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And while you might not want to deal with points or rewards, “a simple cash-back card could be worthwhile,” he says.
If you do have to spend a chunk of money suddenly, you might as well get some money back.
For example, the no-fee Citi Double Cash card gives you 1 percent cash back on all purchases, and 1 percent when you pay off the charges.
The American Express Blue Cash Preferred card (annual fee: ) offers 6 percent cash back on up to ,000 in annual spending at supermarkets, and smaller rebates at other merchants.
Some, tied to a particular airline or hotel chain, give you extras like free checked baggage or bonus points when you patronize that company. “What matters most in a travel card is flexibility,” Schulz says.
And the no-fee AARP Card from Chase gives 3 percent back when used at gas stations and restaurants, plus 1 percent everywhere else.
Caveats: Some cards change deal terms every few months, and you may have to “activate” specific categories online to get the cash. American Express, for example, excludes superstores and warehouse clubs from its 6 percent deal.
Sites such as The Points Guy and Nerd Wallet provide point-value estimates, but if the math makes your eyes glaze over, get a cash-back card instead and bank that money for your next trip. Consider: A secured card The right card, used wisely, can help pave the way to a higher credit score—which in turn can lead to lower rates on other borrowing.
To rebuild your credit, try a secured card, Blyskal says.
“Unless you’re loyal to a certain airline or hotel chain, you want a card that gives you the most options for redeeming your points or rewards.” Chase Sapphire Preferred (annual fee: $95, waived the first year), like some other cards, lets you transfer points directly to certain airlines or hotels, but Chase will also raise your points’ value if you book travel through its Chase Ultimate Rewards site.