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Cash Back Credit Cards: How Do They Work?

Mar 4, 2008
Cash back credit cards allow you to secure a bit of freedom in terms of your spending. With cash back, you get a small percentage of the amount you spend back. Those funds are credited to your account, which you can later get back in cash through a check or apply to your balance, depending on what you need and want. These type of cards are some of the best reward credit cards available today.

Each cash back credit card has its own rules on earning cash back. You need to read through those rules to know what the offer provides. In most situations, you can earn cash rebates on purchases that you make with the card. Typically, the amount that you earn back is dependent on the type of transaction. Some cash back offers will give you 1 point per $1 spent on all purchases. Others may give you 2 points for every $1 spent in specific areas, such as on gas or on travel. These additional rewards are linked to the type of credit card you have.

Make sure that you know exactly what the cash back offer provides before applying. And then be sure to maximize the rebate benefits of the card for specific merchants. For example, if you know that using the card at grocery stores and gas stations will give you extra rewards, then use it there regularly. Even if you would usually pay cash for your transaction, it may be wise to use the credit card and then make a payment to cover the costs of the transaction. That being said, the best way to get the most out of these lines of credit is to pay off the balance before finance charges are applied. If you don't pay down your balance each and every month on any reward credit card, cash back or not, the finance charges that you pay will more than surpass any cash back benefit that you receive. That's the card issuers little slight of hand.

Read The Fine Print

With a cash back card, or any card for that matter, know what your limits are, how to redeem your rewards and what fees you will pay for using the service. Many cash back credit cards will have annual fees, balance transfer fees and do not forget about the high cost of carrying card balances, which can add up to significant finance charges if not paid down aggressively. Interest rates vary depending on your credit score as well as the card issuer, and are usually more costly with a cash rebate card than traditional credit cards, but not always. And as previously mentioned, there may be annual fees, balance transfer fees or membership fees for some cash back credit card offers so consider these closely in order to determine which card is the ideal fit for you.

The true benefit of this type of offer is the ability to get an actual cash reward (typically in the form of a cash rebate on your statement) for using your credit card. Unlike other reward credit cards, you do not have to pick from a list of options or apply your reward to a specific purchase. With a cash back credit card, you can request a check to be sent to you. Or, you can have the reward applied to your current balance. In all of these situations, the bottom line is that you get cash back for using your line of credit. Cash back credit cards are the more popular type of reward credit card so the added benefit usually means you will need at least a modestly good credit score in order to qualify to use them.
About the Author
Robert Alan is an editor for www.CreditCardAssist.com and frequently contributing writer on various credit card-related topics. Find more free information, tips and advice from Robert on the cash back credit cards page at CreditCardAssist.com.
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