The Most Blatant Credit Card “Gotchas”

By Stephen Fisherton on April 20, 2012

Credit Card Gotchas Whenever a credit card offer arrives in the mail, it often features some of the biggest perks and rewards that you can gain from using the card in question. Many of these teasers and promotional offers either are not as they appear or only last for a specific amount of time. Others may be legitimate but may require you to meet specific criteria before being eligible for the perks. We are here to sort through these cheap tactics so that you can be aware of the games that many credit card companies play with their potential and current customers.

Regular Awards Being Seasonal Rewards

You may see some cards advertising that you get 5% cash back on gas and 3% cash back on groceries. Read the fine print carefully as there could be (and likely are) seasonal requirements for this. For example, the 5% cash back may be during the fall and spring whereas the groceries’ 3% cash back may be during the winter or summer. If there are multiple categories that offer great rewards, check the contract to see if it is year-round or seasonal as it’s likely that only one of these are active at any one time.

Minimum Spending Requirements

You may have received an offer claiming to offer a general cash back option of 1-2% on all purchases, but is there a catch? In many instances, all around rewards are advertised at their highest rate or tier. This means that you may have to spend a certain amount before the benefits kick in. One popular credit card currently offers 1% cash back on all purchases (but only if you spend more than $3000 in one year); if you fail to meet the criteria, you instead receive a 0.25% cash back bonus.

Hidden Expiration Dates

This one can really tick you off if you get jaded by it. Some credit cards place expiration dates on their rewards point, which is an easy way for them to prevent the casual credit card user from being able to ever redeem a substantial amount of points. Always check to see if the card in question has an expiration on rewards; if it does, the entire purpose of getting it (airfare, for instance) may be null and void if you can’t accumulate the necessary amount of points in time.

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