Travel rewards credit cards fall into several broad categories. First, airline rewards credit cards are designed to reward spending with specific airlines or airline partnerships. When purchasing airfare, in-flight incidentals, and possibly other travel-related items, cardholders earn points at accelerated rates. Once enough points are racked up, they can be redeemed for free or discounted flights, free or reduced baggage fees, and other goodies. Some airline rewards cards offer additional perks and benefits, such as airport lounge access, discounts with hotel partners, and bonus miles for reaching certain travel milestones.
Small business credit cards are increasingly popular business financing options, particularly for entrepreneurs who don’t qualify for traditional business loans and don’t have access to networks filled with deep-pocketed family members, friends, and colleagues. No matter what your business does, a credit card can probably help – as long as you use credit wisely and avoid making purchases your company can’t afford.
Small business credit cards typically have higher spending limits and more generous rewards programs than consumer cards. Some have additional benefits, such as low APRs, attractive balance transfer promotions, personalized concierge service, and fringe benefits. However, many also come with annual fees and require very good or excellent credit to qualify.
Gas is one of the most popular credit card rewards categories. That’s no surprise, as most Americans rely on gas-powered cars to get around and are always searching for ways to save money on gas. Many general-purpose cash back credit cards include gas or gas station purchases as a regular rotating category, while others feature permanent cash back on gas buys.
Most college students have limited experience with credit cards and other forms of credit. Accordingly, their credit histories are often thin or nonexistent. Therefore, the single most important reason for students to apply for credit cards is to build a positive credit history.
Students keen on building credit quickly need to look for cards that report timely payments to one or more (ideally all three) consumer credit reporting bureaus – and then keep up their end of the bargain by making in-full, on-time payments. The best student credit cards generally have low fees, reasonable APRs, and perks that specifically appeal to college students. A few even have cash back programs that reward spending on gas, groceries, dining out, and other routine purchases. Here’s a look at some of the best options on the market today.
When most people hear the phrase “credit card rewards,” their minds immediately turn to cash back rewards. And why not? Flip on the TV, navigate to your favorite website, or drive around your hometown and you’re bound to see an ad for a cash back credit card before long.
Cash back credit cards are popular because they provide tangible, easy-to-understand benefits. Who doesn’t like getting a credit on their monthly credit card statement – or, better yet, actual cash deposited into the account of their choice?
Not all cash back credit cards are created equal though.
How’s your credit these days?
If you’d prefer not to answer that question, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans have imperfect credit due to bankruptcy, foreclosure, crushing medical or student loan debts, and other financial black marks. A bad credit score can affect your ability to secure an affordable home loan, rent an apartment, get a cell phone, and even find a job. While credit counseling and debt management plans can help you repair your credit over time, there’s no magic cure.
Generally, it’s wise to avoid carrying balances on your credit cards. Credit card balances quickly rack up interest charges, eating into your monthly personal budget and hampering your ability to save and invest. Over time, unpaid credit card balances could compel you to enroll in credit counseling, or even cause you to declare bankruptcy.
However, it’s sometimes impossible to avoid carrying credit card balances. For instance, if your car breaks down and you have no other way to get to work, charging the repair to your credit card is better than losing your job – even if you know it’ll take some time to pay off the balance.
The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card from Chase is a small business credit card with a travel rewards program that favors frequent Southwest Airlines flyers. It’s closely related to the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card, a consumer option that’s popular with individuals who frequently fly with Southwest.
Though the Premier Business card is definitely useful for heavy spenders and frequent travelers, it’s worth pointing out up front the $99 annual fee – and the lack of luxurious benefits, such as complimentary airport lounge access.
The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Card is a travel rewards credit card with a $69 annual fee and a rewards program that favors frequent Southwest Airlines travelers. Its perks aren’t as luxurious as those of some competing travel cards, but its solid benefit lineup is nevertheless useful for cardholders who fly Southwest regularly – particularly those in the air often enough to qualify for Companion Pass status. If you live near a Southwest hub and need a no-frills airline credit card, the Southwest Airline Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card is worth a closer look.
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card from Chase is an exclusive hotel rewards credit card with a $395 annual fee and an impressive slate of benefits for frequent travelers. It’s comparable to some of the most exclusive credit and charge cards on the planet, including the American Express Platinum Card, as well as high-end airline, hotel, and general travel rewards credit cards with high annual fees and generous benefits to match. It’s worth noting upfront that Ritz-Carlton is part of the Marriott hotel family, and the Ritz-Carlton Rewards program extends to the more than 3,000 hotels and resorts under the Marriott umbrella, so this card is more relevant and widely useful than the rarefied Ritz-Carlton name suggests.