The Basic Principles of Earning Credit Card Rewards

Choosing the Rewards Credit Card for You:

The credit card market can be overwhelming, with many cards offering multiple ways to earn, like cash back, points, miles and other incentives. You can choose the right card for you by determining what you want to get the most out of. Be sure to factor in things such as annual fees, interest rates and other terms and agreements.

Types of Credit Card Rewards

Cash back

A cash back credit card rewards you for everyday purchases with cash back incentives. You can rack up a lot of cash by taking advantage of these promos and spending wisely each month.

“With strategic spending on your credit card, you can quickly earn rewards and make those dollars spent work much harder for you than if you’d used cash or a debit card with no rewards program,” says Maureen Powers, Vice President of Rewards for Discover.

As an example of a cash back rewards card, the Discover it® Card allows you to earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants,*, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate, plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Another example is the Discover it® Chrome Student Card, which allows you to earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter and 1% on all other purchases.


Some credit cards offer points that are awarded based on a percentage of your spending, much like cash back rewards. Typically, you can redeem these points for cash or other options once you’ve earned them, with the options varying depending on the credit card you’ve signed up for.


Some credit cards allow you to earn miles with your purchases that you can use towards flights, hotel room stays, or other travel purchases. Keep in mind that some cards have blackout dates, which means you won’t be able to use your miles around certain traveling dates, which is an important consideration when you’re choosing a travel credit card. A travel credit card is a great option for frequent travelers, such as an out-of-state student, frequent study abroad traveler or someone who travels often for work.

“If you’re looking for a new miles reward card, make sure to do your research,” says Powers. “For example, the Discover it® Miles card offers unlimited 1.5% miles earned with every purchase.”

For more information on credit card rewards, read the next article: Comparing Credit Card Rewards

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