Maximize your payback by picking the credit card rewards that match your spending

Submitted by a LOZO expert
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There is no one "perfect" credit card for everyone. In fact, a trick in the credit card industry is to offer an exciting promotion on a very specific category of purchases, say 5% on gas or 3% on grocery stores, but then cut back on other bonuses.

Retail stores' cards are commonly like this too--you earn lots of points in that store, but only an average (or below average) payback on everything else and/or much higher fees. In fact, retail stores are oftentimes rewarded by credit card companies when you spend on OTHER things than their store, since that's where the credit card companies make their money.

In a perfect world, with no credit scores to worry about, you would have multiple cards which complement each other, each offering a better reward on some categories so you could always use the one that would earn you the most on the purchase you were about to make. However most of us have to be careful about how many cards we juggle. So, what's the LOZO?
  • If you truly know your spending habits, then get a credit card tailored to them. Just make sure the credit card company isn't skimping too heavily elsewhere.
  • If you don't know your spending habits so well--or if there's no category that really "takes the cake", you'll do well with a more general card. In fact, most people will do best with cards that offer a solid payback on every purchase - such as 1% cash or 1 point/airline mile with no minimum - and 2%-5% on certain key categories; this kind of card may average 1.5% or more payback. 
If you decide to get multiple cards, try to pick one that has the best base rewards on any purchase, and one that pays the highest on your most common spend categories.

To find a new card that meets your needs, read our tip about comparing credit cart rates, rewards and other benefits.

A LOZO expert posted this tip.

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