Credit cards are double edged swords– If used carefully consumers can find themselves on top of the world reaping credit worthy benefits; abuse them and they can find themselves potentially fighting bankruptcy in no time. Here are some very interesting facts about credit cards in the USA :
1. There were 176.8 million credit card holders in 2008
2. By the end of 2009, there were 270 million Visa credit cards and 382 million Visa debit cards in circulation in the United States ; Master Card had 203 million credit cards and 125 million debit cards ; American Express had 48.9 million credit cards ; and Discover had 54.4 million credit cards .
3. Approximately 51 percent of the U.S. population has at least two credit cards .
Looking at the figures above it is clear that credit cards are here to stay. This also means that consumers need to learn how to utilize credit cards in their best interest. Consumers can immediately see the huge potential of savings if they choose credit cards that offer the best rewards for their usage. Here are 7 of the top reward offering credit cards. These cards when used correctly have the potential to save consumers a bundle or offer rewards which have cash equivalents while performing regular tasks such as paying monthly expenses.
For the frequent traveler
1. American Express Premier Rewards Gold Charge Card (AmericanExpress.com) offers 3 reward points for every dollar you spend on airline tickets. Consumers also get 2 points per dollar spent on gas and grocery bills. One point is equivalent to one flying mile offered by frequent flier programs. The bonus is that these points never expire so you do not have to force yourself into a deal just to redeem the point before the expiration date. The downside is that it charges a $175 annual fee (which is waived for the first year) and you cannot roll over a balance to be paid next month since this is a charge card.
2. Penfed Premium Travel Rewards American Express Credit Card (Penfed.org). This credit card offers a whooping 5 points for every dollar spent on airline tickets. You also earn 3 points per dollar on your hotel and dining bills and 1 point on all other purchases. The annual fee is very low – just $50– and it is waived the first year. The downside is that you need to be a member of Penfed in order to be eligible for this card and the membership comes with a fee of $20 per year. However, the airline points accrued can be used on any airline you choose. The points have an expiration date of 5 years.
For The Avid Shopper – Cash Back
3. American Express Blue Cash Card (AmericanExpress.com)– Many consumers prefer plain hard cash rewards. For those who love cash back on purchases, this credit card is the perfect solution. Consumers receive 1% cash back as soon as they sign up on every purchase for gas, drugstore items and groceries; all other purchases entitle the consumer to 0.5% cash back as well. The downside is you cannot carry over the balance to the next month or the 17+% interest will eat up your rewards.
4. Capital One No Hassle Cash Rewards Credit Card (CapitalOne.com) – Consumers get 2% cash back on every dollar they spend spend on gas and groceries and 1% on all other purchases. This card comes with an all time low annual fee of $39. The downside is it offers 0% interest rate until March 2011, after which the variable interest rate shoots up to 19.8%.
For the heavy commuter
5. Discover Open Road No Fee Credit Card (DiscoverCard.com)– Consumers get a 2% discount every time they purchase gas for the first $250 they spend every month. They are also eligible to receive 1% on all other purchases. The downside is that it offers a variable interest rate according to the consumers credit history; this variable rate fluctuates between 11.99% to 19.99%.
6. Diamond Preferred Rewards No Fee Credit Card (citicards.com)– This card offers 5 points for every dollar consumers spend on gas, groceries and drugstore items. This offer lasts for one year after which the reward is 1 point per dollar. You are offered 6,000 bonus points (equivalent to $50) if you spend $300 within the first 3 months of usage. The points can be redeemed for travel expenses and various merchandise purchases. The downside is the variable interest rate is determined according to your credit history (12.99% - 20.99%) and the points expire after 5 years.
Customized credit card
7. ZYNC Charge Card (AmericaExpress.com) – This card allows consumers to choose their own rewards packages. Consumers can choose (they will be charged a small fee) to earn double-points to be redeemed later on travel, payment of restaurant bills, phone, and Internet bills. It comes with a low annual fee of $25 and is designed to cater to young adults. The downside is that you cannot carry a balance to the next month since this is a charge card.