retailers are offering rewards cards, too. If you're a loyal customer, they can pay off.

Consumer Reports says a good one is the Rewards Visa card. It has no annual fee, pays $30 back on your first purchase, and points are unlimited and never expire.

Because terms and conditions of rewards cards change frequently, be sure to routinely check for updated terms.

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