Several lenders are offering new features, from money management tools to savings incentives.
Ken Clark is an author and financial expert. He says companies are listening to todays struggling consumers. "The trend in credit cards is moving away from rewards that are really leisure based," said Clark. "You know, free airline tickets, free hotel stays -- to things that are more practical."
Schwabs "Invest First" card gives you 2 percent cash back on purchases. Then, those rewards can be deposited into your brokerage account. Fidelitys retirement rewards card also helps build your nest egg.
"The card features a 2% earn rate on all purchases that can be applied to a cardholders IRA," said John Ragnoni of Fidelity.
Other companies, like Wells Fargo, allow homeowners to apply cash back toward what is typically their biggest bill. "The Wells Gargo card rewards us with a 1% contribution toward our mortgage principal," said Clark. "The downside is you have to have a Wells Fargo mortgage."
Clark says that holds true for all these cards: you must have your investment account or loan with them in order to reap the benefits. If youre looking to manage your debt, Discovers Motiva Card rewards consumers who carry a balance but pay on time.
"every time a card member makes 6 on-time monthly payments in a row, they receive their next months interest back as a pay on time bonus," said Discover Cards Kelly Tufts.
The company has also rolled out the paydown planner, one of many web applications that calculates how long it will take to hit zero. Members can even pick a target time.
Clark warns---as with all rewards cards--- keep an eye on interest rates…which can run from single digits to 20 percent or higher. "It only takes a couple of months of carrying one of these balances or a couple months of late fees, to easily outweigh the rewards that we earn," said Clark.
As always, its important to read the fine print and ask plenty of questions before applying for one of these credit cards. That way, you can see which one works best for you.
The following credit cards were featured in this report:
Schwab Bank Invest First™ Visa signature credit card
The schwab bank invest first™ visa signature credit card automatically deposits 2% of purchases into a schwab one® brokerage account each month.
Fidelity Retirement Rewards card
The fidelity retirement rewards card offers a 2% earn rate on retail purchases when card members redeem their cash rewards as a current year contribution into their fidelity ira.
Wells Fargo Home Rebate Card
The wells fargo home rebate card offers a 1% rebate on your net purchases towards the principal balance of your eligible wells fargo mortgage loan.
Discover Motiva Card
With the discover motiva card, each time you make 6 on-time payments in a row, get your next months interest back as a pay-on-time bonus.