Revealed: The Sneaky Side of Credit Card Rewards

Revealed: The Sneaky Side of Credit Card Rewards

Credit cards can offer some amazing rewards, everything from IRA contributions to Disneyland getaways. But how well do you actually know the ins and outs of the program you signed up for?

Probably not very well, says a new report by, which found that many consumers are blindsided by the sneaky fine print and fees that are buried in murky legalese.


Get started with a free financial assessment.

In their 2013 Credit Card Application study, evaluated the top 10 types of plastic to find out which ones were the most transparent. Some of the questions that they sought out to answer: Do customers have to mine that minuscule font under Terms and Conditions to actually discover the fees they'll be fronting? Is it crystal clear how much merchandise or airline miles they'll really walk away with after cashing in those points? And is it even apparent how to rack up those points in the first place?

Those that came out on top for transparency: Capital One (which earned a perfect score), Bank of America (99.3%), and Chase (97%). American Express and Barclays trailed at the bottom of the pack, earning scores of only 78.33% and 73.33%, respectively.

But no matter the type of plastic you’re currently carrying, it’s always important to fully understand both how many points you can earn—and how they can actually be redeemed in the end.

RELATED: 5 Credit Card Fees to Avoid at All Costs

“A lot of issuers only want to talk about all the points you can earn,” Odysseas Papadimitriou, the C.E.O. of CardHub told MarketWatch, “But they don’t want to mention how much these points are worth—especially since they want to have the option to make those points less valuable over time.”

Need some extra help evaluating those programs? Check out the LV Guide to Credit Card Rewards.


Financial planning made simple.

Get your free financial assessment.

Related Tags

Get the latest in your inbox.

Subscription failed!

You're Now Subscribed!