Whether you are new to building your credit profile or well on your way to a higher credit score, it’s never a bad time to consider ways to leverage your responsible credit use. Your good credit behavior can make way for things like better terms with the card issuer, credit card rewards, perks and more. Although most people know how credit card companies penalize people for using their credit cards irresponsibly, not many people know about credit cards that reward responsible cardholders.
If you’d like to know more about cards that reward you for being a conscientious credit user, then here’s some information to get you started.
How to use a credit card responsibly
Many factors go into using credit cards responsibly. The main thing you’ll want to do is pay your monthly bill on time and as agreed. Late payments can be very harmful to your credit score and alert your card issuer that you are a credit risk. There are other things you can do to signal that you are a responsible credit card user:
Understand your credit card terms
Once you get a card, make sure you understand the terms and conditions for your particular card. Responsible credit card use could look different based on the specific issuer and credit card that you have.
Pay your balance off in full each month
If possible, pay off your balance each month. Not only can it indicate responsible credit usage, but it can also help you avoid paying interest fees.
Keep your credit utilization ratio low
Your credit utilization ratio is how much of a balance you carry versus your credit card limit, making up 30 percent of your credit score. This ratio is calculated across all of your credit lines so keeping your balances low on as many cards as you can keeps the overall number low.
Make use of credit card rewards, perks and benefits
If you’ve got a card that offers any of these things, use them to your advantage. You could get discounts, save money or earn cash back and rewards depending on the credit card you have.
The best credit cards that reward responsible card usage:
*Chase Slate Edge℠: Best for credit building incentives
- Rewards rate: N/A
- Welcome offer: $100 bonus credit after spending $500 in the first six months (limited-time offer)
- Annual fee: $0
- Purchase intro APR: 0 percent for 12 months
- Balance transfer intro APR: 0 percent for 12 months
- Regular APR: 14.99 percent to 23.74 percent variable
The Slate Edge is a rebooted version of the Chase Slate card, and it’s come back with a pretty neat feature: the ability to reduce your card APR with responsible use. Specifically, you can reduce your APR by 2 percent each year by paying on time and spending $1,000 with your card before your next account anniversary.
Other notable features of the card include a $100 bonus credit after spending $500 in the first six months, along with a purchase and balance transfer intro APR of 0 percent for 12 months. After the 12 months, a 14.99 percent to 23.74 percent variable applies.
Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for up to 2% back
- Rewards rate: Unlimited 1 percent as you buy, plus another 1 percent when you pay for your purchases
- Welcome offer: None
- Annual fee: $0
- Purchase intro APR: None
- Balance transfer intro APR: 0 percent introductory APR for 18 months
- Regular APR: 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable
This Citi Double Cash Card offers one of the higher rates for unlimited cash back cards, but the cash back is based, in part, on when you pay down your balance. You’ll get 1 percent back on purchases made on your card and another 1 percent back when you pay them off.
In addition, there’s a lengthy balance transfer intro APR offer, which can help you if you are trying to pay down higher-interest debt.
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for fair credit rewards
- Rewards rate: Unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases
- Welcome offer: N/A
- Annual fee: $39
- Regular APR: 26.99 percent variable
The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards card is available for those with fair credit looking to build their credit profile. Once you are approved for the card and make on-time payments, you are automatically considered for a higher line of credit in as few as six months. In addition to potentially improving your credit score with this card, you can also earn an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all your purchases on the card.
Once you show Capital One that you are capable of paying your bills on time, maintaining a decent credit utilization ratio and boosting your credit score, you may be able to upgrade your QuicksilverOne card to the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, which offers the same rewards rate for no annual fee.
Discover it® Secured Credit Card: Best secured card with rewards
- Rewards rate: 2 percent cash back on gas stations and restaurant purchases, up to $1,000 in combined spend per quarter; 1 percent cash back on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
- Annual fee: $0
- Regular APR: 22.99 percent variable
The Discover it Secured credit card is one of a few secured credit cards that offers rewards. This card offers 2 percent cash back on gas stations and restaurants up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter and 1 percent on everything else. Also, Discover will match dollar-for-dollar all those rewards at the end of the first year.
Cardholders must put down a refundable security deposit between $200 and $2,500, which becomes the credit limit. After eight months, Discover will automatically review your account and let you know if you qualify to graduate to an unsecured credit card. This means you don’t need a security deposit as collateral and can have an unsecured line of credit with the card.
*Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®: Best for installment payment options
- Rewards rate: Earn 3 percent cash back on qualifying categories for home, auto and health; 1 percent on everything else
- Welcome offer: None
- Annual fee: $0
- Regular APR: 8.99 percent to 29.99 percent
The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa operates like a credit card with the option to convert your credit line into a personal loan-like product. You can earn cash back on a broad selection of bonus categories, then collect cash back rewards when you pay eligible purchases back.
Plus, if you pay down the balance of the card each month, you’ll pay no interest on your purchases at all. If you maintain a balance on the card, it will be split up into an installment payment plan payable over 24 to 60 months at the applicable interest rate.
The bottom line
If you are looking to improve your credit card while being rewarded for your credit-building accomplishments, there are cards out there for you. Whether it’s an increased credit limit, lower interest rate, rewards or other helpful credit card features, you should take advantage of every benefit available for using your credit cards responsibly.
*The information about the Chase Slate Edge℠ and Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.