Having a credit card that offers ongoing rewards can be a great way of saving on costs and enjoying some awesome lifestyle perks while you spend!

But the number of rewards programs out there only seems to be growing and not all of them will be suitable for your needs.

If you’re on the lookout for a superstar credit card this year, keep these seven simple tips in mind to ensure that you select the best option for you.

1. Choose rewards that align with your needs.

If you’re someone who’s never left Ballarat (and don’t ever intend to), a ‘Frequent Flyer’ rewards program obviously isn’t the best fit for you. Yet some people still get sucked into shiny offers for rewards programs that will never even benefit them.

When selecting a credit card that offers rewards, make sure that the rewards will align with your unique needs. For example, if you have a big family and do several big shops a week, a rewards scheme that offers supermarket credits could be perfect.

Bottom line:
Look at what you already spend a lot of money on, and try to find a rewards program that aligns with that.

2. Prioritise cash-back offers.

The best currency will always be cold, hard cash. You can spend it on whatever you want and whenever you want, instead of getting stuck with a whole bunch of hotel ‘credits’ you have no idea how you’re going to use before their expiry date.

Look at credit cards that offer cash-back offers and compare them with each other. You may just find more value in one of these than what your bank’s currently got on offer.

Bottom line:
For more freedom in how you choose to spend, think about getting a credit card that offers cash-back incentives instead of retail rewards.

3. Use a comparison website.

Don’t sign up for the first credit card that catches your eye. Hop online first to see what other banks and institutions are offering. The easiest way of doing this isn’t to troll from website to website.

Just visit one!

A comparison website has an easy-to-navigate table, which can compare the features of all the credit cards with rewards schemes for you. These tables are often customisable, so you can narrow down your search to generate results that suit what you’re looking for.

Bottom line:
Do your research and compare all offers. This way, you’ll know you’re getting the best deal on the type of rewards program you’re looking for.

4. Ask around.

Friends and family are great resources for recommendations.

They’re not trying to sell you something, they have firsthand experience with various products and they’re more likely than anyone else to have your best interests at heart.

Ask the people you know what rewards programs they’re signed up to and if they’re any good. Your best friend could be getting massive shopper’s discounts, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask!

Bottom line:
Don’t forget to talk to those you trust.

5. Make sure the card’s terms suit your lifestyle.

At a glance, a rewards scheme can look ideal. But then you sign up and you get one nasty shock after another.

If a card’s overseas ATM fees are through the roof, then the card is not ideal if you’re planning on using it for travel – no matter how great its rewards program is.

Likewise, if you’re the kind of person who forgets to pay off their cards each month, you don’t want to be looking at a high interest rate. The rocketing cost of this interest is likely to offset any rewards benefits.

Bottom line:
Always read the fine print before signing up to an offer so that you’re happy with how the card works.

6. Take advantage of balance transfer offers.

Sometimes the best reward is a break from interest being added to your debts. Several credit cards on the market offer new customers balance transfers with 0% interest for the first 12 months.

This could present you with an amazing opportunity to pay down your debts and get back in control of your finances.

Bottom line:
If you’re stuck in credit card debt hell, a simple balance transfer could offer more benefit than a glitzy reward program.

7. Know your fees.

Costs like annual fees, monthly service charges and sneaky hidden expenses can rack up the amount you’re spending just to keep the card, let alone pay off interest on it.

Add up all the fees and make sure any potential rewards you obtain equal more than what you’re spending on the card itself. Otherwise, signing up just won’t be worth it financially.

Bottom line:
Consider whether your card is worth the cost.

Whichever card you choose in the end, read the fine print, pay it off each month and track its benefits to make sure that it remains the best option for you.

As exciting as rewards programs can be, no amount of points is worth getting yourself in over your head.