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Research: A Guide in Choosing Your Credit Card Reward Programs -

Thanks to credit cards, it is now possible for an individual to pay bills and purchase items without carrying cash. Now, conducting financial transactions is as easy as swiping a plastic card!

According to a research conducted in 2008, 80% of consumers carry a credit card. That number has increased by more than 10% in the past 2 years. As more consumers opt to use credit cards, financial institutions have started to streamline their rewards programs to attract more clients. Research also shows that credit cards reward programs have been the most efficient marketing strategy utilized to entice card holders to use their cards frequently. Credit rewards come in different forms - from air miles, to gift cards even cash back rewards. There are also lifestyle rewards and electronic rewards wherein clients can receive actual products. Every reward is beneficial to the user in one way or another.

Typically, credit card rewards are point systems. With any amount spent using the credit card, the consumer can earn points which they can then redeem when they have accumulated sufficient points to "pay" for items. Depending on the kind of card, a consumer can earn points for every dollar they spend. Premium cards have higher redeemable rewards and offer better products and services to their customers.

Although frequently using your credit card has its pro and cons, the rewards are also worthwhile. You as a credit card user have the power to choose your credit card program. In choosing your card programs you need to:

1. Check if you can use your credit card reward points at certain stores. Some stores may not recognize your credit card.

2. Assess the kind of reward the credit card company is offering. There are different rewards that you can redeem from points earned such as: gift cards or vouchers for department stores, free airfare and hotel stays, reduced air fares, reduced price tickets for entertainment or theme parks, etc. Needless to say, it is best to choose a program wherein the redeemable rewards are something you will be able to use. For example, if you don't travel a lot, then there's no sense in getting reduced air fares.

3. Find out how cash back rewards are redeemed. Some cash back rewards can be awarded directly to your account or in a form of a check.

4. Be cautious of rewards that encourage you to use your card frequently. It is true that the more frequent you use your credit card the more points you'll earn and the more points you'll earn the greater the equivalent reward received. But you also have to keep in mind that you need to pay for those purchases, hence the higher potential reward you can get, the more you will need to pay. So be wise in using your credit card.

5. Evaluate your expenses. Even if you earn enough points for a discounted airfare and hotel accommodations but you're vacation plan will be a lot more costly, will it be worth the price?

6. Choose rewards that never expire. Some rewards are offered on a limited time.

When availing a credit card, make sure you get programs that will carry out what's best for you. Select a program that best fit your needs. You also need to keep your spending program in mind. Remember to pay diligently and not go beyond you credit limit so as not to have a bad credit record and lose your credit rewards. Earning credit rewards takes time and money. Always spend only within your means and keep your credit scores in the positive lane.