Top 15 Reward Credit Cards

Liz Pulliam Weston of MSN Money asked five credit card industry experts (basically representatives of companies that run credit card websites) and a frequent flier guru for their favorite cards in one of three categories: travel programs, cash-back programs, and savings programs. Travel programs are those cards that offer miles and upgrades and perfect for those with a lot of travel each year. The cash-back programs are, as you would expect, those cards that offer the best cash-back rebate. Finally, the savings programs are those cards that give you savings towards something, instead of straight cash, such as for a house, a car, or even directly into a brokerage account.

One trend you’ll see is that all of the winning cards are American Express! Is this some kind of conspiracy? Hardly. American Express is less widely accepted because they have higher merchant fees. The higher fees means that they’re able to offer higher reward earn rates because their profits are better. So, in each category you’ll see an American Express card winning out.

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7 Unwritten & Often Forgotten Credit Card Secrets

Credit card companies are just like every other business. There are essentially three concepts to understand when dealing with a business, especially credit cards:

  • They exist to make as much money as possible,
  • They have relatively well documented rules and operating procedures,
  • They’re willing to break #2 in pursuit of #1.

So, to that end, here are 7 unwritten and often forgotten credit card tricks or “secrets” (I hate the term “secrets” because how much of a secret can they be if I know it?) that may save you a few bucks someday. If you don’t learn a single secret or you have a secret of your own, please let me know! Secrets are better when you tell everyone!

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Trying for Balance Transfer But Low Credit Limit?

I had a reader send me the following email:

Hi Jim, I just got the Citi mtvU card hoping to get a good balance transfer to pay off something else but they only gave me a $3,000 limit, less than what I was hoping for. What should I do?

Unfortunately, you made the mistake of trying to do a balance transfer with a credit card designed for students. Since it’s designed for students, I wouldn’t expect them to give you a high limit no matter what your income was. In the future, I’d recommend something more mainstream like a Citi Professional (though not that one because the balance transfer is only for 9 months).

Anyway, the only thing I can really suggest is that you take the balance transfer for $3k since you’ve already taken the hit to your credit score (if it’s your only credit application in a while, I wouldn’t worry too much). If you just toss the card, you take the hit and you don’t get the cheap credit.

Now, one thing you can try to do, depending on how long the offer is good for, is to use the card as usual and then request for a credit line increase after six months (most companies won’t consider an increase until six months). So, if the offer is valid for more than 6 months, you can try that route to get more money. The downside to that is that you’re still paying that higher interest debt for that time period, so it may not be worth it.

Anyone else have any suggestions?

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