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Credit cards that reward responsible usage

From cash back to low APRs and extended credit lines, many credit cards are available to reward responsible card usage


Are you a responsible credit card owner? Then you might want to look into these cards – they offer rewards for you making responsible decisions.

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When used responsibly, the perks of credit cards are undeniable. They are a powerful financial tool that can improve your credit score and they just might earn you some rewards along the way. There are many types of rewards credit cards on the market today. From travel points and miles to cash back, responsible credit card usage can reward you for purchases you already planned on making.

How issuers determine responsible credit card use

While all issuers have different criteria for determining who qualifies for their cards, here are some of the most common indicators of responsible credit card use.

Credit score

Your credit score is one of the most important factors card issuers use to determine if you will be a responsible borrower. Credit scores are calculated by considering several factors, including your payment history, credit utilization and length of credit history. A good credit score lets issuers know you have been financially responsible in the past and are a safe bet to offer credit.

Credit history

One pitfall of the traditional credit scoring system is how it weighs the length of an individual’s credit history. In the case of FICO, length of credit history accounts for 15% of your score. If you’re applying for your first card, you can be denied if you’ve had no other types of credit, such as student or auto loans. In cases such as these, a secured credit card or a retail card can be good options. It typically takes around six months of credit history to be scored by FICO.

Income and debt

An individual’s debt-to-income ratio is also considered in your credit score and could impact qualifying for a credit card. A balance transfer could be an excellent way to pay down an existing card balance without the added pressure of compounding interest. The good news is several cards offer 0% introductory APRs for balance transfers.

Top three credit cards that reward responsible usage

Chase Slate Edge℠

Card highlights

  • Welcome offer: None
  • APR: 0% introductory APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers (15.74% to 24.49% variable APR thereafter)
  • Rewards rate: None
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance transfer fee: $5 or 3% in the first six months of opening the account; $5 or 5% thereafter (whichever is higher)

The Chase Slate Edge card directly rewards responsible credit card usage every year with a 2% reduction in your APR if you pay your balance in full and on time for 12 consecutive months. Additionally, cardholders are eligible for a one-time review of their credit limit after six months if they have paid their balance in full. Note that you must spend $1,000 in the first year to be eligible for a reduction in your APR and $500 in the first six months to be considered for a credit line increase.

Citi® Double Cash Card

Card highlights

  • Welcome offer: None
  • APR: 14.74% to 24.74% variable
  • Rewards rate: 1% back on all purchases plus an additional 1% when you pay your balance on time
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance transfer fee: 3% or $5 (whichever is higher), for balance transfers completed within the first four months of account opening; 5% of each transfer ($5 minimum) thereafter

If you’re looking for a card that will reward you for on-time payments, look no further than the Citi Double Cash Card. Its simple rewards structure is excellent for first-time and veteran cardholders alike, with its 1% back when you buy and 1% back when you pay your bill on time. Combine its cash back rewards with a $0 annual fee and this card is a perfect example of a credit card that will give you perks with responsible use, at no extra cost.

Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card

Card highlights

  • Welcome offer: 0% intro APR for up to 21 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, 13.74% to 25.74% variable APR thereafter
  • Rewards rate: None
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance transfer fee: $5 or 3%intro fee within the first 120 days of account opening, then $5 (minimum) or up to 5% afterward (whichever is greater)

The Wells Fargo Reflect Card boasts one of the longest introductory APR offers on the market, with cardholders eligible for up to 21 months of 0% intro APR. This offer makes it a great balance transfer card and it will reward you for paying down your qualifying balance with its two-tier rewards offer. Cardholders will get 18 months of 0% APR when they open an account, but must qualify for the additional three months by making their minimum payment on time for the entirety of the intro and extension periods (then 13.74% to 25.74% variable APR thereafter).

Top rewards cards for individuals with limited or no credit history

For potential cardholders who have little or no credit history, qualifying for any credit card – much less a rewards card – can be a challenging process. The good news is there are cards available that offer rewards and allow you to upgrade or obtain a higher credit limit.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Card highlights

  • Welcome offer: Discover will match your cash back at the end of the first year of card ownership.
  • APR: 23.24% variable
  • Rewards rate: 2% back on gas and restaurant purchases (up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1%), 1% back on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $0

For individuals with little or no credit history, the Discover it Secured Credit Card offers an entrance into the world of credit cards, and you can be rewarded for responsible usage – a relatively unique perk for a secured card.

Secured credit cards operate a little differently from traditional credit cards because they require a deposit, in this case anywhere from $200 to $2,500. Your deposit is your credit limit, and after seven months of on-time payments and responsible use, Discover will review your account to see if you can get your deposit back and upgrade to an unsecured credit card.

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Card highlights

  • Welcome offer: None
  • APR: 26.99% variable
  • Rewards rate: 1.5% back on all purchases
  • Annual fee: $39
  • Balance transfer fee: $0 at transfer APR

This is a great option for individuals who have some experience with credit cards and are trying to boost their credit score. Unlike a secured credit card, it doesn’t require a deposit, and it offers the option of an increased credit line after six months of responsible card usage. Plus, cardholders earn a flat rate 1.5% cash back on every purchase.

Bottom line

Whether you are new to credit cards or an expert with multiple cards, being rewarded for using your card responsibly is an important perk. When looking for your next credit card, consider what issuers can offer you in return for good credit behavior. From cash back and increased credit limits to a lower APR, there are several cards available that reward responsible cardholders.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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