Financial Advice

Credit Card Rewards—What’s in It for You?

Rewards credit cards give extra value just for making your normal purchases. Learn how these cards work and get tips for choosing one.

Published Jan 6, 2022 | Updated May 8, 2024

So, you’ve decided to apply for a credit card for added flexibility or to make a special purchase. You might have noticed that some credit cards offer rewards. Rewards sound good! And they can be—if you understand what these credit cards offer and how rewards work.

What are credit card rewards?

Rewards are one way that issuers (credit card companies) try to motivate you to get, keep, and use their card. Issuers know that you might have several different ways to pay, and they want their card to become your favorite. They hope that because you are earning rewards whenever you use that card, you will make a habit of using it first. The rewards that creditors offer can be cash, points, or miles that you earn when you sign up for the card or use it to make eligible purchases.

How do credit card rewards work?

For travel- or rewards-based cards, every dollar you spend using the card earns you points or miles, which are added to your rewards tally. After you have earned a set number, you can use an app or web site to redeem many different travel options or other rewards.

UFCU membership comes with access to free online resources and seminars. As a Member, you also have access to expert financial advice. Explore UFCU credit cards or connect with a professional to tackle your finances.

For cash back-based cards, every dollar you spend using your card earns you a percentage back. Typically, you can opt to put that towards your next statement in the form of a credit. Some issuers offer to deposit the reward into your account or send it to you. Most cards offer a flat percentage back, but you might find one that accelerates your earnings at certain types of merchants.

Take the time to determine which reward card is best for you. Make sure to understand the rules, as not every transaction on your account is eligible to earn rewards. For example, if you transfer a balance from one card to the rewards card, it is not eligible for rewards. That’s because the issuer makes money from the merchants you pay, and there is no merchant in a balance transfer transaction.

Does a rewards card make sense for you?

Here are some tips for making a rewards card work for you.

  • Use multiple factors to choose a card, not just rewards. A card that charges high interest will be a source of stress if you end up carrying a balance for a few months.
  • Avoid the temptation to spend more money than you normally would just to get rewards
  • Track and protect what you have earned. Rewards can expire, or be forfeited due to account inactivity, late payments, or account closure.
  • Treat yourself! Figure out how to claim what you have earned—whether it’s points, miles, or accelerated cash back—so that getting the card will be truly worth it.

Did you know…

Rewards cards are available through UFCU. That’s right—we offer convenient credit cards with these great advantages:

You can apply for a card online or contact a Member Services representative about eligibility requirements. We’re here to help you get the most from your money.

  • Your choice of Travel & Rewards VISA® or Cash Back VISA®
  • No annual fee
  • Competitive interest rates
  • Straightforward earning plans—and points never expire
  • Easy to redeem—no blackout dates on travel
  • Manage the card just like your other UFCU accounts
  • Fraud protection, plus blocking feature through Mobile Banking