Credit card makeover can have you cashing in on cash-back rewards

Posted at 5:45 PM, Aug 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-07 18:21:51-04

Cash Back Cards have changed in recent years but many people aren’t reaping the benefits because they’re still using the same old credit card that’s been in their wallet for ages. According to a 2016 survey, 20 million consumers have NEVER changed their preferred credit card and another 25 million have held onto their favorite card for at least a decade.

Loyalty has some of it’s own rewards, but cash back may not be one of them.  About half of all credit cards that offer rewards now offer cash back as an option.  That’s up from only around 25 percent in 2013. While you’re typically looking at 1 or 2-percent back, some cards can go as high as 6-percent cash back on certain purchases.  And the consumer usually gets to choose how they want to redeem their reward. Already using a cash back card?  Why not double your effort?  Since different cards offer higher rewards for purchases in certain categories, Consumer Reports found using two cards strategically can really boost the benefit -- earning you as much as 40-percent more cash back.

So how do you know which cards will work best for your wallet? Consumer Reports has a tool on its website... First you plug in how much you spend each year in a number of categories.  The tool then compares 66 different cashback cards to estimate which will get you the most money back after one year and three years.  

And remember, cashback programs only count if you pay your balance in full.  Otherwise you’ll likely rack up more in interest charges than you’ll earn in rewards.