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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What's The Best Rewards Credit Card?

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


When you start amassing those reward points on your credit card, what's the likelihood you'll be able to redeem them how you want and when you want?

Don't fall for this common ploy when searching for the best rewards credit card

A new report from CardHub finds that 1 in 3 loyalty reward points that people earn they are never able to use. So you may get that shiny offer for a credit card that trumpets all the rewards you're going to get for being their customer. But in the micetype, there can be a lot of gotchas that represent loopholes and limitations to prevent you from using the rewards you've earned using their card.

Talk about bait and switch!

One of most common ploys is having a minimum threshold of charges to meet in a specific period—and if you don't, all the value of everything you've earned is wiped out.

So what's the solution here? My recommendation is that the best rewards credit card is one that pays you cash. With cash, there are no restrictions. Nobody says you can't spend it on Friday like the airlines may try to do when you go to redeem your points or miles for travel.

The best cash-back reward card of all is from Fidelity Investments. Fidelity Rewards American Express is just about the best card out there. There's no annual fee and you get 2% straight cash back, no games and no gimmicks. You can either take the cash, or the money can be deposited into a Fidelity IRA, 529 college-savings plan, or brokerage account.

What I love about the Fidelity card is that all 3 options are about you saving for the future. Your spending generates savings rather than a free hotel stay or whatever. I've listed some other respected cash-back reward cards here.

If you use CardHub.com, NerdWallet.com, or CreditCardTuneUp.com, you can see what best rewards cards will be for your specific spending patterns. Just remember that you need a very compelling reason to go with something other than a card that gives you plain simple cash.

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