The Perks of Rewards Credit Cards

Credit cards are one of those personal financial topics that draw strong opinions no matter who you are. Some people love credit cards as a lifeline on a rainy day, others love protection for a big purchase and others appreciate not carrying cash. Others see credit cards as slippery slopes into debt, a trap into paying lots of interest, and a constant test to your self-control.

Whether you love them and want to make the most of your cards or hate them but want to build or improve your credit for one, consider a rewards card as an option. Rewards cards come with additional benefits that regular cards don't offer and are targeted to specific types of consumers and what they value. Here are some of the best benefits a rewards credit card can give you:

1. Cashback Rewards

Cashback rewards are often a benefit of what is sometimes called "everyday spending" cards. Usually, you get a percentage cashback in all your purchases, with higher percentages for categories like groceries or gas. Often, they are part of grocery chains or warehouse stores loyalty programs. You may receive your cashback as a statement credit, or as an actual check in the mail.

2. Travel Rewards - Miles or Points

One of the most popular and coveted perks of rewards cards - and can come in many different ways depending on the card. From airline miles to points that transfer across flight, hotel or car partners, travel rewards can help you finally plan for that dream vacation or fly first class for the first time. Travel cards associated with a loyalty program, for example, airline credit cards, also offer bonuses such as double miles for flights booked on the airline website.

3. Sizeable Sign-In Bonuses

In addition to the regular rewards, most rewards credit cards will offer significant statement credits and/or sign-in bonuses after spending a certain amount of money in a specific amount of time, for example, 50,000 miles after spending $3000 in the first three months. If you have a specific rewards card in mind, keep your eye open and wait to apply until special sign-in offers are available.

4. Insurance and Additional Services

In addition to travel rewards, many airlines and travel-oriented credit cards will offer insurance on car rentals at no additional cost, for example; or concierge services to navigate booking events and attractions. Concierge access can be especially helpful if you travel to a place where you don't speak the language.

5. Choice of Reward Redemption

Worried about getting stuck with only one type of reward? Don't be! Many rewards cards offer flexible rewards where you can choose how to get them - from transferring points to partners, to applying points to card purchases as statement credits, to gift cards to the most popular retailers, the option is yours. This is also a good option for people who are still deciding which kind of reward they want to stick to.

Regardless of what you choose, a credit card is a credit card, and it's meant to be used responsibly. Make sure you make your payments on time, and in full whenever possible - carrying a balance will involve paying interest to the credit card company. A simple search for reviews of the most popular rewards credit cards will give you lots of information. Check all your options - and enjoy your rewards!