Best credit card deals and offers
A year after the COVID crisis led credit card issuers to cut offers, sweet introductory offers are back on the table. If you’re looking to collect cash rewards or burn through a balance, you don’t need to stick to your old cards.
You can maximize the rewards by using multiple cards and dedicating each to its best goals. How many cards? Three or four at most. You don’t want it so much that you lose track of the bills; forgetting just one payment can trigger enough penalties and interest to wipe out a year of rewards.
And don’t even think about playing the rewards card game if you carry a month-to-month balance. Chasing 2% cash back is a losing proposition if you’re paying 16% interest on past purchases. Instead, focus on getting your balance to zero. With that out of the way, here are some appealing cards for different types of users. (Note that offers such as sign-up bonuses and balance transfer offers may change at any time.)
If you pay off your cards every month, use one that earns rewards, says Sara Rathner, credit card specialist at personal finance site NerdWallet: “Otherwise, you’re leaving money on the table.” One of his favorites at the moment? The American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card offers 6% cash rewards on groceries (up to $6,000 in annual spending), 3% on gas or public transit, 6% on streaming services and 1% on everything else. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year. You get a $350 bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first six months.
For a unique approach, Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at LendingTree, recommends the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card, which has no annual fee, offers a 2% cashback on all purchases and a $200 bonus if you spend $1,000. in the first three months.
Travelers in a hurry
I’m not a big fan of travel rewards cards, as their point systems can be confusing and the rewards can change as the underlying airline or hotel programs change. “Most of the time, the best choice is a cashback card,” Schulz concedes. But he carries rewards cards for the hotels and airlines he uses most, in part to get priority boarding. A good travel rewards card will also offer free currency conversions on purchases made abroad.