Choosing a rewards credit card

Consider all the card features, not just the rewards, to find the best card to meet your needs.

Gail Bebee 3 June, 2016 | 5:00PM
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Canadians can choose from hundreds of credit cards issued by an assortment of financial institutions including banks, credit unions, retailers, caisses populaires and trust and finance companies. Each credit card offers an array of features, but one benefit grabs most of the attention: the rewards earned for using the card. It could be "cash back," an account credit based on a percentage of card spending. Or, it might be points or "miles" for every dollar spent, which can be saved up and redeemed for items such as travel, groceries, movie admissions, gas, merchandise, cash back or even charitable donations.

Rewards may be the marketing sizzle, but the best credit card is the one that delivers the combination of attributes that are the most valuable for your personal situation. These include not only the rewards, but also the annual fees charged (if any) and such features as the interest rate on outstanding balances and cash advances, where the card is accepted, and cardholder liability in event of fraud. Insurance covering goods or services purchased on the card may also be available. This might be trip-cancellation and trip-interruption insurance, purchase protection in case of accidental damage or theft, or extension of a product manufacturer's original warranty.

Picking a rewards credit card begins with a review of your spending habits. Where you shop, the types of goods and services you normally buy, and how much you typically spend monthly on the card will factor into the card-selection process. For many consumers, a review of past statements of the credit card(s) they currently use is the easiest way to get this information.

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About Author

Gail Bebee

Gail Bebee  Gail Bebee is an independent personal finance speaker, teacher and the author of No Hype--The Straight Goods on Investing Your Money. She can be reached at gbebee@gailbebee.com; her website is www.gailbebee.com.

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