The most common catch of credit card reward programs is using the credit card and paying interest on purchases rather than paying off the balance each month, which is why credit card companies offer the incentives in the first place.

Other catches are credit card companies limiting the purchase categories that qualify for earning reward points, requiring the cardholder to activate the categories before purchases count toward rewards, and limiting the monthly dollar amount of purchases that count toward the rewards program. The categories are rotated regularly. If the cardholder doesn't remember to activate the new categories, he or she may not earn reward points on purchases even if they fall within the new categories.

Another drawback hidden in the fine print is a tiered cash-back program, in which the cardholder must charge a certain dollar amount per year at a much lower cash-back rate before earning the advertised rate. Some cards offer points which can be redeemed by making purchases with the card, but the cardholder ends up paying higher prices for online items that are purchased through the credit card's portal.

Other drawbacks are cards that offer cash incentives to open accounts, only to require the cardholder to spend a certain amount, usually more than the cash amount offered, before receiving the reward. Some cards only add the cash back rewards to the credit card account rather than mailing a check to the cardholder.

Whether the rewards are frequent flyer miles, cash back, reduced gas prices or points, the best rewards cards are those without much fine print or with fine print that is easy to understand.

  1. What are some tips for getting the most out of my credit card rewards program?

    Get tips to get the most out of a credit card rewards programs and discover what the most important factors are when choosing ... Read Answer >>
  2. Can you pay off your Best Buy credit card in store?

    Learn how you can pay your BestBuy credit card in stores using cash or check. You can also pay by mail, online or over the ... Read Answer >>
  3. Which bank actually issues the Best Buy credit card?

    Learn that the Best Buy credit card is issued by Citibank, and offers its holders either 5% back in rewards or special interest-free ... Read Answer >>
  4. Because I missed a few credit card payments, the issuer raised my interest rate from ...

    You should first check that your credit card company is operating within your rights as a card holder. The U.S. Congress ... Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    How Is Cashback Profitable For Credit Card Companies?

    Cashback rewards are not as beneficial to the consumer as they might initially seem.
  2. Personal Finance

    Credit Card Review: Citi Double Cash

    Learn about the Citi Double Cash credit card and its simple cash back program that pays a combined 2% rate on every card purchase.
  3. Personal Finance

    Rewards Credit Cards That Give Back The Most

    There are many different types of rewards offered by credit card companies. Here are some examples, and the best ways to take advantage of them.
  4. Personal Finance

    Credit Card Review: Capital One Venture Rewards (COF)

    Learn how the Capital One Venture Rewards card helps you earn unlimited rewards miles to pay for all types of travel expenses, such as airfare and hotel costs.
  5. Personal Finance

    3 Best Credit Cards for Restaurants in 2016

    Credit cards with restaurant rewards can be lucrative, if they are managed properly. Here are three cards with the best features.
  6. Managing Wealth

    Millennials Guide: Picking the Best Rewards Cards

    There are perks a-plenty on offer, but you have to find the right plastic for your lifestyle.
  7. Personal Finance

    How to Effectively Compare Credit Card Rewards

    There are so many different reward credit cards that are available. Understanding how each type work will help you pick the best card for your needs.
  8. Personal Finance

    4 Tips For Picking The Best Credit Cards

    Find out how to evaluate interest rates, fees, rewards and convenience to make sure you're getting the best credit card available.
  9. Personal Finance

    Debit or Credit at the Gas Pump: An Easy Choice

    Using credit rather than debit at the gas pump doesn't just provide more fraud protection. It also could give consumers lucrative benefits.
  1. Plain Vanilla Card

    A basic credit card with no special features or perks and no ...
  2. Credit Card Authorization Key

    A code used in credit card transaction authorizations that confirms ...
  3. Purchase Rate

    The interest rate applied to purchases made with a credit card.
  4. Discover Card

    A credit card branded by Discover, a banking and payment services ...
  5. Debit Card

    A debit is a payment card that deducts money directly from a ...
  6. Sales Draft

    A record indicating that a cardholder has made a purchase.
Trading Center