Editor's Note: The informative exchange below was gathered during an interview with the founder of CardRatings.com Curtis Arnold. Arnold is the noted author of How You Can Profit from Credit Cards.
Fuel prices and a bumpy economy are troubling many summer travelers this year. That's why it's great to hear from Curtis Arnold, the founder of CardRatings.com. Arnold, author of How You Can Profit from Credit Cards, offers consumers tips on using the latest reward credit card offers that can cut costs or return percentages for purchases on such expenses as gas, food, lodging, and entertainment.
Woodrow: Rebate credit care programs are on the rise, now a merged gasoline rebate program is being offered by BP Gasoline and JP Morgan Chase. Should we take notice?
Curtis: Consumers will appreciate the 5% rebate on BP purchases along with the 2% dining and travel rebates at eligible locations. That makes it a solid program among consumer credit cards offering rebates. But read exclusion terms before pumping fuel from one of BP's competitors!
Woodrow: Have you heard that Safeway supermarkets have joined the trend with its own gasoline program?
Curtis: You have to buy groceries anyway, so, it's a good program. Consumers receive gas discounts based on their spending levels. Kroger has a similar gas rebate program that allows some of their customers to earn double fuel discounts on gift card purchases and pharmacy prescriptions.
Woodrow: There are horror stories of high interest rates catching gas rebate card consumers unaware. Are there safeguards?
Curtis: Even the best rebate cards usually carry higher than average rates- an 18% interest rate isn't uncommon. Consumers should avoid at all costs carrying a balance. While you can get up to a 5% payback on gas purchases, if you continue to use the card while carrying a balance, you can more than wipe out the benefit of having one. In fact, earning a 5% rebate while you are paying an 18% interest rate is a great way to dig yourself into a deep hole.
Woodrow: Consumers are always on the lookout for reward cards that offer savings on summer purchases and expenses. What should they look for?
Curtis: I like the rebates on fuel, lodging, amusement parks, book purchases, and zoos that the Discover program offers. Chase also has a summer promotion that allow certain Chase cardmembers to earn a triple rebate on qualified purchases. Visit ChaseBonus.com for more info. You'll also find other programs that help with travel costs and dining.
Read articles at Cardratings.com to learn about other gas rebate and rewards credit cards targeted for summer vacationers.
For those who never thought they could actually cut summer travel costs by using their credit cards, this news is refreshing! By using cards prudently and paying off balances, you can afford a long-deserved vacation.