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How do rewards credit cards work?|

Rewards credit cards offer cash back, points or miles when you make eligible purchases. In some cases, you'll also earn rewards through an intro bonus. Most cards will require you to spend a certain amount before you get the bonus rewards. But in some cases, you simply need to make one purchase to qualify. Just make sure you pay off the purchase quickly so you don't end up paying a lot in interest just to get the bonus.

~How can I redeem credit card rewards?|

Redeeming rewards can vary from card to card, but generally include these options:

  • Deposit into your bank account
  • Statement credit
  • Travel, like flights and hotel stays
  • Gift cards
  • Charitable donations
  • Merchandise

~What credit score do I need to get a rewards credit card?|

In general, you need a good to excellent credit score to get a rewards credit card. The exact credit score you need for a rewards credit card varies based on the credit card issuer's requirements. There are rewards cards geared toward applicants with bad credit, fair credit, good credit and excellent credit. The higher your credit score, the better rewards card you'll qualify for, which means you'll benefit from a better rewards program.

~Do credit card rewards expire?|

The rewards you earn with your credit card generally doesn't expire while your account remains open. However if you close your card, you will likely forfeit any rewards. However, you'll often have a small window of time when you can redeem your rewards after closing your card—it depends on the card issuer's rules and card's terms.

~How many credit card rewards points can I earn?|

Generally, there is no limit to how many points, miles or cash back you can earn. Although, some cards may limit how much spending is eligible for certain bonus categories. For example, if your rewards credit card receives 5% cash back on dining purchases up to $1,500 a quarter, then you will get 5% back until you spend $1,500 and everything after that will earn rewards at your base rate, which is generally 1%.

~Can I gift credit card rewards to someone else?|

Most rewards cards don't allow you to transfer your rewards to someone else. However, you may be able to indirectly gift your credit card rewards. Some rewards programs allow you to convert your rewards into airline miles or hotel points. Afterwards, you can transfer them to someone else.

~How to maximize credit card rewards|

If you're looking for a way to rack up as much as possible in rewards, here are some tips to help you out:

  • Earn points fast with welcome bonuses.
  • Use your card for everything you reasonably can—as long as you can pay off the balance each month.
  • Get multiple credit cards that complement each other's rewards rates based on your spending habits.
  • Pay your bills on time and in full every month to avoid interest charges and dings to your credit score.
  • If you're earning travel rewards, make sure you understand all of your redemption options so you don't leave money on the table.

~What additional credit card perks do rewards cards offer?|

In addition to cash back, points or miles, many credit cards also offer insurance protection and other credit card benefits that can provide a lot of value. Some of the more basic perks include:

  • Rental car insurance
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty coverage
  • Travel insurance
  • Cellphone protection

With some travel cards, you may also get things like:

  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee credits
  • Credits for travel purchases
  • Complimentary airport lounge access
  • Trip cancellation or interruption insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement and delayed baggage insurance

As you compare cards, look beyond the rewards to ensure you're getting the most value based on how you plan to use your new card.