Monday, May 17, 2010

The Best Rewards Credit Cards

I know that I've struggled trying to figure out which credit card has the best "deals." Do I want to snag cash back, airfare/hotel rewards or free swag at a store that I frequent?

In the June 2010 issue of ShopSmart, from the publisher of Consumer Reports they've done the homework FOR you by revealing the Credit Cards with the Best Rewards. Shopping can be a rewarding experience, especially if you are able to snag a deal. But there’s nothing better than being paid to shop, and with rewards cards, consumers can do just that!

Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart says: “We’ve sifted through the fine print to offer our readers a comparative analysis of the best rewards cards out there. Just keep in mind that rewards cards tend to have higher interest rates, so be sure to pay off your balance each month.”

Here's how to Choose the Best Rewards Card for You

* Watch for sneaky fees: Many rewards cards have annual fees, which are likely to be more than offset by your rewards. But be alert for fees on balance transfers, cash advances and foreign transaction.

* Go for cash rewards: With straight-forward cash-back, avoid the temptation to spend points on unnecessary items at the car issuers’ online malls.

* Get paid for loyalty: Check your favorite retailer for a card that rewards frequent shopping.

* Look out for the fine-print gotchas: Buried deep in the terms and conditions of some credit-card agreements are clauses that could make you lose out on rewards, like cutting off rewards at a certain cap in monthly spending or requiring you to opt in every quarter for your rewards.

ShopSmart’s Picks for Top Rewards Cards

1. American Express Costco TrueEarnings

* APR: 0% for 6 months, then 15.24%
* What you get: 3% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (drops to 1% at gas stations after $3,000 is spent), 2% on travel, 1% elsewhere. No annual fee with Costco membership.

2. Capital One No Hassle Cash Rewards

· APR: 0% until March 2011, then 14.9%

· What you get: 2% cash back on gas and at major grocery stores, 1% on everything else. Rewards never expire and can be redeemed anytime. No balance-transfer fee.

3. Fidelity Rewards American Express

* APR: 13.99%
* What you get: 2 points for each 1% spent. You do not need a brokerage account to have the card. You need a brokerage account only to redeem points for cash deposits to your account.

4. PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express

· APR: 13.24%

· What you get: 5 points per $1 spent on airfare, 3 per $1 on dining and hotels until Dec. 31, 2010, 1 per $1 elsewhere; 20,000-point sign-up offer when $650 is spent in first three months. No foreign-transaction fee. Good balance-transfer offer. Military families join free; others pay a onetime $20 fee.

ShopSmart launched in Fall 2006 by Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon Consumer Reports’ celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. The magazine features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and “best of the best” lists. ShopSmart is ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Borders, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at


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