Make Credit Cards Work For You By Earning Rewards

Credit cards have had a bad rap in the press lately; some credit cards have increased their annual percentage rates and some have increased their fees.  Most have made at least a few changes to the way they do business thanks to last year’s CARD Act.  However, if consumers are responsible with what they charge on their credit cards and are disciplined to pay off their balances each month, there are many benefits to using a credit card.

Airline Miles Credit Cards

If you have excellent credit (above 750), you could earn two airline miles per dollar spent when using the Capital One Venture Rewards Card.  When you redeem your miles, there are no blackout dates.  For someone who flies frequently and/or uses a credit card frequently, this card may be the way to go.  In fact, Money Magazine named it “The best rewards card if you aim to rack up airline miles.”  Of course, there are a variety of airline mile cards out there, but be careful as many of them have restrictive rules which make actually redeeming the miles difficult. (See The Best Airline Miles Credit Cards for more airline miles cards.)

Gift Cards Rewards Cards

The US Bank Flex Perks Travel Reward Visa Card allows members to earn one point per dollar spent with a double reward on the one category you spend the most on (between groceries, gas and airline) each month.  Redeem 5,000 points for a $50 gift card to restaurants like Outback Steakhouse or for a $50 Visa gift card.  These make great gifts during the holiday season and will not cost you anything if you are responsible with using the credit card and use care not to buy more than you would with cash at any given time.

Cash Back Credit Cards

Who wouldn’t like to use their credit card and get rewarded with cash back?  Use the Discover More Card and get 1% back on all purchases after you spend $3,000 on the card (before that earn .25% cash back).  Also, enroll in the 5% cash back program to receive 5% cash back on designated purchases on designated months in categories like travel, gas, grocery, supermarkets, restaurants, home improvement, and more.

Gas Rewards Credit Cards

Offset the rising cost of gas with a card that gives you money back for Stand-alone U.S. gas purchases.  The True Earnings Card from Costco and American Express gives you 3% back on all gas purchases up to $4,000 (1% after).  There is no annual fee if you are a Costco member.

Credit cards are in the business to make money, but if you are diligent with the way you use your credit card, you may find that credit cards can actually save you money.  You can fly for free or at a significant discount, you can earn gift cards that you can use yourself or give to other people for birthday or holiday gifts, you can earn cash back on your purchases, and you can use the card to help offset the rising price of gas.  With the right research and self-discipline, you can make credit cards work for you.

The cards mentioned in this article are not endorsed by the writer but are only given as a sample of the many reward credit cards that are available.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

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Published or updated April 13, 2013.


  1. I have a United, Continental and Sky Miles cards. Aside from the initial miles when you sign up for one of these cards, there are many additional ways to earn miles. To name a few dining at restaurants in the rewards network, online malls, gas purchases, and airline tickets to name a few, These additional ways earn anywhere from 2 times to 5 times the cost of the item in miles.

  2. I have a bank issued debit card. If I use the card as a credit card I am given reward points so I get the best of both worlds.

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