Hobson: Do Your Homework Before Opening a Rewards Credit Card

Don't open a rewards card only for the rewards, expert says.

ByABC News via GMA logo
February 2, 2010, 11:15 PM

Feb. 3, 2010— -- With the difficult economy, people are using their credit cards more and more, and studies have shown that most people participate in a credit card rewards program. Those programs may carry rewards for airline miles, cash back, retail discounts, shopping points or a variety of other benefits.

Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments and "GMA" personal finance contributor, visited the show to discuss which credit card reward programs are best for consumers.

Hobson also offered the following additional tips that consumers may use to help them make an informed decision about whether to open a rewards credit card:

1. Before you choose a credit card, do your homework. Comparison shopping is important. For more information on credit card terms, rates and benefits, Hobson likes the information presented at creditcards.com or bankrate.com.

2. Do not open a credit card just to get airline miles, discounts or other rewards, Hobson said. Hobson urges that you not get a card for the purpose of getting a reward or award with the intention of closing it later.

Get one only one because you really need it, she said. Opening a new credit card lowers your credit score and closing a credit card also lowers your score.

3. Check your credit card statement every month to ensure the proper charges have been posted and you have received the correct number of points for your purchases. The best way to reconcile all of your charges is to save your receipts.

4. Check the terms of your rewards program regularly. Reward program terms change frequently, so make sure you know exactly what you are getting.

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