Credit card rewards can vary from issuer to issuer, card to card. Depending on where consumers tend to spend their time and money, different rewards offers may suit some better than others. There are many ways to view the monetary benefits of different rewards programs, which is why it’s always worth comparing credit card offers before making any final decision.
When it comes to credit card rewards, it’s important to know where and how they are earned.
Fiona matches consumers with personalized credit card offers, featuring a variety of rewards products from top providers
Cash Back vs Points
Before getting into how consumers can earn rewards, it’s important to make a key distinction between cash back and points. With cash back rewards, a consumer will earn rewards on a percentage of specific purchases, which is valued in a dollar amount. The money can be applied toward a cardholder’s account balance or deposited into a transferable bank account.
Points, on the other hand, are also earned through purchases, but are not redeemed as actual cash. Instead, credit card rewards points can be redeemed through issuer loyalty programs - some of the most popular points redemption options include airline tickets, hotel reservations, or gift cards. Rewards points can only be redeemed for specific purchases set out by the issuer and partnering business, like airplane tickets or hotel reservations.
So let’s get into it—where can you earn the best rewards?
Grocery stores participate in credit card rewards programs. As groceries are a staple of any American’s budget, many credit card rewards programs offer cash back or bonus points for purchases made on groceries. In some instances, issuers partner up with national retailers for special rewards programs, which have been modernized with online grocery delivery services.
Gas stations are another popular avenue to earn rewards, whether it’s toward your future fuel payments or other purchases. Gas stations are similar to grocery stores as they are a common place to earn cash back, while top petroleum providers also have their own programs for saving cents on every gallon and earning points at adjoining convenience stores.
Many credit cards allow you to earn rewards when you shop on specific websites. This is a great feature for those that are primarily online shoppers, as it allows you to earn from the comfort of your couch. If you’re shopping on specific websites frequently, see if you can find a card that rewards you for shopping on it, or just generally online.
Perhaps the most widely used credit card rewards programs are those intended for air travel, including building up miles (i.e., points for booking flights) and other travel perks. While traditional frequent flier programs only allow consumers to earn miles through spending on flights, credit card travel rewards programs enable users to accumulate miles on a variety of purchases beyond just travel.
Are you a fan of food? Then this program may be the easiest way for you to earn rewards. Some issuers have cards that earn rewards whenever you spend at restaurants, making it a delicious way to start earning points—all while incentivizing you to go out to eat!
Your Choice on Where You Earn
Some credit cards allow you to decide where you earn rewards. Many of these cards require you to opt-in to the bonus categories of your choosing—sometimes even on a monthly basis—allowing you to optimize your earning depending on what you’ll be spending the most on in the near future.
The Bottom Line
While credit card rewards programs vary greatly, there are a variety of places and ways you can earn points—making it easy to earn no matter how you typically spend. Whether a consumer is looking to save some money on their purchase, trim down their balance statement, or access perks, there are several options available at top businesses across the US.
For consumers interested in getting the most bang for their buck, Fiona’s Benefits Value feature lets you calculate card rewards based on your spending habits.